Tag: printmaking

The Gallery U: Weeks 1-12

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Every week I’ve been sharing links to my posts on The Gallery U website. If you don’t already know, The Gallery U is a recently launched website featuring the artwork of college students across the US. I am one of 18 interns who has been posting new work every week along with a brief description. If you visit the site, you will notice a small heart icon on each post. The intern with the most clicks at the end of 15 weeks will be featured in V23, a New York-based blog which showcases the music, creative writing, photography, and art of young adults. If you like what you see, please help me increase my chances of winning by clicking that heart! xoxo

Week 1: Self Portrait

Week 2: Untitled (Madame Insulin in Red)

Week 3: Insulin is Not a Cure

Week 4: Ebb and Flow

Week 5: MI Framed

Week 6: Yes.

Week 7: Too Sweet

Week 8: Untitled (Pig Composition)

Week 9: Breathe

Week 10: Finger Lickin’ Good

Week 11: Yes II

Week 12: Untitled (Artist Book 1)

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Exploring Pattern

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I’ve been making work about diabetes for a few years now and I’ve explored several different materials and approaches along the way. During this time, I’ve encountered several challenges. Aside from dealing with the occasional emotional obstacles, I’ve struggled to guide this body of work in one direction and instead have branched off what feels like endlessly. It’s a complicated feeling because I do want to explore this subject as thoroughly as I can, but doing so also leads me to feel like I’m starting lots of different things and not spending enough time on any of them because I keep moving on to something else. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

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Projects in Progress

I’ve been making Thank You cards for people that have been helping me out post-graduation. They’re all different and I think this one is my favorite:

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What do you think?

I have SO many ideas for new paintings and drawings and prints, but first I have two projects that I need to finish. My first deadline is February 3rd and that is Diabetes Art Day! This will be the fifth Diabetes Art Day, and in honor of that, Lee Ann Thill is asking participants to do a pre- and post-art making survey in order to hopefully fund some research on the relationship between art and diabetes. I’ve already completed my pre-art making survey, so now it’s time to make something for the special day. I will share it with you on February 3rd of course :] I will also include a link to the Diabetes Art Day online gallery.

My next project is also related to diabetes. I’m donating a painting to an auction at a JDRF gala in Pennsylvania that’s taking place in April. I already know what I’m going to paint and I’m hoping to have it done by mid-February at the latest. I will share photos as I work on it.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

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A Whole New World Part IV

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This time last year, I was preparing to go back to JMU for my semester of student teaching and I was beyond nervous. At this point, I was really hoping that I would enjoy it and not suddenly discover that this wasn’t something I wanted to do because it took so much work to get here and it was going to take a lot of work to get through it. So yeah, that was kind of my mindset going in. Not the best one, I admit, but it is what it is.

My semester of student teaching consisted of two 8-week placements. My first placement was at a high school about 30 minutes away. Let me just tell you that my high school experience was fine as a teenager, but I was definitely not excited about going back, even as a teacher. I don’t want to make this too long so I’ll attempt to briefly summarize my time there. I co-taught and taught multiple Art I classes, Art II, Art III (which focused on 3D art), and Art IV. I had a great cooperating teacher to work with who was a practicing artist, used all his resources, got the students quality supplies, and was great to talk to about lots of things, including art. The students were great, but often very unmotivated or troubled by things going on outside of school, so that was a challenge. I also unfortunately noticed that at this school, art was overall not considered a necessary part of the curriculum and so the students generally shared that perspective. Finally, it was winter, so there were plenty of snow days which constantly changed my plans. Here is a list of some of the things I learned at this placement:

  1. Don’t assume that all students have basic skills (I had to spend quite a bit of time showing students how to use a ruler, for example)
  2. You have to spend time proving to the students that they are in a safe place where all questions or comments are welcome and everyone is free to speak, even if they don’t have the “right” answer. This is so challenging because a lot of students seem to become paralyzed by the fear of being wrong or made fun of by their peers.
  3. Things usually don’t go as planned so prepare as much as possible. Include a note in your lesson plan for what to do if students finish early and what to do if students don’t finish in time.
  4. Grading is really hard. Some students worked really hard, but their technique was consistently pretty rough. Other students were very talented in art, but did not take the class seriously and often exhibited laziness and a lack of interest.

Being in this classroom was really eye-opening and I thought of a lot of things that I would do differently the second time around in my own classroom. Here are some images from the lessons I taught. Some of the lessons were very successful and some weren’t as great, but they all taught me a lot and I was able to see what worked and what didn’t.

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 I could go on about my high school experience, but let’s move on to my second placement. For my second and last placement, I actually went to two elementary schools each week. My cooperating teacher worked at one school Monday-Wednesday and another school Thursday and Friday, and I followed her where she went. She was a big help and so enthusiastic about art and teaching. I was more excited about teaching at an elementary school because I have a better connection with younger kids and it didn’t seem as intimidating.

There was a lot less down time in elementary school because the classes were 30-45 minutes each and often back-to-back. It was definitely a challenge to stay on top of things. It was harder to learn names and observe each student because there were so many of them. I got to repeat my lessons several times, which allowed me to tweak them along the way, but it was also tiresome to repeat lessons that turned out to be just okay. The volume of work produced was much greater, and that gave me a better idea of how effective my teaching was.

In terms of discussion, the elementary students were the opposite of the high schoolers. While it took a lot of effort to get a peep out of the older kids, all hands would go up when I asked a question in the elementary classrooms. The younger students were eager to share their ideas and tell their stories and that was one of my favorite parts about working with them. They were very enthusiastic about their work and weren’t afraid to show it. Again, here are some things I learned during my elementary placement:

  1. Be cautious about providing lesson examples because some students will try to copy it, and we want to encourage them to come up with a new idea.
  2. Come up with some kind of signal to get the students’ attention, especially during lessons that require moving around to different stations.
  3. It’s often a better idea to show students what not to do instead of what they should be doing. For example, demonstrate a sloppy printmaking job so the students know to avoid putting too much ink on their block.

I really enjoyed teaching in an elementary school in spite of a lot of challenges. Here are a few images from some of the lessons I taught:

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I came out of student teaching alive, relieved, and ready to teach in my own classroom. The new challenge was to find that classroom, but more on that in the future :] Thanks for reading!

A Whole New World Part I
A Whole New World Part II
A Whole New World Part III

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Adventures in Printmaking

Last fall, I took my first printmaking class. I wanted to take screenprinting, but that is always the most popular and filled up super fast, so I ended up with relief, intaglio, and monotype printing. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it was so worth it in the end. I loved that class.

First of all, my professor, Jack McCaslin was awesome. He played the widest variety of music, made corny jokes, and collected all types of little toys and trinkets in his overflowing office. I remember him being very encouraging and giving me some great advice throughout the semester. He always joked with me about dealing with annoying high school students because I was completing my high school practicum at the time.

The first kind of printmaking we did was relief, which is when you carve into a surface and print what is left (the relief part) onto a piece of paper. I did a 9″x12″ black and white relief print as well as an 8″x18″ color print. I carved into sintra for each one. Sintra is a foamed plastic. For my first print, I wanted to work with pears because I love how they look for some reason, so I worked on a few designs in my sketchbook until I came up with one that I liked. I then transferred my design onto the sintra using carbon paper. Then I started carving. I was still getting the hang of carving, so I made a few mistakes along the way, but several hours later I finished. Along the way I pulled a few test prints on newsprint paper to see how it was looking. At this point, I was able to make my final prints. My two biggest issues while doing this were 1) getting the block (sintra) centered on the paper and 2) putting enough ink on the block. I made more okay prints than good prints, but hey, it was my first time and I was still happy with what I made. Take a look!

The next print I did was a color relief print (my favorite!). I decided that I wanted to do a landscape with more finer line work, so after drawing up my design, I transferred it onto the sintra using carbon paper again. This print took two blocks: one for the colors in the background and another for the details in black, which went on top. The carving for this print took even longer than the last one,

plus each print had two layers and the first layer of ink had to dry before I put the second layer,

plusss I had to mix the inks to get the colors I wanted. Let’s just say it was a very long process. The result of all my hard work was this beauty that I am so proud of:

The next kind of printing we did was called Intaglio which refers to a design cut into a hard surface. In this case, copper. You can draw directly on the surface of the copper using a sharp tool (drypoint), you can cover the surface with a resin ground, draw on top, and then etch it in acid, or you can use photo paper to transfer an image onto the copper and then etch that. Here are some examples of the different processes:

My first print was a 6″x8″ black and white image. I used lyrics from the song “Time is Running Out” by Muse and printed them on a sheet of paper and then drew some designs on top by hand. After a little tweaking, I scanned the entire image in photoshop, printed it out and used photo paper to transfer the image onto the plate. Then I placed it in the ferric acid so it could etch. To my dismay nearly an hour later..I found out that nothing was etched so I had to start over. I got back on Photoshop and adjusted the image a bit so it would successfully transfer using the exposure process. This time it worked. After scrubbing off the photo paper, I was finally ready to print. The intaglio printing process is very different from relief printing. First, you have to soak your paper in water for about half an hour so that it can draw up the ink from the plate.

While the paper is soaking, you heat up the copper plate, push thick black ink into the recesses on the plate, and then gently scrub the excess ink off the surface using a tarlatan, which is a starched cheesecloth. After this, you place the plate on a sheet of newsprint on the printing press, take a sheet of paper out of the water, roll it dry, place it on top of the plate, lay some wool pads on top, and then roll it through.

Then you repeat the entire process again and again and again and again until you have a good amount of great prints. After seeing my first several prints, I wasn’t entirely satisfied, so I worked on the plate some more by hand. And then I started the printing process over. Hours upon hours later, I was done:

My final print was another Intaglio, but with the addition of monotype for some color. A monotype produces a unique print so each one is different. For the intaglio part of this print, I used a 9″x12″ copper plate, covered it in resin ground, drew in my image by hand, and etched it in stages.

After pulling a few prints to make sure they were good, I moved onto the monotype part of the process. I wanted the colors to look organic and slightly messy so I played around with some water-soluble oil pastels. Here’s what I ended up doing:

I placed a sheet of plexiglass over my image and colored on top as if coloring in a picture. Then I dipped my finger in water and blended the pastels together and let them run a little by tipping the plexiglass. After letting it dry, I took a sheet of paper out of the water, rolled it dry, and printed the pastels onto it by rolling everything through the press. Immediately after, I rolled the paper through again, but with the copper plate on top before the paper got too dry.

This was the longest process out of all the processes, but it was so much fun to see how each print was going to turn out since they were all different. Here is one of my final prints:

I am so proud of the work I did in that class, and I hope I get the chance to work with printmaking again in the future!

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