Posts Tagged ‘Printmaking’

"Red Roller" (Linocut 16”x12”) by Julia Talcott, 2010

The sturdy geometric foundations of printmaker Julia Talcott’s roller coaster images give support to their more voluptuous and undulating aspects, bringing to mind the highly structured yet gracefully lolling curvaceousness of coral reefs. This conversation between the natural world and the built world is an apt reflection of Julia Talcott’s own internal artistic dichotomy.

“I love colors I see in nature and looking at patterns in nature. Arc patterns, branch patterns, seed patterns, all of those. I find them fascinating. If I look at nature, I come up with something better than what comes up in my own head just doodling from my mind. Even as a kid, I looked very carefully at nature.”

The roller coaster prints, part of her ‘built world’ side, came out of “an effort to do a really big print — some kind of organic thing.” Of my observation of the similarity between them and coral reefs, Julia says, “Coral reefs are great, huge growing patterns. Even though the roller coaster is supposedly made of steel girders, I wanted to make it feel like something that’s growing.”

"Rollercoaster" (linotype 24”x74”) by Julia Talcott, 2009

A printmaker in her 20s, she got an MFA and then went into illustrating for a living. Life got busy. There were three children and an illustration career, and no time or space for printmaking, and her connection to it got lost in a very full life. Her illustration clients included magazines, books, advertising and design agencies.

"Circus 2" (woodcut, 12"x12") by Julia Talcott, 2007

She explains that being a vector-driven computer illustrator suited the hard-edged, graphic, word-loving part of her. “It was a function of the fact that I love line and graphics and color.” About six or seven years ago, she started printing again with Mixit Print Studio in Somerville. “I took a class with Annie Silverman to start, and I went ‘Oh, of course! This is what I want to do!’ I had the muscle memory from way back. Time is short — I don’t want to finish out the rest of my career doing just illustration.”

Her reconnection with printmaking served as a connection to her “interpretive, softer, more painterly” side. “I think I’ve brought the two together in some places,” says Talcott. “Computer illustration work somehow doesn’t have the heart that printing on paper does. I love printing on paper, and the impression of the ink on the paper, the slight embossment. It’s a handheld luddite activity. That’s why I returned to real printmaking. A computer printout is not the same.”

She still does illustration from time to time, but on average spends about five hours a day, five days a week, printmaking in her Newton studio.

PO: Do you have a group of specific artists who you think of as your community?

JT: I feel tied to two different communities because I switched courses. There are my illustrator friends, who I don’t see often, but are very supportive. We see each others’ work out there, a lot on Facebook, and it’s nice to hear from those people and see them from time to time. I appreciate their comments. Here in Boston, I am part of the Boston Printmakers. It’s still new to me — I’ve been there two years — and I’m getting to know those people now.

There’s also Lois Tarlow who is on the board of the Boston Printmakers and a well-known local artist, and Annie Silverman who nurtured my return to printmaking. Susy Pilgrim Waters is an old friend, and a marvelous illustrator. She’s a very talented, spontaneous person; I get carried away when I’m around her! She’s like a creative geyser. It’s great to stand in the spray around her.

PO: I saw you in Gracie Finn’s (shop in the South End) a few months ago and you were showing printed dishtowels.

JT: Sometimes Susy Pilgrim Waters has trunk shows I take part in. I teach printing on fabric as a class. It involves a lot of work, making linoleum cuts and getting the colors right. I teach and do it because fabric can just be hung on a wall rather than framed, or used as a curtain or a dishtowel; fabric is something to make everyday life beautiful. I feel very free printing on fabric. I have fun with color and pattern. It’s a rabbit hole I jump down and I could stay there for days at time. The trunk shows are fun, too, because I enjoy getting out of the studio and meeting new people.

PO: In 1996 you illustrated a U.S. postage stamp. How did that come about?

JT: As a general illustrator with a graphic style, I had been sending promotional pieces to a designer in Needham for a long time. I never heard from him and began to feel like I was wasting time and postage sending them. Then one day out of the blue, after about six years of sending promotional cards, he called me and asked me to submit ideas for a series of Christmas postage stamps for the US Postal Service. We did it all over the phone and fax. I never met him. I like to think of it as my biggest print run — there were 2.6 billion printed! Watching the Super Bowl on TV that year, there was an aerial view of the stadium, and it occurred to me that almost everybody there had probably seen the stamps or gotten mail with them on it.

Talcott told me that the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA, a truly impressive museum I had the great pleasure of touring a few months ago, typically holds a print fair each Father’s Day.

A steamroller pressing one of Julia Talcott's prints at the Museum of Printing

“For a couple of years they hired a steamroller and invited artists to have their carved relief images printed with the steamroller,” says Talcott. “I carved my pieces offsite, but brought them with my roller and supplies to ink-up to the tent they set up in front of the building. It was raining. Dan Abugov, husband of a board member there, put on a yellow raincoat, got on the steamroller, and steamrolled right through the tent, over the artwork, and out the other side. The prints turned out pretty well.”

Pre-press inking

Because she loves helping people to create images themselves that they couldn’t have imagined, she loves to teach. Talcott says, “The approach I encourage in all the classes is to relax and enjoy the different techniques that I demonstrate, find what works for you, and keep exploring it. The possibilities are endless.” She teaches at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown and Maud Morgan Arts in Cambridge.

Mixit Print Studio’s “Rethink Ink: 25 Years at Mixit Print Studio” exhibit, including Talcott’s work, will be at the Boston Public Library April 12-July 31, 2012.

Also, the Newton Public Library will be showing her work for the month of July in the large gallery.

To see much more of Julia Talcott’s work, visit her artist website.


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"Universal Rhythms," by Monice Morenz

"Universal Rhythms," by Monice Morenz

Printmaker Monice Morenz is in the process of cataloging 200 prints right now, and so the studio in the basement of her Scituate, MA home is “ripped apart.” To me, it looks pretty orderly and spacious. Morenz has purchased professional quality sleeves for the prints and is sorting and storing them by category.

It is always fun for me to meet other artists, see what they do, and hear about how they work. Morenz’s location was a bit distant for me to travel to at the time of this writing, so we took advantage of Skype connections in order to chat. She was able to show me the 800 square foot space she works in by carrying her laptop around with her to the different work areas. I have to admit I feel envious of the space. There are five different work tables in her studio, including an area where she can work on design-based images on her computer. There are what I consider truly textile-worthy examples of her work hanging on the walls. She is taking a course to learn to use Adobe and Illustrator (the Creative Suite 5) for textile repeats. “I wonder, do I want to start from scratch and try to put things into repeat?” she asks. “I’m giving myself a couple of years to try this. The class I’m taking is challenging.”

"Bubble Tree," by Monice Morenz

"Bubble Tree," by Monice Morenz

Many of her prints have strong graphic elements, with names that are suggestive of spiritual states—“Universal Rhythm,” “Longevity” and “Exhalation,” for example. “Titling them is always hard,” says Morenz, “but words help people connect to an image. The title usually comes at the end.” She doesn’t have a word or phrase in mind when starting a piece, but once she names them usually finds the title describes her feeling working on it. I completely relate to this concept—it usually works out the same way for me when I’m working on a piece of art.

Some of Morenz’s prints incorporate the use of stencils. She makes the stencils out of black paper, using an Exacto knife like a pencil to cut out forms (that’s right—not drawing the lines in advance). “I layer it, like a woodblock. I cut out (shapes), then print pink, then cut out more and print blue.” She tries to show me one of her stencils, but is so lacy that it can barely be lifted out of its storage drawer without damage. It is a delicate work of art in itself.

She pulls the blankets off her Takach press for me to see. Takach is an Albuquerque-based press manufacturing company. Morenz explains that having a professional press such as this one, she doesn’t have to apply so much pressure. She thinks that it would be much harder if she had to. “It’s geared like a bicycle. It’s like going uphill on a bicycle with 18 gears versus one with one gear.” These presses sell for between $3,000-$10,000. “Shipping from the New Mexico company to other parts of the company can be expensive,” she says. It was a big decision to make, but she’s happy she got it. “It’s a lifelong tool I’ll have.”

A leaf print by Monice Morenz

A leaf print by Monice Morenz

She shows me a finished print made from prints of leaves gathered from her garden. She started with picking leaves out of her garden, getting very selective about the leaves. It was a goal-driven project she thought she’d get tired of, but never did. Originally planning to use only things found in her environment, a floral arrangement gift with wide tropical plant leaves soon became an element in her work as well. She liked the form so much she bought another tropical plant and uses some of the broad leaves from it now. She flattens the leaf first in the press to get some of the moisture out and make it easier to manipulate. There are 30-some prints in her leaf series now.

“I experiment with negative/positive and with all positive, just adding layers. I’ll work in reverse, where the leaf will actually stop the color, or I’ll ink up a plate and then put the leaf on it, printing it onto another Plexiglas plate or onto paper.”


"Exhalation" by Monice Morenz

"Exhalation" by Monice Morenz

Regarding the painting “Exhalation,” (left) Morenz says, “this style is my real heart and soul.” How many times did that have to go through the press, I wonder. “Not that many – maybe five times. I make notes on the back of pieces to keep track of times pressed.”

What inspires her art? “Looking at images in books, and listening to a lot of music.” She and her husband are rock, folk and roots music fans, and she often listens to WERS or WUMB for roots and global music trends.  “I need to hear a live person talking versus listening to my iTunes library,” says Morenz. She especially enjoys the music of John Hiatt, Greg Brown, and Bruce Cockburn.

One of Morenz's floral oil paintings

One of Morenz's floral oil paintings

She occasionally paints with oils too, and she used to do a lot of collage. “About ten years ago I had several collage shows and was very active with it.” She tends to work in themes, and her collage work usually featured human figures. Morenz tells me that sometimes she thinks about making art about social issues, but she mainly feels focused on the things she loves—shapes, color and form. What she likes to do with her art is “something that gives the eye something to enjoy, or a resting point.” She has certainly achieved those goals with me—I could happily rest my eyes on these prints for long periods of time.

I’ll visit Monice Morenz’s studio in person in the coming months for an art-in-action update. In the meantime, you can enjoy more of her works at http://www.monicemorenzstudio.com.

All images in this post copyright © Monice Morenz. No images may be used or reproduced without the artist’s permission.

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