I was recently asked by Deb Hunter of H…the blog to participate in the “Blog Hop Around the World”. Deb lives in my province but spends a lot of her time travelling between her home and cabin in Central Alberta and their “island home” on BC’s Southern Gulf Islands. She has a photography business and art store Hunter Photographics and Studio h and three blogs that showcase her life at home, her time on the Island, and her many fabulous artistic creations from knitting and painting to hand-dyed fibre arts and photography. You can find links to her other blogs through the blog link above – they are worth checking out!
I was happy to be asked because WordPress – and blogging generally – has put me in touch with so many wonderful friends and creators around the world. I’m happy to share a little more about myself and look forward to the chance to meet some new bloggers.
A quick scan of my blog will show you that I am an artist with many interests, but my main passion is for printmaking. I love this ancient art form! For those of you not familiar with printmaking, my original handmade art prints are created by carving into a flat surface, inking the surface, and then transferring the image onto paper. The prints are multiple originals, each one printed by hand, and each one unique.
Now for the “Blog Hop Around the World” questions!
What are you working on?
Like many artists, I spend my time juggling many projects at once. Focus is important, for sure, but having my fingers in many projects feeds my spirit! Typically, my time is split between the creative and the administrative. About 50% of the time is pure creating: working on new ideas, drawing designs or hand-printing new works of art in my lovely Canmore, Alberta art studio. The other 50% of the time, you will find me married to my computer while planning and promoting: writing notes or agendas for the meetings of several art groups and projects I am involved with, coming up with new ideas for workshops to teach, posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etsy and Pinterest, and writing content for my blog, website and my monthly newsletter.
This week’s snapshot from the art studio includes:
Creating artwork (the fun stuff)
I am hand-printing greeting cards to replenish my card supply after a busy summer buying season (I supply seven galleries and art shops with cards, plus keep a good supply in studio for visitors to buy).
Plans and events (always looking forward)
I’m on the committee that organizes the Canmore Studio & Gallery Tour that is fast approaching on September 20 & 21, 2014, so I just completed building the map of the participants and helped create our tour brochure. I also manage the Canmore Studio and Gallery Tour Facebook page, so I have been posting all the 2014 participants’ information and photos.
Last night, I met with the members of an artist collective I belong to in Canmore. Our group, the Artists of Elk Run, met at a local pub to discuss the plans for the upcoming annual tour we host every December. This year, our tour will be on Dec. 6 & 7, 2014. It’s a wonderful group of artists who have come together to promote the professional working studios in the Elk Run Industrial district where I have my art studio.
I often teach printmaking to children through the local schools or through Girl Guides. I love working with children. I’ve also been approached to give a workshop for teachers coming to Canmore for a conference in October, so this week I am starting to work on my curriculum for that workshop.
Promotions (don’t be shy now)
Ever heard that saying, “If you build it, they will come”? Well, though building it is a great start, artists certainly need to spend time on the other part of it: telling others about your work and where to find it. I happen to love social media, so am quite engaged with the major social sites of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Etsy. I’ve also just begun a profile on Pinterest, though I am a novice at that site.
This week I have my monthly newsletter to send out (it’s half-written), and am actively posting new works of art and events on my other social sites. Self-promotion takes a lot of time, but I’ve made amazing connections throughout the world because of my social network, like I explain on this blog.
I also need to be finishing an update to my website that I started in January (sigh), but something else more important and urgent always seems to come up.
How does my work differ from others?
Printmaking in general can be an unfamiliar medium for creating, so I am often the “different one” in a group of artists (the flip side is having a niche). My unusual medium always gives me something unique to talk about. My art is created backwards so I have to be comfortable with left brain planning, so when my creative right-brain kicks in, it knows where to go.
For example, when I create a reduction print – a multi-colored print using only one block – like my recent Three Sisters Summer print, I have to know exactly how the last layer of the print is going to look before I make my first cut.
Unlike painting or drawing, when people ask what I do, they have either heard of printmaking, or they haven’t. I spend a lot of time at art events or shows talking about and demonstrating the process. My blog and YouTube channel does this, too, so if you’re interested in printmaking, those are rich resources. Part of my passion is educating art buyers about the unique process of printmaking.
Why do I create what I do?
I was encouraged to be creative since the time I could hold a crayon. I was so lucky to have parents who honored the creative expression of their children. My grandmother played in a radio orchestra in the 1920s, my parents both play instruments, and all three of my brothers are serious musicians, so it was an integral part of growing up.
Creating art is part of my soul. There was a time when I was focussed on a business career and raising a family and subsequently found very little time for art. But when I wasn’t creating, it left me feeling unfulfilled and a little empty. Even though I still have pre-teen children in the house, I’m happy to have once again found great chunks of time that I can devote to my art.
I came to printmaking only seven years ago, although I have long admired illustrators who created with printmaking like John Tenniel (etching), Hokusai (Japanese woodblock) and Albrecht Durer (woodcuts).
I have always painted and drawn, and even do a little wood carving of folk art Santas, but decided to focus my art practice primarily on printmaking about two years ago. I still like to play with these other mediums, but concentrating on printmaking has given me so much pleasure and the practice of creating in one medium has added invaluably to my experience and skill. It was totally the right decision for me.
How does my creative process work?
I never go anywhere without a camera, hoping to catch photos that will give me references for the things that thrill my heart: the gorgeous local landscape; birds of any kind; flowers and gardening. My creative process begins with a photo that I take. I have a folder of “print ideas” on my computer for those that I think have potential to be turned into art.
Once I have selected a photo to use as the basis for a print, I boil it down to a simpler form that can be reproduced with a flat line and a few colors that will work with printmaking. My challenge is to express texture and depth with only a few lines or colors, thus reducing the subject to its essence.
My process from here is shown in many of my previous blogs (click on any of my blogs in the categories of ‘printmaking’ or ‘instructional’ for a walk through this process) but here is the process in a nutshell.
Once my flat block (made of linoleum or soft linoleum) is carved, I apply oil-based inks on the block with a roller, lay my paper on top and rub the back of the paper until the image is transferred to the paper. I hand-pull the print in this way for every print and card I create, then clip them to my studio clothesline to dry.
Drying can take a few days or several weeks, depending on the color and amount of ink, the thickness of the paper and how humid or dry the air is. After the prints are dry, I package them in acid-free wrap or frame them using acid-free materials as this will help protect the archival quality of my prints for decades.
As you can see from my earlier comments, I often have several works of art on the go, at various stages. It’s a process and business that is ever changing and always fascinating, and I am so blessed to be able to pursue my passion this way.
I would now like to encourage you to check out two amazing creative artists whose blogs I follow.
June Hunter shares her inspiration through her blog The Urban Nature Enthusiast. June is a Vancouver artist and photographer who creates gorgeous art to wear and for the home. She gives herself the job titles: Reporter on Mundane Wonders, Alleyway Wanderer and Crow Paparazzo, which gives you an idea about her lovely sense of humor. June draws inspiration from her city, her home garden and her cat, plus the squirrels, ravens and other birds that make up the environment of her urban home.
Terri shares her many and varied interests on her blog Time To Be Inspired. She is a talented designer and artist who has a passion for textiles, pattern design, printmaking, photography, travel and cooking. Her blog is a lovely place to watch this prolific artist at work and share in her adventures. She recently finished a summer residency at the Alberta College of Art & Design creating silk screen designs on fabric, but you will also find her travel and garden photos delightful, and her recipes yummy.
June and Terri will be posting their “Blog Hop Around the World” in about a week, so watch for these posts, or check out their blogs in the meantime. Thanks for reading!