Sunday, January 10, 2010
Printsy Interview - Bonnie Murray
I grew up on the North Shore of Long Island. My college years started with Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA moving briefly to UNC-Greensboro and finishing at Washington University in St. Louis. I currently live in St. Louis and am concentrating on my artwork full time.
How did you get started in printmaking?
I started working with printmaking in high school. Initially I worked with linoleum block prints and moved on to etching. While first at UNC-G and then at Washington U. I learned printmaking techniques including lithography and collagraphy. My exploration with etching and block printing continued as well.
Describe where you work.
My press is set up in the walkout basement of my home. The windows are large and provide considerable natural light. There is a separate area where I soak my paper and another where I mix inks. I usually ink up my plates seated on one side of the press bed. Often part of the prep work is done in my painting studio.
What's your favorite printmaking process?
I love creating monotypes because the process combines both painting and printmaking into one, but I would have to say my true favorite process is collagraphy. There is something special about developing a collage with all kinds of textures on a plate, inking it up and printing it out. The outcome can be so unpredictable and the possibilities are endless. Another reason that I love the collagraph is that I have created a process that allows me to print many colors at one time with only one plate.
What's your creative process for any given print? (e.g. sketch first? pre-planned or freeform)
Often I work from some of my oil paintings that I think would lend themselves to the printmaking process. Other times I work from photographs my sister, Kathryn Murray, has given me to work from. Or if I have something particular in mind I do a lot of research, then do drawings and simplify the shapes. When working in this way my next step is to do some quick monotype sketches to try to work out the color before moving on to the final collagraph.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
Making the black and white plate is probably the most fun. Part of it is that I am working on something new and there is something enjoyable about choosing the textures for each shape within the composition. Many times the plate looks good as it is prior to rubbing the black ink on it.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
Cleaning up would have to be it.
What are your inspirations?
Great colorists such as Van Gogh & Matisse were the inspiration for my early work. Later I became attuned to the work of such artists as Vuillard & Bonnard who are renowned for their color and patterned work. A more recent source of inspiration has come from my sister's photographs of rural landscapes in Virginia. I am very lucky that Kathryn regularly provides me with moody and interesting photographs.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
Both my painting and printmaking work has tended toward still lives. My early work was predominately about pottery and reflections and their inter-relationships. These provided a good avenue to explore color and play with spatial relationships. Other subjects have developed over the years, most recently, as mentioned above, I have been drawn to painting and developing monotypes of rural landscapes.
How do you get past creative slumps?
I guess I am lucky in that regard. Slumps don't seem to happen often. If one occurs I switch from painting and try something new with printmaking or if I am printing I go back to painting.
How do you promote your work?
For many years I have worked with numerous galleries and art consultants who have placed my work in many residential and corporate collections. My family has been very supportive. My sister and my parents are always looking for opportunities for me to show or be placed in a gallery setting. Periodically I am included in shows in some of my galleries. I continue to enter national shows & have hung many shows in places such as hair salons, yoga centers and restaurants and have done very well. Now I am trying to take advantage of the internet using tools such as a blog, Etsy and Facebook. Obviously there are lots of other opportunities out there on the internet. I just haven't gotten there yet.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints.
I would suggest taking a class at a community college or a local artists' guild. I know the St. Louis Artists' Guild has a nice printmaking studio and if you are a member you have access to the facility. Beyond that, don’t be afraid to invent your own technique or follow a direction that may not have been fully explored in class.