(This story was first published in the March 22, 2014 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Dillon Walsh, Standard Correspondent
Sharon resident and printmaker Jeanne Amato has always been fascinated with woodblock printmaking. As a teacher in both elementary and high school, she wanted to add to her repertoire.
“I was looking to find some other mediums that I could bring into the classroom and use,” Amato said.
Amato tried Solarplate etching, a printmaking process involving developing artwork on a light sensitive polymer. Learning this new medium would end up having extra benefits for Amato.
“The switch or addition of Solarplate etching has been fun because it’s nontoxic, safe — green essentially — just using ultraviolent light and water,” Amato said. “I get to do more drawing. I do more complete drawings when I do the Solarplate, which I don’t necessarily do with my woodcuts.”
Amato first learned Solarplate etching taking a class with artist and printmaker Dan Welden, who teaches workshops both throughout the U.S. and internationally. Welden developed the process in the early 1970s.
“(I’ve) had him come to my studio to teach some classes a few times. I’m slowly learning that process a little bit more and more each time I do one,” Amato said.
Allen Hill Press, the name of Amato’s gallery and studio where she operates out of and teaches classes periodically, is frequently in use. On May 24-25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Amato will open her studio to participate in the Vermont Craft Council’s bi-annual Open Studio Weekend, a weekend where local Vermont artists will open their studios for the public to visit.
Having previously taken part in the open weekend, Amato says she had taken some time off in the past when her kids were little, but that she’s been a regular since coming back. One of the big reasons Amato returns year after year is that because she’s an educator, she enjoys teaching people about the printmaking process.
“When they see them in the galleries — especially printmaking — I don’t think a lot of people understand exactly what printmaking is and all it entails — the steps and the process. I like doing that,” Amato said.
Woodblock printmaking, which involves a drawing transferred onto Japanese plywood then carving into blocks, is more labor intensive according to Amato. After the wood blocks are cut, the order is determined. The more blocks cut, the more intricate it becomes.
Amato says that when it comes to Solarplate etching, it’s a different story.
“Once the drawing is done and the plate is made, it’s much more straight forward,” Amato said.
Regardless of which process or print Amato is working on, each print one is done by Amato herself, creating a unique piece of art each time. Factors such as the amount of ink applied to a specific print all play a factor in making each print stand out as an original work.
Amato’s work displays a wide range of nature and the outdoors including wintery Vermont scenery, landscapes in New Mexico, as well as a courtyard wall in Italy. Amato says she’s gathered these landscape ideas and others by constantly photographing her travels.
“Wherever I might be, I’m always snapping pictures and trying to find another image or capture something that I can bring home and transfer into a print,” Amato said.
To learn more about Amato’s work and her studio visit www. jeanneamato.com. For a full map of artists in the Vermont Craft Council’s open studio weekend, visit their website at www.vermontcrafts.com/links/ open.html.
Vermont Crafts Council Open Studio Weekend May 24-25
For more information on local studios and a map go to vermontcrafts.com