Sailing Alone was my first linoleum reduction, made with Mae Shore. Printmaking is part of my practice in the studio, along with painting, drawing, and photography, and each medium feeds the other. Printmaking has a very special place in my life, because compared to the solitary workday in the studio when I paint or draw, I do not make prints alone. I enjoy the collaboration with the master printmaker, and without their knowledge, the print could not come to fruition.
When working, my hands and my mind focus, deciding when and how to make the piece. When it comes to printmaking, I like to be involved with the drawing and carving process, but I let the printmaker print the edition. Together we make our project, find solutions to problems, and find the right colors, the right tone. Together we enjoy the surprises.
What I like about making a print is that my mind has to be set in a different way than when I make a painting, a drawing, or photograph. In a painting I can always change a color, just by applying a new layer, but in the case of a linoleum reduction, you cannot go back. Decisions must be made in advance.
When Mae and I decided to make a print together I wanted to be challenged, I wanted to carve the block myself and fully experience the entire process. Once my mind and the process were set up, and knowing the breadth of knowledge Mae has, I knew we were in for a great ride, filled with surprises and challenges.
About once a week, I traveled from New York City to the shop in Tuxedo, New York, carrying the block with me. Every week I carved the block in the studio, bringing it back to Mae in order to test and develop the six colors I had chosen. Sometimes we found the color in an hour, sometimes it would take us several, Mae making adjustments to manipulate how colors look next to each other and when layered. At the end of the day, I would leave the block with Mae so she could print, and a week later, we would work on a second color until we eventually reached the sixth. It was always exciting to arrive at the shop and see the print growing, one color at a time.
Each layer of ink gave a rich depth to the print. The first color is a matte yellow, while the oil of each subsequent layer created a mirror effect. Now a grid, a very dark purple skeleton made of verticals and horizontals, covers the linoleum block. Making the print made me realize how much soul, language, and character colors have. I have an immense respect and admiration for artists like Josef Albers, Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay, and Carlos Cruz Diez who were involved with colors, and also for Picasso for mastering the technique of linoleum reduction. Making the linoleum reduction taught me to take more risks, and to use more colors in my paintings. It enhanced my desire to make more prints, and I cherish and admire the noble hand and mind of the printmaker.
I am very thankful to have been able to work with Mae. Together with our four hands and our minds, we made a block of linoleum come to life, letting light and color dance on a pristine white paper, allowing them to express themselves with their own voices.
-Katia Santibañez, February 2015 NYC