Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Silkscreen and Encaustic Workshop with Jeff Hirst

I recently attended a Silkscreen and Encaustic workshop with artist Jeff Hirst at the LaGrange Art League.  This has been my summer of workshops.  Earlier this year I attended an Encaustic and Wax Resist workshop given by artist Kim Bernard and I plan on taking Linda Womack’s on-line workshop Surface Design with Pastels, Inks and Mixed Media, later this fall.  Jeff’s workshop explored the unique process of screen printing oil paint and pigment sticks into and onto encaustic surfaces.  It was my hope that by learning this innovative technique, I could print on the encaustic-coated fibers used in my 3D sculptures adding an additional level of interest to their textural surfaces.  This workshop was funded in entirety through a Chicago Community Arts Assistance Program (CAAP) Grant.  Many thanks to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and to the following panelists who approved my grant application: Barry Tinsley, Paul Hopkin, Peggy Wright, Vivian Garcia and Ben Foch.

Altered image of Window no. 34

Chicago River Reflections

Now, I had a vague sense of the screen printing process but before this weekend, I had never undertaken this method of printmaking.  I was told to bring a number of jpeg images that were linear in nature, to produce the transparencies which would be used to create the printing image. I chose a decidedly abstract, yet unaltered, black and white photograph Chicago River Reflections and an altered image of a painting from my Urban Windows series. 

 Jeff took us through the processes of preparing the screen with photosensitive emulsion to exposing the transparency image onto that screen.  These steps involved spending a significant amount of time in a dark room, lit only with a safe light.  It took me back to my time spent in the darkroom at the now closed Triangle
                                              Camera in Chicago’s East Lakeview

So now that our screens were ready Jeff explained the printing process including carefully flooding the screen with paint/ink and the importance that the squeegee be held at a 45 degree angle and quickly and firmly pulled across the screen.  Oddly, that simple combination of steps took a while to master. 

 We printed with a number of materials. R&F pigment sticks combined with a blending stick resulting in a thick paint.  R&F Gesso blended with universal dye tints and Speedball screenprinting inks which made a thinner paint. Many of us used R&F Gesso on its own when a white image was needed.

Combining this printing technique with layers of clear encaustic medium resulted in some wonderful dimension to our paintings.  Often encaustic paint was applied by brush onto layers of medium adding even more interest and depth.  Everyone made truly engaging and interesting works utilizing all of these steps.   

Printed cheesecloth strip coated with encaustic medium
My primary interest was printing on encaustic medium coated fiber.  Working with Jeff, I was able to print onto some of the sample pieces that I had brought with me. This workshop definitely provided me with the fundamentals of printscreening and Jeff was instrumental in assisting me in achieving my goal of using this technique in my own unique way.  The hands-on approach of this workshop, in addition to the extensive technical information, sufficiently prepared me to take this process into my own studio.  Now to write another grant to cover all the printmaking equipment and materials!

Thank you April Nomellini for remembering your camera and sharing your photos of the workshop!

Jeff's website:
River Reflections photograph available at
Urban Windows paintings available at