Dixon Gallery and Gardens has their main museum building closed for renovations this summer and was looking for some classes to offer to keep the education program going during that process. They asked me if I would teach a printmaking workshop in my studio, since I have a printing press there, and they said they would bring the tables and chairs. I was delighted, and the workshop was this past weekend with eight students.
I hadn't taught it before, but the two afternoon format turned out to be perfect. I asked everyone to come in with a black and white image or two that they would like to make a print from, and I was impressed with everyone showing up with drawings or photos to work from. They progressed from tracing the drawings to cutting the linoleum blocks, transferring the drawings onto them, carving, prepping their paper and setting up registration, and printing. Everyone did one full print and went home with a small edition of prints, and some people started a second print to take home and keep working on.
Block printing is one of the few forms of printing that you can do at home without a printing press. I did three years' worth of professional prints rubbing on the back of paper with a wooden spoon, and I wanted everyone to be able to go out and keep printing if they wanted to. Everyone did some printing with the spoon to get the feel of that as well as trying my press, and the class materials included a set of carving tools and some other basic materials that they could keep and use at home.
It was such fun to have a whole group of excited and motivated students in my work space all weekend. I work alone at home for much of my work time, and it was such fun to have a neat group of people to spend the weekend (two four hour afternoon sessions, which was just about right) making art with me.
I was also deeply impressed with the quality of the prints everyone made. It was exciting to see all of these progress from the first drawings into finished prints. Here are the prints created by the class.
I would really enjoy teaching this workshop again and am pondering hanging out my shingle for it again in January. Let me know if you'd be interested in joining me for some printmaking.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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