Why Letterpress for Art?

I have come to art rather late in my life. I started painting nine years ago, in acrylics first. Then after three years due to Ted Godwins influence, I moved to oil. I love it! But the process of finishing a painting takes way too long for me, mainly due to a personal defect that makes it difficult (and takes a lot of time) to get to the right colour, it involves a lot of scraping off. A side effect of that is that my paintings cost way too much.
Then I discovered a method by which I could be more productive. Scanning my pencil sketch into a computer I can redraw the image using software tools, and then apply colours at my hearts content until I get it right. So originally I used that process to make a printout, that I could then use as a guide for my painting.
Then, via an interesting detour that I will have to write up some time, I came to printing my art with a fine art printer. Now I could sell my work in a much more affordable manner.

But this has left me in a real art no-mans land. I can’t get my work into any shows or galleries because they insist that they will not accept “reproductions”. I guess it will be some time before competition administrators and galleries will come to accept original digital art. Some actually think the computer does all the work (by computer magic), but most seem to like the final result. People who like it, like my digital originals a lot – and it’s for those folks that I do it, providing the best quality of materials and production.

I took time during our holiday this year (due to the less than optimum weather), to do some soul searching and research into what I can do to make my work and the process of producing it come into better alignment. What was the problem you say? Well, I always feel that I have to explain the process and why I am using the fine art printer. Even though, and maybe even because, I do all my printing myself (not that I’m a control freak you know).

A chance encounter with one of the Glenbow museum archivists pointed me in a new direction here. Amazing what happens when you shut up and listen. Took me a while to get what she was talking about though. But after a detour looking into wood block printing, etchings and pochoir, I came across letterpress printing. What a realization! The solid black lines that I have in my work are exquisitly suited to letterpress. It gives an almost embossed quality to the work printed onto heavy paper. And then the machinery. The old cast iron presses that are used to produce letterpress printing are just up my alley. A lifetime spent designing and fixing machinery now comes in handy. What a match, to bring my art and the production of it into such alignment, and then to be able to make the end result even more affordable! I am real exited to make it happen.

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