"Nature is what we know
Yet have not art to say
So impotent our vision is
to her simplicity."
- Emily Dickinson

Sunday, March 20, 2011


The Vernal Equinox 2011. Spring arrives officially at 7:21 this evening and I will celebrate with my annual ritual of balancing an egg on its end. This year, I am celebrating in another way as I am making my printmaking studio green.

Now, let me say that I love my painting studio and have no plans to make environment changes there. I love the smell of my traditional oil painting materials -- linseed oil, balsam, spike and really good turps. That's what my well ventilated studio smells like and that's what I think it should smell like. But my printmaking practices are all going green. I really think making art should be a pleasurable practice and I don't find acid, nasty smells and messy clean up all that pleasurable. After a class at Penland, I started printmaking with glass plates, using them for intaglio and lithograph plates with happy results. My inks were great quality, made with artist's pigments and burnt plate oil. Then I discovered Solarplate and I fell in love with the images that resulted, though still using the etching ink that required solvent for cleanup -- and there always was a mess to cleanup. My first Solarplates were exposed directly in the noonday sun last July and I now have a UV exposure unit in the studio that is much quicker, more efficient and quite consistent. I knew I had to find a better solution for the inks and I've settled on Akua water-based intaglio inks. At first, I was not completely satisfied with the results -- I like a little plate blush and the ink cleaned off the plate too much -- but now I'm adding a soy-based modifier to the ink and am getting a stiffer consistency resulting in a slight blush on the plate. Green is getting good results off my press!

Of course, the naturalist in me seems to dictate my subject matter just as it does for most of my paintings. I can see that presenting my little etchings will be as much fun as the printing process. I'm putting them in larger collage paintings and encaustic compositions -- and even matting some for the traditionalists. Naturalist Press is working in Sugar Hill, Georgia.

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