Wildflowers, Culp Valley, oil pastel by Julianne Ricksecker
Wildflowers, Culp Valley, oil pastel

 

I love visiting the Anza Borrego desert in the spring.  In some years the flowers are incredibly dense on the desert floor and in other years, they are sparse and require great attention to detail to spot them.

 

 

 

Desert flowers show up in my work, sometimes focused on individual plants, and sometimes in a landscape celebrating the riot of color splashed across the desert.

 

 

Fish Hook in Blossom, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker
Fish Hook in Blossom, Monotype by Julianne Ricksecker

 

In either case, I enjoy “revisiting’ spring color throughout the rest of the year by creating art from photos taken on a springtime hike. This is especially satisfying if I missed my usual spring trek to the desert!

2012 was such a year, so recently I pulled out photos of last year’s visit to Desert Gardens and Coyote Canyon.  On the particular day we went. There were abundant lupine blooming, and frequently this summer I have been remembering several views of them.

Lupine, Coyote Canyon, soft pastel by Julianne Ricksecker
Lupine, Coyote Canyon, soft pastel

 

Here is a soft pastel of “Lupine in Coyote Canyon” which is  displayed at the University Club of Phoenix from September 7 – November 11.

 

 

La Jolla Coast, collagraph, Julianne Ricksecker
La Jolla Coast, collagraph, Julianne Ricksecker

Over the years I have explored many original printmaking processes including monotype (one-of-a-kind prints), etching, viscosity printing, drypoint and collagraph. Each has its unique charms and challenges!

One interesting example of a collagraph process was done to resemble a mezzotint. Mezzotint is a metal plate that has been scored and roughed up so deeply that, when inked, it will print a solid, velvety black.  The image is developed by scraping the rough surface and burnishing it to create lighter areas in all that darkness.

Healing and Peace in Midnight Abide, silk collagraph by Julianne Ricksecker
Healing and Peace in Midnight Abide, silk collagraph by Julianne Ricksecker

 

Collagraph is a plate that is a collage of almost any materials, glued to a plate, sealed with acrylic and then inked and printed.  The textures of the glued materials hold ink and are visible in the final print.

I wanted to explore the possibility of using fabric on a collagraph plate to create rich darks similar to those seen in a mezzotint.  I had recently stretched a very fine nylon fabric on frames for serigraphy (or screen printing). I thought that might be too fine a mesh, so I found another similar fabric that was a little coarser in texture.  I covered a piece of mat board entirely with the fabric, gluing it down with acrylic gesso.  To develop the image, I painted layers of acrylic gesso and acrylic mediums to fill up the mesh of the fabric, working from dark to light.

Where I wanted the image to print grey or white, I used more layers of acrylic. As a final touch, I used gloss and matte mediums to control how white the lightest area would wipe.

El Capitan, silk collagraph by Julianne Ricksecker
El Capitan, silk collagraph by Julianne Ricksecker

The resulting print, “Healing and Peace in Midnight Abide”, has the same rich blacks as would be found in a mezzotint.  A mezzotint afficionado might notice that the light areas have different characteristics than a mezzotint, though the overall effect of an image emerging out of darkness is similar.

Another print, made with the same fabric as that used for screen printing, is shown in “El Capitan”. In this collagraph, the emphasis was on using the acrylic medium to create a very tactile textured surface to evoke the weather- and glacier-sculpted ediface of El Capitan and neighboring cliffs.

 

 

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