GTPulse: Create Your Own Andy Warhol Inspired Print At Crooked Tree Arts Center

Printmaking is often an overlooked art form. The not quite painting, not quite sculpture technique of creating prints has a wide array of variations. Crooked Tree Arts Center in Traverse City is showing two different print exhibits, as well as hosting a free printmaking class for the rest of fall.

One of the exhibits being shown is called The Floating World: Traditional Japanese Woodblock Prints. Woodblock printing is when an image is carved in the reverse on a piece of wood and then painted with ink and used to imprint on paper. The woodprints in the Japanese collection are stunningly detailed and depict images of geishas, village people, cherry blossom trees and other Japanese landscapes. The juried show being exhibited features artists from across the United States and multiple forms of printmaking.

Along with the exhibits is a display of all of the different types of tools used for different forms of printmaking. Some prints are created using blocks made out of different materials like wood or linoleum. Another type of printing can be done with a cylinder shaped tool called a brayer, where the print is rolled on to paper instead of pressed. There’s even a type of printing where the artist engraves a metal plate by stippling holes in to it. The holes hold ink and can deposit more or less ink in a desired area of the print depending on how many holes the artist placed in each spot of the print. Most of the example pieces displayed were created by students from Northwestern Michigan College.

Education and Outreach Director Kristi Wodek put together the tool exhibit as well as a creation station to coincide with the printmaking exhibits. Each month Crooked Tree will offer visitors the chance to create a print of their own. This month’s printmaking technique is based off of 60s pop artist Andy Warhol.

“I went to Pittsburgh this summer where there’s an Andy Warhol museum and I knew we were doing a printmaking show and in their educational area they had these blotted ink prints and I knew we could totally do that.”

The blotted ink printing was how Warhol taught himself to draw early in his career. He would copy images in magazines by laying tracing paper between the image and a piece of blank paper. He would then trace the image with ink on the tracing paper and periodically press the blank paper onto the tracing paper, creating a print of the image he was tracing.

The creation station offers six different designs to choose from, and I chose the cat which happened to be one of Warhol’s original designs. Kristi has print packets for each design ready to go and this type of printmaking calls for use of an ink quill and a pot of ink. I had never previously used a quill and was happy to find that they’re beautiful to write with. Dipping the tool in ink and hearing the heavy scratch it made on paper was oddly satisfying, and the color is rich and smooth. I made marks on the tracing paper with the quill and pressed the paper on each mark, watching the little printed cat come alive. The printing didn’t come without its difficulties, however. Picking up too much ink resulted in an unattractive blob of ink that would have to be blotted with paper towel and dried before the ink pressing could continue. I mused that the activity was pleasantly challenging.

“It really is something that’s fun for people of all ages,” Kristi said.

I left my cat unfinished because I liked how she looked about halfway through printing. Kristi has an area set up where people can add color to their prints with colored pencil or watercolor paint when they’re done. 

Crooked Tree Arts Center will be showing their printmaking art exhibits and hosting the printmaking creation station until November 14th. The viewing and the printmaking creation station is free, open to the public and a great way to spend an afternoon with a little one, a friend or by yourself.


Categories: GTPulse