When I finished my NSCAD program, I thought my next step would be to get into the studio and "play with paint". I wanted, through trial and error, to learn what paint materials can do. I wanted to train them -- and be trained by them -- to produce the results I visualize in my mind. I dithered through the early months of 2015, detoured into renovation and set-up of the studio space over that summer, procrastinated into the early fall and finally began with a realistic acrylic painting intended purely as an exercise. In no time, my shortcomings with acrylics ground me to a halt... and from an earlier post, you know already about the diversions I set up for myself in early 2016 to keep painting at bay.
It comes as a surprise, then, to recognize that at last, at last, I'm playing at last, albeit with printmaking instead of paint!
I think one of the reasons I've drifted into printmaking this year concerns the physicality of the tools and materials. While I was straining away on the acrylic painting, I could feel something missing, something to do with the handling of tools, the texture of materials, the engagement of my body in the making process. Not that painting has none of the above, but it felt like a matter of degree; at the time my body wanted to move more actively than working small-scale with paint would allow. My muscles were (figuratively) twitching; my hands wanted more to hold than a brush; I wanted to get lost in the trance of manipulating materials. There are other reasons why I shied away from painting -- I was afraid to fail -- but the needs of my body were answered when I stopped fighting them and picked up my carving tools.
So were the needs of my spirit. I'm having fun. It's Christmas morning every time I peel up a fresh print. Although I've made mistakes and had to re-do, I can see the undeniable progress in the results. I'm going somewhere; I'm getting somewhere.
Recently, I went into the Saint John Art Centre studio and used the etching press to successfully print a 10-print series of Side-Yard Gate and a 20-print series of Tree Swallow. I created inventory! That can be sold! And learned another new thing: an official print studio (whatever that means) has an identifying mark or logo that gets embossed into every print made there. Every one of my 30 prints now bears an embossed mark that announces to the cognoscenti "this print was made at the Saint John Art Centre". A pair of embossed "artist proofs" of each print now resides in the Centre's archive.
I'm not giving up painting. I'm not giving up photography. I expect I'll still make handmade books. I'm adding printmaking to the repertoire. And I'm no longer angsting over what kind of artist to be when I grow up. If there's a pigeonhole to put me in, it's labelled "Multi-disciplinary"... or to put it less formally, "Eclectic".
Another One Bites the Dust...
7 years ago