Printmaking Class With Linda Thomas

print 026I think our printmaking class is particularly fun for students because they work together with other students in the printshop on problem solving and learning to use new tools and the printing presses. It is exciting and practical to be able to make many copies of your own drawing, design or artwork.

The class proceeds in a systematic way from easy to more complex.

The first project is a single color linoleum block printed by hand. As printmaking skills, experience, and knowledge expand, students learn to use the press and experiment with the intaglio technique of drypoint and planographic techniques of monotype, xerox transfer, and collograph. A multi-color image is produced by making several plates or by altering a single plate.

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Since it’s an art class emphasis is on the application of skills in design, composition, drawing, use of color and effective visual communication. These things can be developed through the printmaking process and are not a prerequisite to take the class.

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Students enroll first in Printmaking I (ART 230) and may enroll a second time in Printmaking II (ART 235).

These are 200 level courses worth 5 credits each. Typical of studio classes, each session of printmaking is a three hour class twice each week. MW 1:30-4:20 Winter Quarter, 2013.

Linda Thomas
Adjunct Art Faculty and Artist
Bellevue College

View more from Linda Thomas here:

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Nature Gallery

Kissing Nature

Kissing Nature

Many people think that art is only found in a gallery, on a canvas or made by human hands.

It could even be a written song, poetry, or a dance. Art can be expressed in so many ways. A gallery could be anywhere or anything.

But the biggest gallery I’ve ever walked through is simply, the world.

It may seem obvious but the world is gently and carefully crafted as an amazing masterpiece. Every step you take into nature is a new design and discovery. Now, I’m not really the type to be environmentally friendly and a stereotypical “tree hugger” but I see how much meaning nature has. (I’m not saying I don’t recycle, because I do, so let’s just make sure that’s clear before we move on. )

I’m always so intrigued by sunsets. Now when I say sunset, you’re probably thinking the full-on yellow, orange and pink. Yes, those are the kind you see outside your car window while driving down the highway after a long days work; a kind of art that calms you and lets you know there is still peace somewhere hidden in your day of “cursed circumstances”.

Art is relaxing. Sitting outside during summer on the swing and looking out to see the sun shining through the perfectly ripened green leaves. You see that peaceful picture as far as your vision will go, with nature, there is no end of the page; it goes on forever. It’s a picture no human could get just right.

There are many artists who create art that is inspired by nature. But no painting is as beautiful as experiencing the art in your own moment. Back to sunsets: my favorite is the Romance Sunset. That sunset you see right before the sun reaches the bottom of the earth. The light shines up but only so much so that you can see the dark blue sky with stars above the red and yellow, and each second the sun goes down, it creates a different picture.

At a regular gallery, pictures could be left up for days, and stay the same. But nature’s gallery changes per minute, per hour, per day, per month, and most of all, per season.

The best part of this “Nature Gallery” is that not only is it free, but it is everywhere! Just walk outside! Explore! My favorite thing to do is to really dig deep into the art. If you’ve never picked a leaf off a tree before and looked at it closely, then that should be something on your bucket list. When you see a leaf on a tree, it’s a bigger picture. But if you were to take one leaf, the picture becomes smaller, but more defined. You see the different designs and cells on the leaf and looking at your hand next to it, your skin is woven very similar. So wait, that means we are art too?

Nature isn’t just leaves and trees, mountains and fountains. It’s people! So many different colors, shapes and sizes! All of them together make such a colorful picture! That’s why diversity is so appealing to the heart, because humans attract to color and creativity. But I’m getting off track. Nature Gallery, got it, sorry.

What about the sunsets that are toppled over with clouds, big fluffy clouds. When the sun shines behind the clouds it sends the ray of light down to the terrain and outlines the clouds with a golden yellow glow. That’s what I call beautiful art and it’s new every day! Don’t even get me started on flowers! Have you ever seen art that smells so good? Wow, now that is top on the list.

Most art smells like paint or clay. Haha!

Overall, the world is a beautiful place. Spending time in this gallery is healing, and brings such peace. I choose daily to take a look at this gallery of art, to appreciate the artist’s greatest designs. Like I previously expressed: with nature, there is no end of the page; it goes on forever.

It’s a picture no human could get just right.

Keturah Anderson
Campus Life & Events Representative
Bellevue College Associated Student Government

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What Price Expression?

Nudibranch-Bamboo, polymer clay jewelry by artist Melanie West

Nudibranch-Bamboo, polymer clay jewelry by artist Melanie West (No offense at all is meant to this wonderful artist! This image is to show the dazzling colors and flexible shapes the medium is capable of achieving.)

Clay is not all that portable as an art medium; one needs access to a kiln for the crucial steps in the creative process. Lately I haven’t had access to a kiln, so I’ve been looking around for other, portable media to use to create work.

Imagine my euphoria (short-lived, if you already know the ending to this story) to find polymer clay — a material that doesn’t need firing in a kiln. Colorful, elastic, pliable, and portable, it seems suited to a variety of artistic expressions. There are thousands, if not millions of educational videos about the medium on YouTube; there are books; one can use the same tools for polymer clay that one uses in ceramics (or baking, for that matter); and, the medium gives itself over to a rich host of expressions. I eagerly ran out and bought several kinds of clay and began experimenting.

Several Web sites had mentioned the clay needed to be cured in an oven, so my next step was to begin researching the curing process. That led me to discover polymer clay’s dark side: it is based on the plastic polyvinyl chloride. Better known as “PVC“, the dreaded and toxic plastic #3.

Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project describes PVC as the most toxic of all plastics at all stages of its production, use, and disposal.

PVC is also the material used in plastic wrap and bags (for storing meals), containers for cosmetics, soaps, and cleaning products, plastic packaging, credit cards, baby toys and bottles, pet care product containers, fake Christmas trees, waterbeds, drinking straws, wrapping on phone wires, shower curtains, flooring, eating utensils, 3-ring binders, notebook covers, computer cases, waterproof coating for backpacks, dashboards, raincoats, rainboots, traffic cones, door and window frames (“cladding”), gaskets, fencing, gutters, molding, siding, tiles, tablecloths, catheters, tubing, plastic gloves, mousepads, keyboards, garden hoses, children’s swimming pools, inflatable furniture, outdoor furniture, and tarps. Just to name a few.

The process for making PVC involves fusing petroleum-derived chloride molecules with heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, releasing significant toxic byproducts (dioxin is an example) that persist in the environment. Workers in polyvinyl chloride production facilities suffer high rates of cancers — especially liver and lung cancer, brain cancer and liver cirrhosis. Additives to PVC like phthalates — which are used to make PVC products less brittle — leach into skin, into materials and liquids, and they off-gas into the air. Inhaled, eaten or taken in through the body, these toxins travel up the food chain and persist in the environment. PVC items are not recycleable because of the toxins, like dioxin, that are released when the plastic is melted.

According to Annie Leonard, Americans toss out about 7 billion tons of PVC annually, with 2-4 billion tons going into landfills where they leach into the ground, water and air. Several states incinerate PVC products, with Florida at the top of the list. Washington state is one of the top ten states landfilling PVC. (Source: Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.)

PVC is a confounding material for me as an artist and as a citizen. If it poses such hazards to human health that we cannot safely recycle it, why are we risking human health to manufacture it in the first place? I think it is precisely because of that plasticity, ability to take color and shine and be molded into an infinite array of objects that makes PVC so appealing to manufacturers.

There are discussions going on about polymer clay, in particular about the phthalate additives that make the material so plastic. (Phthalates, you’ll remember, are the toxins that easily leach from materials we come in contact with. If you have a vinyl kitchen floor, don’t walk barefoot on it.) According to the industry, new formulations of polymer clay are being researched and clays on the market are considered “safe”. But before there was heavy consumer activism about the topic, even baby bottles contained phthalates. Whom do you trust?

I have half a mind to create an art project specifically using the material in question to confront the contrast between a beautiful artistic expression and ugly risk to health and the planet.

But if I only have half a mind, I’d better not waste it on such projects.

Some think the answer is plant-based plastics, with an emphasis on changing current agricultural processes to use less pesticides.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, perhaps I’ll take a stroll on the beach to find some nice beach glass …


Tess McMillan
Gallery Space

p.s.: For an uplifting and hugely informative story on vinyl, check out the DVD “Blue Vinyl”, which is available from the King County Library System. Or take a peek here: at

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Autism Awareness Video Game Tournament Poster

Autism Awareness Video Game Tournament Poster

A funny thing happened on the way to this poster …. Several of the people I showed it to said it made their head hurt!

For me, this is an expression of the way an autistic person experiences information. Various topics of varying importance all compete to hold space in the autistic person’s consciousness — sometimes to the point of overload, but more often as available morsels of fruit which the autistic person can sample when stirring together a bowl of ideas.

There is the element of separation — feeling excluded by society as a whole and misunderstood due to communication style.

And there is a unified message, for while one can be carrying a rich tapestry of ideas inside the head at any given moment, what is given out to others is received via a single stream. An autistic person is a 64 bit pipe and a terabyte brain surrounded by monaural AM receivers.

Is it a surprise that some of our most expressive artists, musicians, writers and scientists are thought to have been autistic? Da Vinci, Beethoven, Van Gogh, Gould, Mozart, Satie, Conan Doyle, Mozart (I used Mozart twice for emphasis) … all created works or interpretations of works that one can only appreciate by experiencing them. They can’t really explain what they do, but they can show you what they do.

An art student will typically take a still life and select one or two pieces to pull into the foreground for expressive detail. In autism, it is possible to give everything in the field of view equal importance — the resulting painting having too much detail to be comfortable for the average eye.

Think of the Sistine Chapel, or works by Albrecht Durer, Peter Paul Rubens, or Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Now that’s detail.

Bring on more detail!

Painting by Peter Brueghel the Elder, Courtesy of Brueghel The

April is Autism Awareness month.

Consider doing a little reading about artists and autism this month! Here are a few jumping off points:

Drawing Autism, by Jill Mullin

Jonathan Lerman, Drawings of a Boy with Autism  Artism – the Art of Autism

Tess McMillan, Bellevue College Gallery Space

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