Monday, November 3, 2014

Artist Feature: Althea Designs

Today I'd like to introduce Althea Freeman-Miller. I just love her block prints. Last year I saw her show at Uncommon Grounds. I liked so many of her pieces that I couldn't choose. Through mutual friends, I saw her Facebook page and that she recently opened an Etsy shopI was happy to be her first customer. So excited to read that she'll be hanging prints at the Skinny Pancake this evening. Her show will be up until the new year. You can even buy them right off the wall and take them with you! They make great holiday gifts. 
How lovely is this Vermont!?
Her studio is swoon worthy. So much color and wood and light.
These motorcycle boots are rad!
 I like the detail yet homespun-ness of this anatomical heart
Althea writes on her website: "All I ever want to do is make things. I specialize in linoleum block printing because I am fascinated by the simplicity and personality of carved lines. I love the abundance and repetition relief printing has to offer. I’m inspired by little things that make life better, like rocking chairs, Swiss army knives, and tacos! I love feeling an appreciation for the world around me. My favorite prints have a sense of humor and a well balanced composition. They are often tributes to an under credited beauty: a carrot, a horse shoe crab, or a cheese grater. I use color very playfully. I like bright happy color combinations including bold blues, oranges, and deep greens." 
Her celebration of the ordinary is so appealing. All the pieces look so great together. About her process: "I begin a piece by studying my subject matter. I usually end up with a series of pencil drawings,  trying different angles and prospectives. It helps to imagine myself carving as I draw, finding opportunities to add texture and always keeping negative space in mind. There is always the decision if I will carve the back away or the design into the linoleum. Perfecting my drawing is the most time consuming part of the process. I use Japanese wood carving tools and linoleum mounted blocks. All my designs are printed on quality printmaking paper with soy-oil based inks. A wooded spoon or a 4 inch baren is used to rub the back of the paper while it lies on an inked block. Prints are mounted to up-cycled wood. All pieces are finished with a clear coat to protect the ink. They are sold ready to hang. Seeing my designs displayed on wood backing makes my process feel compete. It’s as if the image has come full circle and returned to a wood block." 
This is the bicycle print that I ordered from her Etsy shop. You get to choose the color of the ink and the color of the painted wood, it's nice to be able to customize what you want and having the print on the wood block does give it so much more substance. Custom orders do take a few weeks though so now is a great time to order for the holidays. I placed mine next to my back door and I enjoy that it's like a sign to remind me that my bicycle is right outside. Oh and look at that, right next to my Skinny Pancake hat -how perfect!

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