angels mezzotints
Photo above: My Mezzotints (Angels) at the AFAS Art exhibit 2019

Note: since all of the prints shown here are printed by hand or one at a time with the press, there will be variations. The colors of one print may not be a vibrant as another; the background colors my vary, etc. That is the indentifying characteristic and innate charm of handmade, one-of-a-kind artwork.

Relief  Prints are made by carving away areas of a block (linoleum or wood) to form a desired art image.  After inking the raised portion, the artist uses a baren to rub paper that has been placed on the inked block.

Both white-line and reduction prints included here are interpretations andvariations of traditional print-making processes, which allow for more than one color to be added to the print. White-line prints were introduced c. 1915 by a group of women (The Provincetown Printers), who wanted to use a single block to produce multi-color prints, similar to the colorful multi-block Japanese woodblock prints that had become so popular. Once the outline is carved, each color is added separately before printing. This is a uniquely American printmaking process. Reduction printsare also multi-colored prints created from one block. To preserve each color as it is overprinted with subsequent colors, areas of the block are carved away before a new color is added. The result is a completely destroyed printing block and a beautiful, multi-colored hand-printed art image. Both techniques require careful registration to print each new color on top of the previously printed papers. Unlike intaglio prints, these relief prints can be printed by hand without a press.  My prints are modern interpretations of these technique using non-toxic ink.

Artist Statement:  Printmaking allows me to explore possibilities and to express the many sides of my creativity.  On one hand, I love the expressive line of drypoint and the deep, rich textures of etching. I create these prints using a zinc or copper plate and print them on my studio press. Once a plate is created, multiple prints can be produced. And on the other hand, I enjoy the freedom of monotypes and monoprints and the abstractions that often result.  I may produce these on acrylic plates or create linocuts or woodblock prints. Often I use a hand baren to produce these. In addition, I may apply watercolor or gouache or combine my prints with other materials to create mixed media works that have a character all there own. These depend largely on elements of design and composition and the layering of materials and concepts. I also search antique shops for metal batik tjaps (stamps) and wooden fabric chops that I repurpose to connect the past with the present.

As an art historian, I am continually fascinated and impressed with the role of printmaking in the art world from the softly monochromatic mezzotints of the earlier Renaissance to the bold carved lines of the German Expressionist. (I collect 17th & 18th century Japanese woodblock prints and European and American etchings by contemporary printmakers.) I enjoy exploring and modifying techniques from history, such as the white-line, multi-colored woodcuts of the Providence printmakers of the mid-last century.

From multiples to monotypes to mixed media, printmaking is a multi-step hands-on process that provides me with endless creative avenues to explore. There is an appeal to prints that defies definition. 


The Art and Writing of Barbara Rizza Mellin