Rives BFK

I've been musing on where to go next in the studio. An idea builds. I gather pieces of it as they drift toward me out of the fog, forming a sense of it, not entirely worked out, but enough in place so that at last there's only one thing left to do: paint.

I prepare the studio with drop cloths, spread out boxes of collage bits and acrylic paint. Then I go over to the stack of bread crates in the corner that I use as a flat file and lift the pile of heavy, textured Arches and Fabriano paper lying on top - sheets and sheets, some of them finished Collage Paintings, some just started, some miscellaneous blanks.

All the way at the bottom of the pile my hand encounters a soft texture. I lift the stack higher and slide out several long, narrow sheets of Rives BFK, one side still punched for registration tabs.

I had forgotten about this stuff.

The paper dates from a printmaking job I had at Stone Press back in the 90's when I first came to town.

It's beautiful, feathery paper - 100% cotton, French milled, hot pressed, fine grained. I had always thought I'd do something with these tear-offs, along with a stack of even longer, narrower strips, inconvenient to store. I've been moving them around with me for years. Who knows what the print projects were - a Robert Bateman mountain lion? A Ray Troll fish print? Or a Jacob Lawrence series? We printed a lot of projects, some of them great, some of them not, in a laborious, centuries-old lithographic technique.

The holes served a purpose, keeping the image lined up on little brass tabs through many plates and runs through the press, each layer inked and rolled and cranked through by hand, one by one.

Finally, someone would take a long, heavy straight edge, build a cardboard template, and set to work carefully tearing each print to make a faux-deckle edge on that side.

I run my fingers over the dry, giving texture. It's not sturdy like Arches, nor delicate like rice paper. It's soft and flexible and strong enough to hold a wash. What could you do with those holes? I'm not sure yet but they make it friendly to me somehow, a defect that challenges me to work around or with or over it, turn it into a feature.

I mix up rich blues and greens......ocean, deep ocean.......pick up a sheet of the Rives, and dip it into the puddle on my glass palette. I turn it over carefully and lay the resulting wave of color on the floor to dry.