Signs of Life – Interviews with the Artists

September 1, 2020

Kathy Carl "What Lies Behind Us"

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us." – Henry Stanley Haskins

Solarplate is a wonderful alternative to the hazardous techniques of traditional printmaking and offers many options for creating a print. The image for “What Lies Behind Us” emerged as Kathy worked directly on the light sensitive, steel-backed polymer plate.

“I used credit cards to shape and spread the opaque ink. This drawing resisted the UV light (the sun) when the plate was exposed and became “etched” into the surface when I developed it in plain water. The plate was then ready to accept black intaglio ink and be printed as the base for the multi-color variations shown in the exhibit.

“I have an essential tremor that has become more pronounced in the last few years. That challenge drove me to experiment with different tools and a new method of laying down my marks. These include old credit cards, chopsticks, lengths of string, and scrap mat board. The combination of how I hold the tool and how it lays down the drawing ink defines my current style.”

Printmaking has been a major form of expression for you for some time now, hasn’t it?

“Yes, for over 45 years. I suppose my long enjoyment of printmaking is because I can have “multiple originals.” I love it when a print finds a home with an admirer, leaving me still with one of my own. Sometimes I think they are the children I never had.”

Karen Fenley "High Tide"

“When I look at this piece, I remember that wave exactly. It pulled me in…compelling, powerful, maybe threatening. I was near Shelter Cove, a black sand beach. I took a photograph and later made an ink jet print on mulberry paper. I liked it. So that was a starting place.”

Karen loves translucence, and will use any material that can get her to that ‘something’ beyond the surface. In making "High Tide," she used acrylic on board, metallic paper, ink jet on mulberry paper, and clear encaustic in multiple layers. She wrapped the long strip of printed and waxed mulberry paper around the sides of the board and kept some areas a little lifted from the surface.

The work went on for a long time. The final attachment wasn’t made till after she had watched it for about four months. Over the years she’s learned to have that much patience, to take time with a piece.

“If a part of it doesn’t say ‘yes,’ I keep looking at it, working on it, till I get to the point where nothing screams at me. And why not take time? Especially right now, there’s no point in not taking time with your work. So I’m making a real effort to use all those little darlings that never worked for me as a whole, but pieces of them I like—clearing up. I don’t want the past taking up so much space. I want the future to be new.”

Carolyn Schneider "Mary and the Devil Walk into a Bar"

The title sounds like the beginning of a joke, a story. There’s tension between the two characters in that bar, such weird company for Mary, and quite an incongruous setting for her. What’s going on here?

“I came across a photo from my birthday, a costume party. There was my friend Mary, standing next to a devil—who was also a friend. It caught my eye. I am drawn to masks, not just literal ones but also the way we conceal and protect ourselves with our public face, or a sad or happy face. Once I started working with that image, I began to see possibilities. I made the devil’s eyes, looking right at you, intense. He’ll do anything, he’s totally unpredictable.”

And Mary’s vision, as she looks away, seems to have been obscured.

“Her face was getting too detailed. It’s not good to be too careful, it closes everything down. You have to leave ways for the viewer to enter the picture, and maybe it adds some ambiguity, some sadness.”

I notice the blue glove entering the picture with a drink.

“Well, it’s a bar, after all. The blue glove came in with the corona virus cautions. But I resisted echoing that stand-out color. When I do something in part of a drawing, I think I have to be ‘fair’ and do it in another part, and another, until there is no liveliness left, no air. You have to watch out for the ‘justice system.’”

Story is quite important in your work, isn’t it?

“Yes. And the story emerges as I draw my characters. I hope that it retains a certain amount of mystery.”

Visit the blog article "Moving On" to view the answers to the "Whose Hands?" puzzle. Just click on the Next button.

Miriam Davis
Back to blog posts