Printmaking Critique: Participant Observation


Today is Monday, February 16th. At approximately 10:30am I arrived in the printmaking room at Fort Lewis College’s art building; I had a project due at 1:25 that I was unable to get very far on. I showed up and immediately put my prepared copper plate in a citrus-based acid, to soak for forty minutes. I had applied a hard ground to the surface of the plate, and carved a design. I used a scribe tool to scratch in to the copper so it  was exposed. This way, the acid dissolved the copper away only in the scratch marks I made. It will hold ink to repeat the design in the printmaking process. I was able to soak my print, clean it off, apply ink to it, clean the ink mostly away, send it through the press, clean the plate again, apply more hard ground, scratch it, and soak it again but then class started. I ended up with only one proof for the critique. A proof is like a draft in printmaking, you don’t use the best paper and it is subject to change.

Leslie Van Court, Iphone Photo
Copper Plate and Print Proof


Most of the class had finished their prints, but there were others who only had one or two prints to show, like me. The teacher, Anthony (Tony) Holmquist, asked the class to clear away their bags and such and set out their prints for critique. He handed out a three-page worksheet, the first page of it was a self-evaluation. I could not fill this out, having no material to evaluate.  The next two pages were questions to answer about other people’s work in the room: which series had the best use of negative space, best consistency between prints, who took the most time on theirs, the strongest composition, and a comment on one that did not fit any category. Holmquist also announced that we would be cleaning up the print shop at the end of class. We were to separate the questions we answered and put them next to the pieces we wrote them about. after this we were to to use the comments we received to evaluate ourselves. I did not get any comments, which is understandable because I barely had anything to show. There was a lot of very impressive work done for this project, and I regret not being able to finish on time. I cleaned off my plate and joined the rest of the class, scrubbing the ink off of the counters and sinks.


Cleaning the Print Shop



Ceramics: Project One



Ceramics Project 1

I am an Art Major here at Fort Lewis College. I have been interested and passionate about art for most of my life. This semester, I am taking two studio art classes: printmaking and ceramics. I recently finished (for firing, this piece is only half way there) my first ceramic project, in the first ‘ceramics’ class I have taken. I have worked with clay before, mostly in high school sculpture classes. I ended up very proud of this piece; I put a lot of effort into it and I believe that after it is fired and glazed I will be even prouder. Hopefully, I constructed it in a sound way so that it does not explode inside the kiln. This can happen if there is a large amount of air trapped inside, if the clay isn’t completely “bone” dry (as my professor, Jay Dougan describes it) and still has water in it, or if the artist put wet clay directly on top of dry clay without creating a bond between them.  Clay is temperamental, it takes practice to know when the clay is at the right stiffness to build on, carve on, and fire. For instance, when I carved the lines into one half of this vessel, they ended up lighter at the bottom (where the clay had dried) and much deeper at the top. It could have been more unified, but personally I like the effect of the ridges getting larger and deeper until the top of the twisted cylinder, where they fan out. The assignment for this piece was to use a coil pot technique to create a vessel. We were to draw out some silhouettes of ideas for our pots, and then bring them into reality. They must be at least eleven inches tall, but mine is slightly shorter, and after fired may be much shorter. Hopefully, my creativity with and execution of this project will be enough to make up for the deviance from the assignment. Ceramics is a very enjoyable class and prerequisites aren’t necessary to be able to take it, so I would recommend it to anyone. I certainly like it!