12 days of printmaking

Cardboard intaglio plate used as my matrix

Cardboard intaglio plate used as my matrix

This past May I studied with Victoria painter/printmaker, Alain Costaz, at the Victoria College of Art.  The course was an intensive three weeks each Monday through Thursday.  This type of schedule allows you to be laser-focused on your project for the duration of the course.  Alain introduced several techniques that we could chose to use in our work; stencils, wood engraving and cardboard intaglio.  I had never used the cardboard intaglio approach so decided to try it.  This is my plate in the photo above which measures 3″ X 6″.

To jump ahead I created an artist’s book with a selection of the prints created during the three weeks which I describe in my artist’s statement below.  Photos of the book follow my statement.

Inspiration for my artist’s book, “silent promise”, came from childhood memories of walking and mostly running the well-trodden trails around my family’s summer cottage near North Bay, Ontario and also from more recent hikes with my own family on the trails throughout Western Canada.

I enjoy working with simple shapes and strong design elements.  I chose to use leaf-shaped images that I had referenced from fabric designs originating in the 1950s. 

Cardboard intaglio— carving into cardboard that has been coated with a gloss medium— was a method I had not used before and felt it would be a good choice as a matrix plate.  Keeping the plate smaller made it easier to work with and print on smaller pages that could be assembled into a book form.  This gave me the freedom of moving the plate around the page and adding new elements each time I created a print.

“Chine colle” is a technique used to where one adds thin coloured rice paper at the same time a print is made which enhances the impact of the printed image.  I knew this technique would be appropriate for these prints as I have used it with success in other projects.  I chose both solid colours and some printed designs of the chine papers and mixed ink colours to reflect my subject matter.

Even though printmaking requires a lot of preplanning, in this instance spontaneity was also a factor as the work evolved during my time in the studio.  I introduced plant fibre to add another dimension to some of the chine colle prints. 

I chose to write a poem and weave the words through the pages of the book in a style of calligraphy influenced by Ikuko Ninomiya that brought the project to completion.

Artist's book "silent promise"

Artist’s book “silent promise”

The book is bound in a Japanese ledger style using waxed linen thread and a wooden button.  The cover paper is Lotka Crinkle Green and the chine paper is Tatami Natural Brown.  

Title page with plant fibre print

Title page with plant fibre print

The title page includes a plant fibre print (clover) on Tatami Natural Green over Lotka Sunwash Clover Burnt Sienna.  The calligraphy is written with a black 01 Pigma Micron pen and the style was influenced by Ikuko Ninomiya.

Here is the poem I wrote; one line of the poem complements the print on each page.  There is meant to be a pause between each line which of course would be so as you turn each page of the book:

“silent promise”

tissue-like leaflets flutter from above

a myriad of fresh greens all around

layer upon layer of foliage

the trail is well-travelled

delicate flowers worth a pause

ground cover blankets the forest floor

& keeps it’s silent promise

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2


Page 3

Page 3

Page 4

Page 4


Page 5

Page 5


Page 6

Page 6


Artist statement about the project - please scroll up to the text portioin to read my statement

Artist statement about the project – please scroll up to the text portioin to read my statement

Colophon - this describes all the materials, etc. used in the project

Colophon – this describes all the materials, etc. used in the project

I hope you enjoyed reading about this project and looking at the photos of my artist’s book.  Please “like” this post and share it with others.  Thank you!



Privilege of a Lifetime Project


At the drawing board

At the drawing board

Back in March I was invited to participate in an all-women show and the focus of the show was about celebrating women or a woman in particular.  This is my drawing table in my studio when I was beginning the work for my piece, Privilege of a Lifetime; a collection of 30 wooden blocks with word collages and photos.  Our Diversity Makes Us Stronger opened on International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8, 2013.  The inspiration for this work was my mother, Rosemary Elizabeth Letang Simpson.  I began collecting photos that I had at home and some my sister had sent me of Mom from all stages of her life.  I made notes about how I wanted to proceed with the project and I selected many “quotations” (short and meaningful quotes by many different authors that I have collected) that I felt would work well with some of the photos of Mom.



At this point I had decided that I was going to work on small blocks of wood (cradles) 3″ X 4″ and 5″ X 5″ and that I would assemble quite a few of them to tell my Mom’s story.  I have lots of scraps of papers that I had painted for other projects that I have sorted in clear bags so I can see at a glance what is available.  These would be perfect!  I remembered I had a collection of small embellishments that could also be incorporated.  Then I found some white lace paper and other pretty patterned papers that could work.  I pulled out ribbons, string and decorative yarns too …

Warm-up collages

Warm-up collages

I thought it might be a good idea to get warmed up by making a few collages on paper first instead of going directly to the wood blocks.  I tried some of the painted papers with printouts of a few photos, an embellishment here, yarn there, hmmmm, no, I didn’t like that, so tried something else.  This is a good process for me as I sometimes move ahead too quickly and ruin something that can’t be salvaged (opps, is this called being “too precious”??)

Scanning & printing photos onto "rice" paper

Scanning & printing photos onto “rice” paper

Chosing which photos to use was challenging.  How could I narrow down my mother’s 88 years with a few photos.  I thought if I broke it down into parts of her life; child, teenager, self, friend, spouse, mother, grandmother … It took a while to decide which photos I would use on the 5″ X 5″ blocks and which ones on the 3″ X 4″ blocks.  I sized the photos on the computer and printed them on copy paper and then made sure they fit the blocks.  I cut down large sheets of Usukuchi paper to 8-1/2″ X 11″ and attached a sheet of this to a sheet of photocopy paper and hand fed it into my laser printer.  The results were not always perfect.  Sometimes the image was dragged down the page leaving streak marks.  I was able to remove some of the marks very carefully with sandpaper.  You must be delicate with the sandpaper otherwise you’ll make a hole in the Usukuchi paper.

Looking at the 30 blocks before taking to gallery to install

Blocks in progress

I used Golden Heavy Gel medium to attach the collage papers and the photos on Usukuchi to the wooden blocks.  Each block was put under heavy weight to make sure the paper and wood bonded.

Reviewing all 30 blocks before taking to gallery to install

Reviewing all 30 blocks before taking to gallery to install

I gently packaged up the 30 blocks and took them to the Cedar Hill Arts Centre Gallery to install.  The organizers had previously agreed to allow me to install the piece myself.  This show was hosted by the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria and I was able to use what they had in storage for displaying my work.  I chose three of the tallest plinths they had, measuring about 15″ square X 4-1/2′ high.  Unfortunately one plinth was slightly smaller as I was hoping for three identical in size.  The tops were a little scratched up so I cutkraft coloured Stonehenge paper to fit the tops of each plinth.  I arranged 10 blocks on each plinth forming a three dimentional wall with empty space in the centre so that the blocks could be seen all around.

 My piece was in the corner of the gallery with two windows on either side.  I thought this was a good position as you could also view it from outside the gallery in the hallway of the Art Centre.  However as you can see in this photo, the paintings on the wall inside the gallery beyond my piece interfered with a viewers line of sight … something to think about if there is a next time!

Looking into the gallery from the hall.  You can see other's paintings on the wall behind my installation

Looking into the gallery from the hall. You can see other’s paintings on the wall behind my installation


A view from inside the gallery

A view from inside the gallery


Close-up of one of three plinths.  Each plinth held 10 blocks

Close-up of one of three plinths. Each plinth held 10 blocks

In the end I was pleased with the way it all came together.  We had an overwhelming response at the opening night and I had many great comments about my work that night and from others that visited throughout the duration of the show.

Summer studio

12" X 12" collage painting on doorskin

12″ X 12″ collage painting on doorskin

I started working in my temporary summer studio space last Friday.  The above collage painting is a work-in-progress so it will probably look different the next time you see it.  I am beginning with some smaller pieces as studies for larger works.  Any constructive comments?

2.5 X 2.5 X 1.5

"art brownie" Be Yourself

“art brownie” Be Yourself

What fun it was to create art on a tiny chunk of spruce measuring 2.5″ X 2.5″ X 1.5″! 


my second "art brownie" You Can't Exist ...

my second “art brownie” You Can’t Exist …

These tiny delightful works of art will be on show in Toronto, Ontario at 2013 Art Brownie Exhibition “ZOO” opening on Saturday, July 20, 3 – 6 pm, located at INDEXG, 50 Gladstone Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, 416-535- 6957.   Open Wed. – Sun. 1 – 6 pm.  http://facebook.com/artbrownie  See the poster at the end of the post.

scale of "art brownies"

scale of “art brownies”

Here’s my “art brownies” beside an old penny!

invitation to 2013 exhibit

invitation to 2013 exhibit



Reading about art

January 2013 Issue of “Art in America” & my mocha

In my January newsletter I suggested that you start keeping up with the art scene, whether it’s close to home or around the globe.  This is a photo of the current print issue of “Art in America” which I now subscribe to.  Check out page 31 of this issue with an article by our daughter, Kayla Guthrie!  Kayla has always been a skilled writer so we are very excited that she is being published in this magazine.  I also subscribe to their online magazine, a glimpse into what’s happening each week in the contemporary art world.  Kayla has done several interviews with well-known artists for the online version as well. http://www.artinamerica.com

If you’ve never heard of this magazine, here is a description from Wickipedia; “Art in America is an illustrated monthly, international magazine concentrating on the contemporary art world, including profiles of artists and genres, updates about art movements, show reviews and event schedules. It is designed for collectors, artists, dealers, art professionals and other consumers who are interested in all aspects of the artworld. The magazine includes extensive coverage and criticism of sculpture, painting and photography.”

For interest sake, I am currently taking an art history course at the Vancouver Island School of Art, “Minimalism to End of Century” (1965 – 2000) with instructor Danielle Hogan.  My husband and I visit New York every year so it’s great to learn about many of the works that we have seen or will see at the museums and galleries there.

Cut-outs & Shadows

Cut-out paper sculptures at AGGV

There’s a new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) called “Traces: Fantasy Worlds and Tales of Truth”, featuring contemporary drawings by Daniel Barrow, Alison Norlen and Ed Pien.  Last Thursday night I attended a workshop at the Gallery hosted by Jamie Robson of Mere Phantoms from Montreal.  After introducing us to her own work with installations using paper sculpture, light and shadow and motion techniques, Jamie guided us through creating our own cut-out paper sculptures.  Then we were able to place them on a table in front of a screen and were invited to “play” with lamps attached to long rods to make the sculptures into narratives; shining the lamps directly onto the scuplture, under and over!  My sculpture is the one on top with circles and a wavy top.  Here’s another photo below of the shadow of my sculpture.   You can see these sculptures and more on Friday, February 1, 8 – 11 pm at the “Urbanite” event at the AGGV.  Tickets are $18 at the door.  It’s a fun event I would recommend! 

Fun & Easy Lettering


Fun & easy styles for lyrical quotes

When I joined the West Coast Calligraphy Society in Vancouver, BC  last fall, they asked if I would present a program on monoline lettering at one or their monthly meetings.  Last week I did just that.  Above are two lyrical quotations from my demo using my own “cross-cross caps” letters with “stretched cursive writing”.  Both these styles can be used over and over again for casual applications.   We were working with quotations about music as their upcoming annual exhibition is on the theme the lyrical word.  I suggested to the members that they might want to try this idea:  divide an 8-1/2″ X 11″ sheet into five 2″ columns (with a tiny bit leftover) to create bookmarks with quotations of their choice.  Other calligraphy styles can be combined with the criss-cross caps and/or the stretched cursive writing.  See some of my own examples printed on cardstock that I painted with watercolours.  Calligraphy can be so much fun!

“New” Workshop for the New Year!

Mini collage on wood cradles

Tomorrow is a new year – 2013 – already?  Happy New Year everyone!  Begin this new year with one of my new workshops called Working Small.  In this one day workshop you will experiment working in a small format on paper, wood and canvas with paints, collage and 3D techniques.  Sizes may range from 12″ X 12″ to as small as 3″ X 5″.  The above samples are collage with embellishments on 3″ X 5″ wood cradles with a 1″ profile so they can stand alone on a flat surface or add a hanger to be hung on the wall.  You might like to create several works in different sizes using the same theme to be hung together as a narrative.  There are lots of possibilities and I hope you will join me on Sunday, January 13, 10 am – 4 pm, at Gallery 1580, 1580 Cook Street, Victoria BC.  Cost is $125 which includes some materials provided by me and you will need to bring your own paints, etc. from home.  A supply list is provided upon registration.  Contact me by email kathy.g@shaw.ca or phone 250-370-2116 to register.

New Year Classes & Workshops

Sample of Uncial calligraphy style

Always wanted to learn calligraphy?  2013 is the year to do it!  I am offering a four week class beginning January 9 – 30, Wednesday evenings, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at The Paint Box School of Art in the Fernwood Square, 1284 Gladstone Avenue, Victoria, 250-590-7571.  Cost is $75 plus supplies.  Register through me by email or phone kathy.g@shaw.ca or 250-370-2116.

Get personal with “Kitchen Table Cards”!

Handmade cards for my husband

“Kitchen Table Cards Workshop” will be held on Sunday December 9, 1 – 5 pm at my place.  Come have some fun making cards for your loved ones with all supplies included for a mere $25!  This is my pre-Christmas gift to you.  Here are three cards that I made for my husband.  Bring your own photos to personalize your cards.  They will love you for for it!  Email me to register as space is limited to 8!

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