Category Archives: fine art techniques

Printmaking and the Imaginal Realm

In this post I am sharing recent printmaking work inspired by personal explorations into what Carl Jung called the “imaginal realm”. 

A very short story

In 2009, before I moved away from the east coast, I viewed a show at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. The show featured “The Red Book” by Carl Jung, which had never been available for exhibition before. I had read much of Jung’s work over the years and jumped on the train for a chance to see it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_Book_(Jung)

I spent all the time that I could to study the pages of art which Jung had created from his own explorations of his personal imaginal realm. Without going into this topic too much, it is a way of restraining the conscious mind so that images from the “collective unconscious” may by explored.

The Treasure

For an artist, this imaginal realm is a treasure of endless images to work with! Many techniques can be used to make this exploration; among them are forms of meditation, shamanism and dream work. An abundance of information on this topic is online already, so no need to elaborate on that.  

I am sharing a recent work from my personal explorations into this realm, the most recent one shown here is called “The Queen of the Nagas”. This archetype appears on and off in my dream world. And I felt the need to give her image a boost into this ordinary world by means of a technique called a “collagraph”. This is a way of creating textured images and, by using inks of various viscosity, it is possible to build-up multiple colors onto one plate.

Queen of the Nagas, Kathleen Thoma, collagraph, linocut, chine College 14.75x11 in

Queen of the Nagas, Kathleen Thoma, collagraph, linocut, chine colle, 14.75×11 in

What is a Naga?

They are mythic Buddhist serpent people who have great powers, guard inner treasures, and you definitely want to stay on their good side according to the myths. As protecting nature spirits, they don’t like people polluting their rivers, streams or oceans. They bring rain, wealth, and fertility when honored. I imagine they are not very happy with humans these days. The link shows more information about Nagas and their myths world wide. https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/naga

In terms of artistic explorations with printmaking this image took me some time to work out. But I enjoyed it very much. I have been creating a number of images symbolically related to climate change recently, so this is one more. I used several printmaking techniques, as indicated in the caption. 

What is a Monotype?

Tropical Desires, Kathleen Thoma Art, 11x14 monotype

Tropical Desires,
Kathleen Thoma
Monotype,
11×14 inches

What is a Monotype? People often ask me this question, so it seemed to me be a good idea write about it. A monotype is a specific art technique. It doesn’t resemble other traditional printmaking methods such as engraved, relief carved, etching or lithographed prints which can produce exact, repeated copies. “Mono” means one, “Type” means print, so they are one-of-a-kind unique prints.

There is a long fine art tradition of monotype printing that most are unaware of, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Marc Chagall, William Blake and Henri Matisse all created monotype prints. However, these monotype works were often less well known.

Technically, a monotype is a simple form of printmaking. It begins with applying ink or paint onto a metal, glass or plexi-glass plate, manipulated with brushes or other tools; then pressure is applied, through the artist’s hand or through the press. (more…)

Print is ready to pull off the plate

Demontration/monotypes with hand-cut stencils

This is a series of photos demonstrating

the process of creating a monotype using hand-cut stencils.

Kathleen Thoma creating a monotype in her studio

First I start with my palette of colors. Choosing color depends on my mood or the idea I have in my head. Then I cut out my stencils using flexible, soft sheets of plastic, like cut-up plastic file folders.

Hand cut stencils

I use a piece of plexiglass or glass for my plate.  I apply thin layers of ink or paint onto the plate, playing with layers of stencils until I have what seems to be a good starting layer to put through the press. This decision is often a guess based on experience. What is fun about monotype printing is that you never have complete control over the final outcome. This can also be frustrating of course. Sometimes you don’t like the print, so you have to wipe it off and start over. (more…)