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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Please: Try this at home

I hope never to be accused of being an art snob.
Any process, any material, any level of
effort used in the production of visual arts gives me
a good warm feeling.  No judgement should
be made when the process brings pleasure.

And while I firmly believe that mantra I find myself standing in judgement, and thus in the way, of my own creative efforts.  And so I confess.  As I talk the talk I need to remember to walk it.

So please, in the name of "good, warm feelings,"let's try this at home.  I was skeptical...but it really was fun.

I signed up for a "print making"class at the college and was mildly disappointed when the teacher passed around styrofoam trays the first night.  You know, those environmentally horrid picnic plates that are cheap, white and made of styrofoam.  (I save trays beneath meat and prepackaged fruit, but use them as disposable palates for paint. ) See? I was already judging and getting in the way of possible pleasure, shame on me.

trim off the edges so that a flat piece remains

We were instructed to "draw" on the flat side (inside without trademark) of the tray and then go back over the drawing using a ball point pen pressing into the foam to make an indentation.  This would make our first printing plate.  Yeah, right. I confess to feeling that this was a tad elementary and not what I signed up for.

But...I could not have been more wrong: magic unfolded and it was chock full of important lessons.
Not only will I do this again, but I will save trays to do this with the grands on a snow day.  If you don't "draw" make swirly lines or geometric patterns.  Change the size of the tray (cuts easily with scissors) and make several smaller stamps to layer on top of each other.  Oh the places you can go!

GATHER:  foam tray or plate
ball point pen
brayer or wide paint brush
acrylic paint or printing ink
palate to spread paint, can be another plate or freezer paper or piece of glass
paper or cards to print onto
sense of play

I now understand that this simple exercise is done to illustrate
the printing of negative and positive spaces; what we "take away" (via the pen-made indentations)
will actually be the lines that become positive spaces.  What is
left (the areas of foam untouched) will be solid paint

Roll on the paint or ink covering the "plate" as evenly as possible.  Lacking a brayer just use a wide brush to smoothly cover the foam with paint.  You can turn the plate over onto the paper or, easier yet, leave the plate ink side up and gently lay the paper on top of it, pressing evenly over the back of the paper.  You can even smooth it out with a credit card or a clean brayer.  Carefully peel the paper off, holding the plate down and lay aside to dry.

my first print
negative space (the dark green of the paint) is what I did not etch out
with the pen

Another lesson learned here is that the left becomes right and the right left...important to realize if you are using words or want a directional emphasis in the final piece.  The first couple of impressions are not as lovely as those following.  I noticed the bottom edge was raggity and would need further trim.  But hey, not too bad for being a skeptic.

The class oohed and ahhed as prints were made.  Doubters became believers.  We now had a foundation on which to base our next pursuits.  Relative questions could be asked.  Below is a sampling of results (with the artists' permission of course).

Andi is rolling ink onto her cut tray

She places the tray ink side to her test paper and

with a clean brayer gently presses the design onto the paper

holding the paper down she carefully pulls back the styrofoam for the reveal

Anna Lise cut a dog for her first print, see the tray back, use other side

isn't this amazing?  a pro job from a recycled tray, color me impressed

So why don't you find a ball point pen and make a birthday card?  An original.  The cost of cheap paint will be far less than a Hallmark version.  Have fun.  Try this at home.

Carving in Color,

p.s. my experiment with leaving comments bombed.  Off to research.....

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