Studio Practice: Playing With The Surface / by Karen Matheis

Studying printmaking with a master printmaker taught me to experiment with media. Much like a scientist investigates, we searched for ways of creating texture and mark making for our prints.  For woodcuts, we used various types of cutting tools to apply indentations and media to create thick brushstrokes onto foam core that would reveal texture when we printed.  Our intaglio plates involved melting materials and covering the surface of our plate. We observed how the plates would react to different chemicals and altered times in the acid to produce different types of etched lines, patterns, and value.

I have applied my lessons in experimentation in printmaking to oil painting as I play with the surface of my canvas. I like to scratch the surface with my palette knife. I  draw into the paint using a pencil.  I use sandpaper when the paint layers get too thick or when the paint is wet.  I look for different ways to change the fluidity of the paint. I work with the paint when unplanned things happen, which keeps the painting open and impromptu. 

Much like printmaking, I am always discovering new things about paint and surface as I paint. I work with these discoveries to keep moving forward with my paintings.