Printmaking Thirty Years Later

I am so excited to be heading to California to take a printmaking class from a printmaker that I know, Ellen Heck, the co-author of this very blog. Yes, the mom-artist will be learning from the daughter-artist.

Ellen is teaching a Combination Woodcut and Drypoint Workshop at The Rusty Barn in Santa Barbara. And, I was lucky enough to be accepted. (I think it might have been hard for them to turn down the mom.)

Interestingly, 30 years ago, almost exactly, I was taking my first printmaking class at the School of Visual Arts in New York in the evenings, after my day job as a freelance illustrator. When I finished the first session, I asked my teacher this, “Um, I just learned that I am pregnant. Should I take the next session, since it involves chemicals?” Teacher: “Um, no.” So, happily for that baby, who was Ellen by the way, I did not print away her brain cells. (Note: I am happy to report that printmaking has come a long way, and the use of chemicals today is far less toxic.)

And, if you are a mom, you might guess that I did not have a chance to take another printmaking class until … now. Thus, below is my first etching (1983) and (with the exception of a few more class projects) my last.


For our first project at SVA, we just drew what we could see. I made an etching of my shoe. (I loved those Tretorns. I wore different versions for years.) For my new class, I can’t decide what to draw. Should I continue my shoe saga? Birds? Flowers? Food? Food could be good. Ellen suggested a self-portrait, but I keep thinking about the sound I make when I accidentally turn my phone camera toward myself, “Aaaaah.” It’s just so startling.

No matter what I decide to draw, I am definitely prepared. Here are my supplies ready to go: various knives and chisels, pencils, erasers, brayers, and even the very apron that I used in New York (the red one) … the white one is from one of our trade shows–I knew it would come in handy one day. I am also taking one Peep for the teacher. I’m not trying to bribe her, but I know she likes Peeps and if she happens to give me some special attention, well, so be it.

So California, here I come, with chisels and knives … and, yes, I’m pretty sure that my luggage will be inspected. If they don’t confiscate my new tools, I will send an update with my etching/woodcutting/snacking progress. I will also let you know if my teacher gives me an A.




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