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Printmaking at Cave Run Lake With Bonita Parsons and Misty Skaggs

The other day, I met my friends, Bonita Parsons and Misty Skaggs in Morehead, KY to do some printmaking.  They are both talented artists and writers, and from the mountainy part of Kentucky. They didn’t have any experience with block printmaking, so I packed my press, we met at a park, and did some carving.

For my subject, I thought it would be cool to make a print about artists making prints.

I’m still learning how to pack my art art studio for the road. Everything went well, until it was time to put ink on our paper/shirts.

I forgot to bring a brayer! I’m pretty good at improvising, but I don’t have any idea how to do printmaking without a brayer.

I feel bad that my friends didn’t get to print their carvings, but I hate to waste the ink that was already out of the can…so when I got home, I went ahead and made my print.

I’m actually glad that I forgot the brayer, because artist, Corbin Fouts (from Prestonburg, KY) wasn’t able to join us, and she is interested in learning block printing.  We are going to meet again, this Wednesday (August 16 at 11am–weather permitting) at Archer Park in Prestonburg. You all are welcome to join us and watch…or make a print! I’m going to have enough ink, THE BRAYER, press, and some linoleum to share, i have paper–bring a blank shirt if you want to print on t – shirts.

Here is my finished block print. It’s 4 1/2″x6″ on an 8×10 sheet of paper. If you would like to have one for your collection, you can click the artwork to visit my website’s printmaking gallery. I’m selling them for $20 (and ship free to USA).  I don’t charge anyone to participate in the kind of activity we did in Morehead or Prestonburg. When you collect my art, not only do you get a beautiful work of art to enjoy, but you are helping keep ink on my palette, and gas in my car, so I can continue projects like this. Thank you all for your support!

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Papermaking at Margaret Rhein’s Terrapin Paper Mill

I have a growing interest in handmade paper. I have always loved the quality of Twinrocker paper (hand made in Indiana).

During my artist residency in Oaxaca, Mexico, I was introduced to a community of papermakers, and I used their paper for my artwork. Recently, a friend introduced me to Dard Hunter III, who lives nearby in Chillocothe, OH. His grandfather is considered one of the world’s authorities on the art of making paper…he LITERALLY wrote the book about papermaking (thanks again, Linda, for the introduction!)

In my studio, I use 100% cotton rag to frame my artwork, and I throw a lot of it away as part of the process. I thought it would be great to recycle the cotton into paper. I shared this idea with my friend, Margaret Rhein, at the Tiger Lily Press’ recent print sale. I was excited when she invited me to visit her studio to see some of her process.

Born In The USA by Margaret Rhein

Margaret Rhein is is an encyclopedia of papermaking knowledge. She has studied and made handmade paper at Cincinnati’s Terrapin Paper Mill for 40 years. I’m drawn to her work for the way she combines art and craft to make expressive images using paper.

Visit her website for more examples of her work, and resume of accomplishments.
Most of my attention was spent trying to soak up all the information she was sharing with me, but I did get a chance to take a few photos.
She taught me a technique for preparing pulp using inexpensive tools (like a household blender),

blending paper into pulp

…and then how to make sheets of paper from the pulp.

And also how to include objects into the paper for texture and decoration.

Thanks again, Margaret for giving me the peek into your studio, and getting me started with papermaking. With your help, I’ll have some new handmade paper to show off soon.

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Day of Epiphany

3 kings block print by Ken swinson

Last year, while I was in Oaxaca, Mexico, I learned about ‘el Día de los Reyes Magos’. It is also known as ‘The Feast of the Epihpany’ which is when the 3 kings visited baby Jesus — to give him gifts. The Oaxaquenos celebrate by eating a round, donut shaped cake. Somewhere inside the cake is a small figurine of baby Jesus. Whoever finds the figurine in their piece of cake, gets to host a part for their family/friends later a few weeks later. In many parts of the world, many children get excited because IT IS THE HOLIDAY WHEN THEY RECEIVE PRESENTS!

For those of you who celebrate: “Feliz día de los Reyes Magos”!

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Screen Printing Class With Marcos Lucero – Clase de serigrafia con Marcos Lucero

Recently, i took Marcos Lucero’s screen printing class at Taller la Chicharra.
Recientamente, tomé la clase de serigrafia de Marcos Lucero a Taller la Chicharra.
color sketch of bull with accordian
The first day, i made a sketch of my design.
La primer dia, hice un dibujo de mi diseño.

color sketch of bull playing accordian
My sketch – a bull playing an acordian
Mi dibujo-un toro tocando un  acordeón.

using india ink and acetate to make positive exposures of each color
I copied the design onto acetate with india ink-to transfer onto the screen-one for each color.
yo copié mi diseno sobre acetato con tinta china-para lo mudar a la malla-uno por cada color.

macros lucero preparing screen for exposure
Marcos showed us how to mix the chemicals y put them on the screen.
Marcos nos muestró como mezclar los químicos y las puso sobre la malla.

using the sun to expose screen
We used the sun to transfer the designs to the Screen
Nos usamos el sol para trasladar los diseños sobre la malla

screen printing the first color-gold
The first color-Gold!
¡El primer color-Oro!

3 layers of color for screen print
I made a lot of mistakes in the process, but Marcos taught me some tricks to fix the design.
hice muchos errores en el proceso, pero Marcos me enseñó algo trucos corregir mi diseño.

final screen print-bull with accordian
The finished screenprint-Bull with Accordian-Thanks to Marcos and the artists from Taller la Chicharra
La serigrafia termina-Toro Con Acordeón-Gracias a Marcos y los artistas de Taller la Chicharra

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Tamales – block print

Right now, I’m doing a lot of printmaking in my studio:


The design is from my recent residency in Oaxaca, MX. These two women sold tamales in the street. Their tamales are delicious, and they let me practice speaking spanish while I ate. They have been selling tamales on that corner for 15 years.

I thought they would look good in red.


…using oil based inks


and my old fashioned printing press


I’m hungry just looking at the finished print.


You can watch the process (friday december 4, 2015 from noon-5) at the EAT gallery in Maysville, KY.
If you can’t make it for that: I’m having an open house Saturday and Sunday in Old Washington for their Frontier Christmas Celebration.

And if you would like to try it yourself, I am teaching a 4 hour workshop at the Baker Hunt Art and Culture Center in Covington, KY December 12th.

If you are interested in the artwork I created while in Oaxaca, MX, you can see more by visiting the “Mexico” section of my gallery

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Stencil Workshop at the Taller la Chicharra

I just took a week long stencil class with Oaxaca artist, Marcos Lucero. Marcos combines a variety of techniques and mexican motifs into his fantastic artworks. He is part of the Taller de Chicharra, a printmaking studio in Oaxacas centro district. In the class, I learned to to design an image, using ‘bridges’ and ‘islands’. We drew our designs on acetate with markers, and made projectors to enlarge our image, using cardboard and the light from our cell phone. after cutting our stencils(lots of cutting) we applied them with spray paint. Stencils are useful because they use simple materials, and let you quickly repeat a design on a variety of surfaces. Stencils are popular with street artists. I made 2 stencils…the first was a celebration of the rainy season in Mexico. I was able to get a variety of different effects using the same stencil.

The second stencil was a grasshopper, or chaupalin, as they say in Mexico. This stencil uses two templates…one for the color of the silhouette, the other for the details.

not only did i learn a lot from the workshop, but I also got to meet other artists, watch them create new work, and practice my Spanish. Muchas gracias a Marcos y el taller chicharra for the lesson.

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Eliza Harris

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I want to share my latest print.

It is a portrait of Kentucky Legend, Eliza Harris. 

In a race for freedom, Eliza jumped across floating pieces of ice to cross the Ohio River with her baby.

At the Ohio Shore, she was greeted by a man who was going to return her to slavery…but after watching her death defying river crossing, he helped her connect with the ‘underground railroad’ where she was relocated to Canada.

This print was hard to photograph, because the bottom layer is a gold-metallic ink.  It really should be seen in person.