On Sunday, January 28 we had a packed house for Andrew Stearns, one of the artists from our current exhibition Etched & Carved, who gave an in-depth look into one of the printmaking processes he uses in his artistic practice.
Stearns walked us through the steps of creating the small two-color landscape he had brought as an example. To begin he demonstrated how he uses a roller to apply a thin coat of ink to a carved woodblock, explaining his preference for thinner inks with transparencies that allow different colors to combine in unique ways.
Taking questions from the crowd, Stearns discussed many different aspects of the printmaking process and his own career as an artist. He brought out the carving tools and gouges he uses to scrape away the negative space on his woodblock. Although he starts out with a basic sketch when carving the block, much of the development of the image happens right on the block with the carving tools.
Stearns had plenty of tips for the younger art enthusiasts in the audience. Using sticky foam shapes on foam core or materials that are easier to carve like soft linoleum blocks, or even potatoes, amateur artists can experiment with creating their own print blocks at home - preferably with washable water-based inks. Stearns finished his demonstration by letting people try to recreate his print with the tools he had brought with him. It was a great afternoon of learning and art appreciation!
After inking his woodblock, Stearns showed us how to make sure the registration is perfect, meaning that all of the image components line up correctly. To do this he uses a form made out of foam core board that holds a woodblock in position as he prints its image onto a sheet of paper.
After checking the registration, Stearns applied pressure to the paper to transfer the ink from the woodblock, first by using a smooth round pad called a baren, and then by going over small details with the back of a kitchen spoon. After transferring the image, he carefully peeled the paper from the block and revealed a finished print.