Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Unexpected perspective

Well, here's something you haven't seen in a while...

Illustration-in-progress. Hey, where's my printing stuff?

I'm in full-on paint mode for contract work this week, which feels a little odd. It's been a while since I've had any "brush" to share on Brush and Baren, because it's been weeks since I've had paints on the table and a brush in my hand. A couple of months ago, in the midst of another illustration project, I experienced an astounding revelation:

I quite dislike brushes.

Actually, the word I chose at the time was significantly stronger than "dislike," but since I really do need cooperation from this particular tool at the moment, it seems prudent to call a truce.

My path to image-making has been anything but a straight line (ahem). I didn't set out to be an artist, I set out to be a teacher. Little moments along the way– a nudge here, a pat on the back there– encouraged me to pick up a pencil, then a brush, then etching tools. Even clay and stone. But art was something I would teach, not something I would do full time. Shows you what I knew.

It's interesting to look back and see how a hundred little "insignificant" actions and conversations led me to where I am now. Twenty years ago I started painting because there were learning opportunities available and I took advantage of them... first in oils, then in watercolor. I met other artists– painters all– and hung around with them. I wanted to be them. But while I think of myself as a reasonably competent painter I have never been a comfortable painter. If I want to make a mark I don't automatically reach for a brush. I reach for a pencil. Or a gouge.

It's only in the last 2 or 3 years that I've realized it's okay not to be a painter. I've never been terribly comfortable with calling myself an artist, either (too much baggage attached to the term), but I answer to printmaker as readily as my own name.

Some projects still call for paint, of course, and for some endeavors only a brush will do. It's a nice diversion once in a while, but it's also a helpful reminder of who I really am. I'm a printmaker, and whenever I doubt it all I have to do is pick up a brush to put everything back in perspective.


  1. Great post! Very interesting reading about your curvy line to becoming an artist.
    I'm a painter but prefer to use a palette knife over a brush anytime!

  2. I adore your prints, but I also think your watercolors are some of the most beautiful things I've seen.


  3. Do you ever mix the two? Like a black print with watercoloured details?

  4. i like painting but hate brushes too. so much easier using fingers lol
    I am sometimes reluctant to tell people I am an artist because it means so many different things to people; poor/starving/crazy/strange/lazy etc :p and while that can be true in some cases its usually not the case but people think it is :/

  5. I'm glad you are painting. As soon as you're done you'll be all charged up to get back to printmaking because it's so much more fun, right?!

    When I worked for a production etching shop, one of the new artists said over the phone before we met him, "I'm not a wet man, I'm a dry man." Oy, we puzzled over that for a long time. When he came to the studio he explained that he's not comfortable painting (wet), he's much more comfortable drawing or carving sculpture (dry).

    So! To steal his (horrible) terminology, we are dry women! (hahahah)