When I was in Montreal last week, having my wonderful catch-up with Esti, we talked about printmaking, my first love. Turns out Esti found her way into art-making through printmaking as well. She had the same visceral ‘coming home’ feeling when she first walked into a print shop I did when I had my ‘Intro to Printmaking’ class as a freshman at Parsons. I think it was partly growing up with a textile factory- that’s what my dad does. The smells are similar- the inks and solvents, even the machine grease. But there was something more.
I’ve thought about it a lot over the years and the thing that pulled me to printmaking, especially etching, was the way you could be an artist when you were drawing your image, then you had to have all this technical expertise to make it a good print. You had to use very different parts of your mind. That’s what I loved about welding too- how you needed to fully engage the problem solving parts of your brain to make a successful weld. Printmaking involves lots of steps- something about sequential progression that is so satisfying. All the muscle memory and attention to detail- thinking about it now makes me happy.
After graduating art school I had an etching press all my own for a little while- it was heaven. I could experiment and frankly abuse the machine trying out different unorthodox techniques. A lot of the drawing and line style I use now in my ketubah work comes from this period of experimentation. I sold the press when I left my awesome studio in NY and moved away. It was too heavy and expensive to store to think about holding on to, but I do miss it.
And wouldn’t you know, my love, my husband, also counts printmaking among his first loves. Of course he mastered it and actually worked as a master printmaker for a while- printing for famous contemporary artists. Art nerds think alike I guess.
I love looking back on the windy path that’s taken me through all these amazing places. I don’t know if I’ll ever make another print, or ever weld another piece of steel, but there’s a part of those experiences that stays with me as I sit down to paint a new ketubah or figure out a wedding invitation layout. Like every other (good and not so good) part of my life, I am grateful for it all.