Inside the Artist’s Studio with Peter Sowiski: Papermaker

I was born in Pittsburgh, trained as a printmaker in Ohio, and spent my teaching career at SUNY Buffalo State. I began making paper for prints almost forty years ago, and since that time have been led down a road of broadened involvement with paper as a medium.

Rooster, 2005, colored pulps, relief, screen print

Rooster, 2005, colored pulps, relief, screen print

The work has been a personal affirmation of both the image and its support, which has formed the basis of my philosophy as a pulp painter- that economy of equipment and processes can yield complexity and sophistication. Looking at military might through these pieces keeps us aware of the high tech, high stakes times we find ourselves in.

Little Bird detail, 2013, colored pulps

Little Bird detail, 2013, colored pulps

I usually work over a base sheet formed in a Nepalese or Asian style. I paint with thin applications of pigmented abaca or cotton fiber. With stock batches of the primaries plus black, I use turkey basters and custom containers for applications of thin washes, enabling quick adjustments of color and consistency. Additionally, I stencil, pour, spray, hand manipulate, or do whatever it takes to drive the image into being. In printed works, I employ traditional processes along with the paper approaches.

pulling base sheet

pulling base sheet

The pieces spring from remembered visions, rooted in diverse sources. I recall my early All-American attraction to weaponry as favorite toys. This connects to my adult fascinations and fears as represented from the late 90′s onward in simple, darker works. I have been making studies of strategic aircraft and service personnel for large installations as well as smaller, intimate print combinations. The works tip a hat to impressionism, photographic “focus,” traditions of printmaking, pattern and pop art, and seek symbiosis between the delicate physical qualities of the paper and the powerful visual qualities of subject, so that they cohere on even terms.

Light Attack, 2013-16, detail, colored pulps

Light Attack, 2013-16, detail, colored pulps

View Peter’s artwork online at www.abaca-press.com/peter/about.html. Stop by Main Street Arts to see his artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper (runs through Friday, March 25). Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by book and multimedia artist Candace Hicks.

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