Collagraphy at Atelier de l’Île


Collagraphy at Atelier de l’Île group


On the weekend of October 20 and 21, 2012, I had the pleasure of giving a collagraphy workshop at Atelier de l’Île, in Val David, Quebec.


Val David, located in the heart of the Laurentian mountains, is an artists’ village.  With major cultural events such as 1001 pots and the Symposium of In Situ Art held at Les jardins du Précambien, Val David offers an effervescent cultural scene where art and nature interact.  The village is home to ceramists, painters, writers, glass blowers, pewter artisans, textile artists and printmakers.




Founded in 1975, Atelier de l’Île is a well-equipped and active printmaking centre where over four hundred artists have worked over the past twenty-five years.  It has always favored exchanges between artists of different disciplines and has published several artists’ books.  This summer I was an artist in residence at Atelier de l’Île, where I started my own artist’s book, based on my experience in Val David.



Top left to bottom right: Marie-Claude Arnaud, Marilyse Goulet, Morelia Flores, Cristine Rolland, Odette Pinard, Louise Ladouceur, Talleen Hacikyan, Marie-Ève D'Amour


I enjoyed returning this fall to teach collagraphy to a group of seven wonderful women.  The dynamics in this group were incredible.  Some of the women were members of the studio and few came from the outside, including my Guatemalan artist friend, Morelia.  They were all eager to learn or perfect the collagraph technique and there was a genuine camaraderie in the group.



Two plate collagraph by Marie-Claude Arnaud


Two-day printmaking workshops  are intense.  Participants absorb information and produce a lot of work, in a fluid and efficient manner.  With the limited time frame, they are on a creative high.  There is no time or place for creative blocks.  I always invite participants to approach their first piece intuitively, without preoccupying themselves with image.  This first plate is the precious place where they can feel the medium, the tools, the language and pace of this magical technique called collagraphy.






Collagraph print by Cristine Rolland


Day one is for making several small plates.  I show all the basic techniques for working on plates: engraving with Xacto knife and dry point, ripping, building up textures with acrylic gel medium and plaster and collage with tissue paper, leaves, lace, cloth, egg shells etc.  Last but not least, I show how to create dark velvety tones with carborundum power, a bit harder to control, yet never fails to seduce!  By the end of the day, the artists had time to print one black and white print, leaving them with a concrete impression of their work.




Day two is a high energy printing day. I concentrate on printing technique and show methods passed on to me by master printers, from cutting and wetting paper, to wiping with tarlatan and for more advanced students, printing with two plates.  I introduce color and elaborate on mixing techniques and on how to create a palette for multi-color prints.




It is always a joy to see faces light up each time someone lifts a print from a plate.  Everyone circles the press and a warm feeling is generated not only by the artist of the print but by the whole group, as if the newborn print was the result of a group effort.  Each print made during a workshop has been shaped by the special energy created through group interaction. The communal experience passes through each individual, manifesting in unique images that in turn have the power to create a collective emotion.


We ended the workshop with a display and commentary of all the beautiful collagraphs printed over the weekend.  This was followed by a wonderful slideshow put together by our photographer, Cristian Moraru, visiting from Toronto and an artist in residence at the International Writers’ and Artists’ Residence in Val David.



Collagraph print by Marie-Ève D'Amour


It’s been three weeks since I gave the workshop and former students are emailing me to say that they are making new collagraphs.  Marilyse wrote, Ton cours fait des petits, your workshop is having babies, which makes me one proud mama!


Talleen Hacikyan


Thank you Marcel Achard and Atelier de l’Île for inviting me to teach this workshop.

Thank you to all the participating artists.  Merci!

Photos of artists by Cristian Moraru.  Thank you.

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