Ellen Von Wiegand – Prints –

posted by Nicoletta Rolla November 6, 2017 0 comments
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Ellen Von Wiegand

I make linocut prints to find a sense of self-assurance and serenity






Ellen please, briefly introduce you to the readers.


My name is Ellen and I’m a linocut printmaker and California transplant based in South East London.





What about your artistic background?


My background is in art history. Under the surface I always wanted to be an artist, but it didn’t seem realistic so I never truly entertained the possibility. Instead I buried the discomfort that comes from ignoring your calling by telling myself that I wasn’t the type of person that had anything to say or who would enjoy being in any kind of spotlight. But ultimately I think I came back to the idea of making art at just the right moment. I needed to have those years as a pure observer of art in order to process the visual and analytical information that could bring me to where I am today.




Who or what made you become an artist?


As I mentioned previously it was an internal calling. My father made his living as a professional photographer and my grandfather supported a family of 6 as a calligrapher and sign painter. So the idea of making something beautiful or intriguing for its own sake was always something I thought about. My dad has a phenomenal artistic eye, and wherever we went out as a family he was always  making art, it never stopped. So I grew accustomed to looking for beauty in the world. Even when I wasn’t making anything I felt like it was who I was at my core.



Why printmaking?

I never had any interest in printmaking prior to completing my Masters programme in the study of modern and contemporary art.  As part of the course went to a printmaking studio and participated in a half day workshop. I loved the craftsmanship and technical ability that was involved in the making of prints. We later went to the home of a high profile print dealer and he showed us linocuts by Picasso and some of the German Expressionists and I fell in love. I am attracted to the graphic quality that linocut printmaking naturally offers, and I even appreciate the tedium of the carving which requires a great deal of patience. It is a kind of meditation for me.





Describe your technique.


I make use of the naturally flat quality of the lino block and carve delicate and meandering lines into the surface creating figures and patterns. I also tend to work in blocks of colour which is another inherent quality of the medium. I begin with the pencil drawing of my design and then transfer the graphite image onto the lino block by applying pressure to the back of the paper. I then carve each block (usually two or three blocks depending on the number of colours I’d like to include in the print). Once all blocks are carved I do a test print so that I can be confident in my selection of colours and be sure that the blocks match up nicely. Finally I print each block at a time, applying pressure by hand to the back of the paper with a spoon. I print the whole edition of one block, let the prints dry overnight, then print the next colour.




What about your artistic process?


My artistic process has unfolded out of creative block. When I first began to make prints I did so making strong use of my analytical brain. I was used to approaching art this way as a student of art history. But I soon found myself uninspired and stuck for ideas. To remedy this I decided to let myself just create an image that I found aesthetically appealing. As soon as I released the pressure of perfection my ideas began flowing freely, and my work became something much more personal and inspiring to me. Because of this, relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga have become vital tools in the creation of my work.




What are your favorite subjects ?


As someone who has struggled with a great deal of anxiety as a result of being highly shy, my images deal with a kind of search for transcendence beyond limiting ideas through deep acceptance of our flaws. It is a sort of spiritual quest. I use my own body to demonstrate this, but I don’t see these images as self-portraits, but rather spaces whether the viewer can project their own emotional experience.




What is the place most inspiring for your art, the ideal one to create?


I always work at home, it is the place I feel most relaxed and thus most creative. I also prefer to work without anyone else around. I tend to get nervous with other eyes watching on.





What characteristic of your personality do we find  in your works?


That’s a very nice question. It’s hard to answer because I think you can see a lot of complex and perhaps contradictory elements of my personality in my art. But I suppose most strongly you see a deep desire for growth and expansion.





What are your favorite colors?

I don’t necessarily have favourite colours. I just tend to use whatever is inspiring me that day. I do however return to deep blues because of the way that the darkness of the hue contrasts so well with the white carved lines.






What are the artists of the past you admire?


I love women artists that deal with themes like spirituality, the body, and womanhood. Some of these include Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, and Agnes Martin. Though certainly Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele have also been influential.






What is the aim of your art?


My greatest and boldest wish is that my art is able to help people to turn inwards and connect them to their own inner wisdom. This insight has had a profound impact of my own life.





What are you working on?


I’m continuing to work in the series of nude prints that I’ve been working on for the past year or so. Though I also create monthly mini prints that I offer via a membership.  I make a new mini print each month and send it together with a short note to my members to share certain struggles or lessons that I’m engaged with at that moment. It’s been a great way to connect with a larger group of people.




What about your next projects?


I’m not sure yet. For now I’m just exploring different scales and formats in my work and we’ll see where this leads.





Have you a “dream project”?


Perhaps a dream project might be a massive print or series of prints that span a whole wall. I’d be able to conceive of the work in an entirely new way. I guess that sounds a bit vague, but that’s how it exists in my mind at the moment.




Ellen, where can we Follow you?

The best places to follow me are on Instagram: @ellenvonwiegand, or my website: https://www.ellenvonwiegand.com/

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