Tag Archives: linocuts

Can different bodies of artwork get along?

Breath Intertwined
©Elizabeth Busey. Breath Intertwined. Reduction linocut, 25 x 17in, edition of 24.

Bodies of artwork are like siblings. They come from the same source, and you hope they play well together. There are no guarantees.

Some of my linocuts and monoprint collages are getting ready to be featured together at the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Ferdinand, IN. I chose linocuts that explore similar themes to the newer monoprint collages. Both Breath Intertwined (above) and Multiplicative (below) explore the concept of leaf cellular packing, but from different starting points. 

What follows is my artist statement for the exhibit — my explanation of my artistic progeny. I hope they behave themselves.

©Elizabeth Busey. Multiplicative, Monoprint collage, 12 x 12 in.

Making a statement 

What if what you perceive is related to more than just your immediate experience? Does an image or natural formation remind you of something other than its current form? I often sense that there is a connection across the macrocosm, where patterns and forms tell a story of the underlying laws of our existence.  

A century ago, Scottish scientist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson mused that “everything is what it is because it got that way.” In contrast to the popular Darwinian evolutionary theories of the day, Wentworth thought that living and non-living things (such as in astronomy and geology) were shaped by the requirements of physical forces. Accidents in formation are also part of the process, leading to wide variations within tremendous similarities. In my work, I strive to explore these similarities and consider how the human experience might mirror that of nature itself. 

I gather my inspiration with the assistance of science and technology. My personal photographic catalogue is filled with images taken from commercial airplanes, often partly eclipsed by an airplane wing. I delight in the myriad of satellite images available to me, as well as those unveiled by highly sensitive microscopes. Artists from only decades ago would have been amazed at this source material.  

The materials and techniques I choose are surprisingly simple in stark contrast to my methods for gathering inspiration. My imagery is created with linseed oil-based inks on cotton rag paper with the assistance of a hand-cranked etching press built with recycled steel. My reduction linocuts are created by a conversation between carving away layers of one linoleum block and printing the resulting pattern in overlapping inked layers, until the block is mostly carved away, or reduced.  

My latest work embraces monoprinting, which is a spontaneous and surprising way to create images. Made by printing an inked sheet of smooth polycarbonate, no two monoprints are exactly the same. I develop unique textures on paper (which are themselves monoprints) that are then cut apart and combined with old maps to create monoprint collages. Taking my cues from the paper cut-outs of Henri Matisse as well as the playful exuberance of children’s book artist Eric Carle, the collages seek to create something that feels resonant and familiar in an abstract form. The addition of gold leaf in some collages hints at the reverence I feel toward my subject matter.  

©Elizabeth Busey. Benediction for an Unlikely Journey. Monoprint collage, 18 x 24 in.

One of my latest monoprints is entitled Benediction for an Unlikely Journey. In the global liturgy of which we are all a part, here is the benediction I would give…  

As human beings, we are surrounded by wonder.
Pay attention, be amazed and feel connected.
Then go and work to preserve this wonder.

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Where do you hide your experiments?

I sometimes wish I was a painter. There are efforts throughout the year where artists create a painting a day. What that must be like — the potential to experiment with a new idea each day! I am usually wedded to an artistic idea for quite a while. Some end up in frames, and others lie quietly in a drawer, silently mocking me.

The challenge of trying something new

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I cut some linocuts into one inch squares, finally aided by a scrapbooking punch.

I crave novelty, especially when I have just finished something large and demanding. I had been feeling this way after framing my large linocuts, Breath of Hermes and Summertide Brings the Derecho. My spoiled linocuts had been used in a project to create eight-pointed stars, and my brain wanted to pursue this idea further. I decided to cut some of these linocuts into small squares and experiment with some collage in an homage to Chuck Close.

My first realization was that it is quite difficult to cut perfect one-inch squares. So I ventured into a craft store and found a scrapbook punch that make quick of work of my scrap linocuts. Suddenly I had a quite a palette of color.

The joy of taking things apart

In my style of printmaking, there is no going backwards — only forwards. So I delighted in the ability to try different things with these squares…

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First I put the squares flowing from color to color….

experimental-friday

I posted this on Instagram during an Experimental Friday.

Then I chose a pattern from the center, working outward. After making my commitment, I glued everything down to a cradled board and covered it with a few layers of self-leveling gel medium. Turns out that this medium is not completely flat like a resin, but was certainly adequate for my experiment.

What do you do with your experiments?

Now I was left with this lighthearted creation that I was pleased with. But I had no burning desire to venture into the world of collage. My 12-inch square creation was propped in my studio for a few weeks, until a fit of home-change overtook me.

bathroom-art

We have the world’s smallest master bathroom which has never had artwork in the over twenty years we have used it. So I took nails and a hammer, and hung it! Because the work is coated with acrylic gel medium, it should resist the steamy conditions. It is the perfect hiding place for a fun experiment. Now back to another cloud linocut… and some more experiments.

What do you do with your experiments?

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