Angel Estrada in his studio

Print Studio Demo Artist Angel Estrada

Angel Estrada will be in the Print Studio demonstrating relief printmaking January 5-6, 2019.

Angel Estrada is a printmaker and educator based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Originally from Indio, California, he moved to Colorado after attending Regis University to study visual art and art education. He works and creates his prints in his a studio at the Globeville Riverfront Arts Center (GRACe). He teaches at Thornton High School where he has been for the last three years.

His artwork and prints revolves around landscape and how we interact with the visual and physical aspects of it.

As a teacher at the high school level, I have noticed that getting a chance to see someone go from start to finish is important. It shows the realness of art and the worth of going through all the steps and ideas even if they aren't working. I want people to see how I work with my materials and all my processes.

– Angel Estrada

Ally Kotarsky: What will your demo at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?

Angel Estrada: The visitor will get to see the way I work around a relief print. I will show the sketch process, transfer of image to my work substrate, which will be linoleum, carving, and the printing process. Proof process to final prints will all be seen. I want my space to be as open and interactive as possible. I don't mind people coming and speaking to me, especially any younger people. The chance to see this old and very physical process of making a repeatable image from inception to completion is important and meaningful.

AK: How do you decide on which printmaking process to use for a new piece?

AE: I think that decision comes after a sketch or two of what is in my head. A lot of time it comes from my reference photos. If the colors and shapes are what I am looking for then I usually choose the method that allows me to best convey that feeling I have for the print idea. Lately, it has been a constant love of relief carving. Putting tool to substrate and cutting it is a tactile experience that is addicting and exciting. I have also continually wanted to push myself to get better with multicolor prints. To do these prints correctly, jigs and registration systems have to be accurate, which is not always the case for my prints. When you get it right, it’s a wonderful feeling.

AK: Your prints feature a variety of different landscapes for the viewer to interact with. How did the landscape become such an inspiration for your work?

AE: It was a long process from abstraction to a more naturalistic representative look. My deep love of the abstract expressionists put me down this rabbit hole. This all led me to Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler. Two powerhouses of color, visual space, and the larger-than-life feeling that art could only really cause you to experience. The color field painters were [part of] a movement that extremely influenced me and my approach to the landscape. The landscape itself, however, is something that was always around me. It was this force of my life and culture that it would be remiss of me to never include in my work, which I have for the last five years.

The land is something that helps us connect to home, a place and a feeling. For me, I am trying to describe a place that is so big into a small visual space. I wanted to create a landscape that was easy to access and could be interpreted however you choose to look at it. I wanted to give my interpretation of the land without just blankly showing it exactly as it is. That would have been disingenuous because what I see is never what another sees so I strip the landscape down to its basic parts and allow the viewer to take away from it whatever they want.

AK: What are you thinking about when you begin a new print? Do you decide on a specific place to represent or do the landscapes take form more organically?

AE: You know, I have tried to think more critically about how I go about creating ideas for prints, but, honestly, most of my ideas comes from stray sketches or a happenstance look I get from clouds or a landscape scene. No landscape is specific, but a lot of time it is my attempt to just convey land and how it makes the most sense in my head.

There was a story that my mom told my brother and I when we were little kids driving through the San Jacinto Mountain Pass heading towards L.A. The mountain has a shape that looks like a woman sleeping. She told us that it was an angel that had created the basin-like valley in which we grew up. My mother said that the angel worked so hard creating the place where we lived that she grew tired and lay down and fell asleep amongst the hills. She slept for so long that the earth eventually grew over her, thus she is the mountain itself. She is still sleeping. I thought the mountain would move. All mountains were like this to me as a kid and still are as an adult. All the land was like this, something bigger than us.

A lot of reference images I take or find give me the idea of creating a new print. I look for a scene that gives me the feeling of something bigger is in that landscape and will move one day. Long story short, it all depends on the feeling of the image, sketch, or physical scene that I see that calls me to make a new print. It’s a very organic approaching to image making.

Photo by Cassandra Vagher.

Ally Kortarsky is an artist and studio programs Intern in the department of learning and engagement.

Read more on: Colorado artists studio