Posts Tagged 'art'

Bit by the Printer’s Devil part II



“Reflection” – final project: combined polymer plate and linocut print, hand printed with gradient.

In 2016, I took a course in printmaking, and I got to experiment with linocut, letterpress (with a polymer plate), risoprint, and a mix of two techniques for the final process. Of the 3 techniques, I found linocut to be the most satisfying, with polymer plate in 2nd place.


Here’s the breakdown:

  1. If you want to personally carve the blocks, be able to hand press (using a barren or the back of a spoon), or be able to adjust colors with your brayer, so there is a gradient on the print, linocut might be for you.


    Linocut print, hand printed with back of a spoon.

  2. If you want to draw something, then process it in the computer minimally for a print that shows your drawing line (sending away the file to get a polymer plate [a bit like a gummy raised sticker that gets affixed to a metal plate for use in letterpress] back), then a polymer plate might be for you. Negative: I wanted to be more hands on with creating the polymer plate so i could adjust it as I went along, but that wasn’t possible with facilities available.
  3. Letterpress is exciting, and involves putting the plate into an older press [may or may not have any real safety features], there is an inking plate up top that the rollers go over. You’re able to layer different colors but not fine tune gradients. If you want speed, this will allow you to be quick, if you’re coordinated, and able to get the paper in and out of the pins in time. [Note: I am NOT coordinated, and that story leads to blood, and we’re just not going there again.] Polymer plate isn’t limited to just letterpress. You can use a setting up press to print these, and get gradients, which was very satisfying, FYI, and very close in technique to classical printmaking (and I’m fast at that).
  4. Risoprint: great results, very satisfying for the people receiving the prints (I made a little book). Negative: I had to use computer programs to lay things out, then send the files away to have them printed at a special facility. My local printmaking teachers are in process of getting a press fixed so they can do these in house, but it is still less hands-on than I wanted. Positive: lots of color theory, adjusting the weights of grey tones in two layers that would be printed in different colors (phthalo blue on one, yellow on the other).

    Risoprint: unfolded book waiting to be put together.


    Polymer plate, printed in a letterpress.



I have postcards all around my office. Some of them are antique, framed ones, showing photos of places that were near a camp I used to be a counselor at. Others are of bookish things from the British Isles. Still others are art postcards, bought when a local artist’s work delighted me, or a museum had a postcard of a particularly meaningful painting. I’m in the process of making more room in my office, and find that I’ll need to have a postcard framing and hanging afternoon, hopefully when it’s icky outside.

Artists whose postcards I’ve collected:

Martha Dougherty is a contemporary artist who does lovely watercolors set in Baltimore, Maryland — both interior views and external street scenes. Truly lovely. Here’s another one [Madison at Charles Street]. In some of the saturated street scenes, she’s the artist whose work is the closest reflections of the way I see color in landscapes. Very interesting. Linda Hall is another contemporary artist who does watercolors in Chestertown, Maryland.

So, have you collected postcards? If so, are they just mementos of places you’ve been, scenery you love, mail you received from loved ones, or affordable art?



Taking a time out for Christmas

I’m going to take a brief blogging break, while I focus on Christmas, family, and enjoying the fire in the fireplace.


Peace, and happiest of days to you.

(Picture is taken from a Nativity Scene by an unknown Italian artist, circa: 1650 to 1675. In this scene, God overlooks the scene off on the right, a bit like Zeus, actually. He got cropped out by my camera. Picture is in the Baltimore Museum of Art).

Veterans Day

angelinPennStaThank you to all who served and who are still with us. And to all who served and were forever changed by the experience, either in good ways, or in extremely challenging ways.

No, I know the Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial is not quite the right image (also called the archangel of the resurrection), since it memorializes the 1, 307 Pennsylvania Railroad employees who died in WWII. It really should be for Memorial Day. But, ever since first seeing this statue as a small child, I can only imagine life, hope, and rescue from war in the lines of the sculpture by  Walker Hancock. The new lighting in the station, though, changes everything and erases some of the mystery.

I found a video here from a train buff, showing the statue in better detail, with a zoom lens, as well as more of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station (Penn Station).



Cheeky fellows – high atop a hill



Bismarck overlooks Hamburg — molded in cement, and standing on what looks like castle ramparts. I’m not sure what he think about the changes in the area since the statue was erected in the Alten Elbpark.  The hill overlooks the Reeperbahn area of the city. It’s an easy walk from a train station, and interesting to see, even though there’s lots of graffiti. at the base of the statue itself. Some of the graffiti uses English words in somewhat odd contexts.

Although Otto doesn’t look like he’s interested in a good time, there are always the guys hanging out at the base of the statue. Like this one:

Tell me he's not thinking about last night's party?

Tell me he’s not thinking about last night’s party?

The whole statue and base is an amazing collision of different styles. Can’t figure out if the nude statuary at the base of Bismarck’s perch are meant to invoke manly comparisons to Olympians of old….

As if...

As if…

Or a party in search of a nightclub. I’m not sure where in 1906 they would have found one.

Needlework in gilt frames – Berlin wool work

Whenever I’m at a museum, I look for examples of needlework, either etched in stone or part of a painting. At the Kunsthalle Bremen, I found a portrait of Frau Medizinalrat Nicolai, from 1830. The artist was Georg Friedrich Adolph Schöner, and he used oil paint to portray her in clothing from the day — pointed lace collar, fitted brown silk dress, carefully crimped black hair. At her side is a small sewing box, with bits of colored wool or silks peeking out. In her lap, artfully displayed was this:

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen

Detail from Schoner painting, Kunsthalle Bremen


Thousands of Berlin work patterns made their way over to the USA and England back in the 1800s, and I wonder if this pattern is somewhere in someone’s attic? I’m sure there is already a treatise on the artful display of “women’s work” for the leisured classes in paintings of wealthy women. But I like to think this was the work she was doing while she sat for the portrait, and the artist wanted to add the color to the picture or an excuse to show off her wedding ring (her husband’s portrait is nearby).

A view of the portrait from the Kunsthalle website can be searched for here: Kunsthalle. So, when you’re traveling (on vacation, or taking little 11 hour “vacations” over the weekend), what do you look for when you’re in a museum? More photos later from Bremen and a trip to a gorgeous garden in Hamburg.


Flowers in the basement

tempura-flowersThe local library has a kids program, and there are seasonal art projects. For Spring/Summer, they painted flowers on cardboard or cardstock with tempura paints. Each flower is about the height of a 5th grader. I never see this library without kids being involved, or teenagers writing papers on the public computer for school, or providing outreach to people who are job searching or doing family history searches. (Go awesome librarians and library!) I get so much joy out of walking over there to browse the books, and find out the latest technological thing that I can do (download “books on tape” to an iPhone, iPod, or another similar device). Note I said “books on tape”… heh.

I do find myself reading lots of things I wouldn’t normally have bought from Amaz*n or a bookstore. And I do love audio books for when I’m driving. I have a huge Ken Follett book that I can’t wait to stick in the CD player on Monday, once my Irish mystery is done (Faithful Place, by Tana French – grim, dark, yet interesting, mostly because the voice on the audiobook beguiled me into liking a police procedural with lots of messy family details and shifting loyalties). So, any other books I should look for on CD to keep my commute interesting, or me knitting along? Anyone else have a fabulous little library?


Flickr Photos