Art & Development, Travelogue

Printmaking in the Catskills

I’ve been in upstate NY for just over a week, and it’s been dreamy. In California, a NY artist once explained how many artists live in the Hudson River Valley, and how you can buy a house and convert a barn to a studio. I was skeptical that it would be worth being out of the city. But now, after noticing the sound of automobiles only between long stretches of rustling tree leaves and birdsong, I completely understand.

Today, I took a relaxing drive down county routes to Rosendale, NY. The address wouldn’t even register in my GPS. Navigating the old fashioned way, I took one wrong turn and was immediately happy that I did. The road circled the banks of a beautiful lake, with only a few white clapboard houses nestled among the wooded trees on the opposite bank. The light glistened off of the water; everything was either mossy green or platinum light. I felt so grateful to be there at that moment. It was as if the longing and nostalgia of a Thomas Kinkade painting were coupled with immediacy of accompanying sensations: clean mountain air, woodsy smells, a slight humidity hinting at the impending rain shower.

Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY.

Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY.

I finally made it to Women’s Studio Workshop, a printmaking, bookmaking, and ceramics studio in Rosendale, NY. I had heard of WSW through their residency program, and thought that it would be a perfect place to pull a series of collagraphic monotypes that I had been scheming on.

Upon my arrival, I was invited to join a lunch of salad and crispy no-red-sauce veggie pizza (which touched this Californian transplant’s heart; in some ways, I may be a New Yorker, but not when it comes to pizza). There really is nothing like a home-cooked meal to make people feel welcomed.

While I have only screenprinted since my MFA degree, pulling the monotypes came back to me: setting up the press and the blankets, modifying the inks, finding the right balance of wet paper and releasing ink. I thought I would be rusty and have to humbly ask for technical help (much like the time a drummer who’d been playing on electric pads for so long he couldn’t set up a drum kit), but somewhere in me that printmaking experience remains. Though I used much of graduate experience to explore other media, I am happy to report that I can still call on my printmaking abilities. I even figured out the less-toxic clean-up oils (which were not used at my alma mater)—thankfully, since I’ve lost any tolerance for mineral spirits that I had built up in my inky woodcarving years.

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