Artist of the Month July 2018: Rachel Schlothan
It's my pleasure to introduce you to Rachel Schlothan. She's an amazing artist based in California, USA and I had the opportunity to interview her this month. She is our July 2018 Artist of the Month!
Can you tell me about your work in general? What do you focus on?
My artwork consists of linework in acrylic painting and linocut printmaking, most often of landscapes. Primarily focusing on moments of true connection to one's surroundings, these works feature a high level of detail meant to draw the viewer into a moment of stillness and reflection. Whereas we are usually in such a rush to live our lives that we take in only a blurred version of our world, these artworks highlight the overlooked details of our environments.
How did you get started with Printmaking?
Two years into my college experience I took a gap year to focus on growth and well-being. I had suffered a traumatic experience at my university and found myself in a state of anxiety anytime I left my dorm and had completely stopped making art. I felt, at the time, that my life was getting away from me and that I was no longer in control of the direction it was headed.
Unexpectedly, my mother signed the two of us up for an Intaglio printmaking class at a local art center. I didn't even know what it was. I remember googling it. At first, I was an unwilling participant. But within the first few classes, things just started to feel lighter. It lit a fire in me. I couldn't get enough. I signed up for the next 4 courses - a year-long rotation between Intaglio and Relief techniques - and even volunteered to run the studio during open-hours just to get more studio time. I was hooked. To this day it is something I owe a great debt of gratitude to my mother for. She saw more clearly than I that creating was a vital element of my life and she nudged me back to it.
What is your preferred medium and subject matter?
I work in relief printmaking - primarily linocuts. Relief printmaking has always fascinated me and I find I am able to achieve more detail with the softer material of linoleum blocks than woodblocks. This fits well with my overarching style. My main subject matter tends to be people (and their interactions), landscapes and architecture.
What do you love most about Printmaking?
A friend of mine once said it seems more like a three-dimensional craft than a two dimensional one, and I have to agree. The entire process of drawing in reverse, carving on a block, rolling your ink and registering you paper is three dimensional. And yet when you pull the paper off the block you have a completed two-dimensional artwork. I love that process and the complexities of operating on both scales.
What do you struggle with most in your Printmaking?
Registration! I only recently began expanding into reduction printmaking and building my own registration jig has been something between a fascinating challenge and an absolute nightmare. Now that I have a system that works I find my biggest struggle is thinking in multiple layers of color.
Is printmaking/art what you do full-time? If so, how did you start out? At what point did you realize this was something that could sustain you, and what was that like?
I'm in the really wonderful and truly difficult position of being a stay-at-home-mother and a work-from-home-artist. This is my career, and once my children are all school-aged I will be working full-time as an artist. I view these years as the time to build a strong foundation for that business.
When I first started out my primary sales method was art fairs. It was a lot of fun and I loved being face to face with my collectors. In recent years I mostly market online and work with galleries. To be honest, I was a definite victim of the starving artist myth in my growing up years. It wasn't until about two years ago that Instagram, of all things, opened my eyes to the realities that there are people making a living off their art. I began to contact people and ask them how and was surprised by the genuinely helpful nature of other artists. It was eye-opening. Once I began to view this career as less of something that was destined to fail, and more as something that relied on my own grit, I began to see my way forward more clearly.
Tell us a bit about the featured pieces you have shared with us today.
Blenheim - This was based on a photo I took the final time my parents, sisters and I traveled to Europe before we began moving away from home and building our own families. It represents a beautiful work of architecture, an incredible system of lines and an emotional connection.
Necklace Lady - Early in my printmaking, people were a real struggle for me. This was intended as a challenge to catch a female from the profile view.
Interior - This piece is based off an interior view in a church or temple.
Woman Wearing Scarf - Another piece intended to expand my skills at depicting females. I was also interested in exploring the ways the negative and positive space can be used in close proximity to give the sense of gray areas.
Tree - The original photo for this image was taken by a friend while hiking. It caught my attention because of the stripling in the tree and the wheat-like grasses below.
Dead Man's Loop - This was my first attempt at applying a line style to my printmaking in order to create a cohesive style across my two mediums (linocut and painting). I carved loosely and often without much plan for the challenge and then attempted to print using acrylic paints which nearly ruined the blocks. I had to re-carve the whole block before I got a clean print. I took this photo while backpacking with my father as a child. For me, this place represents everything my style stands for - a reminder to slow down, be still and really see your surrounding.
How can people find you online?
Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
Just keep an open mind. You never know what you are capable of and when you might be introduced to something life-changing.
A big thank you again to Rachel for interviewing with us! It's amazing to see such detailed and intricate relief print work being created.
Thank you, our readers, for taking time out of your day and sharing in Rachel's art! Please leave a comment with your thoughts and get a discussion going! This is a wonderful opportunity to bring some minds together!
If you're interested in being a featured artist, contact me at JustPrintmaking@gmail.com
I feature a new artist every month through an interview process similar to this.