August 28, 2012

Some New Potato Prints

Green Squares, ink on Masa dosa paper, 23 x 18 in.

My varied printmaking ventures––with cardboard plate multiples; with digital prints; and with these images made by cutting shapes from potatoes, dipping them in ink, and stamping them on paper––have been giving me a lot of pleasure. I'm able to explore new kinds of imagery and push myself in new directions. This leads to a lot of flopping on my face, but that's okay. It also leads to a lot of uncertainty as to how to assess what I'm doing. I'm beginning to be more relaxed about throwing work away; since the potato prints are fast and intuitive, there are bound to be a lot of duds. One thing I'm learning is that I like working on a large sheet of paper, such as the one above, so that the image can have lots of breathing room. 

Four Square, ink on Nishinouchi paper, 12 x 10 in.

I'm also figuring out that sometimes a very simple image feels right...

Balancing, ink on Akatosashi paper, 4 3/4 x 13 3/4 in.

although I also enjoy the fun and humor of this more complex print. 

Dropping, ink on Sansui SH8 paper, 19 x 10 in.

I like using the same shape, stamping it over and over as it runs out of ink. 

Escape,  ink on Masa dosa paper, 8 x 23 in. 

 Like in my textiles, geometry has an irregular presence in the prints.

Black Boxes, ink on Gifu green tea medium paper, 15 x 13 in.

...enclosed and open...

Crisscross, ink on Twinrocker paper, 18 x 23 1/2 in. 

This print is on a beautiful sheet of handmade paper that's been in my drawer for years. (I regret that my photographs don't give a better sense of the paper surfaces.) When I'm working on a large sheet of paper, I have to put my fear of wasting paper aside, and just plunge ahead as though it's a sheet of cheap newsprint.

Inward, ink on Masa Dosa paper, 7 x 12 in. 

Here I'm playing with an empty center and the pull of shapes toward each other. I feel that these prints express different moods, though mostly balanced toward the lighthearted. And although I can feel like I hit a brick wall (my most recent potato print session was mostly trash), working in this medium is still a surprising joy.


  1. You've definitely been having fun and learning at the same time. Working doesn't get any better than this.

  2. Would these have more weight if framed? Does enclosing things give them weight? The joy of the potato prints is that they need not be enclosed. So, do we value free forms? You've already done the editing ("mostly trash"). But get the tension? Calling upon the shade and spirit of Sophie Tauber (Arp) whose free spirit informs us. For me, I'm working on glacial erratics from Monhegan, knowing all of this.

  3. You said: ". . .a lot of uncertainty as to how to assess what I'm doing."

    Looking at these and remembering the ones from an earlier post, it might help to look at them as a graphic designer or typographer would. Your "alphabet" as it were, is a simple one of lines, squares, triangles, rectangles, and the resulting negative space. How do your "letters" fit together and is the space they create interesting? Just a suggestion.

    You are also free here to create new "letters". But, it would be up to you to define the "meaning" of a new "letter". Quite a rich and interesting undertaking I would think.

  4. Uncertainty is good.
    These prints are compelling.
    Uncertainty is compelling.

  5. Thanks for the comments, all.
    Ms.Wis., you're right; this kind of work is a treat.
    Peggy, yes, I'm sure they'd seem more serious and weighty in a frame, and if I show them they'd have to be framed because they're on paper.
    Clair, the uncertainty isn't about each individual composition, since I think I have a fairly good sense of design, but the entire project. This kind of doubt is something I carry with me with all the work, as "is this stuff any good at all, or am I making bad work, whether paintings or prints or textiles? does it have any worth?"
    So I'm glad that Anonymous thinks uncertainty is good.

    1. Sorry - Altoon -- I thought you were wondering from what perspective to consider success or failure for a particular work. As to the uncertainty you describe -- alas, it comes with the territory and I cloak that in the word "experimentation". I believe that to be the key to progressing as an artist. Mundanely stated, it resolves to the old adaage: nothing ventured, nothing gained. The value of experimenting is in the not knowing where it may lead. But, the artist in you will recognize when you have arrived at a new place!