Mary Hamilton, Printmaker
I have loved printmaking from the very first time I tried it. The process not only involves drawing but also the craft of creating the printing plate and the opportunity to work with colors. I like the idea of multiple images. I can always keep one and still have some to sell! I studied printmaking in graduate school in Rome, Italy. At that time I concentrated on the art of etching. I returned to Philadelphia to continue my studies and was sad to think of soon being out of school without access to the necessary press required for etching.
I was taking a drawing class and decided as a final project to do a drawing and make a print of it using the traditional linoleum block printing process of one separate block for each color. I presented my drawing for the proposed print to my teacher and he asked me if I knew of the method used by Picasso in which one block was cut away and printed in succesively darker colors. He went on to explain that the process is a little difficult in that there is no room for error as once the block is cut away for the next color one cannot go back to correct anything. Also, that the number of prints you start out printing are all you will have and probably not all of those will be "keepers". Intrigued, I planned my print, and designed an image of a lion in a forest. From the very beginning I loved the process. Forty years later I am still entranced. I like the mindfulness required in the carving and printing of reduction prints. I might add that when I pulled the final color of that very first print two of my fellow students asked if they could buy one!!
I had taken a leave of absence to go to graduate school and returned to the classroom for one semester. The summer before I returned I had put some work in galleries in Philadelphia and had done a couple of art shows. I was encouraged by the interest and in the sales. This was a whole new direction for me and one I had never even contemplated. Although I enjoyed teaching I now knew I had to try to become a full time artist. Since that time, I have done many large arts festivals and continue to show in galleries and in my studio in Western Pennsylvania. My work is in public and private collections pretty much all over the world. I am so grateful for the support of friends, family and all those who have bought my work. They have made it possible to make what seemed an impossible dream a reality.
I now live on Skyflower Farm north of Pittsburgh. The name Skyflower Studio comes from an experience I had when first moving to this farm . When driving up the long hill approaching the house I saw a field of flowers which seemed to touch the sky. My display studio is in a converted, old, one room schoolhouse and my printing studio is in the style of a small Japanese country house. I have always remembered what an art history teacher once told my class. The art that any artist produces, if it is true, should reflect the uniqueness of the maker. My work has always been a mirror of my interests and the things I love. I view the act of making art as a magical. A picture can open up worlds and take you somewhere you did not expect to go. Some of my influences were/are: my dogs, past and present; cats who guard the studio space, and other animal friends; the music and culture of India, Celtic lore and design, oriental rugs, and the worlds of myth. I love to travel. Italy has a special place in my heart and I go there whenever I can. As always, ideas zoom in. Magic is everywhere!