Sunday, March 22, 2009
Printsy Interview - Annamie Pretorius
Art Fire: ThatThinLine.artfire.com
I live in Swords, just North of Dublin, Ireland, with my husband and three kids, aged 6 months, 4 and 5 years. Both my husband and I are South Africans. We lived and worked in the Johannesburg area for a good few years before moving to Ireland in 2002 in search of 'greener pastures'. We've settled here now, got the house, the cars, the kids and even a dog. I'm an architect and I work part time for a local County Council's Architects Department (mornings). In the afternoons I'm home with the kids, cooking dinner, cleaning the house etc. Then, after 8pm and once the kids are in bed, I'm a printmaker! It's a busy life; I wear several different 'hats' each day and love all of them (excluding cleaning!).
How did you get started in printmaking?
As a young girl my parents showed me their wedding invitations. It was a lino print, with their initials entwined in a beautiful design, done by my dad, who was an architect too. He printed all the invitations himself and was ever so proud of it. I still have a small piece of the lino he used, now dark brown and very brittle. I always liked relief prints and etchings, and as a student I started playing around with small lino and drypoint prints. In 1998 I did a short course in Graphic Art with the Arts Department of the Vaal Triangle Technicon in Klerksdorp, South Africa. This covered the basic printmaking techniques of relief, etching and collagraph. I loved it, but had little time for my new hobby. After moving to Ireland it took me 5 years to get to a point where I had the time, the money and the space to take printmaking up again. I discovered the world of the online printmaker, etsy, wetcanvas, some online art suppliers and never looked back.
Describe where you work.
I'm lucky to have a small studio in our house. There's an old door on trestles for printing and a desk for the computer and drawing, a little baby press and a homemade print-drying contraption. It's nice and warm, just big enough and within earshot of the main living area. I love working there.
What's your favourite printmaking process?
In 2007 I started doing reduction linos after reading the tutorials on Ian Phillips' website and enjoyed doing it so much that I did a workshop with him in Wales in 2008. I seem to have the right temperament for this nerve wrecking technique, as well as enough patience, logic and a rather steady hand.
Although reduction linos are my current favourite, I have been experimenting with etching (zinc and copper sulphate), drypoint, collagraph and foilograph over the past year too. I'm hoping that I may get a little better at some of these if I keep practicing. I still have so much to learn and hope to do a few more workshops and short courses over the next few years.
What's your creative process for any given print?
I normally use one of my own photos as a reference for a new print. I have hundreds of photos of boats, trees and telephone poles. I seem to be drawn to things that will give me hours of pain cutting ridiculously thin and complex lines. Browsing through these photos often ends up in a print, or I'll go out and take the photo I need for a specific print I have in mind.
I use Photoshop to simplify the reference image, change the composition as required, reduce and change the colours to generally get a feeling if it will work as a reduction lino. The simplified version is printed and transferred to the lino with carbon paper or grease pencils on tracing paper. I think this process will evolve though as I gain more confidence. I recently started a sketchbook and I hope to do a few prints without the help of photos soon.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
The place my mind goes while I'm cutting the lino, the way time stands still and flies simultaneously, the surprise when you lift the paper, the smell of the ink, the ritualistic inking and printing, inking and printing. It's very addictive, my little treat at the end of each day!
What's your least favourite part of the process?
What are your inspirations?
I love the way a small detail of something we see every day, can be beautifully abstract. I love looking up at things, viewing it from unusual angles. I love the silhouette of trees against the sky. I love patterns and rhythms and detail. I love thin lines. My way of looking at the world has not really come out in my work yet.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
It has evolved from really just playing around for years, to taking it much more seriously over the past two years. I'm still experimenting and the learning curve is very steep, but I'm slowly gaining confidence and like to think that the best is yet to come.
How do you get past creative slumps?
I don't mind slumps, as I need time to do other things around the house too. So when the creative juices dry up I just don't go into my studio for a while – I know I'll get back into 'it' again. I also need times not staying up till 2am making prints! When I feel the need to print again I just browse through my old photos for inspiration. Joining print exchanges also forces me to print – there's nothing like a deadline to get me going!
How do you promote your work?
Etsy, ArtFire and my website. I recently had some Moo cards printed and will start handing them out… promise.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
Remember how we did potato prints as kids – same thing really! Read some tutorials, watch some videos, join wetcanvas and start printing. Oh, and most importantly: Fingers behind the tool!