Enjoy the stunning portfolio of printmaker Sherrie York. Visit her website to see more work from this talented artist.
Thirty-something years ago I took a printmaking survey course that allowed students to study two of three techniques: relief, intaglio, and silkscreen. I chose to learn intaglio and silkscreen because “Everyone knows how to do relief prints. They’re like rubber stamps, right?”
I loved etching, but without access to a press my printmaking practice came to a screeching halt at the end of class.
Ten years later I started dabbling in relief printing, because it was a process that required only simple carving tools, a brayer, and a spoon. Fast forward another ten years and my dabbling turned to something a little more earnest. Linoleum blocks became my primary medium as I became intrigued by unexpected challenges– such as suggesting subtle complexities in a naturally bold and graphic technique. So much for “everyone” knowing how to do them!
My multi-color prints are produced using the reduction method: If the image calls for white (paper color), I carve those areas out of my block, ink the block with the first color, and transfer the color to paper by rubbing with a spoon or baren. I print this first color on more sheets of paper than I want for my final edition because I know I will make mistakes along the way, and once I begin the next step I won’t be able to go back!
After I’ve printed the first color multiple times I clean off the block and carve into it again, this time removing areas where I want to preserve the color printed previously. I ink the block with the second color, print the second over the first on all prints, clean off the block… and carve some more. Carve, ink, rub, repeat for each color in the image– usually 10-20 passes per print.
Personal experiences inspire my work. I am fortunate to live in a mountain valley surrounded by high peaks and diverse forests and traversed by the Arkansas River. As I wander along the river edge or up a rocky trail I am particularly drawn to subjects that might be overlooked if I were moving too quickly through the landscape – a lone coot on an autumn pond, a tangle of decaying leaves.
Such encounters suggest stories and lives we’re barely aware of in our self-absorbed rushing about. I hope that capturing these glimpses of the larger and smaller worlds around us will help viewers consider their own place in the community of living things.
Even when I’m not printing, natural and cultural history and conservation are an important focus for me. I’ve been privileged to participate in projects with the Netherlands-based Artists for Nature Foundation, as well as work as an illustrator and instructor for many environmental organizations and natural resource agencies. I am a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists and my work is included in museum, corporate, and private collections around the world.