Coco Berkman

Coco Berkman

I come late to my profession as an artist. Having cobbled together an arts education in a non traditional manner by taking adult education courses, keeping a sketch pad and sharpened pencils always in my car and beside my bed, saving up my pennies to go on artist retreats, and finally, my children adults, saying no to my work as a seamstress for 25 years and devoting myself full time to making art. Printmaking. Linoleum printmaking.

I’ve discovered through many years first as an abstract painter, then as a maker of monotypes, abstract, finally on impulse and seemingly overnight I found the most delightful of materials, linoleum, and the most unpredictable of processes, reductive linoleum printmaking., I’ve arrived at a place where knowing my process, I can take delightful risks. Creating art is all about making decisions for me. Decisions about the line, what to keep what to erase. The initial drawing can be excruciating to compose, challenging to resolve. If my drawing doesn’t delight me , I have little enthusiasm to go forward and make the materials and time commitment to oversee the completion of an edition.

My everyday life circumstances inform my work and magically have proven to be a cathartic way of dealing with some of the difficulties life presents. I am always striving. I am always not doing until I’m doing.

Drawing for me is a way of resolving inner and external conflict. Drawing makes me feel like I doing something important. Why is it that a five minute doodle on a scrap of paper makes me feel so accomplished and exuberant? Recording history, I dig deep. I ask others to dig deep. I tell students what one of my Greats once told me, “If you’re embarrassed by something you’re drawing, you’re on the right track.” I love that! I give myself permission to work. Just work. Put in the hours. Put in the struggle [which when you’re really making the art can be excruciating.] One wonderful sketch in an entire sketchbook of sketches. Just one. If you’re lucky.

I doodle. I draw. I think. I putter. If my drawing doesn’t delight me , I have little enthusiasm to go forward and make the materials and time commitment to oversee the completion of an edition. I draw until it’s really exciting to me and then I carve and fret over what to cut . What color to print. Where am I going? I love getting so lost in it.

I recognize the compromises. I recognize the permissions. I recognize where the Art Gods whispered in their ears.I know this process so well that I can see the erased line in a piece of literature. I love how Raymond Carver can write a short short story that is so simple and so damn dark that it is light itself.

There is so much information in a hand pulled print. The initial drawing has been conceived and then drawn over and over and over. The drawing is then cut up, different elements have been torn away, other element taped in from another sketch. The new drawing traced. The traced drawing erased and torn and taped. Weeks later, sometimes, days, sometimes months, drawing done. Love the drawing! The drawing is transferred to a fresh sheet of golden cut lino that’s been squared precisely, sanded.

The carving commences. With my favorite process, reductive printmaking. Oil based inks are applied one color at a time onto sheets of beautiful cotton paper and hung onto a wall to dry. Carve out the next stage with japanese tools. Never know the colors I’m going to use until I’m right there in the moment. Print next color. Hang to dry.

Information in the was she feeling when she decide on that color? Passion is imbued. Convey something if you can…



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