Words inspired by the backroads of America

The 2014 Smoky Hill River Festival Print


Late last year I was honored to be selected as the Featured Artist for the upcoming 2014 Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, Kansas.  The honor includes being commissioned to create the 250 print edition Festival Print, which is given to each of the major donors to the festival.  I, of course, jumped at the opportunity and began the process of planning for the printmaking project, which I knew would occupy two months of my winter studio time.  My concept sketch for the print was approved in November and I began the process of creating the print in January.


Now, there are a number of printmaking processes that I have utilized in my studio over the years, many of which would make a fine Festival Print, but the process that is currently my favorite is the one that I call “Photopolymer Relief Print with Watercolor”.  The process is actually mixed-media printmaking because it involves printing from a photopolymer relief plate and watercolor painting.  I have gravitated to this process because of the bold and colorful images that can be produced in a multiple print edition.


The Photopolymer Relief Print with Watercolor is a process that I developed in 2011 when I was working on my book about the Flint Hills.  The bold blacks and whites of a linoleum block print and the bright, transparent colors of a watercolor wash painting are combined to create a unique, original print that is becoming my signature process.  In order to better explain the process, I decided to produce a video that would follow the printmaking steps as I worked through the Festival Print project.  That video, “Photopolymer Relief Print with Watercolor” is available on YouTube and below.  I hope it will answer any questions you might have about the process.


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If you made it through the video, I commend and thank you for watching.  I always enjoy visiting about the printmaking processes whether you are a student of the craft or merely curious.  I have found printmaking to be unique as an art, where there are as many different image-making processes as there are printmakers.  I will be pleased to answer as many of your questions as I can, so drop by my booth at any of the art fairs listed on my Backroads Events page and say “Hi”.


The Smoky Hill River Festival Print involved eight weeks of studio time from mid-January through mid-March 2014.  It was an immense effort to print and hand-paint each of the 250 prints, but I am so proud to be able to say that my artwork is included in the collection of Festival Prints from many of the artists that I have respected over the years.  As I prepare for the 2014 art fair season, which will include the Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, I realize that public recognition for doing something you truly enjoy is the best reward.  Thank you to the Smoky Hill River Festival for allowing me to create your Festival Print this year.