Alan printmaking

Alan Singer is an artist, writer, and professor at the School of Art at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

“Both of my parents were working artists, and I learned the most from watching them create.   Along with painting and printmaking, watercolor is one of my favorite mediums, and I now teach that at R.I.T..”

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Alan Singer studied at the Art Students League, and The Cooper Union where he received his BFA. Graduate study began at Cornell University for his MFA, and he won scholarships to attend Yale University at Norfolk, CT, Boston University at Tanglewood, MA, and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME.

In 1982, he designed and illustrated an award winning series of U.S. postage stamps honoring the 50 State Birds and Flowers with his father, the noted wildlife artist, Arthur Singer.

Alan has worked with publishers as an illustrator including The National Geographic, Delacorte Press, Putnam’s, Random House, and Reader’s Digest. He has written and designed publications: State Birds, for Lodestar Books, and Botanica 2000 for Sonnenberg Gardens. in 1999, Rockport Press published his book “ Wildlife Art”, and he is currently developing “ Studio Practice “ a book devoted to interviews and practical advice for working artists in America.

His writing has been published as well in Arts Magazine, American Artist, Step-by-Step Graphics, American Ceramics, Bookpress, and chronicles cultural events for Metropolitan Magazine published by The Arts & Cultural Council in Rochester, NY. Alan writes on his blog: Visual Art Worker ( VAW) hosted by First Fridays, at www.firstfridayrochester.org

Alan Singer’s art has been featured in exhibitions at The Smithsonian in Washington D.C., The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, and the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY with numerous solo and group shows in galleries primarily in the east.

For more information: www.singerarts.com

I am looking at a very direct approach to making artworks on paper that can include marks and colors made by hand, while also accommodating elements that may be conceived of on my computer and output onto transfer film.  My one-of-a-kind monoprints are made from successive layers of acetate that  then create  impressions  on moist paper run through an etching press.

M-M: Tell us about yourself, How you got started in these techniques. Did an artist inspire you or did you come to it through a class?

Alan:  I have been printmaking since I was ten years old ( much of what I learned was from John and Clair Ross, who wrote a book called “The Complete Printmaker” – they are family friends ). I came to monoprint much later as I was on a path towards using imagery that I developed with the use of computer software.

I have been teaching printmaking since the mid 1990’s and I was inspired by a visit at our local museum (the Memorial Art Gallery ) from three ladies who made up what they called “The Digital Atelier”. I had also read about their book that featured the transfer printing process, and I had already been playing with the process on my own after seeing some examples by Judith O’Rourke who was working at the Harvey Littleton Studio.

M-M: Artists seem to use everything from oils to specialty inks and acrylics. Is there a particular medium you prefer?

Alan:  The monoprints I make have unique characteristics that include layers of imagery that become part of the print with each successive pass through my press. Using transfer film allows me to combine hand- made imagery with composed elements that are derived from computer software. I put all of my imagery on transfer film, which is essentially acetate with a spray of Gum Arabic, and this becomes my plate for the monoprint process. Under the pressure of my etching press, all of the imagery – whether it is made by hand, or by computer, gets transferred onto thick hot press paper that I buy especially for this process. The hand-made imagery is all created in watercolor, so when my moist paper comes into contact with the acetate film, much of the paint is lifted off, making the print.
M-M: What are you working on right now?

Alan:  What I am working on now is a deep series of images that are derived from mathematics. I have been going back to remember the formulas for drawing geometric shapes, and I have begun to create my own formulas for a branch of mathematics that has a focus on the appearance of 3D forms, called “Implicit Surfaces”. This part of mathematics is like the 3D equivalent of algebra, and it allows you to experiment with shapes and you can light these shapes as you would if you were designing a theatre set. The 3D forms can then be combined and composed as the materials for a new print. I will work on the acetates until I feel I have the right materials together, and then I will run a print and see what I get. I may repeat the process, until I find a good print that I am satisfied with.
M-M: What advice would you give artists just starting out in this technique?

Alan:  As far as advice that I would give artists starting out, – my advice is to try everything, and think about the kind of print you would like to make, and see how close you can come. It is all an experiment, so have fun.

M-M: What does your typical studio day look like as if anything is typical for an artist?

Alan:  As my prints take a few weeks to assemble the right materials, I would have to say there is no typical day, and I am lucky if I can make two prints in a day. My work is kept on the small side, and I do all of my own press work in my studio on an old etching press.

M-M: How has your monoprint and monotype work changed over the years?

Alan:  The monoprints have changed slowly, and they have become more complex as time goes on. I would say that it took me two or three years to figure out my technique, and I have used that same process for the last eight years of work. During that time I have made a few hundred prints, and I am always working on the subjects for more.

M-M: What artists have influenced you?

Alan:  As far as influences go, there are so many – I love the mezzotints of Carol Wax, I am a fan of the prints from Sol Lewitt, and I have collected prints by the artist David Row.I have a wide assortment of prints in my collection, and I was once the President, of the Print Club of Rochester, and we had the chance to commission artists from all over to create for us. The Print Club has been in existence for over 85 years.

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