Painterly Printmaking

From the earliest age, I was interested in portraying the world visually. Writing assignments in grammar school were always elaborately illustrated. As a young college student, I applied for a semester abroad program in France so that I could visit the Louvre. I vividly remember the exhilaration of experiencing so many paintings in the original that I had only seen as book or poster reproductions until then.

La Jolla Tide Pools, oil pastel by Julianne Ricksecker

La Jolla Tide Pools, oil pastel by Julianne Ricksecker

Although my early inspiration to be an artist was mostly from oil paintings, I have never really enjoyed painting in oil!  At least not oil on canvas!

My favorite subject matter is realistic landscape in a variety of media.  Some pieces are worked in direct methods, such as watercolor or pastel, but my original prints are indirect, created first on plates, which are then inked and transferred to paper on an etching press. My creative process involves experiencing a place, hiking and taking photographs and making sketches. Then I return to the studio to create the final work.

Rag wiping an intaglio plate for printing

Rag wiping an intaglio plate for printing

When etching plates are inked and wiped, it is a messy business!  The tacky oil-based ink gets all over my gloved hands and then ends up all over the back of the printmaking plate.  After the etching is printed and the plate is lifted from the press bed, sometimes there is ink left on the surface of the bed.  This accidental transfer of ink sometimes suggests an image, in the same way that you might see images in clouds.

Rodney, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

Rodney, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

The image can be manipulated with rags and brushes, even additions of more ink, and then printed onto paper, creating a one-of-a-kind print known as a monotype.

After playing with this accidental residue of ink to create spontaneous monotypes a few times, I began to explore the possibilities of monotype for it’s own sake, using a blank plexiglass plate and a planned approach.  Initially I used oil paint to create these images, but found the transparent colors I desired required too much oil and thinner to be viable for printing on paper.  About this time, oil paint appeared in art stores in a water-soluble form. The paper is normally damp when passing through etching press, so the new oils seemed like a perfect solution for monotype.

With a little experimentation, I found this new paint to be a very satisfying and versatile medium for my landscape work.

St Mary River, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

St Mary River, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

Because the ink is water soluble, it can be thinned with water for very transparent washes. This seemed ideally matched to my fascination with imagery of water and waterfalls.

There are many ways that artists approach monotype printmaking, sometimes called “painterly printmakng”. Think about Degas’ ballerinas (monotype, sometimes with the addition of pastel) or Henri Matisse’s white lines on a rich black field, or Georges Rouault’s loose, fluid brushwork as in “Clown with Monkey”.

Cascade Falls, Tetons, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

My approach is to use a full palette to develop a realistic landscape. Through the use of additive mediums, I can emphasize the brush stoke or minimize it to create soft passages of color.  I may use rollers to apply a solid field of color, or rubber tipped sticks or very fine brushes to remove color.  I may also press paper towels or bits of lace into the paint to remove color in a textured patterns.

The resulting images truly live up to the name “painterly print”.

My original prints and paintings have been exhibited in Regional, National and International competitions. I was awarded the 2nd Place Award for my miniature prints in the 8th Biennial International Mini-Print competition at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Connecticut in 2011. My work is regularly on exhibit in the greater San Diego area.

Moose Falls, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

Moose Falls, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

I have been invited to present my work in a solo exhibition in Phoenix, Arizona from September 7 to November 11, 2012 at the University Club of Phoenix.  If you are in the area, I hope you can join me!

Artist Reception
September 7 from 5:30 – 7:30.
Hors D’oeuvres – No Host-Bar
Please RSVP to uclubphx@qwestoffice.com
(602) 254-5408

University Club of Phoenix

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