Johanna, you are studio coordinator of painting and printmaking at Anderson Ranch and an established printmaker, represented by galleries and constantly exhibiting. Your upcoming class, Engraving Methods & Repeated Matrix is “open to all”, meaning that students of any skill and knowledge level, including beginners, may enroll. What would you tell a beginner about printmaking that would encourage him/her to take this class?
Most people look at my work and say “I could never do that!” but anyone can, and my beginning students do every time! Engraving is simple motor skills and patience. I believe there is a “zen” quality to engraving, and although results aren’t instant, they are worth the while to get an image that is so intricate and beautiful your heart almost stops just looking at it. More advanced students will enjoy experimenting with printing techniques involving shaped plates and stencils as well as lots of class time to engrave.
What will students learn in your class?
They will not only learn the fine art of engraving, but they will learn to look at tone and line, learn composition for engraving a black and white image, and how to shape the plate so it can be printed multiple times in different variations, much like the tessellations of M.C. Escher.
You use animal images that reflect human emotions in your work. What inspires you?
Most recently I created a series on ancestors, thinking about what we carry with up from generation to generation, so I have been inspired by the science of DNA, the family tree, and how the living treats the spirits of the ancestors. The images themselves are inspired by everything from the illustrations in classic literature, to philosophy and poetry, to contemporary graphic design and pattern, and the taxidermy animals at the natural history museum… they stay still while I draw them!
When the Governor visited the Ranch you helped him make a print. How did he do?
He was a trooper! One of my engravings was inked and the Governor cranked it through the press. It is amazing the fascination that humans have with transformation, and when a blank piece of paper suddenly has a beautiful image on it, we are in awe! The governor was no different and he seemed happy with the result.