How cool is this? Calgary Arts Development contacted me this week wanting to feature the above photograph for their Calgary Living a Creative Life series! They also asked me to share some thoughts on how I live a creative life. This is the article in it's entirety here.
What a neat surprise to have happen this week! The creative team over at CAD was great to work with too - thanks guys!
The short answer is yes, you can print using linoleum flooring. While they are very similar, I found there were some differences to this material from artist grade linoleum. Recently, my sister (who works for a flooring company), gave me some samples of discontinued linoleum flooring to try. On initial inspection, they looked almost identical to battleship grey artist grade lino.
To touch, I found that the flooring was more pliable and had a very, very slight texture to the cutting surface. I did not sand this sample down, because I wanted a baseline test to see what out-of-the-box lino would be like to work with. In future tests though, I will take a very fine grit sandpaper to the surface to reduce this. It almost feels like a surface coating.
Cutting the flooring was a pleasure. I honestly breezed through the entire sample. It was somewhere between a soft block and standard artist grade. It held the tool well without me feeling like I had to force anything. The line quality was decent. One thing I noticed though was hit the bottom layer very easily (making for a not as pretty block) Since it is a thinner material, there is a finer layer of the linoleum surface on the hessian.
Once I got to inking the piece, I noticed the surface texture a lot more. It is very smooth but minutely pebble like to touch. When I rolled the brayer of oil based ink on it, I noticed it didn't drink it up quite the same way as the first layer of ink on artist grade linoleum.
I let it sit for a moment to soak in, applied another coat of ink and then proceeded to print. After a few proof prints, it printed almost identically for for the first 10 prints or so. I achieved nice inky, deep blacks and crisp lines with the usual amount of effort. As an aside, I pull prints with the help of an antique book press, so I don't know if hand burnishing would get the same results.
I found after about 10 prints, I started fighting an odd resistance to the ink. I noticed my edges were fuzzing out a little here and there and had a closer look at the block. I appeared to be that the all the cut lines were pushing back the ink. I blotted the block when I noticed this happening and it seem to alleviate the issue for a few prints but it always came back. I'm pretty sure sanding the coating off the top layer is the way to fix this issue.
All in all, I will keep experimenting on this, for sure. I really like how it carved and I like the fact that if I wanted a bigger piece to work on, this would be an economical way to get materials. I'm not worried about the "artist grade" part of this on a conservation level because the time span that a block is in use is so short and the contact with things that need to be artist grade (ink and paper) is very brief, it wouldn't have much of an effect. Remember, flooring is where linocut printmaking all began in the Die Brucke movement... it was a cheap, easily sourced alternative to woodcut blocks.
Stay tuned for the reveal of the print I made with this block! I'm not quite done with it yet.
I love it when the theme of a picture just sorts itself out for you. I've been playing with plate composition all week in the studio with my new treasures. Stacking, re-stacking, moving to a different light - its been an undercurrent of activity and thought while I putter away on other projects.
Once and a while, I'll snap a picture or two of a pleasing arrangement and sort the images out later. When I was editing photos, this one leaped to the the forefront. Absolutely by chance, the shadows on the table and the bowl interior were in the same family as the rosy pink plate. What would have normally stuck out like a sore thumb (the lone pink plate) works in harmony here because of this. What fun to paint = I loved pushing that airy, precious pink into every corner of the canvas that I could fit it into!
This painting is part of my submission for the Christmas in Country show at the Leighton Art Centre in a few weeks. You can read more about it here.
A recent trip to Jasper was the source for this picture, specifically the Maligne Canyon area - we took a winding side path that felt almost vertical at times and we were rewarded with this alpine meadow filled with a cacophony of colour. I've really been enjoying playing with the the range in my limited palette lately. Pushing the colour combinations as bright and far as they can go while still maintaining harmony with the rest of the series. It has been a healthy challenge!
Right now I am busily preparing my submission for the Christmas in Country show and sale at the Leighton Centre and this piece will be one of them. Here are all the details you need to put this fun event on your calendar:
Leighton Art Centre, Calgary: Christmas in the Country Art Show and Sale
Sat - Sun November 4th & 5th, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sat - Sun November 11th & 12th, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Over a thousand pieces of fine craft and unframed artworks by local artists line the historic Leighton Home this Christmas. Beautiful decorations and festive treats will make you feel at home. Discover over 100 artists and find a special gift for your loved ones at this annual art sale. Visit their site here for map and directions.
I have exciting news - I've taken the step of seeking out gallery representation! This move has been in the making for some time, I wanted very much to find a gallery that not only suited my paintings, but also was supportive of my printmaking and letterpress work as well.
I am delighted to partner with Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta - they have an amazing collection and great curation. Every time I step foot in this space, there is a buzz of colour and energy. There are many artists also represented with this gallery that I feel honoured to share wall space with.
Check out what work of mine they are carrying here. Thank you, Bluerock!
This has been a week of wrapping things up - finishing that little press, Heritage Park is now closed for the regular season and I have one more teaching trip in British Colombia before winter makes driving over the Rockies unpredictable and precarious. It has really been a good year on many fronts and to be tying up loose ends and turning a page to a new chapter feels really good.
The class I am teaching is at the Kelowna Art Gallery - a wonderful maker space that is well stocked with all sorts of materials and treasures. We are going to focus on beginner's watercolour - a great way to dip your toes into painting! I've been working more and more lately with incorporating watercolour into my notes, en plein air and mixed media work so I am really looking forward to sharing the basics this weekend.
Here is all the registration information, the class still has room last I heard. All the contact information to register can be found below:
Kelowna Art Gallery: Introduction to Watercolours Workshop
Sat, October 14, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Cost: $105 (Members $90) | Students $80
This workshop will teach students about the types of paints and paper they can use, how to prepare their materials, and the variety of stunning effects possible with watercolours. Whether experienced in other forms of art making or trying it for the first time, this class will give students what they need to start creating watercolour masterpieces on their own!
Space is limited and registration is required.
Please visit Kelowna Art Gallery or contact them at 250-762-2226 to register.
Some of you might remember my summer Letterpress confessional style update - new presses, restoration, Heritage Park, yadda, yadda, yadda (you can read it here if you are just coming across this now). Anyways, there is an addendum to this story, which I am really excited about.
Way, way, way back, the original person who got me into letterpress did so by giving me his press. Not because he was wanting to get rid of it, but because he was moving. I know that had to have hurt more than a little bit. While I am very thankful he passed it along to me, I have always kept my eyes out for a smaller, more portable replacement for him. This summer, it showed up!
The funny thing about this little press was I knew it was meant to be for my friend the second I laid eyes on it. It is the exact type and brand of press he gave me, only one size smaller and a whole lot more portable.!
One catch with this press though was that it was unusable - the clamp that held the chase and chase bed in place was broken off, an earlier brazing repair to the roller arms was done crookedly (so the rollers would not have traveled in a straight line across the ink plate) and there were all sorts of missing or loose bits to hold it together.
Luckily, I have access to an amazing shop and a friend to help with repairs! After giving a good clean, we started chipping away at this a little while ago. I did the smaller stuff, prep work and painting while my friend did the jobs that required a higher level of skill like the brazing and fitting work. Check out the pro clamp repair:
Anyways, I'm overjoyed that we could rescue this sweet little press, give it some love and send it to a new home where I know it'll see a lot of use! I feel like there has been a full circle made in this story now!