Adventures in Printing

During my undergrad art education I spent a lot of time with large, cumbersome objects. I lugged a big leather portfolio to class (also once used to smuggle stacked cans of beer into the dorm.) I carried a big tackle box full of paints and brushes. When I did my senior thesis in printmaking, my constant companion was a big industrial printer that you cranked by hand.

These days I’ve condensed the tasks of these cumbersome objects into one slick little iPad, and one of my favorite things is testing out art apps to see which ones come closest to emulating those big cumbersome art tools. One of my favorites is Artrage. You can squeeze out virtual paint and use a palette knife to smear it on canvas. The only thing that’s missing is the smell of linseed oil and turpentine. It’s not perfect though. When you speed up the process, it inevitably crashes. But still – it’s a pretty close simulation to using oil paint.

The only problem with these apps is that it’s too easy to leave the end results sitting around on your device. Of course there are a million sites you can share them to, but I’ve always missed having a physical studio where you can hang your work on the wall and ponder it. When you constantly see your work in the periphery, I have no doubt that your subconscious is busy editing it while you’re doing something mundane like the laundry.

After years of deliberation, I finally broke down and purchased one of those printers that uses archival quality ink and can print on a variety of surfaces. I made this as a quickie example, and was really excited with the results. I started by sampling the colors of a simple landscape photo, and then got to work smearing the paint around with my virtual palette knife. I wanted to create a vaguely abstract landscape with bright colors and visible brushstrokes to test out some canvas paper. Here are some images from the process:

So there you have it: my clean, sterile, lightweight art process. I’m hoping that one day I will go full circle and return to those big cumbersome messy materials. I miss the smell of linseed oil. But for now I have enough trouble even keeping sharpies and pencils in the house:

The scrawlings of a 4 year old on my wall, or Cy Twombly originals?
You decide.