Friday, November 19, 2010

Image and Word

Recently, Flatbed hosted a group of about six clerics in our studios for a custom workshop.  They meet regularly to investigate how visual art can inform their work as proclaimers of their message.  This time they decided to come to Flatbed and collaborate with me as their printer to create monotypes and collages.  Several of them had worked with me before in other workshops.

Each one brought bits and pieces of flotsam and jetsom from their personal lives for their collages.  We began with a discussion of their experiences in art and their expectations for the workshop.  We also discussed the ways that composing a work of art is parallel to composing a sermon or lecture.

Led by me and assisted by two Flatbed printers--Tracy Mayrello and Heather Parrish--each participant created a series of monotypes, using a variety of techniques: subtractive drawing on color roll ups, roll ups "busted" with solvents, transfer monotypes, etc.  Then, each one composed a few of their collage elements on their monotypes.  They chose to leave one tiled, group monotype unadorned by collage; this multi-part work they would rotate among them as a movable feast.

Btw, "monotypes" are one offs transferred to paper from inked imagery that has been applied to a Plexiglas sheet and then run through the etching press.

It is usually fruitful to bring non-art professionals into the shop for such an experience.  It jiggles the creative brain matter and generates new ideas that can be taken back to their day-to-day work.  Custom workshops at Flatbed can be arranged by emailing
                                                               Mark L. Smith

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dancing in Color

"Dancing At Flatbed", that's the title Maricela Sanchez gave to her suite of monotypes created earlier this year at Flatbed Press.  Since that time she has been back to Flatbed three times, each time making work more and more saturated with color and shapes.  Monotypes are prints that are created as unique prints unusually by pressing the paper against an inked surface.  The ink can be applied to the surface so that that images and designs will transfer to the paper. Making monotypes is not a "one-time-through" process for Marcy; she builds her prints with multiple layers of colors and inked hand-cut stencils that resonate with the shapes in her paintings and relief sculpture.

I like to watch Marcy and her printers, Tracy Mayrello, lead printer, and Heather Parrish, assistant printer work.  This collaborative printing is so much like a dance: Marcy painting, rolling, or moving from inking tables to press to place the stencils; Tracy mixing inks, rolling, lifting, consulting all the while; Heather rolling, moving plates, and blotting papers. Each of the three moves in unison and separately toward the unified purpose of creating the next layer to the print.  The printers place the paper into place over the inked plate and stencils; the press pulls the bed forward with a steady hum under the steady pressure of the blankets and roller.  When the bed is on the other side of the roller, the blankets are lifted and the paper peeled off the plate and stencils.  The three gather and lift the inky, wet print from the bed.  Surprise and admiration erupt. “Beautiful!”

It is our pleasure to introduce artists to the monotype process.  Flatbed has package plans for artists wanting to create monotypes.  Artists do not have to have any experience making monotypes because our experienced printers handle the technical skill of making it happen.  We strive to fit every process that we use to the artist's natural way of working, seeing, and thinking.  Consider this an invitation to the dance!

Katherine Brimberry, master printer, Flatbed Press

Friday, September 17, 2010

Picasso's Baby

One of the most satisfying jobs we do in the studio is work with artists who have made plates or blocks to print but have never had either the time or equipment to create an edition from those matrices.  They will find an old lino-cut block or etched plate and bring this in with some first proofs to see if we can make small editions from them.

Recently an artist came to us with some exquisite, small lino blocks and a fine dry-point engraving.  Like many, he had created these a few years ago and had only printed a few proofs.  He had never been able to print an edition, which is a group of prints made from the same block or plate on the same paper, with the same ink and looking so much alike that they are numbered.  This group of impressions is known as the "edition."  I like to tell artists that etching the plates or cutting the blocks is only half the creation of a fine art print.  The way it is printed, the artisan's touch, the choices in ink, the choices of how to print can make the image sing.  So, the printing collaboration becomes an important link to the fine art prints creation.  For this project, Flatbed's master printer, Tracy Mayrello, was put in charge of these matrices.  Her expertise and fine craftsmanship kicked in and the impressions she pulled brought the prints to an amazing level of beauty.  Small editions were created from each matrix and the artist came to inspect, sign and number each impression.  We talked about how his images had been elevated by the printing process; they had become the best of what they could be: simple, elegant, but fluent statements.

"Picasso's Baby" is the title of one of his lino-cuts.  Each line was hand cut with a special gouge into mounted linoleum.  The cut lines swell and diminish, and the printed image appears as white line against black. The block was inked with black and the cut lines show and slightly emboss the white paper below.  The cubist form stands balanced between nothingness and variegated edge.  The playful construction begs your eye to investigate its space.  "Picasso's Baby" is born. 

Katherine Brimberry

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday and Discoveries

Welcome Lou MacNaughton to Flatbed!  Lou has decided to volunteer at Flatbed every Wednesday to help us keep order out of the 5,000 plus works in our print inventory.  She took to it quickly, which is quite a feat in itself.  Today, Lou was helping me sort out prints that had returned and find homes for prints that have recently arrived.  She is in charge of listing where everything is in over 90 flat file drawers.  This can be overwhelming but it has its rewards. 

While going through some drawers that hold a mixture of consigned and owned prints, Lou came across some real beauties that I had completely forgotten about.  She and I were overtaken by the condition "Print Eye."  This condition can be identified in yourself when the world comes to a quiet pause while you stare at a print, taking in the image, the technique, the overall effect.  A person affected by "Print Eye" gets a kind of glaze over their face and their breathing comes to a near stop.  Not much else seems to matter for a time.  We took our time admiring these prints and then we looked at each other.  "More people need to see these," I said.  I kept thinking about how they had been languishing in the drawers all this time.  Lou piped up about finding a way to display them and we came up with perhaps the idea of "Wednesday Salon."  That's the day she is here and now she can pull these babies out for anyone to see or purchase.  For the most part, these smaller prints are at a very accessible price point.  Many are from local artists or artists from near by.  

Meanwhile, the real discovery is Lou.  We are grateful to have her here to help at Flatbed, and we are especially grateful for her case of "Print Eye."


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Exhibit Your Own Art

Flatbed has added a new service at Flatbed World Headquarters: a rental gallery that you or a group of artists may rent by the week to mount your own exhibition.  The space is called "02Gallery & Project Space" (our zip code here is 78702) and consists of 150 linear feet of handsome and well-lighted wall space just off our main entrance.  Low, introductory rates are in effect for bookings made before Sept. 15.  For prices and details, click the "Rentals" button at, or email director Mark Smith at, or call 512.477.9328, ext. 30.

O2 exhibitions enjoy the environment of Flatbed's popular creative community, space for your opening reception, ample free parking, a catering kitchen, and lots more.  There is even an AustinMetro train station across the street.

Art: not just for the rich and famous.

02Gallery & Project Space
2832 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78702

A window into the shop.

Hello Flatbed Followers,

In an attempt to give you a window in on the action at Flatbed, Mark and I are committing ourselves to this bit of a blog.  So much happens here, and a lot of it happens with us in the action, leaving us with less time and photos that we'd like.  None the less, we will try to keep you up on the new creations and who is working here.  We'd love this to be a two way window and hear from you too.  Maybe we can take some informal surveys!

Some of our best news is the completion of the Ann Conner Brentwood Suite of woodcuts.  It is a beautiful suite of six woodcuts printed in "technicolor" as described by Ann.  Ann made the trip from Wilmington, North Carolina the first week of August just in time for our heat wave.  The blocks had been printed and she came to inspect the finished work and sign the editions.  All went well, and with her approval and signature, we now have these amazing works available. 

Other good news at Flatbed is that we have started a limited "open shop" for experienced printmakers.  We're excited to have our first member and are hoping to be able host four printmakers in our open studio area.

Stay tuned for some upcoming information on the "Advancing Tradition" exhibition of Flatbed work slated to open at the Austin Museum of Art in November!