May 24, 2019

More Printmaking Books

        Today I’ll switch to pure printmaker mode, and speak to anyone who is interested in getting started with printmaking, or in developing some new techniques.  I’ve lately got my hands on a few relatively recent guides to printmaking, and thought I’d offer my reviews.

Print Workshop, Christine Schmidt, 2010 - Quite comprehensive in including a thorough discussion of materials, tools, and basics, it also includes a wide range of techniques of which relief printing is only one.  In fact, it’s really too broad for my tastes, becoming too diffuse with projects including embroidery, a mobile, image transfer of commercial photographs, and so on.  I’m also not crazy about books that include templates and instructions that encourage copying someone else’s project instead of coming up with your own — especially in a book with the subtitle “Truly Original Projects”! — although I acknowledge that many people need to get a few copied projects under their belts before they feel confident in branching out.  Schmidt does at least encourage readers to modify projects, and not to worry if their result is not just like the sample shown in the book.

Block Print, Andrea Lauren, 2016 - As the title implies, this focusses on block printing, thus including more detail and information within the narrower scope.  It does include some needless complications — why draw your design on paper, then trace onto tracing paper, and then transfer from tracing paper to block? why bother with “registering” a single block and a single sheet of paper? — but it also includes some interesting techniques such as using transparent acrylic and acetate sheets for different ways to register multiple colors.  I also like the “International Artists’ Gallery” section at the end.  This is a very nice intro, though possibly a little daunting for true beginners.

Block Print Magic, Emily Louise Howard, 2019 - An excellent introduction, including the usual descriptions of materials, plus explanations of several transfer methods, the basics of carving, printing, and so on.  There’s also a discussion of setting up a studio - which is lovely but far from necessary for a beginner.   I’d hate for anyone to think they can’t get started because they won’t have a studio like that!  Howard’s first project is quite similar to my “Not a Zentangle” project, which obviously implies that her approach to teaching is not too dissimilar from mine.  She includes a variety of projects that focus on various techniques using various numbers of blocks, and she even has a few projects at the end that involve collaging and finding uses for not-quite-perfect prints, which I may have to play with myself.  I also like the “Artist Spotlights” with examples of the work of a handful of printmakers, explaining their inspirations and methods of working.  I liked this guide a lot.

        One of the points I’m always harping on about is that relief block printing is a very easy art medium to jump into without a lot of money, or a lot of space, or a lot of time, or a lot of experience.  Although I teach classes and we have a blast, you don’t need to take a class.  If you want some introductory instruction, find a book at your local library, skim through it for the basics, and then dive right in.  Enjoy — and let me know how it goes!

[Pictures: Potato printing page from Christine Schmidt, 2010 (For more on potato printing, check out my previous post);
My favorite project from Andrea Lauren, 2016;
The Cabin with details from Emily Louise Howard, 2019.]

1 comment:

Rob Z Tobor said...

I do like prints we have a huge variety of artwork in the house which includes a good selection of prints. But I have never been tempted to have a go myself, not sure why. I guess as I usually have a head full of ideas to create stuff and not enough time to do them probably stops me thinking . . . OOOooooo I could try that too . . . .

But I can always be tempted by an interesting arty book, just in case I might try something new in the future. And there is something about a book that makes as keep buying them.

Rob Z Tobor