Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Oh my heavens, am I excited about today's post!!  Back in October, the always fabulous Jill Berry asked me if I'd like to participate in a blog hop for her new stencil set, called Artistcellar Signature Series Stencils by Jill K. Berry - TEXTures, Vol. 2.  WOULD I?!?!

Firstly, I would do any art-filled thing that Jill Berry asked of me!  A little back story - Jill and I met when she was teaching her "Personal Geographies" class at Valley Ridge Art Studio in Muscoda, WI, back in March of 2009.  I had never taken an art class before, but I loved the idea of incorporating maps into one's personal history.  I had a life-altering time that weekend, meeting wonderful folks, spending a snowy late-winter weekend at a gorgeous studio, and getting to know Jill a little better.  When Jill returned to Wisconsin for the Raevn's Nest Art Retreat in Cedarburg that October, I HAD to go!  That too was a wonderful evening, and further cemented my resolve to be more involved in my art (I quit my 9-5 job to be a full-time artist the following January).

Because of this blog hop, I was also introduced to Lisa Cousineau of Artistcellar, the company who puts out Jill's designs (check out their other products, too!).  When I got the set of four stencils in the mail, I was positively giddy.  The TEXTure designs are just that - abstract designs loosely consisting of various texts and calligraphic mark-making.  I wanted to know more about the inspiration behind Jill's designs, so I rang her up last week.  Besides spending a glorious hour or more getting caught up, Jill explained that her calligraphic style was greatly influenced by Sister Corita Kent, a nun, instructor and artist. She is the author of the "Art Department Rules", which has been widely shared. She also explained that each of her new stencils is based on a different quote or art style she loves.  If you click on this link, you'll see Jill's new series on top.  They're titled, "Picasso", "Bird", "Gera" and "Miro" (I've shared links with each to a different quote or artist's website).

I focused my attention on the Picasso and Gera stencils for my two stencil projects. Here I am using the Gera stencil to carve a stamp:

Spent a wonderful afternoon gallery sitting with
friends and using the Gera stencil for my first
project!  :)  Thanks to Carolyn Brady for taking
this photo.  :)

I traced just a little (2X2"-ish) portion of the stencil, and then carved it and inked it, using two different colors:

I'm on a big blue and orange kick lately!!  :)  After it was inked, I used fine point pens to trace the outline of the image (which to me looks like an abstract map of a city roundabout, doesn't it?):

YAY! Here's the inked image and the carved stamp, showing the actual image.  (For those of you who would like to play along at home, I used the lower right-hand corner of the Gera stencil and modified it a little in the carving process.)

I suppose it could've been done at this point (it's an ATC), but wait!  I wanted to try a little finishing with my sewing machine!

Okay, NOW it's done.  :)  Isn't it amazing how versatile stencils can be? 

What I love about Jill's TEXTures stencils is that they can be interpreted so many ways! For example, as a printmaker, I wanted to highlight the different techniques one can use in this media.  In the first project, we had a relief-based idea (how fitting!).  For my second project, I did a monoprint using my Gelli Plate! Here are some of the papers that I created using the Gelli and the Picasso stencil:

I love how all of them turned out so differently!!  But I really had my eye on the sheet in the lower right, which I created by not cleaning the plate after the initial use.  Happy accidents!  :D  

Next, I took that sheet, which was printed on rice paper, and shredded it using my household shredder:

Then I hand-dipped each strip in natural beeswax:

I love how translucent they became after the dip!

After the wax cooled, I took the strips and wove them across my hardboard canvas.  I then took some encaustic wax in Yellow Ochre and created a thin layer of color over the woven strips.  Here is the final result: 

What I love about how this turned out is that Jill's beautiful calligraphy shows, but it's still a wholly unique piece of art.  My husband Brian calls it an "abstract forest".  I concur!

I hope my two pieces showed just a tiny fraction of what is possible with these amazing stencils, from my own printmaking point of view!  But I haven't told you the best part - you can win a set of your own!!!  YES!!!

Simply comment below how YOU would use these stencils in your own printmaking style, and I'll pick a name using  on Friday, December 13 at 5 p.m. CST.  In order to qualify, YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS IN THE COMMENTS USING THE name(at)domain(dot)com FORMAT. I WILL IMMEDIATELY DISQUALIFY ANYONE WHO DOESN'T ADHERE TO THIS ONE SIMPLE RULE. (Can you tell that some people still don't follow the rules?)  :)

You only have 2 1/2 days, so enter now!  I can't wait to hear your ideas!  :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Private Lessons!

How lucky am I?

I was all set to take a woodcut class in Sheboygan, at EBCO Artworks, this neat co-op space that also houses Sheboygan Visual Artists.  It's only about 35 miles from my house, so it's also very convenient!

I got a message from Angie Zimmerman, who was to teach the class, that I was the only one who signed up. But instead of cancelling the class, she asked me if I wanted to take private lessons.

WOULD I?!?!?  Naturally, I jumped at the chance!  :D

I met Angie back in August, when I was one of three artists for the inaugural Lunchtime Art Talks series, hosted by our mutual friend, Frank Juarez.  We hit it off right away, and I knew that taking one-on-one lessons with Angie would not only be really informative and helpful, but also a blast!

I was right!  :D  I got some really helpful tips, like using a rubbing of your in-progress wood cut instead of doing a full-on proof - it's quicker, less messy, and gives you the same result.  She also showed me the differences a cut can make in your wood block, which you can see from some crayon rubbings, here (which are actually pretty cool in their own right!):

I never would've noticed the markings or lines on my wood block if Angie hadn't shown me how to do this!  :D

We've only had one lesson so far, with more to come soon.  But I was SO psyched from our first lesson that I went home and started this block of wheat "ears".

For me, the act of carving wood is so meditating, it's a wonderful process in and of itself.  Now that I'm armed with some more knowledge, it's become even more enjoyable!!  Can't wait 'til our next lesson - thank you so much, Angie!  :D

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Printing in your Kitchen!

One of the many things I love about printmaking is that it's not an exact art form - and sometimes the accidents are cooler than what you originally intended!

That happened to me this weekend, when I took "Kitchen Lithography" at The Mill Paper + Book Arts Center in Rhinelander (WI).  Yes, I know lithography isn't a form of relief printing, but it's printmaking and that's good enough for me!  :)

Daniel Goscha, Executive Director for "The Mill", taught the class.  He's spent a goodly amount of time perfecting this technique, too!  It involves using non-toxic household items, like vinegar and vegetable oil, to make litho prints (instead of bitumen and caustic paste).  The results are MAGICAL!!!  I couldn't believe it when he used litho crayon on an aluminum foil plate, dipped it in a vinegar bath, et VOILA!!  Just amazing.

Doing these classes has also forced me to practice drawing, something that has always terrified me.  But I figure that, no matter WHAT I draw, it'll at least be my own style, right?

Here I am, nonchalantly drawing, like I've
done it my whole life.  :)
Well, here's the plate I drew of a winter tree (are you noticing a pattern here?  I swear I can draw other things if I really have to!).

And here is one of the prints from that plate!  I used blue ink, which had a different viscosity than the black ink that was also available.  Not precise, but I really dig how it turned out, especially for my first time.  :)

I'm going to put it out there, because I want everyone to see it and hopefully it goes somewhere - I think that this would make a GREAT book idea!!  The title, "Kitchen Lithography", is intriguing as it is, but when you get into the whole DIY aspect of it, and the fact that you'd pretty much have everything you need to make prints at home without much fuss at all, AND it's all non-toxic - well, what do you think?  If you think this is a great idea, let Daniel know by posting "I think Kitchen Lithography should be made into a book!" on The Mill's Facebook page.  :)  Maybe if enough of us printmakers persuade him to do it, it'll be a go!  I'd buy that book for SURE!  :D

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A New Chapter!

Oh my heavens.  This is exciting.  In the last couple of months, I finally realized where my art path was leading me....


I am over the moon about it.  You know that  feeling you get when you're in the thick of learning something new, and everything about it seems fresh and exciting?  Yep, that's where I am.  I liken it to being in love. And I am most definitely in loooove with relief printmaking!

In the next couple weeks I'll be taking some printmaking classes - first up is "Kitchen Lithography" with Daniel Gousha at the Mill Paper and Book Arts Center in Rhinelander.  That's this Saturday, and I'll take lots of photos!  :)  Next up - Angie Zimmerman's "Wood Cuts" class at EBCO in Sheboygan, in conjunction with the Sheboygan Visual Arts group.  I know already that both classes are going to be AMAZING.  I can't wait!

I am SO new to this new venture, so you'll be learning along with me.  The printmaking community, much like my collage community, seems to be a very small, tight-knit group.  I love that.  I love that I keep meeting new folks all the time and that they are so very generous with their advice and expertise.  :)

I hope you like the new blog!  I also have a Facebook page for it, in case you'd like to "like" it.  :)  In the meantime, here's a tree that I made with a regular white eraser a couple weeks ago at my friend Kim Geiser's "Ephemerafest" mini retreat.  :D