RETHINK YOUR MATERIALS
Everyone always thinks of January for new beginnings but even a few years out of school I still think of August. It’s the ultimate chance at reinvention and a chance to take it to the next level. That’s why I wanted my August challenge to be something really good. Since moving to New York, I’ve been working mostly in watercolor and pen and ink. This month, the challenge was to change that… for good.
Speaking of school, in college I never used watercolors. (What? Am I painting a landscape? 🙄 ) I usually stuck with oil paints and the printing press. “Forward-thinking” Amanda didn’t really have a plan for when I no longer could create in that spacious school printshop and only had my tiny, not well ventilated NYC apartment to work in. That’s when I really discovered watercolor and got to know it intimately as a medium. Pairing watercolors with pen has been my go-to ever since but it was time to shake it up.
It started with an art supply shopping spree, to stock up on new materials. I knew I wanted to do some work on canvas instead of paper and to switch in some color for my typically black and white pens, but also I wanted to see if I could make printmaking work again. Space is still tight, I don’t have a press but there are techniques that could be adapted for my space and using waterbased inks instead of oil-based would help with ventilation. Who knows if it would look good but it was worth a shot to get back into a process I used to love so much.
Like with all of my art challenges there were successes and failures, things that I will keep and things that need more work to get right, and A LOT of lessons. Working in color pencils into my process was seamless and I love having an additional moment to incorporate color and movement. I’ve been using color pencils a lot since.
Working on canvas with acrylics was difficult since I’m so used to layering transparency and watering down the acrylics was just such a different process than working with watercolors. Still, I liked it a bunch. I liked being back to the weight of a stretched canvas and the texture you can create with it. I just need to do more work to refine what that process looks like and how it fits in with my overall work.
And then there was printmaking… It felt wonderful to work in that medium again. To carve the block and spread the ink, it felt like coming home. But the result wasn’t exactly where I want it. I feel like I can continue to push it to be even better. So you might not see a lot of hand-printed work from me for a while but I’ll certainly keep going with it. Now that I found a way to make prints again, I won’t be giving it up again so easily.