Don’t let the title fool you, this book is so much more than some great printing techniques.
I have a long history of surface design dabbling. I’ve tired most techniques at one time or another. As things shake-out it’s screen printing, painting & dyeing that still remain my favorites. But, I’m always eager to learn something new if it will result in an effect I want. I’m not really a learn-a-new-technique-for-the-sake-of-it kinda girl (although; been there, done that, printed the T-shirt). A new technique is only worth my time to explore if it will solve a problem for me or give me a result I’ve found elusive up until now.
So, when Lynn Krawczyk’s new book was announced, I hesitated. Could there really be anything new in there for me? I have 30 years worth of books on my shelves that I’ve been collecting since college (and before). Do I need another?
I waffled. I love Lynn’s artwork and style. I’m an avid reader of her blog. She writes wonderfully and her blog is full of tidbits of wisdom and insights as well as art and humor. I love her “Where I Stand Sunday” series that she has done off and on for years. She is also an incredibly generous and sharing soul. OK, enough of the ❊fan-girl❀ stuff, this just explains why I bought the book, hesitations and all.
I got the e-book version with my pr-order of the print version because once the decision was made, I could not wait. I read it on my iPad, from cover to cover.
The print version arrived and I read it from cover to cover. I’m a hi-lighter by nature. Books I use for educational purposes or reference tend to get pretty yellow (pink, green, blue & purple) very quickly. I’ve resisted the urge with my print copy but the digital version has not been so lucky. Hint: if I open it in GoodReader on my iPad I can highlight and annotate it – Adobe Reader wouldn’t let me do that.
The Introduction and Chapter 1 was worth the price of admission. Lynn talks frankly about her journey as an artist and her challenges in getting to where she is now. It really resonated with me. Don’t panic, it’s not a long-winded explanation of a torturous path (unlike this review). Lynn’s writing is succinct and to-the-point, yet clear. If she wrote it, it’s worth reading.
As I have mentioned before, I am a Multipod: many, many interests and directions. Some call it attention splatter (apt). Lynn’s intro helped me see how reigning that in a bit was helpful, not squashing. A little more thoughtful and a little less go-with-the-moment could be a good thing. I’ve always been afraid I would kill the creative muse if I tried this.
Chapter One – Exploring Intentional Printing
Intentions and looking inward. Identifying my own art-making habits was illuminating. Taking stock of what I like was an exercise that was long overdue.
Color is an area where I feel comfortable, it does not scare me and I approach color in my work with confidence. The section on color was a little bit of a wake-up though. have I become complacent in my color choices? Maybe I should stretch my boundaries a little.
Imagery is my weak spot – her fresh perspective was very helpful. More intention, less random.
My sketch-book – it’s OK if it’s not a work of art in itself. Mine is a working tool, not a finished product. Pressure off (yea)!
But the crux of the book is best said by Lynn, herself.
“I can teach you technique until the cows come home, but I’m doing you a disservice if I don’t help nudge you toward assimilating these new skills into your personal vision.” – Lynn Krawczyk
Every time through the book I viewed it from a broader perspective (like a camera pulling back to give you a larger area to view). My insights were new and fresh and useful because I kept opening up my mind.
“Open your eyes. Then, open your eyes again.” – Miss Tick from Sir Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men.
The first time I read through it I was focused on printing fabric, paper, or glass. The second time, I pulled back. This is about how to approach making all of your components for art making, what ever the medium. Anything that goes into an art project.
The third time I pulled back more; this is about any creative endeavor – striking that balance – in any project. I realized that what she talked about had a lot more to do with all art forms and media than just fabric printing or surface design.
I found we had quite a conversation (yes, I had an entire conversation with her. In my head. She was no where around). And she gave me some great advice…
“Slow down, find our niche, stay awhile.” -Lynn Krawczyk
I’m a combo of The Flower Child Artist and The Worrier Artist with rare but occasional attacks of the PH.D Artist (but that usually applies to business habits more than art habits). The fix? Narrow my focus (for just a while). Make art for me – what I like. Stop worrying about what the experts will think.
And that’s just the first 17 pages.
The rest of the book.
All that said. I did learn actually some new techniques as well and I loved seeing what other artists had done with printed fabrics made with them (and their styles) in mind.
Chapter 2 covered Tools & Materials. Many were familiar but some were a delightful surprise.
In Chapter 3 she shows how to apply paint to fabric and presents some in-depth sub-techniques (?). Many were new or refreshed from what I had previously learned and I had a few new ideas – yea!
Chapter Four was really new for me, I’m not much of hand stitcher but I have to admit, I’m eager to try some now.
Chapter Five; Layered Printing. I read about layered printing with great interest and care. For me, layers are the power behind surface design. I found a lot of insights in these sections.
The last chapter has the projects. They are some fun and easy ways to practice the concepts and techniques presented in the book. They also will make great gifts for people on my giving list! The first thing I need is some desk weights – yes, I need them 😉 and some Petite Stacked Collages – off to have fun!
I found it to be a brilliant and insightful book. It was soooooo worth picking up and I honestly believe that any experience level will benefit as I have. Thanks, Lynn!