Discovery: From Architecture to Printmaking to Vector Graphics

When I was eleven years old, I thought I wanted to be an architect. I was attracted to building, materials, and the feeling of being in a place. However, I did not know what an architect did aside from make plans. Although, I lost the desire to be an architect, I still feel connected to the feeling that architecture evokes. I am aware how these shapes, ornament, and colors help form my perspective.

A building can hold and reveal stories and is a place to look out of and through. In the example above, I continue to examine Italian Rennaisance architecture. Here I fashioned a drawing after a domed building inspired by Andrea Palladion. While I am merely interpreting or making a derivative version of a building, I am also aware that art reveals more than one subject, and the inescapable subject is the medium itself. For example the act of painting always reveals the language and construction of painting. I realize now that I am also attracted to the structure and planning of architecture and perhaps this is what led me to study printmaking. Although different discipline, making prints required step by step planning and an exacting sensibility a kin to the architectural process.

While I have gained great pleasure from making prints and it has been an important component of my art, the means of its production has proven more and more ineffective when compared with digital rivals that tap into the same esthetic. Without a studio I can use vector graphics to prepare a range of marks equivalent to what I would have previously carved for a relief print. I can make blocks of color similar to the stencils made for screen printing. I can even use bitmap in photoshop to approximate touche washes used in lithography. Additionally, with a digital illustration, I have the freedom to test and make adjustments with less effort.

Because vector illustration can approximate printmaking, does this mean that myself or others should quit making prints? Probably not. However, it becomes increasingly apparent that one’s process may outlive its usefulness. This is worth investigating in much the same way we ought to consider the value of razing an old building to replace it with something new. Sometimes we have regrets and at other times the new results are an improvement.

A Working View

(To learn more about the “Viewfinder Project” see the original post.)

Sometimes it is difficult to have a clear view or perspective. One’s mind may be so clouded with thoughts and worries that it is hard to stop and see what is immediate in front of oneself. Relief from this overly stimulated mind may include meditation techniques which center a person in the present. Art making can also shift a persons attention toward specific tasks and away from an overwhelming sense. Creative endeavors can lead to a sense of satisfaction brought about through focus, change, and invention. The key is to be engaged and to work. When doubt is set aside the results can be surprising.

For me, the following “Viewfinders” reflect these artists’ desire to work through problems in order to generate a less predetermined view. I say this because the layering of ink and paint in these examples point toward exploration rather than a succinct resolution. In the first two cases the work literally shows through to the other side of the paper

Eric Huebsch, Viewfinder, mixed media, 6in x 4 1/4in, 2006

Eric Huebsch shows a deftness when drawing a figure wearing rollerblades but the neck and head appear out of control (above). Not only is the neck elongated but I observe at least seven layers of media are used to create this part (e.g. ink, paint, collage,…). At the bottom is the statement “I knew you were no good”. Disturbing as this depiction may seems to be, I know some there is some “good”. No matter how painful a subject may appear the act of making art ultimately is a construction and an imagined representation that can become a focal point for dialogue.

Rebecca Vicars, Viewfinder, 4 1/4in x 6in, 2006

In the image above, Rebecca Vicars creates a view of a lush world full of growth. The description of space is loose and the painterly approach gives it the sense of a swampy wetland. A sense of control is tenuous; watercolor is applied here to provide unpredictable results. There has to be trust by the artist that through a committed effort the picture will come into focus.

Jennifer Peters, Viewfinder, monoprint, 2006

Jennifer Peters Viewfinder combines relief printing with what appears to be a monotype technique. The relief print requires carving to make a matrix that produces the print. What is carved here is premeditated, in the sense that the shapes are clearly defined, but how the shapes come together is less certain to me. The yellow marking, would make the final image a monoprint, was layered last as if to add an exclamation point. It seems to beg the question of when and what is too much? However, doing enough work to get to a point where this question becomes relavent is paramount.