Finding The Sweet Spot

 In Journal, Workshops

Cue the trumpets and load the confetti cannon … after a 32 year career working in a design/advertising/marketing space (with 31 of those years on a computer), 35 years yearning to create fine art (the last 10 of which I have been) and 40 years of dreaming of becoming a teacher (which became a reality 3 years ago) … I have finally found the sweet spot between all three and I have launched my very own online learning portal and first online workshop.

I’m excited and nervous.

But mostly excited.

inding My Sweet Spot

I looked up a few definitions for ‘the sweet spot’. The one I most liked was from Merriam-Webster:

“sweet spot … an ideal or most favorable location, level, area, or combination of factors for a particular activity or purpose”

So, the sum total of many years hard work, dreaming and ultimately following my soul-passion have come together to create my own favourable combination of factors creating an activity with a purpose … that purpose being to share what I love with other like-minded souls, to share the calming respite of creating; and to share in a way where I can leverage a commercial career of blood sweat and tears to reach people the world over in a way I never dreamed possible. My sweet spot.

Introducing ‘The Studio’ Online Learning Portal

I am taking my studio space into a virtual environment … cleverly named ‘The Studio‘ 🙂 I have put my heart and soul into my (physical) studio space. Truth be told, its where I want to spend most of my time, and for the most part of 2020, I have spent most of my time. I love to share my space with students, introducing them to new creative processes, and helping people move beyond that feeling of self-doubt restraint that stops so many of us from finding our creative outlet.

With the portal, I will bring students into my real-world studio. I’m at launch stage now – I will be building on the content in there now over the coming months, and hopefully years to come. I have grand ambitions and big ideas around what I want to do in that space. Watch this space!

The portal is launching with one online workshop ready to go – Gelatin Plate Monoprinting. With more workshops being added throughout the next 12 months, and beyond.

Each workshop is supported with resources and tips, a growing glossary of printmaking terms and shared personal reviews of inspiring and technical reference and artist’s books on my bookshelves.

The content in the portal, beyond the actual workshops, will grow. I love to share what I know – and this space is providing me the perfect online space to do that!

Launching my first Online Workshop

I teach what I love, and that covers a range of different printmaking media. My first-love when it comes to printmaking is reduction linocut. Gelatin plate monoprinting runs a very close second.

I’ve had people contact me asking if I would create an online course for my gelatin plate monoprinting for a few years now. I admit, I resisted for a while. I have spent a long commercial career tapping away on a keyboard, so stepping away from the computer and creating a finished product with my hands was such a joy; and I get so much joy from teaching those hand printing skills.

I don’t think you can beat an in-person, face-to-face learning experience. BUT I know geography limitations make that a challenge. Add the restrictions bought about by COVID-19 and suddenly creating an online space to share my love for printmaking became an important reality.

And to my surprise – I loved it!

The overall production took a few months longer than I anticipated. I spent many hours filming and refilming, then refilming a little more, then one last refilm, and sometimes that wasn’t enough so I had to do it again.

Eventually I captured footage I was happy with. It was much harder than I thought it would be – talking to a camera mounted on a tripod, with no one else in the room! Just me talking to an inanimate object, then looking back at myself on a screen to make sure it looked right. Yikes! But I did it!

I admit there are a few technical aspects of editing and audio that I know I will get better at over time, but for my first online workshop, we’re all set to go.

In this launch workshop, I have created 2 hours of video content across 30 videos. Six modules plus 2 bonus modules. There are several supporting pdf documents to download, and every video has been saved with English closed captions. I’m hoping to get Spanish closed captions added over the next few months.

I designed the content such that it is a self-paced learning experience, but for the first run-through, students need to work through the lessons in order. You can ‘push through’ a lesson, to sort of skip it. Each lesson builds upon the previous, working through my approach the process of gel plate monoprinting.

Below are a few screenshots of the online module and lessons setup; and below that is me presenting the Introduction video for the first module.

Click here if you would like to read more information about my new gel plate printing workshop, including details of the modules and content covered in the online workshop.

 

This first workshop takes students, step-by-step, through my own personal approach to gelatin plate printing. I adore this process, but admit that I’m not a big fan of everything I see online created with gel plates. There’s nothing wrong with what I see online – I just have a different aesthetic.

I work primarily with botanical materials and build up layers of colour on my gel plate and papers. I adore the almost infinite detail captured by the softness of the gel plates. And I love that my one style and approach is just one of a million different approaches to this process.

Something very special about this process is that once you have been introduced to the basics of how to use the plates, its easy to make the process your own. I share with students my approach, in the hope that they adapt and add their own approach to make the process their own.

Below are a some of my most recent gel plate monoprints. You can see more of my work here. And have a look at artwork students have printed in my in-person workshops over the past 3 years.

On a personal note

Gel plate monoprinting is a very special process for me … it is where I go for respite from my sometimes crazy-upside-down world.

I held my first solo exhibition last year, Grounded. Most of the artworks presented in that show were gel plate monoprints (using my Gelli plates). The premise of that exhibition was to share how I use the processes of printmaking to create and recreate moments of respite that I find in the natural environment.

Stepping in to a natural space, be it my garden, an afternoon country drive or a morning bush walk, affords me the opportunity to take a moment, stop and breathe. It calms me. It grounds me. It helps me manage my own mental health.

Gel plate monoprinting affords me minutes or hours of that same respite, inside my studio. Its where I can re-expereince those moments and reconnect with myself.

You don’t need a lot of space, and other than some paint, paper, a roller and a gel plate, you don’t need any other fancy tools or materials to get started. Absolute beginners, people terrified of working with colour, experience mixed media artists, people dealing with arthritis and Parkinson’s tremors, able-bodied accountants – this process is accessible and do-able by ANYONE!, almost anywhere.

And it is this sense of respite that I will be building into the online portal over the coming months and years. Watch this space 🙂

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Printmaking workshops with Kim Herringe, Maleny. Linocut workshop