I'm MK. I create paintings, original etchings and monotypes. My paintings and fine art prints have been exhibited at both regional and national juried shows. I'm usually based in my New England home on the Connecticut shoreline, but am currently living, teaching, and making art in Singapore in 2020.
For all of us, each moment is an act of creation in which we construct our understanding of the world around us. I am deeply interested in this process of meaning-making, and of the ways in which images affect our emotions and sense of self. We become grounded or we are unmoored, we are brought forward to a new insight or back to a previous moment in our life, as we relate images to what we know, strive to find our own place within them, and work to understand the world we live in. My art explores both interior and exterior landscapes, expressing the beauty and complexity of the human world, of the natural world, of the fragility of both, and of personal strife and growth, as I too seek to understand the world in which I live, and to locate my place within it.
For all my adult life I have been a student, scientist, and professor of psychology, which at its root asks how we perceive and understand the world. I've studied babies, exploring how we humans (wee humans) make sense of the world at the most basic levels, absent the interpretive lenses of language and culture. (You can find my scientist website here.) Babies are amazing creatures — beautiful, deep and immensely complex, with rich inner lives — working hard to construct an understanding of their world. Perhaps it's my decades of observations of their intense commitment to the creation & discovery of meaning that sparked my interest in how we all go about doing so.
I was born in Texas, raised on the Canadian prairies, and have lived across North America, from the Sonoran desert in the American Southwest, to the green hills & hollows of New England in the Northeast, and points in between. I've had the luxury of hanging my hat, at various points over my life, in the cities of Montreal, London, New York, and currently, Singapore.
I'd love to hear from you — if you're interested in my art, curious about my process, are a fellow artist, or for any other reason.
About My Paintings
I use a variety of media, painting in oils, watercolors, and acrylics. I sometimes add in pastel and/or charcoal work. Different scenes and moods call for different materials, and each material has its own unique properties and effects. I love the freshness and immediacy of painting. Some of my paintings are painted en plein air; some are painted from photographs I've taken on my travels, and still others come from memory or imagination. And some are a combination of these approaches.
About My Prints
Painting is immediate reward and a lot of control - you see the precise result of each stroke as soon as you make it, and the painting unfolds before your eyes. Printmaking is a surprise! You don't know quite what it will look like until it's all done, at the moment you pull the paper from the plate.
Printmaking involves three fundamental things: Some pigment (inks or paints), a plate that the pigments are applied to, and a piece of paper or fabric onto which the pigment on the plate is transferred, often by placing the paper on the plate and rolling both through a printing press.
Textural elements can be added to a plate before inking it - by scratching into it, cutting some of it away, or layering additional material onto the plate. Most people are familiar with relief printmaking, in which a picture or design is carved into a block of wood or linoleum. Ink is then rolled onto the block's surface. The ink covers the areas not carved away, so the resulting print is a negative of the artist's marks, which show up as un-inked areas on the paper.
What is a Monotype?
Monotypes are, in essence, paintings made by means of a printing process - in which the artist creates a picture in paints or inks on a plate, then presses paper to the plate by a variety of means - e.g., hand rubbing, rubbing with a specialized implement called a baren, or running the plate & paper through a printing press. In doing so, the vast majority of the ink is transferred to the paper - so the plate will never yield up another similar print, making every print a unique, one-of-a-kind work of art (hence the 'mono' in the term monotype).
There's usually a faint layer of ink remaining on the plate after pulling the print. An artist may simply wipe the plate clean for a whole new print. But s/he could also do something with that faintly inked plate: one option would be to pull a "ghost" print that will be much paler and fainter than the first print, creating a very different effect. Another option is to paint additional ink on the plate, often adding new lines and shapes to create a new image that is related but not identical to the first, containing a few ghosts of the original print but stronger new elements as well.
An artist can print two, three, or more plates onto a single piece of paper, to achieve a final image with a beautifully rich dimensionality, resulting from layers of transparent color glowing through each other.
Intaglio is the inverse of a relief print. Lines & patterns are carved (scratched, cut, etched, …) into a plate, as with relief printing; but ink is applied to the plate by wiping it into the carved lines and depressions in the plate, rather than rolling it onto the top surface of the plate. During this vigorous wiping process (which can take many, many minutes, and requires considerable skill in technique to get the ink where it's needed, in the right amounts), the ink is rubbed deep into the lines and depressions, while the flat surface areas of the plate are ultimately wiped clean of ink. (Think of deep scratches in a wooden cutting board; when flour is sprinkled onto the board, wiping it away with your hand clears the flour off the top surface but leaves it behind down in the scratches.) A piece of paper is dampened (this has to be carefully judged to get the right amount of moisture - too much and the lines in the print will come out fuzzy and blurred; not damp enough and the lines will be faint and irregular), and then the print is pulled: The paper is placed on top of the inked plate, and both are run through the printing press. The paper fibers, softened by the water, are pushed deep into the scratches and depressions by the pressure of the press (this is why it's called a "press", after all), and pick up the ink lying within them.
There are many different ways of making scratches, indentations, lines (etc.) in the plate:
An Etching is made from a metal plate, often copper, that has had a pattern etched into it by a mordant, a corrosive salt or acid that eats into the plate, leaving lines and other depressions that catch and hold ink. This ink is released into a piece of paper during the printing process, when sufficient pressure (as from a printing press) is applied. There are a great many ways to etch patterns into a metal plate by selectively protecting some areas of the plate from the mordant, while leaving other areas partially exposed (resulting in a light, faint etching) or fully exposed (resulting in a stronger etching-away of the plate that will in turn collect more ink and result in a darker line or area on the print).
Drypoint involves manually scratching and carving lines and hatches into a plate, using a scribe or other tool.
Carborundum is an extremely hard substance that when ground up and mixed with a glue medium, can be applied to a plate (e.g. with fingers, a paintbrush or other tools) and built up to create surface textural marks. It dries, maintaining the textures brushed or imprinted into it during its application.
Textures, lines and relief variations in a plate will all influence how the ink lies on the plate, and will show up in the final print due to the resulting variation in pressure, during printing, between the paper and the high and low inked areas of the plate.
Bachelor of Arts, McGill University
PhD in Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor Emerita of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale University
J Y Pillay Visiting Professor, Yale-NUS, Singapore, 2020