Our advanced Studio in Art class took a field trip to master printmaker Dan Welden’s home and studio in Sag Harbor. We learned the printmaking method using Solarplates, invented by Mr. Welden. It was a very cool experience meeting a famous artist and seeing his studio.
Dan Welden has been a pioneer of alternative printmaking since 1970. He developed Solarplate printmaking and water-based monotypes and has educated artists of all levels. He co-authored “Printmaking in the Sun” and directs Hampton Editions Ltd., which distributes Solarplates. He has collaborated with many artists including Willem de Kooning, Eric Fischl and Dan Flavin, among many others.
We were able to ask him a few questions:
Do you remember where/when you created your first piece of art?
I remember quite vividly my first genuine efforts of attempting to create beauty. I was in my childhood home in the Bronx wishing to please my ill mother. One act dealt with the idea of planting a maple seed with hopes of it growing into a magnificent tree. The other was a simple “get well” card for her with a bluebird sitting on a stone bath. I believe I was under the age of 4, and there was an obvious interest in science and art.
Did your family support you when you wanted to be an artist?
The greatest support came from my blind grandmother, who raised me after my mother passed. Although she never could see any works I did, her words of praise spurred me on to creating more. My younger sister, Anita, was also supportive through her positive encouragement.
Where do you find the most inspiration for your art?
Nature, without question, is my major force of inspiration. First in Norway, the day after Elvis Presley died, high on a mountaintop above the timber lines, eating blueberries, sitting in torrential rain, looking at a meandering fjord. It was an image I felt compelled to create for three years. Later on at Canyon de Chelly, in Arizona, I felt the warmth of the Anasazi cliffside on my bare cheek and chest, while listening to the Navajo goats and trying to take possession of the image of the rock fissures and recreate that sensibility in my paintings. Each time I had the experience of “inspiration” I became aware of all the senses.
Were you always a printmaker?
Not really. I was a painter who felt somewhat lost, but when printmaking found its way to me, I became hooked. It started with a Bavarian limestone and finding the most beautiful slice of nature to draw upon and make impressions from it.
What advice do you have for aspiring young artists?
Young or old artists need not be differentiated, and we can all take advice from someone who has done more than we have. My advice as a more experienced artist is several-fold. Maintain the inspiration that you have or find another source. Collect usable tools, to draw and make marks. Be open for support and criticism. Explore, experiment, travel. Enter competitions and listen to your teachers and your parents. They have more experience with life.
To find out more, visit his website, danwelden.com
Elisa Brosnan and Marybeth Clark’s writing and art club, West Hollow Middle School, Melville