Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 Soft Block Printing workshop

Dragonfly soft block print • © 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This summer has been a whirl of workshops! Now I'm preparing for this Saturday's workshop on Soft Block Printing - a medium I love. I get so focused on painting that scheduling workshops on it gives me the excuses I need to just carve blocks and print for a while....

If you've never done it, block printing is kind of a next step up from stamping. Any purist would be horrified by that description, mind. Block printing has a long and storied tradition, both in the West and the East, beginning with woodcuts, and moving to linoleum blocks, or linocuts, about a hundred years ago. You can also use it to print on textiles – which is actually how it originated in China, and how it is still used in India.

Iridescence, an acrylic painting created using the same dragonfly soft block • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

But soft blocks are a much more recent invention. They were actually developed when some enthusiastic rubber stampers began carving their own stamps on erasers. In fact, the blocks I generally use are pink, and are basically made of eraser material. I've used them to print cards and art prints, and I have, over the last eight years, periodically worked on a series of paintings combining acrylic paint and soft block printing (such as the painting above). I really want to combine it with relief printing and stencils, too – something I've just begun to experiment with. They work beautifully when you're mixing your media.

Angel of Peace soft block print, printed as a Christmas card • © 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Soft block printing is similar to, but much easier to work with, than either linocuts or woodcuts, because of the softness of the block and its ease in cutting. In the workshop this Saturday, we'll also be using non-toxic, water-soluble inks. We'll also use safety cutters, which actually allow more flexibility of expression than traditional cutters. I'll teach students how to design and cut the block for printing, and how to ink and print greeting cards and fine art prints.

If you're interested in coming, bring along some images you might like to make prints of – drawings? photographs? We'll be carving 4" x 6" blocks.

Songbird soft block prints, with multiple colors • © 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The workshop runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 27th, at the Calistoga Art Center, 1435 North Oak Street in Calistoga (at the Napa County Fairgrounds). Bring your lunch! You can register online at the Calistoga Art Center's website, at www.calistogaartcenter.org.

You can also see photographs of the process from 2010's two-day printmaking workshop in my August 2010 blog post. It's a wonderful process, and a rewarding medium to work with. (If you learn the process, you'll be welcome to join a group of block printers for future occasional all-day, non-instructional printmaking sessions.) I hope you can join us!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Preparing for Napa Valley Open Studios 2011

The Napa Valley Open Studios 2011 catalog cover, featuring the glasswork of Ed Breed • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The summer is flying by, and now I'm in countdown mode for Napa Valley Open Studios, only a little more than four weeks away. There is so much still to do!

This year, I'll be in St. Helena, at Ed Breed's studio on 1734 Scott Street (Studio #9). Ed, a wonderful glassblower and all-around great guy (he is this year's featured catalog cover artist, and was also the volunteer director of Open Studios in 2007) will be doing glass demonstrations each weekend, and I'll be right next to the studio with my paintings.

Hillside Vineyard (Tilted Heart) is my catalog image for Open Studios this year • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls

One of those paintings, my catalog image (above), was also chosen for the online slide show at the Napa Valley Open Studios 2011 website. You can download a catalog from the website, if you like, or find out there where you can get your own catalog. You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NapaValleyOpenStudios - I'm one of the folks working behind the scenes to bring you all the newsy posts. In fact, you can find a wonderful photo essay of Ed's glassblowing process, showing how he creates his wonderful, delicately tendriled glass pumpkins.

I hope you'll come visit me at Ed's studio! Open Studios runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the last two weekends of September, September 17–18 and 24–25.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The garden at French Laundry

Easels in the garden at French Laundry

Last week I had the privilege of teaching an afternoon art workshop in the garden of Thomas Keller's French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California. I'd never been to the garden before – I didn't know it was open to the public.

A view of the garden, looking to the west

It was a beautiful day. The garden sits across the road from the restaurant, with a lovely view toward the western hills.

Empty easels, after the workshop

As the sun leaned further to the west, and the light grew more golden, there seemed to be a bit of magic about this spot of earth. My students had been painting using the shapes and colors of the garden as inspiration, and I wished I had time to sit down and paint something myself.

Artichokes gone to seed, and a view of the greenhouse

I contented myself with taking photographs to paint from later. So it looks as though I'll be doing some garden paintings....

French Laundry in the background

As I was cleaning brushes and packing up after the workshop, cars began to arrive for the dinner hour... a new orange Eclipse convertible, a new white Eclipse convertible, a black limo, a second black limo, another new white convertible. Hmmm. Guess which car belongs to someone who isn't staying for dinner? And who hasn't waited a year for a reservation? Hint: it has easels loaded up in the back....

And, yes, that's a limo driver in the gray suit, under the tree....