Inside the Artist’s Studio with Heather Swenson: The Link Between Silkscreen and Collage

A little over four years ago I moved back to Rochester after graduating from Purchase College of Art and Design with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts and a concentration in Painting and Printmaking. Since then I have continued to work across several mediums, moving between silkscreen, collage, painting, sculpture and installation. Currently I have been focusing on silkscreen and collage, noticing their similarities and working to integrate principles of collage into my prints.

My screenprints always start from a drawing, often one that I cut up and rearrange. This drawing often goes through many stages before I settle on a composition for the final print. Through the images below I will walk through the process of making one of my recent screenprints, Temporary Stability.

One of the first compositions for Temporary Stability.

One of the first compositions for Temporary Stability.

Final drawing for Temporary Stability.

Final drawing for Temporary Stability.

I sort through an ever-growing collection of old books and paper for inspiration, often adding new elements into the drawing.

Paper scraps from my collection.

Paper scraps from my collection

Once I arrive at the finished drawing I start making layers for the print. I lay a sheet of acetate over the drawing and trace a section with a lightfast marker.  With silkscreen, each color is laid down separately, so for every color in the print there will be a corresponding sheet of acetate. This process of separating colors and focusing on how parts make up the whole link up to the way I think about collage.

Making the layers for the print, this film will be used when exposing the screen.

Making the layers for the print, this film will be used when exposing the screen.

In my studio in the Hungerford Building, I have a small exposure unit that I built to expose the screens and a table with hinge clamps to make my prints.

My silkscreen table  with a screen in the hinge clamps.

My silkscreen table in my studio with a screen in the hinge clamps.

Aside from the loose palette I select for the silkscreen, printing is a spontaneous process for me.  I mix my colors as I work, often making changes along the way.  As shown below the final print, Temporary Stability, is slightly different from the final drawing I made. Instead of the grey shape at the bottom, I printed a scanned security envelope pattern.

The final preparatory drawing and the final print.

The final preparatory drawing and the final print.

Among other prints and a set of small sculptures, I have two pieces in the Upstate NY Printmaking Invitational that bridge the gap between collage and silkscreen. They are collages that I made from cutting up my screenprints. Repurposing of my work in silkscreen brings it full circle to the beginning stages of the process when I am arranging parts for the drawing.

Collage made entirely from cut up screenprints.

Collage made entirely from cut up screenprints.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Heather Swenson’s prints in our current exhibition the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational (runs through October 7). You can see more of Heather’s work online at www.heatherswenson.com or follow her on Instagram @heatherswensonart.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker Gregory Page.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Gregory Page: Motifs From My Back Yard

The following images show my printmaking process.  The photos are from a project completed while I was on sabbatical leave in 2013. Three print were produced and several unique impressions at Normal Editions Workshop at Illinois State University in the College of Fine Arts School of Art, Normal, Illinois.

I worked with Professor Richard Finch (Director of Normal Editions), Veda Rives (Associate Director), and Christopher Hagen and Alyssa Tauber (both graduate students in the Department of Art).  I also worked with Jessica Chambers (Director of the Horticulture Center at Illinois State University) and Professor Don Schmidt (Dean of the School of Biological Sciences and Director of the Biological Sciences Greenhouse Collection at the Felmley Annex). I also visited the Rapp Agricultural Building Greenhouse.

Collecting the plants:

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Drying the plants:

Drying the plants

Soaking the leaves:

Soaking the leaves

Leaves in the tray coated with tusche:

Leaves in the tray coated with tusche

Leaves are placed on Artex film:

Leaves placed on Artex Film

Leaves dry and are removed from the film:

Leaves dry and removed from film

The exposed plate:

Exposed Plate

Printing:

Printing

The plate is printed:

The Plate is printed

The prints are signed:

The Prints are signed.

The finished prints:

Motif From ISU Greenhouse Selections I

Motif From ISU Greenhouse Selections I

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections II

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections II

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections I & II

Motifs From Greenhouse Selections I & II

Prints in the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational at Main Street Arts:

Gregory Page

Gregory Page


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Gregory Page’s prints in our current exhibition the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational (runs through October 7).

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker Minna Resnick.

Meet the Artist in Residence: John Galan

John Galan is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts! He’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the months of September–October 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see his studio and works in progress). We asked John a few questions about his artwork, life, and more:

Artist in residence John Galan

Artist in residence John Galan

Q: To start this off, tell us about your background.

A: Since I was a child I knew I wanted to become a professional artist. Twenty-six years later and I’m making that dream a reality. I graduated from California Lutheran University with a Bachelor’s in Art. Currently, I work as an instructor at a paint and sip studio called Pinot’s Palette. I also work from my art studio at home in Ventura County, California. As an emerging artist, my work has been featured in local galleries including the Museum of Ventura County. I recently embarked on a month long trip to Portugal (June 2016) painting the countryside while experimenting and developing my work.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: The art I create is a personal reflection of my life. I like to depict symbolic stories of past memories in order to trigger the viewers subconscious. Most work focuses on the human figure in the landscape. I believe that there is an inextricable connection between humankind and nature which transcends cognitive thought to a level of what some might call spirituality. I paint alla prima using vibrant high chroma hues to add a contemporary element to a traditional form of realism. Other work involves a strong influence in pattern and design in order to capture the viewers interest.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

A: The process of creating a work of art is equally as important to the final product. New ideas, can come from everyday life. Constant inspirations include: nature, family, portraits, and music. I like to depict moments I find spiritually fulfilling. One of the largest influences is music. Whenever I’m painting in the studio I listen to specific songs in order to evoke a specific mood which I can then translate to the bare canvas. I use the traditional medium of oil paint to create contemporary surrealistic paintings.

Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.

A: The paintings I intend to produce at Main Street Arts Residency reflect many underlying themes and motifs influenced by geographical location, seasons, and culture. I intend to continue a series of portraits I started in Portugal of this year. The paintings are based off of immediate family and how seasons can describe an individuals personality.

I am most exited about painting outdoors because this will be the first time I get to experience Autumn. I intend to explore the surrounding community of Clifton Springs

A plein air painting of John's residency housing in Clifton Springs, NY

A plein air painting of John’s residency housing in Clifton Springs, NY

John plein air painting at the Foster Cottage Museum

John plein air painting at the Foster Cottage Museum in Clifton Springs, NY

Q: What’s next for you?

A: There is so much I want to do. A priority involves creating an art show back at home showcasing all the new work from this year. I would also like to continue traveling to other artists residencies as well as go back to school for my masters in painting.

Q: Where can we find you?

A: Website: www.johngalan.com | Instagram: @johngalanart | Email: johngalanart@gmail.com


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Minna Resnick: Idea to Finished Drawing

My work deals with visual and written language over time, exploring generational differences in the understanding of communication. I use illustrated early and mid-twentieth century manuals on home management, décor, repair, health, education and etiquette for source material and inspiration. This drawing starts with photo illustrations from the 1967 book (pictured below) whose opening sentence reads, “My dear young friend: This, I think, is the book you have been waiting for.” Ha! This text only makes me laugh and initiates the process of reinventing the original source material into something with totally new associations.

book-Seventeen

I use two images from different book chapters and print them on separate sheets of paper in two colors. Both sheets are then covered with a watercolor wash of the same color and the sheets are joined together.

drawing progression

Using a photograph I took of my model, I start drawing over the background with a colored pencil, integrating another layer of information. Here’s more progress:

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I continue adding layers (and obstructing previous ones) as I develop the image…

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…until my idea for the new drawing is complete.

The title of this image is “Learns Much About the World”.

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see Minna Resnick’s prints in our current exhibition the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational (runs through October 7). View her work online at www.minnaresnick.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker Kathleen Sherin.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Cathryn Leyland

Cathryn Leyland is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts! She’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the months of September–October 2016 (you can stop by the gallery to see her studio and work in progress). We asked Cathryn a few questions about her artwork, life, and more:

Artist in Residence Cathryn Leyland in her Main Street Arts studio

Artist in Residence Cathryn Leyland in her Main Street Arts studio

Q: Tell us about your background.

A: I grew up in the house of an artist and a paper engineer, so materials were always accessible and projects abundant.

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After starting another career path, I headed back into art through an interest in scientific textbook authoring and illustration. Upon finishing an MFA, I found myself teaching computer graphics amid courses in professional and technical communications.

Photos (c)CRLeylandI owe my teaching pathway to  printmaker Eric Bellmann, who was art chair for the evening division at RIT. He entrusted me with teaching so early in my working years. And Tom Moran, my chair during the evolving years of computer graphics.

Teaching led me into writing and illustrating online course materials, and developing new courses. It took me  a while to realize that curriculum design was essentially book publishing, with a smaller audience and immediate feedback. I suppose one could conclude, “You can always do science for a hobby.”

This fall my courses are online, which frees me to settle into Clifton Springs for this great opportunity at Main Street Arts. It will be refreshing to produce art there, meet people,  and see what emerges from workshops.

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CRLeyland Abstract

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: Everyone sets their balance between order and chaos, dealing with what arrives. Life brings disarray, and we scramble to pack it into order. Often the interruption is order; we just haven’t recognized patterns yet. My artwork respects chaos, and the order that can be formed from it.

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I pursue ideas that I’d like to teach others, or find adventures in trying new tools.

I can’t resist sandboxing fabric ideas at Spoonflower.com, and have hidden vices where print-on-demand services wrap my images on new products.

(c) CRLeyland on Spoonflower

For  short time, I designed surface pattern for fashion and fabric through an agent. Seamless pattern design could be an interesting topic for a gallery workshop.

I’ve sold ceramic sculpture to people carrying it through a crowded festival; painted public art while onlookers shouted from their cars; designed promotional materials, to find that different opinions make us such snowflakes.

In artistic expression we tell our individual stories, and should expect others’ to be different. Then we are delighted when  ideas connect, when visual communicators seem to understand how we were thinking.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?

A: Scissors beat paper and rock. Vital tools are bitmap software, MS Notepad, small graphics tablet, phone camera– to jot down ideas or carry out a full vision.

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Acrylic paint on board conveys what’s on my mind most effectively.

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Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?

A: Projects often start with curiosity about materials, combining things in unexpected ways. I see what I already have to work with, and build on that. My pewter phase began with videos of survivalists melting cans and pouring molten metal on garage floors. Who can resist.

In approaching a project, I pick up peripheral information. Learn everything, then narrow to how I’d like to carry it out. Art-making is about choices, and is not necessarily an additive process. Try removing as fast as you add.

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Q: What are your goals for this residency?

A: Work will emerge in both pewter jewelry, and acrylic abstracts.

In preparation, I cast pewter into organic and geologic forms, and will combine these with semi-precious stones, amber, freshwater pearls, a little sterling and other metals. Shapes were melted ahead of time, to keep the gallery off speed dial to Clifton Springs FD.

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(c)2016 CRLeylandI have small paintings to finish, which will gradually appear outside my second floor studio.

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During the residency, you will see the progression of a painted series, on Finger Lakes waterways. The depth of Seneca Lake, winding of Flint Creek, elevations, watersheds, and glacial structures… I would like to highlight fluidity, sprawl, and vulnerability in upstate waters.

And oh! I look forward to offering workshops, seeing what each person brings in experience and insight.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Two upcoming juried exhibits here, I’d like to submit work to– Small Works 2016 and The Cup, The Mug.

I expect to carry the pewter idea further, into art jewelry exhibits. Pewter is malleable and melts at low temperatures, so it’s wonderful to work with, and opens up many possibilities. I had the opportunity to wax-cast silver when I was young, and am building that experience into the way I cast pewter.

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I continue to teach, freelance, write, take on other work… and am always eager to explore new opportunities.

Q: Where else can we find you?

A: Saatchi ArtFine Art AmericaLinkedIn, and Spoonflower — A great place for trying new ideas for seamless repeats–and connecting with thoughtful, creative people.

(c) 2014-16 CRLeyland fabric

Q: Do you collect artwork?

A: I have stoneware and abstracts that harmonize with life. Art might arrive through connection with an artist, friend or relative, or a discovery I can’t pass up.

(c) CRLeyland


Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Submissions are reviewed and awarded on an ongoing basis.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kathleen Sherin: Printmaker

U D, Carborundum Monoprint, 19.5 x 9.5 inches

U D, Carborundum Monoprint, 19.5 x 9.5 inches

The prints I have on display at Main Street Arts are part of a new series called “Imeasurable Blues”.

Assembled Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 25 x 15 inches

Assembled Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 25 x 15 inches

I create my prints in my studio in the TriMain Building as a resident artist in Buffalo Arts Studio  and larger prints in the printshop at the University of Buffalo through a community access program called ePIC ( Experimental Print Imaging Center).

My studio and press at Buffalo Arts Studio

My studio and press at Buffalo Arts Studio

I always work in series.  Each series is a conversation. These conversations all seem to have a common thread, to explore and express conflicts and contrasts of the physical and mental aspects of being human – or  of the rational and intuitive self. In this current series I have ventured past the border of self to the resonant forces found in nature.

My 10 second statement: “Ideas derived from Biology clash with ideas about Psychology, are mediated by Observation and Experience then completed on an Etching Press”.

The press is an essential tool and partner in creation and  involvement in the process of printing is essential to my creative thinking.

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The prints in this exhibition are Carborundum and Collagraphic Monprints.

A Carborundum  print is made from a calligraphic process in which the image is painted on the plate with carborundum (a gritty abrasive powder) mixed with acrylic medium. Once dried the plate is inked wiped and printed.

The Process of Making a Carborundum Print

A drawing with a liquid acrylic mixed with carborundum in made on  a polystyrene (plastic) plate.

Making the plate -

This plate has combination of lines made with Carborundum and lines made only with acrylic medium.

Close up of plate:

Close up of plate

Once the additions are  dry,  ink (oil-based etching ink) is rubbed onto the plate and into the textured surface of the carborundum lines until the entire plate is covered with ink.

Inking the plate

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Excess ink is wiped off with tarlatan (material like starched cheesecloth).

tarlatan

I leave much  of the ink on the plate –  and the marks in the ink by manually wiping.   It is now ready to print.

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Dampened paper is placed over inked plate on the press bed.

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A rubber blanket is placed over paper to cushion and to allow the paper to mold over the raised lines on the plate.

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The print is rolled through the press user pressure.

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A print is born!

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A print and plate.

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Some of my prints like the following are layered pieces  - This print has ben made with 2 plates, one printed over the  other in a separate run through the press.

W T S O, Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 24 x 15 inches

W T S O, Carborundum and Collagraphic Monoprint, 24 x 15 inches

This is my thinking and working wall at the studio – I am usually working on several overlapping series at once.

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This is the other part of my studio filled with prints.  BAS is an open studio space; please feel free to visit.

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Though I have lived and worked in Buffalo NY for many years, I am originally from Greenwich NY.  I moved to Buffalo to attend college first to study nursing (BS in 1972) then continued on to study and make art (BA Empire Sate College 1981, MFA in painting at UB 1985).

I studied intaglio as a post-graduate and  learned traditional printmaking methods. I abandoned these soon to discover through trial and error - simpler materials and more direct, less chemical-mediated ways of working.

My prints are unique, one-of-a-kind, hand-pulled pieces that blend traditions from painting, printmaking and collage. They contain a combination of direct non-chemically-mediated printmaking methods that include my personal spin on collagraphic, carborundum printing and monoprint techniques.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kathleen Sherin’s prints in our current exhibition the Upstate New York Printmaking Invitational (runs through October 7). View her work online at www.ksherin.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by printmaker Barbara McPhail.