"On Printmaking"

from Liv Rainey-Smith

As you’ve been perusing your Portland Open Studios Tour guide, you may have noticed the media legend, “pnt,” short for Printmaking. So just what is printmaking? It isn’t just any art on paper. True prints are original pieces of art, even if made in multiples known as editions. Prints are created by applying ink to a surface via a matrix such as a woodblock or metal plate; or by pushing it through a screen such as a silkscreen. Printmakers can spend weeks, months, and sometimes years, creating the printing matrix with the final result unknown until it is finally inked and printed. The first printing is often approached with trepidation, particularly if many hours of work have been invested in the matrix. It is the moment of truth, and every printmaker has experienced moments of elation as well as disappointments upon seeing the first print. If the first printing does not yield the desired result the matrix will be re-worked until it produces a satisfying finished image. The matrix may then be used to produce prints until it wears out, or if the printmaker choses to limit the edition, until the edition is complete. The matrix may then be canceled by destroying or defacing the plate, or the printmaker may chose to retain it for future editions.

Pulling One Print

Editioned prints may vary subtly from impression to impression as a result of wear to the matrix, or the human hand of the printmaker. They’re typically signed and numbered with pencil by the artist, and may incorporate multiple printings of the same or different plates, or alterations after printing such as painting or collage. In Oregon, prints should be accompanied by a certificate including information such as the title of the art, the method of printmaking, the number of prints created, when and where they were printed, and whether or not other editions of the same print have been made.

Woodcut Carving

Printmakers work in a wide variety of styles, ranging from extremely hands-on spoon printing where the ink is massaged into the paper by rubbing with a wooden spoon, to printing with a mechanized press. If you were to visit all eight printmakers on the Portland Open Studios tour, you’d see each utilizing different techniques and materials with very different results. Some will use modern materials such as photopolymer to translate photographs into plates, which may be inked and arranged to create collage effects. Others will work etch metal with acid and create subtly toned intaglio plates, into which ink is carefully rubbed, then transferred to wet paper via an etching press. A few practice woodcut, the earliest form of printmaking; and many have created their own hybrid style from various printmaking traditions. Visit a few printmakers during Portland Open Studios Tour and discover the possibilities for yourself!

"In Collaboration"

from Anne Storrs

We recently updated our 800 square garage so that it adapts to fit the occasion: studio, rumpus room, gathering spot. In mid October, it will be a place to show our collaborative work through Portland Open Studios. You’ll see a range of furniture pieces like wall mounted desks, floor pieces and folding screens, as well as a new line of earrings made from dyed and natural wood veneers.

We will also be demonstrating how we vacuum form our curved wood panels, and show how the marquetry process works, going from a rough sketch to a finished piece of furniture.

When we are not collaborating, Anne creates public art installations, often working with designers, architects, artists, fabricators, public and private partners. She also loves to tend the home garden. This summer she grew an additional garden at the new Mount Tabor Community Garden and in September delivered tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers to nearby Franklin High Foods class so students could make fresh salsas. Michael crafts furniture and cabinetwork for numerous clients in the Pacific Northwest. He studied furniture making, weaving and design at the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts in the early 1980’s. Michael’s furniture influences are past masters of woodworking, most notably Jacque Emile Ruhlman and Michael Frank, as well as contemporary furniture makers such as Wendell Castle and Silas Kopf.

Our collaborative process began when Michael began looking for a way to introduce graphic imagery into his work. He learned about marquetry, the art of assembling cut pieces of wood veneers to create images and designs, through an OSAC summer seminar with Silas Kopf. This woodworking technique was particularly popular from the mid 1500’s till the craftsman movement in the 1800’s. The traditional process of cutting and assembling veneers by hand is incredibly time consuming.  Using a computer and laser cutter we are able to explore this technique as a contemporary art medium.

Please visit our studio (#82) and be sure to check out the wonderful carved and painted figurative wood sculptures of Stan Peterson (#61). Stan is also located on the east side.

"Muses, Magic & Maps"

from Katherine Mead

When I was a young girl, I created what I realize now was my first studio. In a corner of our garage, up a ladder, next to where my parents stored luggage and unused household items, I carved out a space. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was about three feet by four feet. I set up my toys and made the coziest little nest. It was mine alone and I was in heaven. It was a place to read, dream, draw and escape. With Portland Open Studios less than a month away, I feel the need to wax poetic about the concept of the artist studio.

Ah, the studio – an essential element of the creative experience. Every artist has their own methods, materials and madness, so defining what comprises a studio can be a tad tricky. This much I know: the space must be conducive to conjuring the muse, instigating the magic and pointing the artist in the right direction. What is it that pushes us to that area of our psyche where time stands still and we are completely lost in color, shape, and imagination? Personally, I must have my senses satisfied – I need music, scents, privacy and light. I must be surrounded by my books and materials and my space must be free of distraction. The world of art is so introvert-filled because at its very heart it is a solitary endeavor. True artistic breakthroughs are not group exercises. They mostly happen when someone is deep, deep, deep in introspective thought (and usually surrounded by a whirling dervish-like mess.) Creativity is messy, unpredictable, elusive and yet thoroughly intoxicating. The studio is the heart of an artists’ creative world. It’s a sacred place where our dreams and visual worlds take shape. When you enter these studio spaces during the tour, you will see a diversity of sizes, styles and locations. The commonality is the emotions our studios elicit. The extreme happiness and comfort each artist feels in their space. Home is where the art is. Sharing our space and our process will hopefully be an inspiring and uplifting experience. You may even be compelled to carve out your own little area of creative bliss. Or simply revel in the impressive artistic diversity the tour has to offer. Either way, what could be more fun than getting a glimpse of a secret and fascinating world? I hope to see you in my studio in mid October. No ladder climbing required.

"Re-Prepping for Portland Open Studios"

from Robert Fortney

I was incredibly proud of myself for setting up the backyard tent and connecting it to my studio weeks before the October 12th start of Portland Open Studios…


I woke up that Saturday morning to discover a huge chunk of our neighbor’s tree had fallen on the tent, crushing a few poles, and tearing a good-sized hole in the fabric. Fearing more damage, I was forced to completely remove the canopy, which ended up being the right decision as the worst of the wind was still to come. I spent the bulk of that weekend chasing pieces of my home and studio across the neighboring yards. The gusts became so strong I had to tether awnings, poles – even chairs to the ground…

When all was said and done, I was left with a big mess.

So with less than a week until the PDXOS opening, it was time for fixing, patching, and re-prep. And to decide what to pieces to display, and what to keep under wraps until the opening of my solo gallery exhibition on November 7th.

There’s still so much to do, but the tent is going to work out wonderfully. I’ll have more than enough space for viewing, food, kids, conversation, and work areas. My hope is that some visitors will want to grab a piece of art paper and make something themselves.

I’ve outfitted the tent with enough heaters to keep it warm and dry, no matter the weather. Cords, covers, and general aesthetics will all get worked out before Saturday, making the scene below much more presentable.

I am looking forward to the start of Portland Open Studios on Saturday, October 12!

"New Zealand"

from Michael Southern

I have lived, worked as an artist, and taught in Portland since 1995 but have never participated in Portland Open Studios before this year.  Why now?  There are many ways to respond to that question but a succinct answer is simply, “New Zealand.”  From 2009-2012 our family lived in Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand.  It was an experience that brought us to the far reaches of the South Pacific and shaped our view of almost everything we thought we were familiar with.  I would dare to say that I learned more about the United States in those three years away than I did in the forty plus years that I lived here.

New Zealand is a country that is always looking outwards.  Being one of the more isolated land masses in the world tends to do that to a society.  It is always weighing the opinions and attitudes of Australians, Britons and Americans with equal measure.  It values and appreciates what the outside world has to say.  That is a refreshing perspective that I can only hope will take hold with a little more frequency here at home.  It also has the downside of making New Zealand feel a bit insecure and unsure of themselves.  The small population and the isolation have their advantages but it doesn’t exactly have the country brimming with confidence.

During my time in New Zealand I became reintroduced to my fascination with the modern idea of the frontier.  What does it mean to be so isolated in a world that is so prodigiously mapped and documented?  I was at the ends of the earth as much as I could ever hope but where do you go from there?  Is there ever a place that we reach that is truly home?  I have continually moved West in my life.  New York to the midwest to the Pacific Northwest and then onwards to the western edge of the Pacific Rim in New Zealand.

So with these physical and psychic changes came a natural shift in my work.  I am painting almost exclusively now (as opposed to etching, where I received my formal art training).  I am working with the human figure whereas before I dealt almost exclusively with landscape imagery.  And last year when we returned I realized that nobody really knew what my work was about anymore.  So here I am, opening up my studio so anybody that wants to find out can do just that.  I look forward to reintroducing myself to Portland.

"There is Always the Next Thing To Do…"

from Diana Unterspan

Back from Hat Camp on Vashon Island, which was an amazing opportunity to learn new skills, meet my hat hero Louise Green, and network with other awesome milliners from mostly the west coast but some even from the east.

My mentor, Dayna Pinkham, had encouraged me to go and off I went. Well worth the travel time and money. Most importantly is that I now know to use the European hat blocks that do not have rope lines. Let me explain. Most hat forms…well ALL the blocks I have been buying have rope lines which allow you to size the crown, and tie off a creased area for turning under of the brim. You can see the strings in both areas in the hat below which will become a twist top skimmer.

But the European blocks have no rope line and so you have to tightly and without wrinkles turn the fabric under and pin it securely with stainless steel pins. This will create what will be a double-sided brim which – when finished – is gorgeous. The block below can serve as a crown or a turban/pillbox with waves. But either way there are those waves but no bottom rope line for tying down and stretching the fabric.

Well if this makes no sense to you, you have a great opportunity to visit my studio the second and third weekends of October and see hat making in action. Portland Open Studios tickets can be bought on the website or at various venues all over Portland. At my SW Portland studio there will not only be a chance to see couture millinery in action but some hands on activities for children and adults to understand how wool is made into felt.

Come by and say Hello and remember there are artist studios open all over the city and a ticket lets you visit as many studios as you can cram into two weekends.

Portland Open Studios is a great learning opportunity for all sorts of people:

1. Those who say “Oh I can do THAT!!”  – well trust me, you probably can’t 🙂
2. Art and artisan lovers who wonder how those awesome items get made
3. The emerging artist who can chat with someone who has a body of work and is actually successfully presenting and selling their work.

Come pick our brains, see our digs, have a treat – visual, of course.