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!

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