Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Printmaking and Textiles

If you have been following my ruminations here and on the Festive Fibers Facebook page, you will notice my newest interest in the medium of Printmaking.  Sure, as a textile designer and trained artist I have done some sort of printing over the years, lino-cut, silk screen, relief printing, stamping, etc. But as a textile designer I have never really focused my creative powers to this medium, which is funny because I have always loved the idea of silk screening my own fabrics, and I design patterns to be printed on fabrics.  But I never really played with that medium.  What was it that pushed my fabric design into feltmaking?  Well that's easy, my love of wool!  But as I have been thinking about my art and my personal history, I have begun to wonder about the printed surface again. 

A couple months ago I spent some time with my parents talking about a print they have and what they want to do with it, sell or donate?  I must say this very large print was a piece of art that hung in our house during my most artistically formative years.  Its bold graphic shapes and it bold colors repeated all the things of the colorful graphic art I was exposed to in the late sixties and seventies.  As I helped them find a value online,
we found the artist's website and then watched how Carol Summers actually printed this.  We watched this video on his site, fascinated by all the things (unconventional, in my mind) Summers did in achieving his print techniques.  From printing on front AND back, laying down heavy ink to get texture, rolling ink on the paper and blocks, spraying the inks with spirits to DYE the paper fibers and use his blocks like jigsaw puzzles, all struck me as something very interesting.  Sure I have watched wood block printing in the classical way, where many blocks were carved , then each printed with a different color in register onto paper.  My mother did this kind of printmaking.  I was never really interested in the slow carving process.  (remember - instant gratification me?)  So the thought of combining an array of surface techniques really speaks to me.  I have watched videos online of amazing artists doing traditional techniques so I may learn a bit of what I like an don't like about the processes.  Two amazing videos I found on YouTube are a video of Santa Cruz artist Bridget Henry
creating her prints.  15 carved blocks printed in registration...sounds to me like screens and traditional hand block fabric printing in textiles.  So I kept looking and found more beautiful techniques.  This one is a beautiful video of traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e block printing by master printer Keizaburo Matsuzaki. These techniques show me tonal work and the use of thickeners to hold soft water based paint on the surface of a block.
My own learning process is exciting to me.  I feel energized by my own creative process.  Equally exciting is what we can learn online - for free! There is so much more out there.  I have just returned from an art supply shopping trip, and am gearing up for a trial print run.  Stay tuned and I will post my experiments!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Happy New Year and Resolutions

      As I started this post a month ago I was wishing everyone a Happy New Year!  Now it is days away from Valentine's Day, and snow is coming down as we sit on the edge of an historic New England Blizzard.  This past of New Hampshire, often just lies on an outer edge, so we have about 8-10 inches rather than 18-24 inches (thank goodness!)  Probably like many of you, I have hopes that this coming year will bring new and exciting opportunities, bringing family and friends close-by, and maybe the strength to stay away from sugary baked goods and get outside and get physical!
      In January, I sat with two girlfriends planning a summer vacation.  Carole-Ann and Cindy are both artists/painters.  CA has been vacationing on Monhegan Island in Maine for years.  She goes to paint.  She has invited me the past few years to join her.  Last year Cindy joined her, their stories and art were, well - inspired.  So I promised the both of them, this would be my year to join in.  We looked through websites of cottage rentals and found one.   My goal for this week in July is to have the mental time and space to be creative.  The past two years have found me working at jobs rather than fiber or art or textile design, and my part time jobs have turned into working almost 7 days a week!  How did this happen? Opportunities, I guess. Yup and I took them.  So my New Year's hope for myself is just the same for you too, probably; hope that my opportunities shift a bit and I can get back into the position of getting income from creating.  I am working on it.
      What's on your creative to-do list?  While my list is large, time is very small. While that sounds restrictive, I am appeased by the gift Santa Tom gave me.  SIX! color inspiration books to keep me going.  Tricia Guild of Designer's Guild and Susan Sargent.   So how am I going to focus on that week in July?  I am planning.  When you think of it, it is like ony one of my students who plan all year to come to one of my workshops or Fling or any other spectacular organized event where one is surrounded by joy, creativity, fiber and art.  This year for that week in July I will be a student.  I am prepping, studying, learning gathering art supplies and then hope to use those 7 days wholly to create, and gather inspiration.  I am pondering wood block printing, and silk screening.  It has to be relatively portable as well.  I want to find out which inks are good for printing on paper and which are good on tees or silk scarves?  What kind of paper should I bring and print on?
      As a textile designer, my felt making was surface design in fabrication.  Now I want to revisit the printed surface process.  I loved silk screening in college and never pursued it. I really became intrigued in the idea of wood block printing after I watched a video of wood cut artist Carol Summers making one of his prints..  I grew up in a home that had a huge print of his on the living room wall, it is shown on the retrospective page called Aetna Alive 1964.  His process was not at all what I expected from wood cuts, and really resonated with me as how textiles would or could be printed. so I am planning on exploring this style of printing.  Maybe while I am planning and working out the process I will also use my images and inspiration from this last October's trip to Italy?  My photos from Venice are so spectacular I really need to do something with them as well!
     Meantime: here is my latest library shelf full of inspirational reading:  (I think there was lots of Ebay and Amazon involved and they are all used, but beautiful condition.) 

I would love to hear what some of your visual inspirations are for color and ideas?  Care to share?