Meet the Artist Q & A: Printmaking with Amy Sterly
Updated: Jun 8
Recently, we've welcomed our new artist in residence, Amy Sterly.
Amy specialises in print making, so we caught up with her to find our more about her background and why she is excited to lead print workshops at Radiate Arts...
How did you get into printmaking?
I did some printmaking at University, and then I did not do any for years as it is hard to find a place with presses to use – when I finally moved to mid-Wales, I discovered the Regional Print Centre at Yale in Wrexham where I began doing etching and drypoint printing.
It was there I learned about using drypoint card, so that prints can be created without toxic chemicals. From there I bought my own press and I also began making linocuts and large woodcuts at my own studio. I also began teaching workshops in galleries and school and community hubs all over Wales.
I am so excited to be working at Radiate Arts at Clywedog, as the facilities are so good with a great new press for drypoint and collagraph printing. And of course, the views are beautiful and inspiring for creating new work.
What's one of your proudest achievements?
I was very proud to have a large exhibition of prints at Oriel Davies in Newtown in 2015 which showcased some of my largest woodcuts at nearly 8 x 4 ft! And in 2018, I was invited to a printmaking residency in Finland for a month, where I was able to create a lot of new work.
Why do you enjoy printmaking? And why do you think it's such a great way to relax?
I like the sculptural qualities of making a print, the way the plate looks just as exciting as the print you make, and you can keep making prints over and over with the same plate and play with the image along the way. It is always a surprise when you pull the print from the plate.
What do you think is the biggest hurdle for beginners to start in printmaking, and how can they overcome it?
I think the biggest hurdle is people thinking they need a lot of fancy materials or presses, and actually you can make beautiful prints by just using things in your kitchen or found materials from outside. They only need some printing ink which takes longer to dry so will print more easily. There are many great online tutorials which can introduce a beginner to lots of fun techniques to create exciting artwork. One of the best is Handprinted.co.uk – their blog has so many great tips!
I think the biggest hurdle is people thinking they need a lot of fancy materials or presses, and actually you can make beautiful prints by just using things in your kitchen or found materials from outside.
Why do you love to teach?
It is so fun to see what kind of work people come up with when I am showing them these printing techniques. Sometimes they do things I don’t expect and end up teaching me something new!
Has there been a time when someone at a workshop in the past has surprised you?
Yes, I was doing drypoint printing workshops where there were excluded teenagers as well as older people with mental health problems. One young man came bragging of things he had done, but once he started drawing the change over him was amazing. He came up with a series of beautiful abstract drawings, and then ended up helping the older ones there.
Do you have a favourite quote around creativity / art?
At the end of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in Park with George, about the artist Georges Seurat, the artist says “White. A blank page or canvas….so many possibilities.”
That is the excitement of making art – you can make anything.
What does creativity mean to you?
It means a state of flux - changing something into something else that you might not expect.
Why do you want to work with Radiate Arts?
I love how inclusive it is – anyone can come and see what’s going on and be involved in workshops, and the focus on mental health and wellbeing. Knowing that being creative can help people in so many ways.