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Monday, July 30, 2012

Printmaking in Santa Fe, NM, Part 1

Monday, July 23rd:  Dan Welden's Solarplate workshop at Boy Fish Press/Making Art Safely and it was awe-inspiring to learn from this master printmaker. Five days of learning and re-learning a safe way to make art on paper in one of the most artistic towns in the United States.  No nitric acid, no drums of kerosene, no lacquer thinner, no oil-based inks, no stop-out varnish, no asbestos-ridden talc, no toxic stuff to inhale or absorb and shorten your lifespan. The only thing I smelled for five days was baby powder (the cornstarch type) and baby wipes.
Koinobori outside Boy Fish Press

New Mexico's famous blue skies

Lunch break under the umbrellas
 On day one, we learned to grain glass in the same way you grain a litho stone to make it frosted on one side. We drew on the glass with special pencils and used the drawing to make an intaglio plate.
Dan demonstrating graining the glass by hand.

My glass drawing and my first solarplate.

The first proof.
The solarplate process is so simple, I could make an intaglio plate ready to print in less than 10 minutes! Try that with a zinc or copper plate! And the results are beautiful. You can get effects just like the traditional methods- intaglio, relief, drypoint, and also create new and unexpected effects with these plates that made them endlessly versatile. After the graining and drawing exercise, we prepared plates for a special trip on Tuesday. We were going to Echo Canyon to make art outside. First, we covered a new solarplate with a thick coating of dense, black Akua ink and carefully dusted with baby powder to "set" it. We affixed it to a piece of cardboard so it was ready to transport to the site tomorrow morning. We also had instructions to make our own drawing tools from sharpened sticks.
My prepared plate, notebook, and drawing stick.
Our field trip the next day was going to start early and include a chance to see beautiful New Mexico landscapes and locales including Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch.

Tuesday, July 24th: Echo Canyon
Check out the colors of the cliffs.
Natural amphitheater formation.

Stunning rock formations!

These rocks are more angular than the rest.

Under the amphitheater.

Wow, what a beautiful place to make art! The legend of Echo Amphitheater states that the red drips were caused by the blood of settlers killed by the Diné in 1861. A few years later, ten Diné men were killed by the US Army during The Long Walk in the same spot. I thought it was natural iron from the sandstone; however, I like the blood story better though, assuming it's true. 
I also had a perfect view of Cerro Pedernal, the mesa Georgia O'Keeffe made famous in many paintings.  She asked that her ashes be spread there when she died.
Georgia's mountain.
The art making
We did a drawing exercise that involved something similar to contour drawing only this time, we had to walk through the landscape at Echo Canyon. We drew on our plates with our sticks into the thick black ink. Then we exposed the plates, cleaned them off and developed them on-site. The resulting relief etch was so tactile and sensual, I wanted to go back to the studio and print them immediately, but we spent more time exploring, even stopping at Ghost Ranch, Bode's, and a fruit stand on the way back. Dan would do a printing demo tomorrow. What an amazing day!
Dan showing how to develop the plates.

Check it out!
Two student's plates developing in the sun.
Post-exposing my plate on the bear-proof trash can.
The fruit stand had more than fruit and chile ristras!
Giant peeps and religious candles at the fruit stand.












Look for Printmaking in Santa Fe, part 2 in a day or two!
Ciao,
~Reb

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