This (below) is the back of a piece of mat board (also known as mount board in other parts of the world), which is the stuff used to mat art work and photos under glass. I’m using it here to make a mat board collagraph, and I’ve drawn a figure reading a book with pencil, and then I coated it with Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish. After drying the plate overnight, I incised shapes and line-work with an exacto knife and peeled the uppermost layer of mat board away to leave recessed areas to hold printmaking inks. After all the carving and peeling was finished, I re-coated the mat board plate with gloss medium three more times on all sides and even the edges. This seals the plate, which is made from 100% cotton fiber, and that prohibits absorption of the inks and modifiers, which would wet the mat board and cause the plate to warp, buckle and swell.
Get the Right Ink
In the photo above, I’ve coated the plate with water-based inks, and I’m wiping the upper-most surfaces with newsprint, trying to leave plenty of ink in the carved line-work. I’ve got a sheet of printmaking paper soaking in water, and a towel ready to blot it just before I press the damp paper to the inked plate to create the collagraph print. (If you’re interested in a survey of printmaking inks, see this post.) One thing to note about water-based printmaking inks: some of them dry as soon as you apply them to the plate, which is *so frustrating*, and others might print okay, but they’ll re-wet if you add a wet media to the print, like watercolor or gouache. It’s worth your time to think ahead a little so you have the right supplies for your overall plan.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
I laid the blotted paper on top of the inked plate, and covered the back of the damp printmaking paper with a sheet of wax paper so I could rub with the baren (the teflon coated disk with the wooden handle above) and the wooden spoon without marring the soaked & softened paper. After lots of rubbing and checking, I’m pulling the print. After this print dried, I added watercolors to repair some of the scumbled and sketchy ink transfer. Often, in a first print, the plate hasn’t absorbed enough ink in all the crevasses, or in the curbs following the shapes cut from the plate. Ink takes a few print cycles to build up and nestle into the corners of your collagraph plate’s details. If you get a bad first print, re-ink the plate, soak some more paper, and try again. The prints get better and better as the ink burrows into the nooks and crannies you carved into the plate. (If you need a comprehensive list of supplies to make a mat board collagraph, here’s one.)
Reading Books Makes Us Smarter
Do you challenge yourself to read a certain number of books each year? As a full time artist who spends a lot of time in the studio alone, I feel that books are necessary to keep my language skills exercised. After working on a project solo for a couple of weeks, it’s all I can do to grunt and nod to my husband over my salad bowl, because my words are still sleeping. If I read good old fashioned paper books, which I dearly love, I read less than one book each year. If I listen to audiobooks while I’m working in the studio, driving or taking care of our house and garden, I read many more, and I remember how to talk. I do a better job of prioritizing books with a set goal, so Goodreads lets you set that up at the beginning of the year and then tracks your progress with Reading Challenge encouragement.
Get Your Ducks (books) in a Row
The books I listened to last year are below. I didn’t meet my goal, but I’m trying again this year. Have you ever had a friend or family member urge you to read a book they adored only to find you couldn’t get past the first few chapters? You might adore the person who recommended the book, but your book-loving tastes can also be a mountain range apart. This is one of the reasons to use Goodreads: it allows you to line up your already read books with another friend’s books in columns to compare ratings of your common books. If you and your friend rated the same books with similar numbers of stars, then bingo, you found a kindred spirit book lover. So if your friend marked a book five stars, and you haven’t read it yet, one click puts that book in your To-Read list, and based on your newly discovered simpatico book lover, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll love the book too. I can’t tell you how many discoveries I’ve made because of this feature on Goodreads. Books I’d never heard of, but swooned for as soon as I started reading them. What a gift! And my To-Read list continues to grow with so many books I’m excited about.
Research Some Bookishness
Here’s the list of my last year’s books with links in case any of the titles interest you. And I’ll still love you if we have no overlap in our book tastes – pinky-promise. 🙂 Tinkerbelle, San Miguel, The Captain’s Wife, The Rosie Project, The Book of Speculation, Not My Father’s Son, Commonwealth, My Family and Other Animals, Beautiful Ruins, News of the World, Americanah, DaVinci’s Ghost, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, The War of Art, Some Writer, Big Little Lies, What Alice Forgot, The Husband’s Secret, The Pearl Thief, The Good Earth, The Demon Under the Microscope, Color and Light, A Gentleman in Moscow
Fiction vs Non Fiction
What is your favorite book flavor? Do you swoon for Westerns, Mysteries, True Crime, Romance, Young Adult, Travel, Instructional Books, History? And when you find an author who’s voice resonates with you, do you read all of their books? (I recently read all seven Harry Potter books when one of my grandkids challenged me to a dueling read-along. Jim Dale’s narration is utterly splendid. But still, my grandson (9) lapped me twice on his kindle – so he won the race – but our conversations related to characters, quagmires and spells has been a delight.) And what about characters: do you have to love some of the characters to love the book? Which books inspired you recently?
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!
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All art forms, including painting and music and poetry, are vehicles for us all to participate in being alive.
Whatever adds richness to the experience of being alive is an art.