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423 Southeast 69th Avenue
Portland, OR, 97215
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Filtering by Category: Printmaking

on etching......

Jo Brody

I have been learning the art of etching (a very traditional way of printmaking) over the past several years and am coming to find my way, slowly. I write about the technique here because it is one of those art forms which I will probably always be drawn to. I love small etchings, in little frames with lovely inked areas of color and delicate lines. Most of the famous artists whose work I love to look at have  found their way to etching. Richard Diebenkorn, one of my favorites, made many beautiful etchings, many of them at Crown Point Press, a legendary printmaking studio in San Francisco. I will likely not become an etching expert (an "etch-pert?) because there are lots of other forms of printmaking that I prefer--monotype, collograph, and relief printing. Less process, more spontaneity. But I am enamored with the etching results and find I am really enjoying the review class/open work session I am enrolled in right now at  my local art center

Etching is, in it's most commonly known form, a copper or other metal plate that has been incised with a drawing or ink painting, using line and built up tonal areas using crosshatching, oil paint, or even photos burned into the copper. The plate is then dipped into an acid bath(and later dipped again for darker tones) as the acid bites away at the copper( the word "etching" means "to eat" in Dutch) , leaving a series of deep grooves and carved away areas. Later, these "bitten" marks will hold ink and appear as a positive image when printed on paper using a printing press. The areas that are to remain untouched by ink are protected with a material that is acid resistant. This material is called "ground" and can be made of asphalt, rosin (from the sap of a tree) or wax among other substances. There are many steps to etching and one must be mindful of the amount of time the plate is left in the acid bath, the way one rubs ink on the plate before printing, and the order and time one leaves the plate in subsequent acid bath dips to make darker areas.

After my first class in this process I swore I would never do etching again. It was complicated and I couldn't understand my own notes scrawled in my notebook. Even now after a couple more classes I consistently forget the order of things, and which liquids are used to take off ground and clean plates. It's not an intuitive process for me but I am drawn to it anyway! I have made a few little pieces I like and see improvement in my process and technical abilities. I think as an artist one of the most pleasurable things is to learn how things are made, the Magical Secrets of the story behind the works of art we know and love. Then, even if that technique or medium doesn't become our favored medium, we have gained a deeper knowledge about the work we enjoy. Maybe later we'll become the "etch-pert"....ya never know! 

Jo's Spring '14 events: BUCKMAN Art Fair, MT. TABOR Art Walk & 3 all new Art CLASSES!

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MARCH 8 (11-7) & MARCH 9(11-5), at Buckman Art Fair: I am pleased to be selling at Buckman again and hope you will join me in supporting this great arts elementary school. 30% of every sale goes to the school's arts programming! Come and find my table and shop for new Jo Brody jewelry!   MAY 17 & 18, 10-5 on the Mt. Tabor Art Walk: a wonderful way to see inside artists' homes and studios and shop extremely local! Mark and I throw open our doors wide, and share our passions for 3-D mosaics and handmade silver jewelry! 

CLASSES: register at https://jo-brody.squarespace.com/classes/Carved ErasersBasic Beading and Found Treasures

 

Cloudspotting and Monoprint Magic

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I had the opportunity to spend the weekend on beautiful Bainbridge Island near Seattle with my friend, the talented artist, Wendy Orville. We have been planning this visit forever but our busy lives kept conspiring against us. Finally, though, the clouds parted and we made the time. Funny that I mention clouds. Wendy has been making quiet, powerful images with trees and clouds as primary subjects for some time now and I really loved the chance to see her current work up close and learn some of the techniques she uses to make her elegant and spare monotypes and discover more about her passions and her process.

I love taking photographs of clouds. I do it almost unconsciously as I whip my iPhone out and record a fleeting moment in the sky, making a monotype of sorts, recording an image never to be repeated in quite the same way. That Wendy and I have been obsessed by clouds at the same time is no accident. Ever since we met around 15 years ago in Taos, New Mexico while selling our wares at a craft fair on the central Plaza we have been kindred spirits, seeing art in the sky and speaking the same language of the heart. Our mutual move to the Pacific Northwest has allowed us to keep our friendship alive, even while separated by a long stretch of highway and the demands of family and work.

Our planned weekend of making monoprints in her spacious and well-equipped studio was only enhanced by the presence of her easygoing kids who knowingly steered clear of the artists at work. Wendy was so generous with her time, especially considering her life is about to get much busier with new gallery representation at Prographica in Seattle and being deeply involved with the soon to open Bainbridge Art Museum. We managed to steal 5 hours in the studio and I am pleased with the results.

Using a photograph I took (while attending the Crested Butte Film Fest last month) as reference, Wendy showed me how to lay down stripes of rich Prussian Blue ink, one stripe being pure ink, one stripe having transparency gel mixed in and one stripe just transparent gel. This technique allowed us to make a ground of gradated color, a way of expressing the sky, the horizon, and the land. After using the brayer roller to pick up the ink and rolling it onto a plexiglass sheet, Wendy taught me how to scratch in my design of clouds, wiping off ink to leave a band of bright white and bringing in darkness and depth to the belly of the clouds with an inky rag and my fingertips. Wow--I was having serious fun! After making the plate of clouds and printing it on her large Takatch etching press I inked a piece of mylar shaped like a mountain with deep dark Prussian Blue ink and printed that onto my piece of paper onto which I had earlier printed my clouds.

Can you see the image is reversed from my photograph? Can you tell that I am hooked on monotype printmaking? It is so meditative and direct. There are definitely many techniques to learn and Wendy is a master! Check out her work on her website and watch her at work in this video chronicling the making of the Bainbridge Museum of Art. As for me, I'll continue learning to see, draw and make prints along with making my jewelry. I guess you could call me a Jo of all trades. Maybe one day I'll be a Master of One!

Silver Clay is Cool!

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 I spent this past weekend selling my jewelry and prints at the Buckman Art Show and Sell, a fabulous annual fundraiser for the only Arts Elementary Magnet School in Portland. My silver jewelry was of great interest to my customers, because the details and textures you can get in a small, intimate scale are almost like little prints and tiny things always charm people! I love the metal clay work for this reason--it is akin to printmaking, a discipline I am in love with and am continuing to learn about in my 2-year Fine Art Certificate Program at Pacific Northwest College of Art, here in Portland, Oregon. Currently I am taking an etching class, learning about the techniques the old masters used to make intimate and intricate artworks that we still admire and emulate today.  

When I form a lump of Metal Clay into a piece of silver jewelry, I start by rolling out the clay to make a flat ground, much like a prepared substrate for the printing press. Onto this surface I push textured material from diverse sources, including rubber stamps, polymer or fiber. In this sense, I am working the surface into an intaglio print, with the indented surfaces being able to take a darkening agent, or patina, so that the image or texture comes into sharper focus. The result is a miniature etching, a small piece of unique art, because each image is printed individually and is one of a kind. Each time I press my texture into the clay, a different result happens.   The piece pictured in this blog post is a thistle, one of my favorite flowers. The thistle is the symbol of Scotland, where I spent a semester in college. The thistle and other wildflowers feature in my artwork regularly. I was happy when I found I had an old rubber stamp with the image of a Celtic tree, including thistles, a bird of paradise and other flora & fauna (I love using that phrase!). I use this texture plate frequently since there are so many little areas from which I can grab a texture. Do you see which thistle I used?

Collagraph Maniac!

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featured

The Printmaker is a most peculiar being. He delights in deferred gratification and in doing what does not come naturally. He takes pleasure in working backward or in opposites: the gesture that produces a line of force moving to the right prints to the left, and vice versa; a deeply engraved trench in a copper or zinc plate prints as a depression in the paper. Left is right. Right is left. Backward is forward. The Printmaker, peculiar as he is, must see at least two sides to every question.

-Jules Heller

 

I have enjoyed some version or other of printmaking since high school when I took a silkscreen class and made a print of a cat in a window. It took me 20 years to find my way back to art making as a discipline as opposed to a high school elective but I have chosen my path and it definitely involves the process of making version after version of the same image, slightly altered by the winds of fate and a misplaced ink smear. I have dabbled in a variety of forms of printmaking, from Moku Hanga, or Japanese Wood Block printmaking (which I love), to Gocco, a now nearly extinct form of silkscreen, a medium in which my friend Shu-Ju Wang is a master.

I happened on the printmaking style of Collagraphy by chance when I signed up for a class at the Multnomah Arts Center in SW Portland. I loved the class, taught by a spunky printmaker and educator named Palmarin Merges. Although I explain the collagraph process in detail in the "What I Do" section of my website, I will say briefly that collagraphs are prints made by making a collage with textural materials on a printing plate and then inking and printing that sucker up! I fell in love with the spontaneous and irreverent way that collagraph prints are made. There is an endless variety of material you can use to texture the plate for printmaking and the results have a three dimensional and tactile quality I have seen nowhere else in printmaking. Like other forms of printmaking there are the marks that come out of seemingly nowhere and the reversal of the image upon printing. Unlike other forms of printmaking, anything goes in terms of what you apply to the plate and that leaves so much room for playfulness and experimentation. "Can I put this chunk of bark on the plate?" or "What about the hair from my last haircut?". Seriously, anything goes and that rebellious approach to printmaking sort of sums up what I love about it.   My go to place for printmaking in Portland is Atelier Meridian. I plan on spending much more time there in the future, like when my kids leave the nest and I can stop folding laundry that isn't my own. The Atelier, which is in North Portland in a suitable gritty 'hood, has gorgeous printmaking facilities and a wonderful community of convivial folks. Art should not be made in isolation, unless it is by choice. And I really like people. So long! I am off to make art in isolation today, by choice!  

Living in the Light

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light

Happy Hanukkah to all and may the season of light lift your spirits!   I made this eraser carving this morning just after my morning coffee. I love eraser carving because it's a shorthand way of making a woodblock print. Cheap materials, simple technique. I love to buy my art supplies locally from the smart and sweet staff at Muse Art+Design in SE Portland. When carving, it's a bit difficult to hold the hand steady after a cup of coffee but with eraser carving, the mistakes become part of the charm of the image. Unfortunately I had already sent out my holiday cards but there's nothing more fun than carving into a gushy eraser so I decided to go for it. I'll be teaching an Eraser Carving class on Saturday, January 28 from 10-2. It's crazy fun and anyone can do it. Even with the coffee shakes!