Thursday, May 23, 2013

catherine vesce - kc printmaker

Multi-drop woodcut monotypes
  • These are my first woodblocks since college.
  • I don't have interest in doing editioning. 
    I really enjoy BEING ABLE TO GO          ANYWHERE with one piece. The down side of that is I can SPEND DAYS on ONE PRINT and that is ok.
    ++++++  FIVE  KEYS    ++++++
1.woodcut matrix - forest theme 
"Abstract imagery based in forest landscape
expressing a visual poetry that resides in earliest memories." CV 

"I think of the woodcut as a matrix, not a set image but rather a bit of vocabulary that can be adapted to the image as it is created. I draw loosely onto a 1/2 inch birch plywood panel with a brush or other invented tool. Then the wood is sealed with poly-acrylic. Cutting is done with gouges in a reciprocating Proxxon cutter (next photo) and with carbide tip tools in a rotary motorized tool." CV

Proxxon cutter (above) pink strop block to sharpen gouges and Herb's Yellowstone stropping compound (below). 

Here is how Vesce does woodcuts while standing upright (next).

CV: I put it up this way because I have a degenerative neck thing going on where I can not lean over and work like this at all. So, I just have my easel and I strap it with my bungee cord. Perfectly stable. Two minute video. Close up of bungee cord securing woodblock next. photo.
2. inks dry fast
"As soon as you print it, it is on the paper, it just is absorbed into the paper immediately, and I can go right back and print another color over it. I think it is an amazing product." CV 

    "I use Akua inks and modifiers. Susan Rostow & William Jung developed Akua Kolor and intaglio inks. They are lightfast, non-toxic, water based, soy based, and I can leave them on my glass palette for days without any skimming or change of consistency." CV bed

"I found this etching press online seven years ago. It was shipped to me from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The press bed measures 30 by 48 inches." CV

Multi-drop monotypes are created by repeatedly rolling ink on and subtracting ink from a plastic plate, printing on Rives BFK or Mulberry paper. This process is combined with several woodcut matrixes that can be repeatedly printed over or under the monotypes, sometimes by hand. There may be repositioning of the paper over the block to include inking of different parts. Opaque shapes are sometimes added by inking and printing off other relief surfaces (see next photo).

(Above) First, black impression comes from a segment of woodcut matrix.

Shaped plastic plates are repositioned on top of impression on the light table. Translucent gray, blue, red, yellow, and green impressions complete the full image.
4. light table 

    "I don't print editions so there is no proofing or other pre-printing calculation. The image evolves in the very open but deliberate process of printing, more like a painting rather than a traditional print. However, there is little room for revision as there is in a painting i.e,. color mixing of mostly transparent ink must be extremely accurate.     The print paper with the first inked layer is placed face down on my large light table so that the plastic plate with second color can be registered and ink removed from the plate." CV

     Catherine explains the multi-drop monotype technique used in Deep Woods I. Part of the paper has inked impressions from a carved wooden block. Part of the design has ink impressions from blank plastic plates. Panels are hung next to each other on the wall. They are looked at and thought about until she embraces it. Then she connects the panels with strips of mulberry paper coated with PVA (polyvinyl acetate adhesive). Several impressions make up this one piece.   Three minute video.

5. tape together There are no proof sheets. For the large prints, I either print on one long sheet that goes through press on one end then the other or I fit together parts of several completed prints. They are connected with strips of mulberry paper coated with PVA.(polyvinylacetate adhesive (PVA) They are either attached to acid-free foam board with mulberry paper hinges wrapped around a long museum board strip or left floating on the wall.

Deepwoods III, woodcuts and monoprint, 37.5 x 52 inches

       "I have had a studio space at the Hobbs Building since 2004. Previously, I  taught art in high schools for 30 years. In the summers, I could focus on my own art. I served as Department Chair at Pembroke Hill Upper School, also at Barstow and at Hickman Mills High School in the 80's, while serving as District Art Coordinator for CSD #1." CV

Vesce has worked with Mike Sims using three aluminium lithography plates for her Songbird Series. She took a workshop with Heinrich Toh on litho transfers, when he was still downtown at the Incubator. And now she is going at her own pace, away from editions. 
Vesce is member of the Nelson Atkins Print Society.
Her art studio in the Hobbs Building in the West Bottoms of Kansas City.
Her website is
She was one of 20 vendors at the Fine Print and Paper Kansas City Expo, April 19 and 20, 2013. The exhibit was in the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the Crossroads District.

This interview took place Saturday afternoon March 16th, 2013.

(Proxxon link courtesy of  MH Crafters,, Akua inks,,  Heinrich Toh website,, Catherine Vesce website,, yellow polishing compound,, Hobbs Building link,, Mike Sims, Bing Images,,  
 accessed May 25, 2013)

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