Featured Artist: Stephen Bischoff

Through April, the Columbia branch library will be displaying the artwork of Culleoka resident Stephen Bischoff. Mr. Bischoff was kind enough to tell us a bit about his art and his creative process below (artist’s response in italics).

In what medium do you work? I work in a form of printmaking called Monotype. Ink is applied directly on an acrylic plate, and then I create the image on that plate.

What does your painting process look like? With a brayer, paint knife, or brush, I apply the ink to an acrylic plate. I work with the image until I am happy with the result, and then lay a sheet of dampened printmaking paper onto the plate, and then run both through the printing press. During this process, the image is transferred from the plate to the paper. When I then “pull” the paper off the plate, I have a print that is called a monotype – because only one printed image results from this process. I don’t have any pre-conceived idea of an image when I start to create. I just apply ink to the plate, and then see where it leads me. The process is completely intuitive. Of course, while working on the plate, I make decisions about the tools that I use, the colors I apply, and the shapes that I create. I enjoy the making of a monotype, for it is a very “painterly” type of printmaking. Unlike painting on a canvas, it is easy to add or remove ink from the plate. Because you have to create the image quickly before the ink dries, you have to be free and spontaneous with your work. This factor encourages me to be playful and have fun as I work with the ink.

When did you start painting? I retired from working for the Federal Government in 2000. At the time, we lived near Redding, California, and after retiring, I decided to take some art classes at the local community college. Taking one class a semester, I did all their drawing and painting classes until 2008, when, at the urging of my teacher, I took their printmaking class. When I learned to make monotypes in this class, I knew that I had found a medium that spoke to me. I have been printing monotypes ever since.

What is the inspiration for your work? As I work with ink on the plate, I feel free and spontaneous. I “let go”, and form the images without any pre-planning or prior sketches. I just apply or remove ink as the spirit moves me. I love working in this way, trusting that my intuition will lead me to a satisfying result.

How would you explain your artwork/style to someone in a Tweet? I think of creating abstract prints as doing something rather than making something (a statement once made by Richard Diebenkorn). As I add or subtract ink, the image forms and pulls itself together, until it is a whole. I hope that the joy and satisfaction that I feel during the creative process shows in the work and reaches people who view it.

Is your work for sale? If so, how would people contact you about purchasing a print? Yes, my prints are for sale. I can be reached at snbischoff@hotmail.com