Cutting Out the Negatives

Drawing, painting, collaging, photoshopping. Throughout my childhood, art has been a huge part of my day-to-day life. It holds my attention, allows me to express my creativity, and the product- while not always what was originally intended- usually gives me a sense of accomplishment. I’ve taken art classes during both middle school and high school as well as some beginning drawing and 2D design courses here at UAF. I don’t think I’ll end up getting an art degree, but know I’ll continue exploring new realms of the art world. I just enjoy the extra inspiration and drive to incorporate new ideas into what I do.

This semester I decided to try out a medium of art that is relatively new to me: printmaking. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I guess what initially came to mind was etchings in old encyclopedias, details of the presidential faces found on paper money, and various sizes of rubber stamps. Now that we’re a few weeks into the class I definitely have a better understanding of the printing process. So far the methods we’ve explored are collagraph, monotype, and reduction prints. I’m currently working on a linoleum reduction, which essentially means you carve everything you don’t want to be printed. The image I’m working with is of a winding trail through a black spruce forest, going towards a snowy mountain. This means I will be carving away the mountain and stars, so the trail, trees, and sky will hold the ink and print the desired image.

Though I’m carving into a sheet of linoleum, my idea started out as a drawing. I had a concept in mind, I had a general idea of what I wanted, but I had to go through several versions before I found the best way to turn the black on white drawing to a white on black reduction carving. You can almost think of it like film photography, working with the negatives in order to create the actual picture. If you do very little carving, most of the image will be dark. If you spend most of your time carving, leaving only but a small portion, you will end up with very little ink, and therefore a brighter image. I’m still getting used to it, but I can definitely see the appeal in the printmaking process.

This winter I plan on sticking with a weekly routine of regularly creating something new. Whether it’s something big or small, permanent or temporary, I’m going to try to keep busy with art. In my opinion, it’s the best way to beat the winter blues. Even though I grew up here with the gloomy Fairbanks winters, I’m definitely not immune to the lack of vitamin D or the cold and darkness. Being aware of that is the important part though. If you know that winters are hard for you, you can start looking for ways to cope; like with art. Some people ski/snowboard/snowmachine all winter long and can’t wait for the snow to fly. I’m more of a summer blossom and have to actively look for the good things each season change. No matter who you are, there’s something each season for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding it and owning it.

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