Cover art!

I’ll be back soon posting more about my photo polymer photo gravure project. But I have to take a break today to share this bit of excitement:

Rain Taxi, a great local non-profit centered around literature puts out an amazing publication, and asked to use my artworkThe Night of the Eclipse the Whole World Shimmered‘ on the cover of their latest issue! It is already starting to hit the stands….and I may have a few extra copies coming my way to pass out to anyone interested ;)

You can see a digital version of the current issue here:

CURRENT PRINT EDITION

And they posted a bit about me here: http://www.raintaxi.com/jes-lee/

They have been so great to work with! I am beyond thrilled that they asked to include me in their publication. Please go check it out, and if you can, support them online or at one of their events. If you are local to Minneapolis and St. Paul (and a book nerd like me), check out the book festival coming up on October 15th!

 

So what the heck is photo polymer photogravure?

Good question!

I tend to explain it as being a modern version of a very old process.

It comes from old intaglio printing methods. Gravure prints were used in the high-end magazines back before digital printing. Alfred Stieglitz was a strong supporter of gravure prints, their quality, and their feel. I could go on into more of the history, but my knowledge still has a lot of holes and areas I still need to research. So I will stop before I confuse anyone or say something wrong.

Photo polymer photogravure, the modern version I am working with today, uses a light-sensitive plastic polymer coated plate, that is exposed with an image. The image (in my case) comes from a film image, scanned in to my computer, tweaked and altered in Photoshop, and then printed on a transparency medium to create a positive to expose the plate with.

The plates are exposed with a UV exposure unit. I often refer to them as plate-burners, though I can’t remember where I first heard that term. The parts of the plate exposed by the UV light get harder than the parts that aren’t exposed. The plates are then washed out in a water bath with a special brush that removes the unexposed polymer. This creates a plate that when inked by hand and placed on the bed of an etching press, creates an image with very subtle tones.

These are a few images I made in the workshops where I began learning and working with this technique.

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My inking technique was much better in the top image than in the bottom two, but I wanted to include a few examples so you would have a better idea of the outcome.

Hopefully soon I’ll have a few new images to show you!

A new project start

It has been a bit quiet around here lately.

For good reason this time. In May my artwork was on display at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts along with photography by Eileen Cohen. I am really happy with how the work for that show turned out. We had a blast at the reception, and I am thrilled that I was part of that!

Right away after that show opened, I started focusing on the next project. This one is a doozy!

I have been accepted to have a solo show at the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames, Iowa next summer!

This series will be a departure from my recent work. Instead of ink jet prints, the final print version of these images will be made using a technique called ‘photo polymer photogravure’. It is a modern version of a very old printmaking technique, being much like copperplate photo etching, but using polymer plates that are developed in water instead of acid.

I am very lucky that between local artists I admire that let me ask hundreds of questions, and many blog posts by many other practitioners of this medium, I have been able to make a lot of progress. I have used this printmaking medium before, but it has been awhile. But when I used it before, it was not my primary medium to work in. So of course there are many people who know more than me.

I am also very lucky that I work at a community college in the art department, and my coworkers have given me permission to use the equipment at school to work on this project. Of course this means that I have to become very proficient with using the NuArc exposure unit that no one else has had time to become proficient with. This has involved a lot of testing, note taking, and trial and error.

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Thanks to one blog post, I learned about making a test strip on a polymer plate. This is a technique I had suspected might be possible, but wasn’t 100% certain if I was on the right track. After a long session of going in to test on my day off, I am much closer to a good baseline exposure. Next is test printing.

Those test prints will be done on one of these beautiful presses. You can see two of the three (!!!) amazing etching presses we have in our art department. I’m almost giddy!

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More soon!

Self-care

When I get busy putting together a new show for a gallery, or trying to finish a book project, I often forget to give myself a break, and don’t take care of myself enough.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, having a steady yoga practice has taught me how important self-care really is, not just for me physically, but mentally as well.

Sometimes it is still hard for me to listen, and the beginning of my summer break was no exception. I skipped yoga class a few too many times in favor of long days in my studio, and I was getting burned out, overly stressed, and sick.

Memorial Day Weekend came around and I was a mess. But thanks to plans we had made with friends, I was forced to have some down time and get back into a normal, slower routine.

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Among other weekend events, we joined a couple of friends at their family’s cabin for the weekend. I’ll write another post soon dedicated to the photos I took while we were there. But this was the turning point. Sitting in my kayak on a lake is one of the most peaceful places I have found on this earth. Getting back home after our time there, I started falling back into the rush and craziness of getting work ready for my upcoming show…until I forced myself to stop, and remember these moments.

I started a small challenge of seeing how many times per week I can make it to yoga class during this month. This past weekend I went to a new class for a style of yoga I have not tried before, and I loved it. I’m going to go back as often as I can before my day job starts up again in August.

After forcing myself to slow down again, I am making much more progress on getting work ready for my show. I install everything on the 23rd, and I am almost ready. I can’t wait…I am very proud of the work I am making now.

More about that to come soon.

Finally, a Polaroid Week post part 1

Back in April (really, has it already been that long???) the online photo community I am part of celebrated another Polaroid Week. It has been quite some time since I have taken photos using instant film…my SX-70 had been out of commission, and the glass plate in the Polaroid back for my Hasselblad had two large cracks in it.

But this year, something drew me to participate in Polaroid week. I was able to fix my SX-70, and removed the broken glass from my Hasselblad’s Polaroid back. I pulled a few of my favorite Instax Mini photos taken during our last trip to Okinawa, and went on a couple of photo walks with my Hasselblad and SX-70, and pulled together enough photos to participate in the entire week.

And I am managing to use up a bit more of the film I have hoarded in my film fridge…

Here are a few that I posted during Polaroid week…

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You can see more photos in the Polaroid Week pool on Flickr here!

Art-a-Whirl

is this weekend!

 

I’ll be over at FK Art Glass Gallery again with brand new artwork on display, lots of prints to sell, and of course there will be demos! Cameras, film developing, and new this year: cyanotypes!

 

Here are the details:

FK Art Glass Gallery

2210 Bryant Ave N

Minneapolis, MN

Friday, May 20th 5-10pm

Saturday, May 21st 12-8pm

Sunday, May 22nd 12-5pm

 

See you there!

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