July 9, 2012

Potato Prints!

details of three prints

I've been having fun like a kid playing in a sandbox full of the best toys and finest sand in the world. Not satisfied printing with low tech cardboard (see this post), I thought I'd go even further back into childhood art projects and ink up some potatoes that I cut into simple shapes. 

Three Plus Three, ink on Akatosashi paper, 6 x 15 1/2 in.

After my last two printing sessions of editioning cardboard plates I used some of the ink left on the glass slab and starting stamping shapes on left over pieces of Japanese paper. Three Plus Three is from my first session. This is all seat-of-the-pants work; no planning, no measuring. 

Diagonal Circles, ink on Nishinouchi paper, 17 1/4 x 15 in. 

During my second session, I took out some handmade paper that I'd bought from McClain's that didn't work for my cardboard prints but is just gorgeous for potatoes. The surface of the paper is rich and sensual; the variations in the inking work beautifully with the variations of the hand made sheets. Photographs give only a pale imitation. Can one fall in love with paper? because it seems that I have, and it's quite an expensive affair. 

Five Circles Four Squares, ink on Nishinouchi paper, 17 3/8 x 15 in.

Because I'm just winging it as to composition and color and density of ink, the pieces are not even or symmetrical. It seems to be okay with the casual nature of these. 

Circles Over Squares, ink on Masa dosa paper, 12 1/4 x 10 in.

I love the way the potato carries the ink unevenly, so that each repetition has a different character; using thicker and thinner ink also gives different results, allowing for a lot of variation from one shape.

Green Chevrons, ink on Masa dosa paper, 10 x 9 3/4 in.

I discovered the lovely results from transparently layering color, putting one stamp atop another. 

Three Shapes, ink on Masa dosa paper, 10 x 9 3/4 in.

Here I'm trying for my lighthearted minimal best. In all these prints from the second session I tried not to add too much, tried to keep them very simple, but it was hard. In Circles Over Squares for instance, I wish I hadn't added the yellow circles top and bottom, but just left the line of shapes across the center. So Three Shapes is a kind of antidote. Of course these are all loose and playful, with none of the rigor of most precise minimalist art.

Vertical Three, ink on Nishinouchi paper, 11 3/4 x 6 1/4 in.

Vertical Three, detail

I tried to keep this one simple. Now I just have to learn not to get the paper smudged with ink as I work. I hope that in this detail of Vertical Three you can see some of the beauty of the layered inked shapes. I have no idea where I'm heading with this work; all I know is that it's tremendous fun and seems to satisfy another aspect of my aesthetic sensibility, which seems to be gaining facets as the weeks go on.


  1. I love the overlapping shapes. It really adds to the rich complexity to the minimalism. (I hope that makes sense)

  2. You seem to be making something interesting with these prints. You should try linoleum too. S.

  3. Thanks, Catherine; I like that there's some complexity within the minimal.
    And thank you too, Susan. Glad you find these interesting. I think I'll stick to cardboard for my relief prints. Linoleum is too complicated to cut and too smooth; I like the irregularity of the cardboard, just as I like it with the potatoes.

  4. with your interest in textiles, i wonder how wrapping a potato piece with muslin or gauze would look? i love your playful approach, it's so important for artists to work this way often

    1. Suzanne, right now I'm enjoying the potato texture, but wrapping a potato in gauze could be interesting; I'll keep it in mind for the future.

  5. These are charming...play is the soul of art, which is why children are so good at it. Incidentally it takes great skill, determination, and dare we say rigor, to achieve the effortless spontaneity of a child. Twombly and Dubuffet come to mind. I love the way you're giving your self over to the process.

    1. thanks so much, Donna Maria. I keep thinking about Richard Tuttle.