How To’s

My Newest Edition from Santo Press!

This one is so new it is not even signed yet! Just printed and published by Brent Bond and his marvelous and incredibly busy Santo Press, this 3-color reduction lino print was both laser-cut and hand-cut. It also has some offset hand inking using sheets of wrinkled wax paper.

While trying to come up with an unusual background texture for this print, (and many failed attempts) I was inspired to create an unusual way to crease the wax paper. It dawned on me that I could try creasing the wax paper the same way silk is creased to form wrinkles in Shibori textile dyeing. This provided an unusual and delicate pattern on the wax paper which I call  Shibori-esque. I rolled a sheet of wax paper on a narrow wooden dowel and then pushed the paper down exactly like the pole-wrapping  technique (minus the string) used in Japan to dye textiles.

Brent masterfully incorporated the wrinkles of the wax paper with it’s lacey creases in an overlay of pale yellow on a darker orange ground. This print is the second of what will be a series of three 3-color reduction linocuts published by Santo Press. You can read about Web Mesh, the first print of the series here.

Web Pathway, Print by Janet Towbin, Web Pathway; 2017, reduction linocut; 10″ x 8″ on 14″ x 11″ paper; variable edition of 30; published by SantoPress.

Shibori technique wax paper sampleA close look at the Shibori-esque wax paper filled with delicate crinkles and patterns.

Brent Bond placing the wax paperPlacing the Shibori-esque wax paper on inked plate for 3rd color off-set.

Brent Bond using a roller to off-set print the 3rd colorBrent using a roller to offset print the 3rd color. The hand pressure exerted by the brayer causes the crinkled wax paper to push into the ink, leaving it’s crazed, lace-like markings in the ink.

brent 3The wax paper is removed, taking away a layer of ink–and leaving the crinkled impression behind. The 2-color print is then run through the press transferring the Shibori-esque, crinkled texture of the wax paper as the third and final color.


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Rule of Thirds

This week marked the completion of a suite of 6 new prints at Santo Press. The process was quite involved and complicated. I first made a series of 11 gouache paintings using a rainbow of colors in series of 3 bands of stripes. This led me to consider making a print of the bands of stripes. I carved a piece of linoleum with 30 stripes and printed it by hand in my studio in black ink. The flat color looked very nice, but it didn’t have the texture/tonality I wanted to achieve.

I decided to make a rubbing of the linoleum block (with a black crayon) which gave me the texture I wanted. Several rubbings of the linocut were made and then photographed and stacked vertically in Photoshop. They were then manipulated and cleaned as much as possible. My manipulations looked good to me, but when it came time to actually create high res digital files to use as the cutting matrix for both laser-cut and photpolymer plates they were not usable. Brent took over and did a much better job. No mystery there…he has mad computer skills and I am merely a novice.

There are two suites of Rule of Thirds prints; each set has a 1-color print (black and white) and two multicolor prints. Rule of Thirds I, II and III are printed with a key block (laser-cut MDF) printed on top of 3 different colored bands of flat color. Rule of Thirds IV, V, and VI are 3-color photopolymer relief prints. All 6 are printed in an edition of 10, image size 12″ x 18″ on Somerset paper 22″ x 15″.

Below are some photos to give you a sense of how this suite of prints developed from paintings to finished prints.

Painted Stripes by Janet TowbinOne of a series of 11 gouache Stripe paintings.

stripe linocut hand print The first hand-pulled linocut I printed in my studio. Unique print, 2016, 12″ x 18″ on Kitikata paper.

stripe rubbingOne of the many rubbings made from the linocut. Don’t even ask how many of these I made before I was satisfied!

2 colors printed on key 2 (of the eventual 3 colors per print) to proof at Santo Press. The color bands were printed on top of the key to aid in registration and to get a good sense of what the colors looked like with black.

color mixing printColor mixing at Santo Press for Rule of Thirds III.

color matching More color mixing at Santo Press for Rule of Thirds editions V and VI shown in conjunction with striped gouache paintings.

Rule of Thirds grid of all 6 editions by Janet Towbin

Rule of Thirds I, II, III, IV, V, VI; 2016. Grid of all 6 editions.

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Risk-Free Digital Collage

I’ve been intrigued by the prospect of making collages digitally and then manipulating them ad infinitum into mandalas and kaleidoscopic patterns. I am not sure where this creative exercise will take me, but I think there is a lot of potential in the images.

Like traditional collage, the first stage in creating a digital collage is deciding on the various sorts of materials to use. (So many choices, so little time!) I have mostly been using newspapers in my collage work and for this one, I have cut out a pattern in one sheet and layered it atop another. The layered papers were then photographed and uploaded to my computer. The first image you see below is the starting point in my process. I call that one the collage motif.

The next stage involved manipulating the collage motif in Photoshop. There is no glue, no wrinkling, no curling and no mess to contend with–which makes this a very satisfying way to create a collage.

I layered, mirrored and rotated the single motif into a mandala-type of image.  It is a completely engrossing process to play around with simply because there are an infinite number of images one can create.  The final image you see here was the last one I created (and one of my favorites) out of a total of 5 or 6 mandalas.

Looking for more traditional collages? You can see some of the ones I have actually glued in the Transfigured Times series.

I suppose the only downside to this technique is that there is nothing to frame or hold unless the images are printed. Which might just be the next step for me to consider.

risk-free 700Risk-Free motif; 2014; Digital collage.

risk-free mandala diff 700Risk-Free Mandala; 2014; Digital collage.

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From Ordinary to Wow!

I can’t help but think Photoshop is one of the most incredible creative tools available to any artist/photographer today.

Case in point: a humdrum and rather ordinary photograph of a mum was easily transformed into a dramatic B&W image in a matter of minutes. It still amazes me how much this technique changed and improved the original image.

Using a simple technique with the Curves Adjustment Layer tool I was able to get a Solarized (or Sabattier) effect that totally knocked me out. There are a lot of tutorials online if you want to try this technique. Careful though…you might get hooked.

Be aware that it doesn’t work with all photos, but when it does the results are amazing. Images with strong contrasts work best. I happen to prefer solarized images in B&W, but color images are pretty cool solarized, too.

A special thanks to photography friend Jim Hulme who got me interested in solarization with his lovely photo of Naked Tulips.

Here is the original photo of the mum appearing in all it’s ordinariness:
Ordinary Mum photography by Janet Towbin

And here is the Photoshopped mum converted into a dramatic diva.
Solarized Mum photography by Janet Towbin

Are you impressed? I sure am!

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