My images can be categorized by media: Drawing: pen and ink, graphite, mixed media—charcoal, graphite, conté, pastel; Water media: watercolor, gouache, acrylic; Intaglio: etching, drypoint, aquatint, mezzotint, heliogravure (etching in the sun); Monotype; Collagraph; Relief: woodcut, linocut, letterpress. Then there is mixed media: pen and ink drawings hand colored with water media or pastel; Intaglio etchings hand colored with chine collè or monotype inking, with blind embossings added. Sometimes I add real gold leaf to my work. 23.75k gold leaf from Florence, Italy.
It gets confusing. I really work in all those media. And calligraphy is part of my work. And I make handmade books and paper.
In America I have come to believe that the art academy insists we specialize. Artists are forced to create a body of work that is consistent, usually in two-dimensional or three-dimensional media. God forbid if I decided to follow my hero Käthe Kolliwitz and began carving stone sculptures! Early on I was branded (and dismissed) as just an illustrator, because my work is figurative — realistic.
After spending so much time in Italy I came to understand that European artists are — artists. Many are painters, yet they also create works in other media: drawings and sculpture, printmaking and ceramics. Think of Picasso: he worked in any media he felt like using — in service of his creative expression. He created paintings, drawings, intaglio prints and linocuts, lithographs; he made combines: sculptures from found objects. In one exhibition of his work I fell in love with his ceramics pieces — particularly a huge vase with a sensuous female nude whose voluptuous body became the curvy vase.
Years ago I visited — and revisited — an exhibit of Picasso’s linocuts in an art museum. I was crazy about his linocuts. Then when I returned to my printmaking class at the university, I was warned not to concentrate on linocuts — my instructor told me, “Linoleum block prints are not taken seriously as an art medium.” Really…?
I’d rather be like Picasso. Why couldn’t I work in whatever media I choose?