Barnes Downs, Jean

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My childhood was spent on a general farm in Northwest Ohio during the 1940's and 50's. I loved that life with animals, fields, nature and freedom, and it has greatly influenced my life and my art. From these earliest experiences I developed a profound connection to the earth which I express through drawing and printmaking.

Drawing is a tactile experience that immerses me in my natural surroundings. Through this practice I connect physically to a subject with the touch of pencil on paper. I begin to "see" not simply look. My Plein Aire work begins by drawing on site with folded paper in small format. I then apply watercolor, and later when in the studio, I construct the folded drawings into accordion books.

My primary printmaking method is monotype. Monotype, a one-of-a-kind-print, is the most painterly of printmaking techniques and encourages a great deal of experimentation that aides my intuitive process of working. An image is created on a "plate" or surface that will not absorb the color and then printed on paper by running the plate through a printing press or by transferring the image by hand. Inks are applied to the plate with hands, brush, or brayer. Texture can be added which masks out the ink in selected places. One layer is printed and observed to decide where ink or stencils should be placed for subsequent layers. For over 10 years I have been using a plate of unflavored gelatin from which to print my monotypes. This unique way of printing monotypes by hand allows for building images with many layers of translucent/transparent ink. Transfer of the image from the plate requires only the simple pressure of my hand.