Learning by engagement

There’s a whole discussion in the art world about artists who are “self-taught” vs. “art school”.  I’ve been spending a lot of time learning from professional artists and printmakers this year, but I’m not enrolled in any fine arts degree, nor am I taking my own instruction. A better term may be “Learning by engagement.

I’ve taken a number of virtual classes with various amazing artists, and was accepted to a mentorship program with Lynn Peterfreund through Zea Mays Printmaking Center. Along with technical skills development, I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement wrapped around tough love, driving me to reflect on composition, craft, and why I decided to add that red stripe, or outlined that flower.

The instruction and critiques have been every bit as serious as formal art school: Kind and gentle, yet constructive and a bit soul-baring. I love the “likes”, but grow from the “have you considered“ insights that lead to tweaks that make all the difference.

My teachers and mentors have helped me improve my observation skills, and guided me in creating a series about mangroves. I also completed #the100dayproject on Instagram which forced me to make at least one work a day. The discipline of this daily regimen served as an “idea factory” that feeds my on-going work

Persistence – Monotype, 2021; Akua intaglio on Fabriano Unica; 9″x12″

Monoprinting is torturous fun

Monoprinting is torturous fun. You paint in reverse, and inside out. And chine collé adds further complication. Trace monoprinting is the riskiest of all, either reducing hours of work to an irretrievable mess, or adding the mark that makes all the difference.

I absolutely love monoprinting!

By definition, a “monoprint” is one of a kind, but has repeatable elements, like etchings, relief plates (linocut, collagraph, stamps), or textures I scrounge from packing materials or nature. A “monotype” is something that is entirely original, with no repeatable elements. I do both, yet I particularly enjoy incorporating original carved or found textures in my work and seldom combine them the same way twice.

The image shown above is a close-up of “Improv with Gold“, a banner piece on Masa paper. Because it was created using stencils, relief plates and stamps, it’s technically a monoprint. I used brayers to apply the ink, and embellished with trace monoprinting for the asemic writing (a fancy word meaning words with no meaning).

It’s always a journey of surprise and discovery to see how these disconnected marks work together on a single piece of paper.


I am the Ibis

I am the Ibis – Monoprint, collagraph, 2019; Akua intaglio on Arnhem 1618; 21.25″x12.25″

A fitting first blog post is my first entry into a group show. The theme was “This is Me” and the show was the annual member show at Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, FL.
Pondering how to tackle such a dull subject, an “industry of ibis” gathered in dozens in my front yard, persistently picking and pecking. Ibis are the hardest working avian around; the busiest of birds.

This is my spirit animal, I thought. I am the Ibis. Goo goo g’joob.

The above image is the fourth of five monoprints made from a collagraph plate, stencils, found texture and asemic writing. The monoprint submitted to the show won honorable mention.

Spirit animal, indeed!