Red Thread – First Friday Opening

Posted on July 25th, 2016 by jennyscheu



The roots of my art practice are in design, color work, drawing, and printmaking. I am always observing the natural world and built environment and collecting images, colors, and patterns for my studio work.

My watercolor paintings are built slowly on fine ARCHES rag papers. The process is meticulous, and most paintings contain layers of transparent watercolor pigments, translucent gouaches, and opaque color-pencil and ink marks. I work on a layer , let it dry thinned another layer. I enjoy the discipline of careful process and the delightful colors and compositions that occur in the layering of images and materials. Because the perimeter of most paintings is masked, they appear to be prints, but they are unique one-of- a -kind paintings. Most watercolors are matted and framed with glass.

I have also worked to present some of my watercolors on wooden panels, instead of the traditional use of of matte, glass and frame. This approach helps to keep the cost of the work down, as the traditional matte , glass and frame is quite expensive.

I take a completed watercolor painting- done on the same ARCHES rag paper- and attached it to a 10” x 10” or a 12” x 12” CLAYBORD panel using GOLDEN’s liquid gel medium. The attached painting is then sealed with a GOLDEN’s Archival UV resistant varnish. I apply two coats of gloss varnish and finish with one coat of matte varnish. The finished work is the full size of the panel, and is well protected. The panel’s wooden sides have been painted with a latex paint in the color of the Arches paper. The panel can be re-painted in any color, and in some cases, a frame may be added.


I am a member of Peregrine Press , a wonderful printmaking collective in Portland.
I do most of my printing work on the large and small Peregrine studio presses there. We have been focusing on adjusting the printing processes and materials so that they are less toxic. One monotype in this exhibit, “BUTTRESS”, was made for the Peregrine Press’ 25th Anniversary Show at the Portland Public Library’s Lewis Gallery in May and June 2016.

I have been working on a series of colorful monotypes, using water based AKUA inks on ARCHES RIVES printmaking papers. The monotypes presented here are made working directly on large plexiglass or pet-g plastic plates with the water based inks and a broad mix of tools, including rollers and brushes and, sometimes, adding watercolor crayon marks directly onto the plate. The plate is then run through the press, making one distinct print. Occasionally, I print the same plate a second time to produce a lighter value “ghost” print.

Sometimes the plates themselves are built up with glues and other added materials to be collagraphs, or incised, to be intaglio prints. Both of these approaches can form the base plate for my monotype prints. The many printmaking processes and techniques are endlessly fascinating. I would be delighted at any time to share more information about this area of my art practice.

For some of these monotypes,I have returned to the dry print and added watercolors, inks, gouaches , color pencils or collaged materials. These additional materials are always noted. As with my watercolor paintings, I like the layering of colors and images which occur in this approach.

For this exhibit, I have loosely framed some of the larger monotypes without mattes.
I have put up other large monotype prints with magnets. Because the cost of framing is so high, I am glad to offer ANY of the 22” x 15” monotypes- unframed- for half of the cost of the framed prints.

In June of 2016 I was a fortunate to be part of a printmaking workshop led by the well-known Somerville MA printmaker, Catherine Kernan, at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland. I worked on a series of small monotypes with AKUA inks and Japanese KITICATA papers. We experimented with varying the viscosity of the inks to make many layers of images and colors on one plate. The smaller prints, framed in walnut, which are a part of this RED THREAD exhibit, are products of those explorations . They represent the new challenge of working on smaller plates, and with more subtle colors!


Most of my very favorite artists and architects draw -or drew- very beautifully:
Romare Bearden, Richard Diebenkorn, Kathe Kollwitz, Alvar Aalto, Carlo Scarpa, Albert Bigelow, Lois Dodd, Saul Steinberg, David Hockney, Michael Mazur, David Bumbeck, Mary Cassatt, Jon Imber, and Marion Plack, for starters…plus assorted greats like Whistler, Sargent, Homer, Hoffman, Matisse.They, and others, inspire me!

Drawings can be made by any mark making tool, and be connected to the world around or to the world within. The materials can be very simple. A friend of mine who once worked in Aalto’s Helsinki office told me that they taught and required him to make all line weights in their drawings using just one thick and soft lead pencil.

I taught observational drawing when I was an architectural grad student. One of my favorite teaching tools was Bernard Chaet’s excellent book, The Art of Drawing, which is basically a road map through his years of drawing classes at Yale University.

While I understand the many benefits of making and sending computer drawings, I still sketch, lay out, and draw all of my design drawings by hand. For me, there is a direct and important hand to memory connection in my brain. I appreciate the knowledge which comes from looking intently. Few architecture schools teach freehand drawing.
I have read that some well established architects, like Nova Scotia’s Brian Mackay-Lyons, now see this as a loss, and encourage drawing practice. Bravo!

Recently a friend sent me the following online link to twenty nine of the sketchbooks of painter Richard Diebenkorn which are now collected at Stanford, and published in book form by Stanford University Press. Even online, they are amazing and inspiring:

Diebenkorn’s daughter, Gretchen Diebenkorn Grant, wrote about these notebooks:

I think of them as akin to a writer’s journal or a performer’s rehearsal. There are passages in them that appear in later works, and there are moments which seem never to appear again.They contain signs of struggle and signs of success…the inner workings of a mind exploring spatial relationships, abstraction, and pure elements of line.

Current Work

For this Red Thread exhibit, I am also including this small section of works in progress.
I am alway trying to explore new ideas, approaches, materials, and tools for possible shifts in the direction of my watercolors, prints, collages, and drawings.

A wonderful addition to my daily studio work is regular interaction with a special group of women artists: Chris Beneman, Julie Freund, Lindsay Hancock, Anne Ireland, Vanessa Nesvig, Anne Niles, Phoebe Porteous, and Holly Ready.

They are serious, spirited, and very talented. We meet together for one full morning to review and comment on each other’s current works in progress. I always come away from our critique sessions with many new ideas and directions to explore. My thanks to each of them for their honesty, varied experience, points of view, and steady support.

Thanks as well to current and past members of Peregrine Press for all of the sharing of printmaking techniques, inspiration and fun in both our independent and collective work. Finally, I am beyond grateful for ideas and support from John & Thomas Ryan.

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