Submitted by Ruby Fields
From painting to printmaking, 9th grader Ruby Fields knows her way around an art studio. She’s been attending Studio Seven Fine Arts, a youth arts program, for the past three years, building her artistic prowess with each passing session.
“[Studio Seven] covers a lot of styles of art and at the end of the year there’s an art show with everyone’s work. We cover things like still life with oil pastel, painting, figure drawing, sculpture making with clay, and printmaking,” Fields said.
Each session lasts the length of the school year, from September to June, giving students plenty of time to experiment with form. Fields has focused mainly on painting and printmaking, especially enjoying the printmaking unit that the students are currently working in. She has been able to branch out with printmaking in this past session.
“In someone’s first year of printmaking, they make a collagraph,” Fields explained – collagraphy is a process in which the artist collages a firm material to create a stamp – “but for the past few years I’ve been making prints on these blocks called soft cuts,” Fields continued.
Creating a soft cut is often a more intense process than collagraphy, with the artist almost taking on the role of a sculptor in order to create their stamp.
“You cut out the size of your soft cut (generally how large your print will be) onto a piece of regular paper, and once you’ve sketched that you can use this tool… I forgot the name, but you basically rub it really hard onto the soft cut so that the graphite transfers, and then you use this tool called a linoleum cutter, and cut out the lines you’ve drawn to make negative space,” Fields said.
In printmaking, Fields’ stamps can be reused again and again, allowing her to experiment at two stages of the process – first, while making her stamps, and then again when she transfers the image onto another surface.
“Because you’re making the same image just with different colors, you can experiment with so many different designs on your prints. Once you feel that you’ve done enough, you can make a new print, and that’s what I love about it,” Fields said.
One of those moments of exploration comes when choosing the paper on which the stamp will leave its mark.
“There’s so many different colors of paper, which means you don’t need to only focus on the color of the ink you’re putting on your print. It’s really cool to see how different colors of ink look next to different colors of paper,” Fields said. “Some types of paper are metallic, which can add a whole other aspect, along with metallic ink.”
While people often think of inspiration coming before form, Fields draws her inspiration for her prints from the medium itself.
“I mostly just think about things I could carve that could have lots of possibilities when being inked,” Fields said.
However, when Fields paints, she tends to draw inspiration from specific influences.
“When I’m painting, a lot of the inspiration I get for scenery is actually from calendars, partly because the shape of the picture is similar to a canvas size I enjoy using. I’ve done two paintings of lighthouses, which I’ve really enjoyed. The first one was in more of a cloudy autumnal setting, while the other one was on a beach,” Fields said.
She also enjoys capturing moments with her loved ones – namely, her pet cat.
“My favorite painting I’ve made has been the one of my cat. She’s really important to me and I loved being able to focus on all the small details of her. This was also my first oil painting so it’s extra memorable to me,” Fields said.
Studio Seven offers classes from September to June for students ages seven to 18.