Anatomy Of A SerigraphPosted July 09 2014
Today, the Whitt-Pritchette Studio semi-launches its KickStarter Campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to garner monetary support to enable the completion of the Folks on Coffee suite — a body of work started many years ago as part of a tutorial project with the guidance of renowned artist and instructor of Nick Abdalla. When I embarked upon this creative adventure, it never occurred to me that it would become such a defining endeavor of my career. From its inception it has been met with overwhelming support.
Initially, the Folks on Coffee Hill started out being Pen&India Ink drawings on full-sheet Strathmore vellum. That was the focus of my tutorial project with Mr. Abdalla — learning how to draw ! [ Odd as it may seem, I knew how to paint, but never learned to draw ]. The initial six drawings were only seen once . . . at an exhibit at the Denver Jewish Community Center — at the time probably the most influential venue in Denver for budding artists wanting exposure. All six initial pieces sold out opening night.
After several new pieces to the Folks on Coffee Hill and a completely different suite of Pen&Ink drawings, I discovered that drawings were not a medium one pursues if one want to survive as an artist. In order to continue my new found love, I would have to find something more lucrative . . . especially when one’s subsistence diet of popcorn was running low.
I must have run through every printmaking method known to man before hitting upon
serigraphy. It was by far my last choice of printmaking methods even though the other mediums were very wanting for scores of differing reasons. From all my previous knowledge of the silk-screen printing, it had in no way any relation to my style . . . or my way of thinking, creating or working . . . or anything that was of any interest to me.
It was by pure happenstance, running across an article about it in an American Artist Magazine, and discovering how far silk-screen printing had evolved in the commercial world. In very few instances, it had yet to filter down or to be incorporated into broader visual artists’ pursuits.
Compared to the other more jazzier printmaking mediums, serigraphy is relatively inexpensive to get into . . . something one should seriously consider when one is running low on popcorn. If one has a rudimentary concept on the use of a saw and a hammer, a screwdriver and 16b nails [ . . . the “b” following the number stands for “pound” when weighing nails . . . don’t ask me why . . . ], making the equipment to pull a serigraph is moderately simple. Add into the mix someone who literally grew up eating 16b nails, one can only imagine to what heights empires might be rise.
Robert Morrill . . . [ one of those troubled high-school teenagers at the time ] . . . and I learned serigraphy literally from the ground up. I had pre-sold 10 of the serigraphs, that we had absolutely no knowledge on how to create, in order to buy the materials for the needed equipment. We virtually had our rear ends in a sling . . . a extremely serious compromising situation.
Robert and I had been working in the dead of night trying to get one good master stencil to print. For over a week, we had been shooting and re-shooting screens and washing them out in the yard with a garden hose. None of our attempts ever seem to print.
Finally, with my tail between my legs, I went to see Jim Kraft from the University of New Mexico for an explanation. He took one pull over my screen and came up with a perfect image. My only problem was that I had been creating perfect screens and stencils all the long . . . I just didn’t know how to pull a squeegee.
That was a simple solvable problem.
What wasn’t, and still isn’t, a resolvable problem was that in the process of creating the stencils I had severely burned my retinas by staring into the ultraviolet lights required for etching the screens. In the interim, I developed the eye condition that I suffer from today —Retinitis Pigmentosa which results in the permanent loss of a person’s peripheral vision and eventual blindness. It also promoted the development of severe cataracts which I have been able to somewhat resolve just last year.
As I mentioned before, no one could have been more shocked at having their works installed in a museum installation than I. One of my pieces,ODYSSEUS . . . [ the second serigraphic piece Robert and I executed in the Folks on Coffee Hill suite ] . . . , was hung in group exhibition celebrating what is commonly referred to as the New Mexico Second Renaissance Artists. This group of artists were the teachers, instructors . . . the movers and shakers of the New Mexican art scene when I was a mere student at the University of New Mexico. To have a piece of work included among this exalted pantheon could only be considered the biggest and greatest honor a rather obscure artist could ever hope for in their lifetime.
I admitted, at the time of the installation of that one piece, rumors abound that theAlbuquerque Museum of Art had purchased several pieces of my work. I didn’t put much credence into it because that one thing is the ultimate achievement that a living visual artist dreams for. The usual stick is, a visual artist gets his or her work into a museum only after they’re dead . . . rarely if they are alive.
When informed that a piece of my work was being installed last November at theAlbuquerque Museum, in association with a Smithsonian Exhibition, I sort of consider myself rather lucky in being ” trotted out ” once again. When I learned that there were five pieces being installed was from their permanent collection of my work, I was astounded. When I learned the installation consisted of only ten pieces, five of which were mine, I flabbergasted. When I was informed that the installation was going to be on display for five months . . . well, lets just say it pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks.
The ” unheard of ” WAS being ” heard of. ”
Read The full Blog at http://www.anatomyofaserigraph.com/blog/