I am often asked why I choose a particular medium when creating new work. It’s an interesting question for an artist who works in many media instead of specializing in only one. There are actually a number of answers to the question, often influenced by what exhibitions I am getting ready for.
One answer is: I may need work in specific media for an upcoming exhibition. Another answer is, the image has been in my mind a while and a way to treat it in a certain medium suggests itself. Or, I may find myself longing to work in a certain medium just because I haven’t used it in a while.
Sometimes, I know immediately when I see something inspiring which medium I prefer for the image. “After the Rain” is an example - I knew as soon as I saw this rain-drenched rose that I wanted to paint it in oil pastel. I wanted to work through the challenge of painting the water droplets on the petals and the stems.
I usually have a number of images that I am mulling over, knowing I want to portray a certain scene or a particular flower but not knowing which technique I want to use. It may come to me, while thinking about what imagery to create for an all-print exhibition, that a specific image will lend itself nicely to treatment in etching. During this process I may consider another image and decide on a different medium for that composition - and postpone that work for a while.
In this way, I often have several images in mind, including possible technical treatments, while I am working on another piece. Some pieces stay in this mulling mode for months or even years before they are finally realized.
Monotypes are one-of-a-kind prints. I use water-soluble oil-based paint on a blank sheet of plexiglass. Once I begin to paint, I need to print within 4 - 6 hours. This forces me into a totally different working mindset from any other medium that I use. There is always the possibility that the days' work will be lost - not every monotype is successful on first attempt. Some go on to become mixed media work, by enhancing the print with pastel, color pencil or watercolor. For others, I repeat the experiment until the monotype idea is fully realized.
Some of the joy of creating in different media is that they handle differently, and I feel like I am always learning. Working in one medium, I feel inspired with an idea of how to use a different medium in a new way.