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."