November News

I hope this post finds you all well and staying cozy as this cold, wet weather starts to settle in (isn’t it glorious!). Over the last few months, I have been quietly working away towards some upcoming events that are now just around the corner. This month I will be participating in four in person markets, one digital market and have works in two exhibitions here in Victoria. I have compiled all the info below for you in case you would like to drop by any of them. Events like exhibitions and markets are a wonderful way to stay connected with our community, help support our local economy and enrich our own lives—because I guarantee that you will make discoveries (whether its meeting someone new that you connect with, seeing art that surprises you or makes you see something from a new perspective, or experiencing the amazing diversity of ingenuity that lives within our city). Sometimes I find it hard to leave my apartment when it is this time of the year, but I always feel so filled up after I go to events! This is why I enjoy participating in markets—it helps build my sense of connectiveness in my community.

I hope you will enjoy scrolling down through my list of events below. =)

Art Exhibitions

Assemblage at arc.hive Artist Run Centre
About: A group exhibition featuring the diverse practices of arc.hive studio members and board members (I am honoured to be participating as a member of the board).
Artists: Alison Bigg, Lisa-Scarlett Cruji, Laura Feeleus, Kyra Kelpin, Chantal Solomon, Erica Mattson, Regan Rassmussen, Jenn Wilson, Rachel Vanderzwet, Natasha van Netten and Sandy Voldeng
When: The gallery is open 12-4 Saturday and Sundays from November 5 to December 11, 2022
Where: 2516 Bridge Street, Victoria BC
Opening Reception: Saturday November 6 from 5:30-7:30pm
Web Link: Click here.

Winter Small Works Show & Sale at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
About: Featuring small and medium sized original works in a range of styles by local artists.
When: Exhibition will be on display in the Massey Sales Gallery from November 17, 2022 – January 21, 2023
Where: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is located at 1040 Moss Street, Victoria BC – exhibition in the Massey Sales Gallery room
Opening Reception: November 17th from 5-8pm
Web Link: Click here.


Markets

Fall Fling Market
When: Sunday November 6th from 10am-6pm
Location: The Bay Centre, 1150 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC
Admission: Free
Facebook: Victoria Market Collective

Toronto Stationary Show
When: November 13 – November 26, 2022
Location: Online!
Admission: Free
Website: Toronto Stationary Show

Nomad Holiday Market
When: Friday November 11 from 4-8pm, Saturday November 12 from 10am-6pm, Sunday November 13 from 11am to 4pm
Location: The Wellness Centre, 1100 Admiral Road, Esquimalt, BC
Admission: $5 at the door will be donated to the Cool Aid Society (kids are free)
Facebook: Nomad Holiday Market Event Page

Handmade Village Craft Market
When: Saturday November 19 from 10am-4pm
Location: North Douglas Church, 675 Jolly Place, Victoria, BC
Admission: Free
Facebook: Handmade Village Craft Market

Holiday Market and Silver Bells Silent Auction
When: Saturday November 26 from 9am-2pm
Location: Cook Street Village Activity Centre, 380 Cook Street, Victoria, BC
Admission: Free, but you are encouraged to bring an item for the Mustard Seed Food Bank
Website: Holiday Market and Silver Bells Silent Auction

Find Birds Finding Fish = Find Cetaceans

Marine Research and Education Society Fundraising Trip

Recently I was surprised by a wonderful gift: the opportunity to attend the Marine Education & Research Society‘s Annual Fundraising Trip with a few members of my family. The Marine Education & Research Society (MERS) is a vital, charitable organization based out of Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island. For the last few years, I have been following them on social media and have been continually impressed by their determination to bring whale/ocean research and education into the public sphere. Their integrity and passion shines through so clearly in everything they do. I consider it an honour to be able to support MERS by donating to their yearly fundraising auction (stay tuned this spring!) and to have my greeting cards carried in their Ocean Store. However, up until this point I had not yet had the pleasure of visiting Port McNeill or MERS in person. I was also thrilled to finally meet Jackie Hildering, AKA The Marine Detective. She is one of the founding members of MERS, and a passionate marine educator/researcher. Spots on these trips fill quickly, and due to the pandemic, this particular trip had been in the works for two years.

I am excited to share some of my photographs, personal reflections and information I learned during this amazing trip with you! I hope you will enjoy scrolling through this post.

Please note that I was using a telephoto lens and have cropped images so that you can see them better. Marine mammals need space to live and thrive. For information about Canadian Marine Mammal Regulations and tips on how to avoid collisions with cetaceans, check out the See A Blow Go Slow webpage. It is an excellent resource full of solid, practical information.


Otters

The first marine mammals we encountered were sea otters. This was the first time I’ve seen sea otters. Sea otters used to be plentiful along our coasts, however the last one was shot in 1929/30. In the late ’60’s and early ’70s there was a re-population effort made by the Canadian and US governments. They took otters from Alaska and introduced them to a location on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Thanks to this project, the sea otter population is establishing themselves and expanding their territory. It is because of that project that I was able to see sea otters for the first time. During the trip we were told that the individuals we observed were males (the females preferring other locations) and that you can tell who was the most “distinguished” in years. As they age, their face becomes whiter. With the reintroduction of sea otters (a previously native species), there are visible impacts on the marine environment. Sea otters love to eat sea urchin, which love to eat kelp. Now that the sea otters are back and happily munching away on these spiny treats, the kelp forests are changing and growing. This of course has many subsequent impacts on the marine environment, food chain and even humans that depend on the ocean for their livelihood. A complex story for sure, but also a hopeful one!

Birds

One of the most visually impactful sights I witnessed was not even seeing whales. It was seeing birds. Vaporous clouds of birds! Seemingly out of nowhere, all of a sudden, these active formations would appear hovering over the surface of the water. Then they would disintegrate and reform in another location. It was hard to take my eyes off of these winged swarms. And if you watched long enough…. *pfffffft* A spout! And another! It almost looked as though the whales were tracking these ethereal clouds (although I honestly don’t know how much they see of these birds from a distance underwater). But they share a common motivator to these birds. Swarms of birds = swarms of fish. I found these bird clouds fascinating because it was like they were giving us a picture of what was happening under the water, where I cannot see. Swarms of fish are called “baitballs”…. I think I am going to call these bird clouds birdballs.

Dolphins

There was a point along our trip when we were stopped and watching some humpbacks feeding, when the water started to practically boil with activity. Pacific white-sided dolphins! They were very active and, like the humpbacks and birds, ready for a hearty dinner of fish. They were doing something called “porpoising”, which means that they were leaping out of the water as they swam. As I stood there in awe, trailing them with my camera lens I caught a blur of brown. What? A brown dolphin? No. It couldn’t be. Could it…..? It flashed by again! A pair of huge sealions! And yes, they were swimming with the dolphins. Rolling around each other and….yup! They were porpoising too! According to estimates of the crew, there were possibly around 100 dolphins (and two rather outgoing sea lions).

Porpoises

And speaking of porpoises…. this leads me to the next cetacean species that we encountered. Years ago I was reading about a specific species of porpoise that is a blocky, funny-looking creature. Apparently, when they surface, they look like a rotating square. Ever since I read this description, Dall’s porpoises have been on the very top of my Cetaceans I Want To See List. I could not believe my eyes! These little speed devils zipped around so fast. Splashing, rotating square porpoises! I am not sure how many there were…. maybe about 5 or 6. They were closely escorting a humpback by the name of Ridge (BCX1249)…. much, it seemed, to his aggravation. I am not sure why they were hanging out to closely to him, but he seemed to not particularly enjoy the attention. At one point he surfaced and gave an auditable exasperated sound when he exhaled. This behavior is called trumpeting. I have read about this, so it was amazing to actually hear it. We saw Ridge a few more times a little later on… still surrounded by his edgy entourage.

Whales

You were probably wondering if I was ever going to show you pictures of whales. Well, here they are. And not just any whales, humpback whales! As adults, these giants can grow up to 14-17 meters in length and weigh up to 40 tonnes. I have already mentioned a few things about humpbacks above, because it is hard to talk about one species without mentioning the ones around it. Humpbacks, like many other large whale species, were heavily whaled along BC’s coasts. This came to an end in 1964. The humpback population has taken a long, slow path to recovery. When MERS started cataloging humpbacks along the north coast of Vancouver Island in 2004 they were not spotted regularly but the numbers have been greatly increasing since then. Here is an interesting article by CTV News interviewing Jackie about the “humpback comeback”. Like the sea otters, it is encouraging to hear about these populations that were pushed to the brink of extinction and have somehow managed to bounce back. Many of the humpback whales we observed were feeding on large groups of small fish with the changing tide. We watched two different types of feeding strategies be employed by humpback whales: lunge-feeding and trap-feeding.

Lunge-Feeding: The first humpbacks that we encountered was a mother, Black Pearl (BCX1460), teaching her calf, Kraken (2022 calf), how to lunge-feed (see my photos for reference). When there is a large concentration of fish, humpback whales can employ this technique by diving and traveling under water to be under the baitball. Then they swim vertically to the surface while opening their gigantic mouth, which expands their throat pleats like a parachute and allows them to capture many fish inside. When they close their mouths at the surface, they use their tongue to push the water out of their mouth between their baleen plates, which act like a sieve, straining out the water and keeping the tasty fish inside. It was so special to be able to observe a mother passing along this knowledge to her little one.

Trap-Feeding: This feeding strategy uses less energy from the whale than lunge-feeding. Humpbacks seem to employ this technique in situations where there are less dense concentrations of pray–when they want a “snack” but don’t want to work too hard for it. In this case, whales seek out birdballs (my term for concentrations of birds feeding on fish) and stealthily sidle up with their huge mouth open at the surface. The fish are frantically trying to get away from the birds and think, “Oh look! A cave to hide inside where we can get away…..”. And they hop/jump and swim into the shelter of the waiting humpback’s mouth. It’s almost cheeky on the whale’s part and incredibly cleaver!

For more information, diagrams and videos on these feeding strategies, check out this post by MERS.

This past weekend was Thanksgiving. I have so much to be grateful for in life, including YOU! Thank you for your support in reading my blog posts and for staying connected. This community is a huge encouragement to me. Art is often considered a private activity. However, I believe that when you view and engage with artworks, they become active and alive. Your participation fulfills the purposes of art. As an artist, I could not do what I do without you. Thank you for joining me in this journey. ❤

This photo shows a whale’s flukeprint (like a footprint left behind on the waters’ surface)

I am also very grateful for the gift of being able to participate on this trip, to get to know MERS and the MERS team better. Thank you Mackay Whale Watching for hosting us your beautiful vessel.

Community Event for Kids

Hello everyone! Tomorrow, Saturday September 17, I am participating in a FREE children’s event at Hillside Mall. The activities are all about nature education, conservation and engagement!

Scroll below to see a list of the activities and times. Find me at the Activity Table with colour-your-own-bookmarks. I had so much fun creating these for the event! I made three different designs: tide pool ecosystem, cetaceans of BC and a fun, folding bookmark that reveals what is hiding below the surface of the water. Bring your children, nieces, nephews and their friends… I have LOTS of bookmarks that need colouring! =)

Here is a list of the activities:

  • FILM PRESENTATION: The Hundred-Year-Old Whale, Orcas of the Salish Sea, Film by Mark Leiren-Young, Canadian Council for the Arts
    12 – 2 PM
  • HIVE TO HONEY JAR WORKSHOP: Beekeeper Liam will be demonstrating how honey is extracted from the hive!
    12 – 2 PM
  • SEAQUARIA: Touch tanks with live sea creatures, World Fisheries Trust
    12 – 3 PM
  • CHILDREN’S CRAFT: Colour an ocean-themed bookmark created by Artist Natasha van Netten,
    12 – 3 PM

Art Gallery Paint-In Event

It’s finally here…. the TD Art Gallery Paint-In! This is Victoria’s largest outdoor arts festival. The entire length of Moss Street will be closed tomorrow, Saturday July 16, to vehicles from the Gallery to the ocean (that’s about 10 blocks!) from 11am-4pm and both sides of the street will be lined with artists—bringing their studies to you!

My booth is #101 and will be located on the east side of the street somewhere between May Street and Faithful Street. I will be bringing oil paintings, original drawings, wire whales (my regular ones as well as large scale ones), cards, bookmarks, buttons, stickers, and more! I am planning on making wire whales while I am there… so you can see the magic of 3D drawing in action. =)

Click here to go to the Paint-In website where you will find a complete list of artists and all the info you will need for this event.

Supporting Conservation through Art

Today is the first day of the Wild Auction 2022! This fundraiser is for Pacific Wild. Here is their mission statement: Pacific Wild supports innovative research, public education, community outreach and raising conservation awareness to achieve the goal of lasting environmental protections for the lands and waters of the Great Bear Rainforest and throughout the wild Pacific Northwest. If you would like to learn more about their approach to conservation and how they take action, here is a link to their Strategic Plan for 2022-23.


Instagram Takeover….TODAY (Monday May 16 at 2pm)

Check out Pacific Wild’s Instagram page for some beautiful, conservation-based content. They are worth the follow. This afternoon only, check out their story feed as I will be doing an Instagram takeover! I have a few exciting things planned for this… fun whale facts, an intro by yours truly and a few videos of my drawing process and… stop motion animation! =)


Wild Auction: 9am Monday May 16 to 5pm Friday May 20, 2022

Over 120 artists, businesses, and individuals from around the world have come together to share their passion for conservation of British Columbia’s wildlife. Contributions are from Brazil, to Norway, to Los Angeles, and across Canada. These supporters are donating 30-100% of the sale of their contribution(s) to fund Pacific Wild’s work.

I have three works available in the auction. Two seawater and ink limited edition giclée prints from drawings I created in Iceland and an original gouache on embossed paper contour chart based on the southern gulf island network. You can find these items by searching my name on the auction page. I am donating 80% of the sale to Pacific Wild (to help cover my printing and supply costs).

Event: Pop-In Market this Weekend

Hello! I just wanted to send out a quick announcement about a market that is taking place this weekend (and that I am taking part in): The Pop-In Market April 30th and May 1st. It is happening inside Mayfair Mall here in Victoria. There will be food vendors, live music, 40 local makers stalls and will certainly be a fun and interesting event to attend (rain or shine!). Bring your family and friends. No entrance fee! =)

Market Hours:
Saturday, April 30: 10am-6pm
Sunday, May 1: 10am-5pm

Location of Mayfair Mall:
3147 Douglas Street, Victoria BC

My location in the Market:
My booth is in the hallway between Lenscrafters and Sirens.

Bonus Fun:
There is also a fair happening outside in the parking lot. It will be happening on Saturday from 12pm-10pm and on Sunday from 12pm to 6pm.

Drawing with Wire

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of instructing an afternoon workshop with the Quadra Village Community Centre. This workshop was part of Art Thrive, a program created and run by the QVCC and funded by the BC Arts Council. Art Thrive provides art classes to youth and adult residents of Quadra Village (and beyond) free of charge, including materials. This program helps build a sense of community, while offering recreational, stress-reducing activities and bringing encouragement to individuals.

Finally packed for the workshop

I have been anticipating this workshop for about a month — prepping materials, putting together a handout, gathering supplies (some at the store and some at the beach) and borrowing tools for this workshop. Needless to say I was excited when the day finally came to meet the students and see the workshop in action.

I was asked to teach this class on drawing with wire. I started the class by talking about drawing. What is drawing anyway? What can it be? Drawing is not like painting. In painting there is a specific medium that is referred to in the word itself: paint. However, the word drawing is more open-ended. It does not refer to a medium, but rather to an action. To draw, meaning to pull or to cause movement. It is only in relative recent history that drawing has even been considered an art form in of itself. In history, drawing was always a preliminary tool used to prepare for the “real thing”, like sketching a composition before making a painting or sculpture. Drawing is one of the oldest ways we humans have made art, but it is only now finally coming into its own identity — which is why it gets me excited and is one of my favourite things to do.

Student spaces ready

In this workshop a student told me she couldn’t draw. I explained that drawing is in her nature, it is part of being human. In fact, we do it all the time without even realizing it. Can you write? Yes. Then you are drawing. Art is not about doing something you cannot do, but about trying something that maybe you haven’t done before. Maybe you haven’t given yourself the freedom yet to make something that is not “perfect”. Learning to give yourself this freedom is such an important lesson – something that art has been, and is still, teaching me. Perfection will rob you of the joy of exploration and might hold you back from making exciting discoveries. So, if drawing is an action, as long as you are doing that action, you are drawing. You have overcome. Of course, patience is a virtue. If you want to fine-tune and develop your control and techniques, then, just like any other thing you can learn, it comes down to time and practice.

We started by first making drawings on paper with a single line. This type of drawing is called a ‘continuous line drawing’. You can make a drawing like this by putting your pen on the paper and not loosing contact with the page as your pen moves across it. This is the same concept as drawing with wire. A long, single line that loops and twists into a shape to create the impression of an image, an animal, a portrait or an abstracted object. After this drawing exercise, we moved on to talk about wire and practice some techniques to get a feel for the different ways you can manipulate wire.

A student’s wire drawing of a clutched hand

Wire can be difficult to use. It is spring-loaded and can have a mind of its own. Learning how to work with wire is a process and the students in this class all managed brilliantly. They also remembered to employ safety techniques as they worked, such as curling the loose end of the wire so it doesn’t surprise and poke them. This was a two-hour workshop, and by the time we started making drawings with wire, there was just over an hour left of the class. Some students gravitated towards creating words in hand-writing with wire, others tried a variety of smaller projects and some spent the entire time working on a single, more complicated drawing. I brought in a collection of small driftwood pieces and showed the students how to attach their drawings to a wooden base and used the light on my phone to show them the incredible shadows their drawings cast. I should have taken more images of their works, they were truly wonderful, but honestly it was hard to remember to take pictures with so many great discoveries happening all around me.

One student’s collection of drawings at the end of class: a portrait of her son, abstract shape, leaf and butterfly

The afternoon was a beautiful two hours spent with nine amazing students, and the lovely Carol and Marissa from the QVCC. I walked away from the old gym building feeling a greater appreciation of the value and importance of drawing. During the class some students commented on a deep sense of inner focus and body awareness as they drew. It is a wonderful feeling to enter into this headspace of deep concentration. When we started using the wire I heard comments about the process being more difficult that expected. When our time came to a close I heard exclamations of pleasure and satisfaction. At the end I asked if anyone had drawn with wire before. No, not one. It is exciting to have a room full of people trying something new, pushing past difficulties and making personal breakthroughs.

Art Thrive is about bringing the community together, but I was able to witness this on a larger scale, on a scale that reached beyond the classroom. In order not to go over my supply budget, I put out a call to my family and friends to ask for tools to be lent for students to use during this class. I was overwhelmed by the response and the support of my community. It is a beautiful picture of one way that art never ceases to surprise me — in how it brings people together.

A few of the community-provided tools for this class

Upcoming Markets & Exhibitions

I am very excited to share a few events and exhibitions I have coming up between now and the new year! Below you will find a list with links to the various venues. If you have any questions, please contact me and let me know.


The Magic of Christmas Artisan Fair

This is a weekend-long market, but I will just be there on Sunday November 21 from 10am-4pm. If you were in the area and wanted to come over and check it out it would be awesome to see you there!

Over 100 vendors will be joining us at the Magic of Christmas Artisan Fair! Held at Eagle Ridge arena at City Centre Park in Langford. Come shop local and find 1000’s of unique gifts for the whole family! Vaccination passport required for entry along with a matching piece of identification. Masks mandatory. $3 Admission. 14 and under free.

For more information, please click here to visit the Facebook event page.


The Hillside Holiday Artisan Market

This is my second time at the Hillside Holiday Artisan Market and I am so excited to be back! I will be there both days: December 4th from 9:30-5:30 and December 5th from 10am-5pm. This is such an approachable and welcoming market, I am sure you will enjoy it!

75 Local Makers will line the halls of Hillside Mall in Victoria. You will find 1000’s of locally crafted gift ideas and stocking stuffers, something for everyone on your list!

For more information, please click here to visit the Facebook event page.


Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Winter Small Works Show & Sale

You will find two of my paintings in this wonderful exhibition of local art.

The annual Art Gallery of Greater Victoria‘s Winter Small Works Show & Sale is back! Featuring works from over 70 local artists, this year’s Winter Small Works range in style, medium, and price — there’s something for everyone! The show will be in person this year, displayed in the Massey Sales Gallery at the AGGV.

Winter Small Works opens November 19, 2021, and runs until January 29, 2022.

For more info, please click here.


And finally, just incase you happen to be in London, England over the next little while…

Sketch for Survival Exhibition

My drawing of a Right Whale has been selected as a Finalist in the Sketch for Survival 2021 and has also been shortlisted for Wildlife Artist of the Year Award. If you are not able to visit this exhibition in person but would like to see the fundraising auction, you can find it online here.

The 100 finalists will have their work exhibited alongside our Invitational Collection at the gallery@oxo in London between November 17th – 28th. Their artwork will be sold via our online auction concluding Sunday 28 November with all proceeds supporting  the 21 For 21 Project Fund.

For more info, please click here.

Hillside Artisan Summer Market

It is finally here! The Hillside Artisan Summer Market is happening this weekend. I have been prepping for over the past month or so (okay, maybe a bit longer) and finally have a neat stack of boxes ready to go. =) I will be bringing a pod of wire whale species, some mobiles, bookmarks, drawings, baby milestone cards, greeting cards and buttons (including some brand new button and card designs!).

The market is happening this Saturday and Sunday, August 7 & 8, from 10am to 4pm. There will be live music and more than 80 local vendors! It takes place in the Hillside Mall parking lot by the entrance near Marshalls (on the corner of North Dairy and Shelbourne).

Below is a little sketch of the location, showing where my tent will be located. =) Hope you will pop by!


Here is a list of the vendors (click on the links to view their Instagram pages):

@fernandtree, @evercoasthandmade, @urbanbabyapparel (Sat only), @loopsjewellery, @saltwatergypsy68, @heavenlytreatsvictoria (Sat only), @justos.ca, @oldsouljamco (Sun only), @feralmetaldesigns, @rootsidemixers@platinumfloraldesigns@islandjerkysidney@retrorepurposed@lapastatriestina@gardenartvictoria@mother.lifestyle@genesistallow@pickleandponder (Sat only), @grandmasapothec (Sun only), @kailyardcreations@kleque_method@anunpredictablecollection@sweettreatsxmore, @nicegoinggoods@jaakrabbit@christienormanart (Sat only), @littlechangesco (Sun only), @starkravingbread (Sun only), @refinemark@littlecheekerapparel@arbutuscoast@lost_apparel02@partyanimalpets@stitch_please_victoria@whimsiedaisy@al_rahmansamosaking@coastlinewooddesign@fix.roastery (Sat only), @wovenstoneco@bayofarches@westholmewonderworks, @islandbeeswax@the.shrubbery.co@wandashumdesign@rockin.risotto_2@thejoy.totebags@quaint.and.dainty_designs@modsqwad.studio, @sweet.georgia.maeve, @the_stylish_goose, @feltstoriesbyrena@bonmacaronpatisserie, @talltreescreative@smokymountainapiary@slowbottledsunday@icecreamedhoneycompany@sundayjewelryco@otterandemma@snowdonhouse@clementeoliveoil (Sat only), @hennabybatool@littlelavendergoods@spikedwoodworks@islandguywithchai@cedarave.candleco@the.naked.bakery@n_van_netten (yours truly!), @twocrowsmustard (Sat only), @islanders.mexican.salsas (Sun only), @kaiyoclubhouse, @knotsandpotts@azariahdesigns@lostthings.ca@cordovacandleco (Sun only), @brumblybaby (Sat only), @re.tree.ca@caitlynchapmanstudio, @island_eko_pantry (Sun only), @emillerart (Sun only), @jillwarnearts (Sat only), @emberly.plantdyed (Sat only) & More!!

Carving Coastlines

Over the past six months I have been working towards a project that, at times, has felt a little like hiking in flipflops. Last fall I submitted an application to the Victoria Print Society‘s PRINT gallery call for proposals. My project idea involved creating prints of British Columbia’s north coast using embossing and linocut.

Looking back now, this seems like a long time ago—the start of a journey. The past few months have been a flurry of printmaking tutorial videos, linoleum shaving bits (on the table, in my pockets, in my purse… I am sure I will be finding them for months to come), conceptual location research, and developing relationships with some incredible, local printmakers.

I made more mistakes than I care to admit here. Having to do and re-do until getting things right. These are the things that help me learn and grow. These are the points I look back on now with a smile when I think about the process. I thought I would share some of my process here with you as printmaking has been a learning curve for me and something I have enjoyed stepping into.

For images of my print, ‘Aggregation: Inside Passage‘, and to read about my concepts behind the work, please click here.


PRINT gallery

What is the PRINT gallery? The PRINT gallery is a printed “venue” for print artists to show and talk about their work, to help make printmaking more accessible to the public. It is printed in a brochure format that unfolds to reveal a full-page image inside of the feature print created by the artist. 50 brochure are left blank on the inside for the artist to then create a hand-pulled, limited edition print series. The digitally printed copies are free and the hand-pulled originals are available for $15 each (or $10 if you are a PRINT member).

If you are interested in ordering either type of PRINT gallery, please click here.


My Printing Process

My print journey started when my boss gave me some pieces of orange linoleum from an old apartment building.

I started by researching the design I wanted to carve. Using a variety of map and chart sources from the internet I was able to isolate the area of coastline I wanted to portray. The location I chose is where the Inside Passage intersects with the entrance waters heading towards Kitimat.

I used graphite transfer paper to lay out my design. It didn’t take long before I realized that the image will be reversed when it is printed. I then had to mirror my design format before drawing it onto the lino so the final print would be the correct orientation.

Once the design was transferred, I re-drew the lines in permanent marker so they wouldn’t rub off while I was carving. Then I made decisions about where I would cut and what areas I would leave. I decided to cut away the water areas and leave the land forms. When printing in this way, the areas that are carved away will be left the colour of the paper, while the areas that are left will hold the ink and transfer the colour onto the page.  

I cut my lino block to size with a utility knife so it would be easier to handle and then started carving. It was tough work and I quickly realized how important it is to sharpen the carving tools often. This process is labour intensive and it took me a few months to complete (among my other projects). I started by edging around the land forms and then carving out, into the water areas. Once everything was roughly carved, I then went back again, and again, to continue smoothing out ridges and bumps. The final steps were to complete the small boarder around the edge, cut away the excess lino around the sides and carve away the delicate river systems that lead to the ocean. Carving is hard work and it is important to take breaks for your hands and wrists. When the lino is warmer it becomes softer and easier to cut.

Once the plate was complete, I created a test print to check and see if any areas required more carving. After making the final adjustments to the carved lino plate, I was ready to move into the printing studio. I am incredibly grateful to Alison, Desiree and Tara, the founders of PRINT, for their support, for getting me get set up in the studio, for assisting me with the printing process and for sharing their knowledge and printing passion with me.

Before trying printmaking myself, I used to think it must be a pretty straight forward process. After all, now that my plate is made the hard part must be done. Not quite. Even when using a press, it is still a human process. I was surprised how much sensitivity one must have towards the press. The pressure is adjusted by manually tightening both sides of the roller independently. Being able to “feel” the tension, make sure the pressure is even and that it is not too tight or too light.

Then there is the inking of the plate. Again, sounds fairly straight forward, but I quickly learned this means more than just coating the block with ink. When you load the roller, one must lift the roller between going back and forth to allow the roller to spin and get even coverage. To load it properly there is a particular sound you want the ink to make as the roller passes over it and a special texture/gloss that you are looking for. Again, it comes back to getting the “feel” for it. This took me a few days before getting comfortable recognizing the signs.  

At this point I thought it would be time to start pulling prints. The time I have eagerly been waiting for and have spent months preparing for! Well, not exactly. Printers often pull 5-10 or more test prints before pulling an actual print. Every time carefully loading and reloading the roller, covering the plate this direction, then that. Moving the plate to the press, delicately laying down the paper on top, then covering it with soft wool blankets, and pulling it through the press. All the while trying to keep everything clean and tidy. The reason why it is important to make test prints first is that the ink builds a layer on the plate in a more even way each time it is pulled. The, when you are ready to make “real” prints, you will know the ink coverage is good.

I am very grateful for Tara’s offering to assist me when it was time to create the prints. We spent 12 hours at the studio together inking and pulling prints (and laughing, sharing stories, and listening to pod casts). I realized through this experience that this is something unique and special to printmaking—it often becomes a communal activity. People gather around the press, excited to see the print lift off the plate, brainstorming together and tackling printing issues that come up (and they do come up, trust me). There is a team spirit to printmaking. It is a quieter spirit now, only two people in the studio at a time and masked (of course), but that communal energy is there!

After the prints dried, we went back to the studio to layer the print with embossing. This type of embossing is called blind embossing, because it does not use ink. The paper is ran through the press overtop of a prepared relief plate. You can see the embossing lines in one of the final prints in the image on the left. The embossing is within the white areas, mimicking the undulating submarine contours of the ocean floor. The result leaves subtle meandering lines pressed into the fibres of the paper. This took another studio day to add to the finished prints.

After we were done, I carefully gathered the final 50 prints together to sign, title, number and date.

Some prints did not make the cut. Some I inked and pulled through the wrong direction, some I forgot to ink an island or two, some I embossed the wrong direction, and one I even printed on the wrong side of the paper (see image below). The end product of this project is a limited edition of 50 linocut and blind embossed prints, which I am proud to have created. Learning a new skill can be hard (and even frustrating), but the payback is the satisfaction of having completed it. I have been thinking about this project since last September (when I applied for the PRINT gallery). One of my favourite parts about being an artist is to create a physical “thing” from a picture in my mind, and when I look over at my neatly stacked pile of prints I can’t help but smile.