Teens learn art of print-making

Ashland High School student Marley Fuller turned the handles on a printing press, squishing a metal roller down on a piece of paper and an inked Plexiglas plate.

Lifting up the paper, the 17-year-old analyzed the new print of a cat's face that she had just created.

High school students recently wrapped up a series of three summer print-making workshops taught by Ashland artist Denise Kester in her Helman Street studio.

"I think all of these students have a good feel for this medium," Kester said. "They understand it."

The students learned to apply oil-based inks onto Plexiglas plates, then remove part of the oil to create imagery. They used Q-tips to wipe away swathes of ink and rubber or wooden-tipped pencils to scrape away ink for fine details.

For her cat image, Fuller used pencils to outline the feline's facial features, while using a Q-tip to smudge off bits of ink and create the appearance of soft fur.

Fuller, who enjoys working with stained glass, wood and clay, said she was familiar with screen-printing but was a novice at oil-based ink monotype printing before taking two of Kester's three workshops this June and July.

"I knew absolutely nothing about it," Fuller said.

Raven Borgilt, a 15-year-old Ashland High School student who enjoys oil painting, created prints of three horses under a dark sky with stars and the moon.

For later versions of her print, she wiped away part of the oil on her Plexiglas plate, creating a daytime setting for the horses with rusty orange, Southwest-style colors on the plate's edges.

"It's a Zen state of mind," Borglit said as she worked on her art. "It's relaxing."

William Crowley, a 17-year-old high school student, created several energetic abstract pieces.

"It's really great when you get to try out a new medium. I'm used to painting with acrylics," said Crowley, who has an online portfolio of his work at www.flickr.com/photos/crowpow.

Crowley said he was able to take the print-making workshops, which normally cost $40 per person each and include materials, because of a scholarship he received from the Ashland Gallery Association.

"When I found out there was a scholarship, it was a no-brainer," he said, adding that he was very grateful for the scholarship.

The scholarships were made possible because the AGA received a $950 grant from the Jackson County Cultural Coalition that was funded by the Oregon Cultural Trust, said AGA Administrator Kim Olson.

The grant also paid for supplies so that local artists could volunteer in Ashland High School art programs, Olson said.

Kester — who shows her work at Hanson Howard Gallery and the Ashland Art Center — was a spring volunteer at the high school, teaching teens how to do printing with water-based inks. She shifted to teaching oil-based ink printing for the summer workshops.

Crowley said he not only got a scholarship to learn oil-based print-making, but the AGA gave him $50 to buy art supplies to continue the painting he enjoys. He said he was able to branch out from acrylics into oil painting because of the gift.

Crowley also participated in the annual spring exhibit in which Ashland galleries showcase student art.

"We have a community that really supports the arts," he said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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