The smell of screen printing ink is one of my favorite smells.
It is the smell I associate with my father. My dad was a commercial artist and owned a sign company most of my life. As a child, when he had a big job, we would help pull the squeegee, move the work from the screen table to the drying racks, and position the next plate. I loved helping and have known the basics of pulling a print my entire life!
But I grew up thinking that I couldn’t be an artist. My handwriting was horrible. My dad’s is fantastic and I thought that since I couldn’t write like him, I couldn’t be an artist. But that was okay, because I knew that creativity takes many forms. My mom isn’t a traditional artist, but she can sew without a pattern, bake without a recipe and play the piano without music.
So I became a musician and actress choosing to express my artistic passions through the performing arts.
I went to college as a theatre major and FELL IN LOVE with the artistry of Theatrical Design! I had the privilege of learning scenic painting, costume design and lighting design from a professor that taught students to be stage artists, but with practical applications. We could design and craft as elaborately as we wanted, but we had to be able to translate our art to the stage.
This philosophy made a lasting impact on me.
I graduated from college, went to graduate school and became a public school teacher. While teaching more than a dozen different subjects, I found that I was a really good teacher and could learn and adapt to teach different content. Then my world shifted on its axis when I was offered the opportunity to teach visual arts.
Given that I had decided before the age of 10 that I couldn’t be an artist, it was shocking that others considered me an artist! I had always been creating… painting, sewing, scrapbooking, crafting. But I didn’t identify myself as an artist.
Teaching art has given me a voice for all of my passions. More than that, because of my experience and education in other areas, I found that I am a BETTER art teacher! I learned the elements and principles of art, not from a textbook, but from using them in stage design! I learned about sculpture and three dimensional art, not from a classroom, but from how they would play to an audience as a prop or a costume. I learned about graphic design, not from a class assignment, but from working in public relations as a graphic designer.
Real world, practical applications of art gave me wings to teach art students successfully!
After almost ten years of teaching art, I consider myself to be an artist and a teacher. It still feels weird to say that. I have created a lot of art… sadly, most are unfinished teacher samples. But I am learning to finish pieces, because I love that feeling of accomplishment just as much as my students love to see me create along side them. I love all forms of art and pride myself on continuing to learn new art techniques every day. My favorites are mixed media and no surprise, printmaking. I thrive on pushing traditional mediums into new and different forms.
The smell of screen printing ink is an indelible part of my soul. Happily, my students (and my own children) know how to screen print… the smell of the ink, the scrape of the squeegee, the clack of the drying rack… have been passed down to another generation of artists!