This past weekend I spent two afternoons creating hand-printed linocut postcards in an art museum in front of a crowd. I don’t usually have people watching over my shoulder as I create, but it’s an oddly satisfying activity.
Each Sunday afternoon, a different artist sets up in the Swiss Guides Room of this Banff art museum to showcase their artwork and processes. For those who are available (like me) we are also there on Saturday afternoons.
I love having the opportunity to demonstrate my printmaking. It’s an art form that is not all that common, and many people I spoke with over the weekend had no idea how handmade limited edition art prints are made.
When I show the hand carving into the block, let them compare the block art with the final print, and touch the thick layer of ink on one of my proof prints, a light goes on. Then, I take my roller, spread a thin layer of ink on my glass, apply it to my carved block, add the paper, and like magic … a print is born. (I never get tired of this process!)
For this weekend, I created a new postcard-sized print of Mount Rundle, the iconic mountain in Banff National Park, and printed it on cardstock. I gave away a postcard to each person who stopped by and discussed printmaking with me. It was fun to share the joy of creation and answer all the questions.
Many folks were in the gallery viewing the “Trains & Mountains” show on the walls of the Swiss Guides Room where the demonstration took place. We had people visiting from parts of Europe, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Florida, Texas, England, Ontario, BC and Calgary. Probably lots of other places, too, as people circled by the exhibit but were too shy to talk.
It’s an interesting thing to watch people interact with a live art demonstration. Some people come into the gallery space, and march right over and say: “What are you doing?” Others circle around the gallery and shyly peek over at my work table until I break the ice and start to explain what I am carving or printing. A handful come into the gallery, peek inside the door, and turn right around and leave! I never take that personally because I know I can be shy talking to someone in a museum, too.
It’s always enjoyable, though, to be in an inspired place sharing my art. I come away with lots of new stories, several new artist recommendations to look up online, and always a feeling of wonder that it’s my “job” to share the art of printmaking with others.
Thanks to the Whyte Museum staff for organizing these social events. For those of you who haven’t been to this wonderful mountain gallery, it’s definitely worth a trip, or a look online. The founders, Peter and Catharine Whyte, were artists themselves, and have a fascinating story and contributed greatly to the arts community in Banff. It’s a legacy that continues today, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.