Collagraph: Garden Meditation

Garden Meditation 7x7 Collagraph printed with Akua Inks on Johannot paper
Available in my Etsy shop.
I'm re-reading Alice Carter's excellent book (linked below) about Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935), Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954) and Violet Oakley (1874-1961).  I'm so inspired by their art, their work ethic and their resourcefulness at a time when making a living as an artist was surely a man's job.  When I look at their work - over one hundred years after it was created - I get saturated with a feeling of wonder for their working methods, materials, inspiration and daily routines.  You can call their art sentimental, or as one of my printmaker friends says "sweet enough to give you a tooth ache",  but I find it so rich with skillful design, balanced composition, and atmospheric color harmonies that it's a potent source of inspiration for me.  Below is a watercolor & charcoal that I love by Elizabeth Shippen Green - using her own garden and her room mates and friends as models -  titled Life was made for Love and Cheer (image courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Life was made for Love and Cheer, Elizabeth Shippen Green 1904
Okay, so now that I'm all inspired, let's get into the studio and make something, shall we? I've posted the photos of the process for this collagraph, Garden Meditation, below - starting at the bottom. If you decide to give it a go, and make a collagraph (sometimes spelled collograph), leave a link to your post about it in the comments so we can see your results and cheer you on. Go ahead... Make something. :)

Pulling the print

After going through the press; you can see the relief image of the plate
through the back of the Johannot paper.
Wiping the uppermost layer of the plate gently with newsprint
to adjust plate tone.
Applying Akua intaglio ink to the collagraph à la poupée.

I'm inking the plate with separate colorà la poupée. Rolled and taped
felt "dollies" (in French; 
poupée) are used to daub ink and apply it to
directly to the plate, so I can get a multi-colored, painterly print
in one pass under the press.

After cutting & sealing the plate with Liquitex gloss medium varnish, I've re-wet
specific areas with the varnish, and added #120 grit carborundum to grab ink.
I want this area to be black, so the "tooth" of the carboarundum
will hold enough ink, even after wiping, to ensure a solid color.
Cutting and peeling the top layer of mat board
to create recessed wells and curbs for ink collection.

Sketching the design with studio cat Scout swatting at my moving pencil.

Scrap mat board with a beveled edge (leftover from framing other art).
Art Quote

For middle and upper-class women interested in art and fortunate enough to be provided with a "fashionable education," lessons were taught by private tutors. The curriculum, known as drawing from the "flat," consisted of copying from the tutor's own drawings or replicating engravings of works by well-known artists. Although amateur accomplishment in art was considered an advantageous social refinement, professional studies in life-drawing classes were feared to compromise a woman's virtue by inflaming her passions and making her unfit as a wife and mother.
In 1860, a group of female students at the Pennsylvania Academy, upset by their exclusion from life drawing, started their own classes outside the campus, posing for each other sometimes clothed, sometimes half draped. Although word of the renegade courses embarrassed the Academy, Ladies' Life classes were not added to the curriculum until 1868, and they remained segregated for many years. In 1886 when Thomas Eakins lifted the loin cloth of a male model to reveal a little too much anatomy to his female students, he was fired.

The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love ~ Alice Carter

Thanks for stopping by!


Cristiane Marino said...

Hi Belinda!

Your "Garden Meditation" is so peaceful...so beautiful...
Thank you for sharing your creative process, it's very interesting. I didn't know how to do the colllagraph.
I am impressed by the things you've told about the female painters in the nineteenth century.
Nowadays it's hard to accept that this kind of segregation existed!

Celia Blanco said...

Belinda, she is beautiful and women have come a long way in art! I love your process and think it would be fun to try-you give us all the information we need. Thank you!

John Brisson said...

I just love this art piece.


Belinda Del Pesco said...

@Cristiane - I'm glad you like the art and I would encourage you to try the process. It's *very* fun.

Belinda Del Pesco said...

@Celia - I'm glad you'd like to try making a collagraph. If you do, be sure to post a link back here in the comments so we can see.

Belinda Del Pesco said...

@John, from a fellow printmaker, that's a very nice compliment. Thank you. :o)