Print Studio Update

Spring Bouquets

JTP Flower Panels 3 SQ.jpg

Johntimothy has recently been working on a wonderful suite of small, delicate flower prints. Measuring 7"h x 5"w, these one-of-a-kind pieces are a mix of intaglio and screen print mounted on cradled panels.  I managed to convince him to share some of these still life pieces with our readers, as well as talk about the inspiration and drive behind this body of work. 

We'll start with a photo of one of the many vases of dry, dead flowers that adorn our studio environment. I've taken to calling our place the headquarters of The Dead Flower Society, which is a term of affection, as I enjoy these quirky arrangements as well. In this state, the flowers perform quite well as models for drawing, but there is more to the story than that, as you'll read about in my conversation with Johntimothy below.

Dead Flower Still Life

Dead Flower Still Life

PRP: What do you find interesting or compelling about flowers as a subject?

JP: My use of them as a subject matter comes from two directions really. The first is the inspiration that comes from observing and drawing the flowers as they decay. They are beautiful objects to translate into linear drawings...I really enjoy the intricate line work that I can explore through observing and drawing these forms.

The second piece of my curiosity is the connection to the art historical use of flowers, specifically in Dutch still life paintings. I find it interesting that flower imagery is layered with meaning and metaphor, but at the same time serves as visual decoration. I'm fascinated by that layered aspect of their visual being.

JTP Panel Flowers 1 SQ.jpg

PRP: There is a lot going on in these pieces...can you tell us how they were made?

JP: They begin with the intaglio line image (engraving, etching, and/or drypoint) made from an initial observational drawing of a bouquet of dead flowers. The next stage is layering the piece with screen print images from Dutch flower paintings. This mix of screen and intaglio results in a kind of abstraction, which somewhat obscures each layer through the overlapping and merging of the two.

JTP Flower Panels 2 SQ.jpg

JP: The immediate read is something abstract and non-objective and the viewer has to get in close to see both the line work and begin to see the screen print flower imagery as well. You can't focus on both at the same have to go back and forth between the two. My interest in this aspect comes from reading interviews with David Hockney and his discussion and exploration of perception and vision. He talks about how we are unable to focus on two things at once and our perception shifts between one and the other. That's also what I'm exploring in these pieces.

JTP Flower panels 4 SQ.jpg

I just love these intimate pieces with their delicate line work and floating color....the essence of the still life flowers seems to lift and merge with the flowers from paintings of long ago in a sort of magical interplay. There are other explorations in Johntimothy's studio based on these themes, which we will visit another time.

Hope you are enjoying spring where you are. Here we are enduring what we hope is the last snow of the season! Cheers!

JTP Flower Panels 5 SQ.jpg




The Daily Monoprint Project!

A new daily series is born! Late last week Johntimothy laid a couple prints on my desk from an engraving plate he was working on. He thought it might be fun for me to play with them....a little watercolor or drawing on top, just to see what happened with them.

Eventually, at the beginning of the week, I took some time with one of them....and the next day, another. Then it occurred to us that these were collaborative monoprints and they might be another fun daily project for us to share for sale in The Art Filled Home. That engraving plate had had some revisions throughout last week, but he went ahead and printed five more and each day this week I've been engaging with them in a new way. We have the first six days of this week here to show you and are in the process of listing them in the shop.

October 17, 2017 daily monoprint

October 17, 2017 daily monoprint

A lot can change, depending on the colors I choose and the drawing marks I make. I love the raised surface of the printed engraved crisp and clean. We are still working out the details of how this daily project will proceed as we move forward into next week. He has a number of these tiny 4"h x 2"w plates currently underway. We've decided there are no hard and fast rules, except that it's one plate per week. The plate may be finished already and be printed 7 times or he may be working on it throughout the week and the plate will change daily as well. 

October 18, 2017 daily monoprint

October 18, 2017 daily monoprint

If you look closely, you can see that the engraved print underneath will have changed from one print to another. Also, because there was no particular orientation to the original print, I may have flipped it from one day to the next and felt it read better in a different way depending on what I'd done with it.

October 19, 2017 daily monoprint

October 19, 2017 daily monoprint

Yesterday (above), I got a little heavy handed, since I started out with gouache instead of watercolor. Much of the lower portion of Johntimothy's beautiful engraving print is obscured, but I can still see it and I think the sense of layering makes it interesting. Still, I think I've learned to stay away from the gouache for this process!

October 20, 2017 daily monoprint

October 20, 2017 daily monoprint

That may explain why I pulled way back and kept the drawing pretty simple today....just playing with my favorite mark, the humble dot, to carry the flow of the engraving marks. There's something to be said for the beautiful contrast of simple black and white, that's for sure! Of course, I don't need to tell that to a printmaker. We're happy with this project and look forward to sharing the results here on our blog and in our shop.

I like the fact that the prints from any particular week can make a nice grouping, as they share that underlining engraving drawing. The first couple mono prints are listed in TheArtFilledHome and the others will soon follow, so please check back often! Hope you enjoy your weekend!


Prints in Process: A Visit with Johntimothy Pizzuto

Greetings, with an update from Missouri Bend Studio, where Johntimothy and I are busy in the studio. As I've given some thought to this blog, I think we'll focus a Tuesday post on what Johntimothy is up to, both in and out of the studio and a Friday post will feature my work...Studio J and Studio P, so to speak. So, today is Johntimothy's day....I'll follow him around a bit!

Working on one of many mixed intaglio plates he has in the works!

Working on one of many mixed intaglio plates he has in the works!

Johntimothy and I have been attempting to maintain a somewhat strict studio schedule of late, trying to keep ourselves productive and on course. He is on sabbatical this semester and therefore doesn't have any classes to teach, so is dedicated to spending time making new work and finishing some other projects. We both spend mornings in the studio and he too has begun working on his own daily drawing project....but, more on that another time. 

This morning he worked on a number of plates he has had in process. All are intaglio plates, which means that he is creating the image by incising into the plate with various tools. Intaglio is a broad term, which might include any number of processes such as etching, engraving, drypoint, or mezzotint, to name a few....and in fact, to name all the processes that have some part to play in each of the plates he is currently working on! He refers to them as "mixed intaglio". Some of the tools that come into use can be seen below on his desk. That's quite a magnifier, eh? I think my work is hard on the eyes, but try drawing fine lines and tiny marks through a zinc plate and being able to see what in the world you've done!

John at work 2 8 29 17.jpg

Over lunch I asked Johntimothy to define the printmaker's lingo in layman's terms, so I could help relay it to our readers. I'll give you the basics here, but you can click on each of the terms and be taken to more expansive Wikipedia definitions and discussion. He loves all these processes and depending on what he wants the image to reveal and what kind of mark he wants to make, he will choose the method and proper tool for working the plate.

Drypoint: drawing directly into the matrix or printing plate (could be metal or even plexiglas) with a sharp stylus.

Etching: image in the plate is the result of etching with acid or corrosive salt (he uses ferric chrloride, a safer etchant) in order to hold ink.

Engraving: Cutting incised lines in a metal printing plate with the use of a burin (there's also wood engraving, but that uses different tools).

Mezzotint: Reductive process in which the drawing is revealed by scraping and burnishing the image of the dark background surface created by a making a field of dense burrs with a tool called a rocker. Mezzotint creates a tonal image.

Those are very basic ways to describe the different processes, so I encourage you to follow up and investigate these links to find more information. You will see the evidence of all of these processes in his work....check out his gallery page here on the website.

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

So, after working on a plate for some time, it will be time to see just where it is and how far it's come from the last proof. So today, some fresh proofs ended up pinned to the board in the studio. Check them out....everything still a work in process. He'll often pin an earlier version below and the fresh proof above in order to check progress, as seen here.

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

Earlier proof below, today's proof above

The changes in the print immediately above here are the most striking. See especially the difference in the rich darks that show up in the upper example. That's the he "rocked" that part of the plate to create the tiny burrs that hold a lot of ink, creating that rich, deep black. Where you see white on the plate, the ink is wiped off, leaving ink only in the incised lines that show the image. This image will go through quite a bit more change, I'm quite sure. I'm glad he was ready to do some proofing today, as there are many many hours of work on the plates in between printing even just a proof.

I have immense appreciation and respect for printmakers and ability to create such richness from a simple piece of metal. There is a long history, tradition and dedication to craft that comes with the territory, which draws many folks to become printmakers....and others of us to love what they are able to create!