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Visual Arts Toolkit: Printmaking--Stephanie Potter

4 minutes

(Describer) Missy Johnston:

Stephanie Potter studied woodworking at Murray State University but soon moved from making furniture to creating relief prints, an art process that also involves wood. While watching her printmaking process, consider why this is a good medium for the warm scenes of everyday life she likes to create.

(Describer) In a black and white illustration, a woman has her hand on her hip as she stands by a brick wall. She stands on a grate, with a stoop and door ahead of her. In another work, a young man and woman in overalls sit in front of the older farm couple of the painting American Gothic.

(Potter) I consider myself a relief printing artist. I work primarily in woodblock, linoleum block, and wood engraving, which are all three printmaking techniques that implore cutting into the wood, or into the linoleum, and printing off the surface, as opposed to someone who does etching where they actually etch into a metal plate.

(Describer) In another print, a woman stands on a stage with her head down and her arms out.

Everyday life is what I enjoy making art about. I really feel that connects to the viewer on a particular level. It bypasses just the regular arts for art's sake, and it takes it to, you know, just where anybody could appreciate the work.

(Describer) A woman sits at a bar with a bottle.

The process that I go through-- First of all, I would take a sheet of plywood. And for my press here, I use a quarter-inch sheet of plywood. I'll gesso the plywood to get it to a surface that I'm able to draw on. At that point, it's all about finding imagery to draw--subject matter. And so I'll flip through old magazines. I go a lot to antique stores and find old Life magazines, old Look magazines, and go through and find some imagery as background setting. And then I've got certain characters that I put into my prints that seem to be reoccurring characters. And I will go through, and I'll just do a drawing pretty much just like anybody would on this woodblock, this gessoed woodblock.

(Describer) She draws on wood.

At that point, I take my tools and start cutting into the woodblock. Sometimes woodblocks can take me anywhere from an entire day of working to a week or two weeks. It depends on how complicated the image is. At that point it's ready to print. I will take the woodblock back to my inking area and roll up the block, which is where I would-- That's rolling up the ink onto a brayer, then taking that ink from a brayer and rolling it onto the woodblock. From there I've got two different options of printing. I can print on my press or by hand.

(Describer) She peels a finished print from the block.

I would like for the viewer to take away from the work a feeling that they're not alone in a lot of these situations that are presented in life. Everybody goes through a lot of the same things. And my work is-- I would like-- The goal of my work would be to show the viewer that everybody has these feelings and it's okay to feel a certain way about something. It's a common feeling that unites us. Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Artist Stephanie Potter demonstrates how she creates relief prints. First, she starts with an idea. Next, she cuts the image into the wood or linoleum she has prepared. The last step involves printing the image. She shows numerous examples of her work. Part of the "Visual Arts Toolkit" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 4 minutes

Visual Arts Toolkit
Episode 1
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Visual Arts Toolkit
Episode 2
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Visual Arts Toolkit
Episode 3
7 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12