Sunday, September 9, 2018

IN DEEP - 6 color reduction process

My solo exhibition "AT SEA" just opened yesterday and the hightlights of the show were my two newest reduction linocuts.  At the suggestion of my sister, after singing the praises of all the large format linocuts I saw the SGCI Conference in Las Vegas in April, I attempted two 24 x 18 inch 6 color reduction prints.  The largest I had done before were 4 11x15 prints, in 2006.  Those took me 6 months to do.
I have had a lot more experience since then  and so felt excited at the prospect of working large.  I worked from photos I took at an aquarium in Newport, KY, starting with a line drawing of the two images combined - 24 x 36.  

Overlaying the drawing with acetate, I then started to color in the images, trying to see how few colors I needed to depict the fish and kelp and depth I sought.  I selected color chips (the freebies from Home Depot) to target my color choices and prevent me from using ink right out of the can.  I used a combination of hoarded Daniel Smith and Gamblin relief inks.

Then I transfered the drawing to the two 24 x 18 inch lino which I had adhered to masonite.  I used red carbon paper which I got from McClains and a black Stabilo marker to make it permanent.


I weighed whether to start printing with the light blue or the yellow.  You can't get yellow over any other color, but the blue only appeared in the fish.  If I printed the whole plate in yellow and attempted to print light blue I would get green, so I cut stencils to block off everything but the fish and printed the blue first.  I printed 12 of each plate., using Ternes and Burton pin registrration
Color 1
I printed the yellow next without a stencil but I cut a mask to protect the masonite from stray inking.

The benefit of printing the blue first and then the yellow was the free green I got on the fish.  And I got my bright yellow and pure blue where I needed them.

Color 2

I normally determine exactly where each color would go in separate color separations.  But working this large made that problematic. And I must say, the Sherrie York process influenced me a tad on this project.  (See her blog Brush and Baren.)   Because I had drawn the entire line drawing on each plate at the beginning, I drew in the areas I wanted to save as yellow and then cut that away and printed color 3.  

I was printing in my home studio and it has been monsoon season which means it is a bit more to a lot more humid depending on the day.  After I printed color 3, I ran into problems and had to reach out to Santo Press master printer Brent Bond for advice.  I turns out that the humidity had stretched my paper on this print with the large angelfish.  The upper right corner stretched a bit above the straight and narrow.  

I didn't see it until I was in to printing the 4th color.  I had good luch with the second image but the first one was super stretching and it was raining outside.  I was using a tympan, the pressure was too tight and my registration was wonky - and I was using pins!  So I took Brent's advice and stopped that night and tried again the next day with less pressure and a single blanket and I was back in business. Phew! Because it was starting to look pretty darn good.

Color 4

At this stage was I wearing myself out, so I enlisted the help of a fellow printmaker, Paulette Olive, to help me with the heavy lifting - actually lifting the plates on and off the press.  It was much faster and way more fun sharing the studio.  Each color took about 6 to 8 hours to print (25 in all).  After carving away color 4 and printing 5, I briefly considered ending there.  It looked so good.  But I wanted to bring in more depth so I continued on with color 6.

Color 5

After color 6 I hand colored the orange around the eyes because I never could figure out how to do it earlier.  Et voila!

In Deep I and In Deep II

This is the exhibition view, pardon the light reflections at the top.  Final curating allowed an edition of 7.  

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Creative Mode

I can't believe it has been over a year since I last posted.  But that year has passed and I am now ready to be more present in my art practice both on the creative side and the administrative side.  It's all about learning and keeping up.  New technology is getting harder for me as I get older but I am determined to learn as much as I can.

In the meantime I am furiously but happily making new artwork for my solo show at Five15 Arts@Chartreuse in September.  My most recently completed piece is called "Covet" which was primarily created for a print exchange of the same name organized by Melanie Yazzie of UC/Boulder from her printmaker encounters at the SGCI Conference in Las Vegas last March.

Before I started on my print, I saw that two printmaker heroines I respect (Kathryn Maxwell and Emily Arthur) had posted their prints in process and they had printed on both sides of the 20 x 8 paper size.  So I decided that I too would print on both sides.  Also at SGCI in Las Vegas, I connected with John Hitchcock at the Open Portfolio and he talked about using dye which added splashes of color in his screenprints.  So when I came home, I experimented with 3 different types of dye and used this new tool to create Side B of my print with a gomuban relief print of baby turtles.  I used pieces of embossed paper to create texture in the turtles shells after inking and before printing. 

After printing the baby turtles, I sprayed two different colors of dye to represent the beach and water as they race to the ocean.  On the other side, I planned a 6 color reduction of a green sea turtle I met off Maui some years ago.  

Another first for me in the learning process department was using pin registration for the first time.  I am now a committed pin registration advocate.  

For the reduction print I used battleship grey linoleum mounted on masonite.  I used an acetate mask to isolate the turtle from the water for the first 4 colors.  For the last 2 colors I inked the water first and then cleaned and re-inked the eyes in black.


 The prints are intended to be 10 x 8 inches in the end.  But before the fold this is how they ended up.

Thank you Melanie Yazzie for including me in your project.  

Now, back to my studio for more new works already in process.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Catching Up

Too much time has passed since I last posted.  I seem to be better at Facebook posts than blogposts but will try to do better.   So for a quick catch up - I had a one person show at Wil McNabbb Studio in Flagstaff AZ the month of August 2016.  Work from my Dangers Ahead show was exhibited.

In early August 2016 I taught a weekend Reduction Relief workshop in Napa, CA at Nancy Willis's beautiful studio.  I will be repeating this workshop again this August 4-6th.  Let me know if you will be in Napa Valley and are interested in attending.

In September 2016, Five15 Arts Gallery closed its door after 15 years on Roosevelt Row.  A developer bought our building and evicted us.  He will be building a new building behind our old one, that we are interested in occupying, if all goes well.  Until then, we were homeless until the Phoenix Center for the Arts offered us a temporary home in their own relocated gallery space.  Our first show was in January 2017, a group show called "Changing Spaces".  

We juried in three new members who have added fun and creativity to our merry group.  We had another group show for Art Detour in March, the work I showed is in the photo below.

I continue to work within the theme of Dangers Ahead and created this piece about the soon to be extinct Vaquita for the Mesa Arts Center Calendar which is a fundraiser they hold every year.

As a member of the Arizona Print Group, I was happy that the Seacourt Print Workshop in Bangor Ireland, exhibited our "Mythical Creatures" portfolio at their gallery in Northern Ireland.  My print is seen over the right shoulder of the man below.

 In January, I enrolled in the spring printmaking class at Glendale Community College taught by my friends and fellow printmakers, Donna Atwood and Marlys Kubicek.  One of the class assignments was a 2 color reduction linocut, to be printed at Santo Press in Scottsdale.  Such a luxury to have Brent Bond print for us.  We also just completed a two color screen print - self portrait - totally fun and great to learn a new process!

And gratefully, I have continued to teach printmaking classes at the Thunderbird Arts Center (the northern facility of the Phoenix Arts Center)  My classroom was moved two weeks ago to the room depicted here, and I am thrilled to have a space of my own.  Just for printmaking!  I have two classes scheduled for the next 3 Mondays (May8th) - relief at 3 pm and a drawing based solarplate class at 6 pm.  And two Saturday general solarplate classes beginning May 13th.  There are a lot more classes offered for the summer so check them out at
Coming up, I am working on a 3 color reduction relief print for a print exchange with the Seacourt (Irish) printmakers. Twenty of them and 20 Arizona Print Group members are creating work based on poems from their locality.   Five15 Arts is presenting the 6th Annual Five15 to the Power of 5 exhibition of 12 x 12 artwork from over 60 artists.  I need to make something new for that and then in September we will be doing a political based show, so I need to work on those projects.  I added many of my new prints to my website - so give them a gander and let me know what you think.  I welcome studio visits from interested buyers!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Printmaking Workshop in Napa, CA - August 12-14th

I will be teaching a 2.5 day Two Color Reduction Relief workshop in Napa, CA August 12-14th.  If anyone is in the area, or you want an excuse to visit Napa Valley, then sign up for this fun few days by contacting  Nancy at the phone number below.


A Two-Color Reduction Relief Printmaking Workshop
with Phoenix Artist Wendy Willis
August 12th-14th
Friday 5:30 to 7:30   
 Saturday 10:00 to 4     Sunday 10:00 to 3:00
$275. Price includes all materials, food and beverage & instruction

The workshop begins on Friday with an introduction to reduction relief. Over wine and nibbles we will help you select an image to work from for our two-color process (white, black and one color) to create an edition of 10 prints. Saturday begins with a continental breakfast, transferring the image to the plate and carving away the color we want to preserve.  After a nourishing lunch we will ink and print the plate, then repeating the repeat the process on Sunday. VOILA!  We will toast our accomplishments of the weekend and your edition of 10 5” x 7” hand-pulled fine art prints!

Wendy Willis is printmaker in Phoenix, AZ. Her work has been widely exhibited nationally including a public art piece in Phoenix and is held in public and private collections. She is a member of the Arizona Print Group and her recent exhibit, Dangers Ahead, received critical recognition for its themes of global warming. She is an active printmaker and educator and her area of expertise, reductive linocut can be seen in the image HISTORY.

contact  or 707.963.9410

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Class Opportunities

I started taking life drawing classes in the nineties at the Phoenix Center.  I met Marlys Kubicek there and together we started taking printmaking classes from David Manje at the Mesa Arts Center.  That is where I discovered I was a printmaker.  For the past several years I have been the Department Head for Printmaking at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.  I love teaching in the community education setting and sharing printmaking with those who never made art before - or since high school.  We also provide a place for experienced printmakers to brush up on techniques and/or come to play.

I am getting settled in at the Thunderbird Arts Center (1106 E. Grovers), which is still the Phoenix Center, only in the north valley.  It's a comfortable space and the residents in the area (and beyond) have really supported my classes.  But printmaking opportunties are always limited to the few locations with etching presses (or letterpresses) so when Agustin Vargas asked me if I was interested in teaching workshops at the Mesa Arts Center, I was happy to accept.

Both facilities have open registration right now.  The links for both are below.

Fall offerings at Thunderbird include Solarplate Etching, Monotype and Carve, Cut and Color (relief) with a couple classes in November for those who want to create gifts/cards for the holidays.

Fall workshops at the Mesa Arts Center are a one day, 6 hour Solarplate Etching workshop in September and a 3 day Two Color Reduction Relief workshop in October.

Mesa's website can be confusing.  Click on Adult, Workshops, and Graphic Arts to find my classes.

Class sizes for both locations are small, just 6 at Thunderbird and 7 at Mesa.  So sign up soon if see a class you'd like to take.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dangers Ahead at Five15 Arts

First and Third Friday are over and 3 of 4 Saturdays too.  One more Saturday next week and this show will come down.  Fifteen months of work - challenging, interesting, failures and successes, but mostly all fun and satisfying.  I have sat at the front of the gallery looking at the work on 3 walls and felt pretty proud of myself.  The work is beautiful and everyone seemed to respond to it at that level.  The gratifying part for me has been the emotional connection people made of a deeper level.  I appreciate the kids and the elders and the various age groups in between who braved the traffic and craziness of First Fridays; and the friends and art lovers who attended my reception last night.  I felt loved and connected.  For those who couldn't attend, here are some images of the pieces which received the most comments.

Pirate Fishing
Flushed Prescription Drugs

The above prints are diffused relief prints. This is a process created by Moniker Meler of Stockton California.  We saw it demo'd at a printmaking conference in Philadelphia in 2010 and tried it unsuccessfully upon returning home.  A couple years ago we brought Monika to Phoenix to teach us directly and what a fun and impactful 3 days we had with her!  We are still trying to master the process - to be able to predict an outcome. But the beauty of it for me is it allows me to let go.  After the restraints and controlling nature of my reduction relief printing, the randomness and mystery is so freeing. 

By Catch II
Gill Nets I
Coastal Erosion

CO2 Emissions

Bottom Trawling
The five prints above are monosilkscreen prints.  The first two have reduction relief prints collaged onto them (the 4 small images).  Coastal Erosion and CO2 Emissions have some pieces of diffused relief collaged onto them.

If you are able, please come next Saturday (May 28th) for my last day with these prints at Five15 Arts Gallery.  (515 E. Roosevelt, in Phoenix).

I would also like to thank Marlys Kubicek and Diana Hartley, who hung the show for me and provided support in so many other ways. I am humbled and grateful for their friendship, understanding and assistance.  For the beautiful and delicious charcuterie at my reception I thank my sister, Nancy Willis, whose creativity in painting and printmaking has been born in,  part out of, and spills back into, her culinary skills.  She is still the best role model Artist I could ever have. I love you all!