When Leslie Parke realized that her oil paintings on linen canvas of highly detailed kitchen and dining treasures, trees, and trash–yes trash that she turns into stunningly beautiful images–would be perfect for prints, she took on a new project to turn one her paintings into a print edition using traditional printmaking techniques. She also turned the project into multiple opportunities to expand her blog posts, newsletter communications, and interactions with her readers and followers by gaining their feedback along the way–all of which she titled The Print Project.
Janet’s Shelf, © Leslie Parke
The overall goal of Leslie’s The Print Project writings …” was to help my readers learn something about printmaking, understand the process and history a little, and to give them a context in which to gauge what I was doing. The general public is not aware of the work and expense that goes into making a print. The better informed the collector is the better collector they become. They have more confidence and can talk about their purchases.”
When Leslie Parke decided to write these The Print Project blog posts and newsletters, she felt she had something to talk about. “I am an experienced artist, but have very limited experience with printmaking. Here was a chance for me to share the experience as I, too, made discoveries about the medium. My thought was, I would give my contacts a heads up that this is what I was doing, then when they saw The Print Project in the heading of my email newsletters they could take a look or not depending on their interest.”
What Leslie discovered is that non-artists are just as fascinated with the printmaking processes as artists. Leslie’s idea was to use her blog and newsletters to allow others to see the development of her printmaking process as it unfolded in real time. “For those seriously interested, on my blog I gave them background into ways that other artists used prints,” Leslie said. “Some of my contacts are collectors, some are artists and others are just interested observers. My thought was the more informed they were the more confident they would feel when looking at my work. They would know how it evolved and all the work that went into creating it. I cannot report whether or not this will make a difference in the number of pieces collected. But whenever I run into someone who receives the newsletter, they engage with me right away about the project. ”
To start off The Print Project, Leslie’s first blog post was on selecting one of her paintings to turn into a print. In her newsletter she asked–“Is there a painting of mine you would like to see re-imagined in print? I was thinking of working with the tree paintings, but I would be interested in what you think. Drop me a line if you have a suggestions.” Later she would turn her request for feedback into a full newsletter (copied below).
Another of her blog posts was on Creating Four Color Lithographic Plates, complete with a YouTube video showing the materials and methods she used to create the layers necessary for her four color lithograph.
Leslie wrote blog posts on the history of printmaking–from ancient times to the original Pop art era–writing about Hokusai, Monet and Roy Lichtenstein prints which incorporate art images, another post on the prints of Matisse, one on the prints of Joseph Raffael and Bonnard, and another on the printmaking of Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler–-all artists she admires and identifies with in some way.
She also blogged on a contemporary example of an artist creating prints in our present time: The Print Project: Shepard Fairey — Harmony & Discord: A Layered approach to prints, that also contains a fascinating video of Shepard Fairey at work inside Pace Editions in New York City.
To update the progress of her printmaking, Leslie sent out a newsletter–The Print Project: Off to the Printers.
Then to encourage interactions and gain feedback, Leslie sent this newsletter to her mailing list: