I am thrilled to announce that I have been selected as a finalist for the René Carcan International Prize For Printmaking! This biennial award and exhibition is presented by the Espace René Carcan, whose mission to promote the artistic heritage of the Belgian printmaker and watercolour artist, as well as provide recognition of the art of printmaking in general. You can learn more about René Carcan’s work here.


“Last Light”, etching and aquatint, 8″ x 10″, René Carcan International Public Prize in Printmaking.

The nominated printmakers will exhibit at the Bibliotheca Wittockiana in Brussels, Belgium, a museum dedicated to book arts, book binding and related disciplines. The show opens February 15th and closes May 15th of 2018.

In another round of jurying, a panel of experts will examine the actual prints to select a printmaker for the René Carcan International Grand Prix. There are also a 1st and 2nd Mention, as well as the René Carcan Public Prize, selected by a public vote. I will let you know when you can look for the public voting process online!

UPDATE: Public Prize voting is now open!  If you visit here: http://award.renecarcan.be/node/1898
you will see a page with my 4 pieces.  There should be a “like” button next to the enlarged image.  “Like” = Vote.  You may click on each image to see the “like” button for that image. Apparently you can vote for as many images as you want, but you can only vote one time for a specific image.  NOTE: it requires a Facebook account to vote.


untitled monotype doodle

I signed up to demonstrate printmaking at the San Diego County Fair.  Watching me draw a new plate for etching is a little like watching grass grow, and isn’t very engaging for Fair attendees, so this year I wanted to do a demo of monotype printmaking. It is a little more painterly and more important, it works up faster.


I decided to use the opportunity as an excuse to work with a set of inks (Akua) designed especially for monotype printmaking as a non-toxic watercolor ink.  I had purchased them a couple of years ago and really hated how they handled, compared to my usual process, but I had seen online that others were using them successfully.  So I determined to do some practice sessions in the studio and try to make friends with this material. (Art materials are expensive!)


My first attempt was just doodling. Ok, I can see some possibilities here. It looks very grainy, which I am not fond of. With heavier ink and more pressure, it might work for me.



Bench on Coast Walk, monotype



Second attempt, on the press this time, got some nice ink coverage but the pressure was very high to get this smooth look. It was hard work to pull the plate through the press, even on 25:1 gear ratio.




Painted the same composition and used a little less pressure – far too pale and grainy! That is why it is called experimenting!


Tried another image – with tighter pressure. This image works well with the grainy quality of the ink.  After adding ink to darken select areas defining the rocks on the beach, and running through the press again, this was a passable result.







I feel encouraged that I might make friends with this ink yet!  I try one without the press.   In the demo situation, I will have to print by hand, using a spoon or a baren to apply pressure.
Although I re-inked and overprinted several times to get to this end, I felt good about the possibilities after printing this image. I turned to making sketches for the demo days.




Since I paint the image on clear plexiglass, it is possible to lay the plate directly on the sketch to guide color application. This sketch was used for the second demo.




On demo day, I had some materials for kids (and parents and teachers!) to play with – so in the end, the first monotype at the Fair did not get completed.  I covered the partially painted plate with a second plate and clipped them together.  I had heard that these Akua inks stay wet for several days, so I thought, “Why not?  I’ll print it at home tomorrow.”






It was a couple of days before I got back to it.  Even though I knew it wasn’t “finished”, I thought I better print just to see whether the ink would still work.



I was very pleased that the film of ink was still wet enough to transfer pretty well even after 48 hours.


The composition needed more work, however, so I added a series of layers of additional colors, printing repeatedly until I felt happy with the result.



For my second demo day, I had another flower image. This time the demonstrator table (and the demonstrator!) were in sun a good part of the time.  The ink felt like it was drying very fast in the heat and sun, so  I printed at the end of two hours.





Alignment for the printing is pretty simple with the clear plexiglass, however it was still useful to tape the paper to the plate for ease and speed of repositioning the paper for subsequent printing.



By adding more color layers, the grainy quality that I don’t like gives way to a richness of color that I do like.

Note that, once I began darkening the background around the flower petals, I actually drew with marker on the back of the plate, tracing the precise placement of some elements as they were already printed.

While the audience thought this looked pretty nice, I know that the “magic” of seeing the print pulled was a big influence on their impression!  I took it home and added more layers to enhance the composition over the next few days.

Titleld “Dallas’ Cactus Blossom” after the homeowner in whose beautiful garden I found this lovely specimen.



Debordieu Summer, Monotype
Debordieu Summer, Monotype, 1.5″ x 2.5″, ©2013, Julianne B Ricksecker
Boardwalk, Monotype
Boardwalk, Monotype, 1.5″ x 2.5″, ©2013, Julianne B Ricksecker



The juried piece will be included in the wall display, but they maintain binders of additional work by the selected artists for the duration of the exhibit to maximize sales opportunities.

I was recently accepted into an international miniature print exhibit to show a monotype image measuring 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ – a total of 4 square inches.  (That is smaller than a business card.)  The organizing group – The Center for Contemporary Printmaking – emailed me an invitation to send an additional 6 “variant or similar” monotypes to accompany the show.

Fence on the Dunes, Monotype
Fence on the Dunes, Monotype, 1.5″ x 2.5″, ©2013, Julianne B Ricksecker

My usual approach to monotype doesn’t include making similar or variant prints – so I did not have work already available to send – in fact this was the first time I had attempted a miniature monotype! Most of my monotypes are 11″ x 14″ or larger.

I thought about what inspired me to create the first miniature  monotype and decided to pursue that inspiration further to come up with additional imagery and energy for new work.  “On a theme” seemed a reasonable criterion.

Sea Wall, Monotype,
Sea Wall, Monotype, 1.5″ x 2.5″, ©2013, Julianne B Ricksecker

The first miniature, “Sea Wall” was inspired by memories of the South Carolina beach on Debordieu Island that I had visited many summers with my mother.  Since Mom passed away last September, she has been on my mind frequently, and I was drawn to those beach memories in rememberance of how much she loved it there. The sea wall on the sand was something she and I had talked about and I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the man-made structure next to the sand and the water.

Storm on Debordieu, Monotype
Storm on Debordieu, Monotype, 1.5″ x 2.5″, ©2013, Julianne B Ricksecker


When planning the new pieces, it was May, the month of Mother’s Day and also the month that Mom would have turned 89 years old. I looked through my photos taken on trips back to visit her to find other images of the beach and the dunes on Debordieu Island that incorporated that element of something man-made juxtaposed with the wild beauty of the dunes and the sea.

Many of the resulting images were views from the homes we stayed in over the years when the family gathered in South Carolina to enjoy the beach, walks in the sand,  catching up on family news, and long nights of games and laughter.

Bench on the Dunes, Monotype
Bench on the Dunes, Monotype, 1.5″ x 2.5″, ©2013, Julianne B Ricksecker

It may be that South Carolinians would find these images of dunes and boardwalks rather mundane, but to this California girl, they seemed interesting and strangely beautiful, and imbued with memories of shared family time.


If you have the opportunity, visit the 9th International Mini Print Biennial at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Mathews Park, Norwalk, CT from June 2 – Sept. 1, 2013

Dune Grass, Monotype
Dune Grass, Monotype, 1.5″ x 2.5″, ©2013, Julianne B Ricksecker

I have a confession to make.  I have a love-hate relationship with monotype.

Plexiglass plate for monotype
Plexiglass plate for monotype

I create monotypes  (one-of-a-kind prints) by painting on a blank sheet of plexiglass and transferring the image to paper using an etching press.

Usually I  think about the image for days or weeks before I start the process.  I do composition sketches – small black and white thumbnail sketches – to get a feeling for the layout and movement of the composition


Developing the image, adding color
Developing the image, adding color

When I am satisfied with the general composition, I may take a sketchpad or a sheet of butcher paper and do a rough sketch of the composition in full size.  This can be laid on the table under the plexiglass as a rough guide for the development of the composition in oil paint.

Nevada Fall, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker
Nevada Fall, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker


If I want a solid field of color as for a cloudless sky, I mix the color and apply it to the plate with a roller.






Monotype plate, drawing white lines with a clay shaper
Monotype plate, drawing white lines with a clay shaper


I use rags and rubber “color shaper” or “clay shaper” tools to remove  color and create the line between color areas, or pick out highlights or linear patterns.


Monotype plate, lifting paint with paper towel
Monotype plate, lifting paint with paper towel

I use damp rag or paper towel to lift some of the  color, making it more transparent or creating texture or pattern. When the plate is printed, any part of the plate that is not covered in paint will appear stark white, since the paper will be untouched by paint.

I try to mix the major colors before I begin, in sufficient quantity to complete the monotype.  I do some color mixing on the palette as I work but I want to have the main colors mixed in advance with the appropriate amounts of extenders and retarders because those need to be mixed more by measure than by sight. It can be very difficult to estimate the transparency of the paint or it’s drying time if mixing “on the fly”!

Big Sur, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker
Big Sur, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

The retarder is particularly important, I have learned to my chagrin. When I make a monotype, I need to complete the print in 4-6 hours – depending on the heat and humidity.  If I work too long, it is likely that the paper will stick to the plate, instead of the paint transferring to the paper.  Sometimes this occurs in just a small area, tearing a hole right through the image.  Quite a disappointment after working on the print all day! This is when I “hate” monotype!

“Big Sur”, pictured at right, was just such a disappointment on the first and second attempts.  Third time was the charm for this monotype!

Fishhook Cactus, monotype plate, ready to print
Fishhook Cactus, monotype plate, ready to print

I develop the image, using water to thin the color and even sometimes pool water on the surface of the plate and drop color into it.  Because the plate will be rolled throu

gh an etching press to transfer the image onto paper, it is necessary to let the pooled water dry before printing! The application of paint must be thin enough that it does not “squirt” or blot when rolling through the press.  It takes a little practice to get the right film of paint to achieve the color density desired, without causing the paint to run. 

Fishhook Cactus, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker
Fishhook Cactus, printed monotype

When the monotype works well, it is a magical feeling. No matter how many monotypes I do, I cannot predict exactly what it will look like once it transfers to paper.  I can get an approximation of the final result by lifting the plexiglass plate, and turning it over to look through it to the white table, or at the skylight.  Neither of these views gives a perfect idea of the final print.  I don’t know the outcome until the paper and plate have been rolled through the press, the blankets are thrown back, and I peel the paper from the plate.  This is the magic moment! This is when I love monotoype!

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.

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

Moose Falls, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker
Moose Falls, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker


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