Wanting to try my hand during "vacation" at a kind of art I had never done, I decided to focus on printmaking. From Professor Ruiz, I learned how to create etchings with metal plates, make linoprints and monoprints, and work with aquatint techniques. His philosophy is that the artist who drew the original image should be involved in the full printmaking process. He taught me all the stages. I learned how to ink the plate or sheet of lino, rub off the excess ink, prepare the paper on which the image was to be printed, place the image and paper on the press, and turn the press in order to pull a print. This was great work. I especially loved the time right after the roller pressed over the plate: There was a wonderful clunk. Then, you lifted the heavy pieces of felt that protected the plate and paper and you found underneath, a blank piece of paper with an enticing raised area in the center (a kind of relief created by the plate being pressed into the paper). I told myself that no matter what the image on the reverse looked like, I would be happy with this effect. Then, finally, of course, came the big moment of truth. I carefully pealed off the paper from the plate to reveal the image that had been printed. Magic!
The first printing that was pulled of any of the plates was an artist's proof. Professor Ruiz showed me how to examine these for flaws and for ways that the plate could be improved. I made the needed changes with my etching tools and then we did it again --- inking, wiping, new paper, printer prep. etc. We made proofs with the reworked plate until we had the desired printed image. With that final version of the plate, we printed off a series of prints.
I liked this way of working:
- The collaboration
- The physicality of it, even though one of my fingers took quite a beating when I did my first linoprint
- A new set of art tools -- a big deal for me who never met an art supply I didn't love
- Not really knowing what those many lines you have etched or tones you have applied will produce on a piece of paper -- being always a little surprised by the outcome
- The reliance on the paper support and the difference made by different qualities of paper
After I have unpacked them and taken some shots, I will share photographs of what I produced in Professor Ruiz's Estudio. But first, here is a little slide show of my journey from our apartment in San Miguel to the studio. One of the many gifts of San Miguel: The studio was just across the road from our home away from home, a leisurely 8 minute walk. The Ruiz Estudio was part of San Miguel's wonderful art and design center, La Aurora/ Fabrica.