Bill Goldston:“I would love to draw on stones…. Any idea where I can find some? Seriously, I don’t think a sheet of mylar can replace the surface of a stone. Do you? I studied litho at Tyler and was the lithography T.A. at Yale. I know how to process a stone. What kind of paper do you use? What kind of press do you have out there? I recently bought a small etching press and have been printing my own monotypes.”
These are snip-its of a conversation between Lisa Yuskavage and me almost 20 years ago. Challenging, provocative, interesting? Yes, and more. She has more determination than most and studies intensely all elements of printmaking. Her manipulation of modern techniques including digital technologies parallels that of professionally trained technicians. What she doesn’t know she simply teaches herself through practical application of the technique. Practice makes perfect in other words.
Lisa, please tell us about your approach to printmaking and how it has shaped your thinking in your art?
Lisa Yuskavage: My introduction to printmaking came as a young art student. I always looked at art in a completely non-hierarchical way. I had the habit of writing down the medium of any work that I found inspirational and visually exciting. Often the words I was writing in my notebooks were: monotype, lithograph, drypoint, etching etc. but didn’t know what it meant. So I set out to learn these mediums to see if they innately brought something out for my work by the nature of the process. In fact, I realized some of my best breakthroughs as a young person via monotype and lithography.
Imagine the Degas series of sex workers and their johns in dark rooms lit by fireplaces or candles, out of the inky darkness of an etching plate that has been rolled with black and wiped with fingers and rags and q-tips, turned the light on in the image. I am also a student and fan of artists for whom printmaking is not a dissemination of what we already know about their work but for whom we as viewers can literally watch their minds thinking through the states and proofing process. This is true for Manet, Matisse, Picasso, Johns, Degas, Cassatt, Hiroshige, and others.
Goldston: You and I have printed editions in stone and plate lithography and a group of monotypes. You have worked with other printers at ULAE to make editions in digital lithography and etching. From these experiences do you have a preferred medium in printmaking at ULAE, and how do you see your next project unfolding in that medium?
Yuskavage: I’d like to retread the territory I hit on with Hippies in Tit Heaven. That was a genuinely new way of drawing and broke open some doors in image building. It was so much fun for Brian Berry and I and we were both amazed at how it evolved. We used drypoint, etching, litho, and digital drawing to bring about the 14 or so color layers that made up that image. I made an extreme leap by beginning with an early watercolor and using photoshop to separate it into CMYK and then change the output of each of those layers to any color I wanted or needed, and also added layers. I wish we had recorded notes on each day’s successes and failures that gave us that print. I believe we worked on it for over a year. It was an amazing experience.
Goldston: It was amazing for everyone in the studio as well! Thank you Lisa.