Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"You Should Be More Like... Rembrandt"

So my printmaking professor and I have been battling all semester, trying to figure each other out and make my prints turn out. It took me most of the first month to figure out the printshop, and she gave me as little assistance as she could without being actively unhelpful, claiming that I was too timid and afraid of messing up my artwork, and it was causing my art to suffer, thus I would have to figure things out myself and make mistakes and learn how to deal with them. So after hours of frustration and undue panic, I adjusted to the way things are done in her shop.

She also made me work FAST. I don't actually have studio time allotted to me, so every time we met, it was essentially a critique, and she wanted to have a lot of material to critique. So I was working on several plates simultaneously, squeezing studio time between my classes, her classes and whenever the printshop was open (it's only open M-F, 9-8). It was frustrating, because frequently I would run into the shop because I had an hour of free time, and 40 of those 60 minutes would be devoted to letting the plate sit in acid. And when I pulled prints, I would be happy with the product, until I met with her and she just smiled, patted my head, and told me I had a long way to go.

I appreciated her help and guidance, but sometimes I just wanted to put my foot down and tell her that my plate was awesome the way it was. During one particularly rough critique, where I had put so much time and effort into my plates and I was really unwilling to go any further and she was adamant that the plates were not done, I essentially told her I was done. So she pulled out a book of prints and beckoned me over.

"Let me show you something."
I saunter over, pouting.
"Your lines are good at describing objects, but you need to loosen up and give life to your lines and vary the weight, and the direction, and the style." She flips open a page and points to a print. "Your lines should look more like this."
I look at the print. I stare. I look at her, bewildered.
"You want me to be like Rembrandt."
"Yeah. You should be more like Rembrandt."

That's it. I resigned to failing the class. If I was supposed to be the next Rembrandt, I had a lot more than a semester's worth of work to do.

However, I grumbled my way to the next stage of my plate, and studied Rembrandt's prints to mimic his use of line and shape rather than hard description of objects. I even scribbled on my plate, something that took a lot of courage. But once I spread ink on the plate and ran it through the press, I could see the drastic difference. It was as if I had transformed my work. Obviously it wasn't Rembrandt quality, nor was it complete, but I started to understand my professor.

I had my critique this morning, and it was the best print class I've had all semester. We discussed what was left to do on the prints, talked about the development of the plates, and everything just clicked. I couldn't believe that I was starting to not only agree with, but anticipate my professor's comments. It was beautiful.

So here are some terrible photos of my prints, starting from my first stage all the way to the latest and most developed print.

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