From the earliest age, Julianne Ricksecker was interested in portraying the world visually. Writing assignments in grammar school were always elaborately illustrated. As a young college student, she applied for a semester abroad program in France so that she could visit the Louvre. She remembers the exhilaration of experiencing so many paintings in the original that she had only seen as book or poster reproductions until then.
Although her early inspiration to be an artist was mostly from oil paintings, she has never enjoyed painting in oil! At least not oil on canvas!
Her favorite subject matter is realistic landscape in a variety of media. Some pieces are worked in direct methods, such as watercolor or pastel, but her original prints are indirect, created first on plates, which are then inked and transferred to paper on an etching press. Her creative process involves experiencing a place, hiking and taking photographs and making sketches. Then she returns to the studio to create the work.
When etching plates are inked and wiped, it is a messy business! The tacky oil-based ink ends up all over the back of the plate from handling it with gloved hands and oily rags. After the etching is printed and the plate removed from the press bed, sometimes there is ink left on the surface of the bed. This accidental transfer of ink sometimes suggests an image, and it can be manipulated with rags and brushes, even additions of more ink, and then printed onto paper, creating a one-of-a-kind print known as a monotype.
After playing with this accidental residue of ink to create spontaneous monotypes a few times, Julianne began to explore the possibilities of monotype for it’s own sake, using a blank plexiglass plate and a planned approach. Initially she used oil paint to create these images, but found the transparent colors she desired required too much oil and thinner to be viable for printing on paper. About this time, oil paint appeared in art stores in a water-soluble form. The paper is normally damp when passing through etching press, so the new oils seemed like a perfect solution for monotype.
With a little experimentation, Julianne found this new paint to be a very satisfying and versatile medium for her landscape work. Because the ink is water soluble, it can be thinned with water for very transparent washes. This seemed ideally matched to her fascination with imagery of water and waterfalls.
There are many ways that artists approach monotype printmaking, sometimes called “painterly printmakng”. Think about Degas’ ballerinas (monotype, sometimes with the addition of pastel) or Henri Matisse’s white lines on a rich black field, or Georges Rouault’s loose, fluid brushwork as in “Clown with Monkey”. Julianne’s approach is to use a full palette to develop a realistic landscape. Through the use of additive mediums, she can emphasize the brush stoke or minimize it to create soft passages of color. She may use rollers to apply a solid field of color, or rubber tipped sticks or very fine brushes to remove color. She may also press paper towels or bits of lace into the paint to remove color in a textured pattern.
The resulting images truly live up to the name “painterly print”.
Julianne’s original prints and paintings have been exhibited in Regional, National and International competitions. She was awarded 2nd Place for her miniature prints in the 8th Biennial International Miniature Print Competition at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Connecticut in 2011. Her work is regularly on exhibit in the greater San Diego area. She has been invited to present her work in solo exhibition in Phoenix, Arizona from September 7 to November 12, 2012 at the University Club of Phoenix.