Hello, I'm MK. I live, teach, and make art in Guilford, CT. I create paintings, original etchings and monotypes; my works have been exhibited in both regional and national juried shows.
Before my occupation as an artist, I was a psychological scientist exploring how babies make sense of the world absent the interpretive lenses of language and culture. (You can find my scientist website here.) We humans (wee humans), I found, have sophisticated and complex minds, actively constructing their understanding of the world, looking for their place within it and seeking to belong. My research gave me a deep appreciation for how we, at all ages, are engaged in the primal struggle of creating our understanding of our world, seeking our own meaning and belonging within it. My artworks depict interior and exterior landscapes; I seek to express the beauty, wonder, and fragility of the natural world, of the human condition, and of the interplay between the two, exploring themes of vulnerability, loss, hope, and growth.
I was born in Texas, raised on the Canadian prairies, and have lived at different points of my life in the big cities of Montreal, Boston, London, New York, Seoul, Beijing, Singapore; in the dramatic Sonoran desert of the American Southwest; and now, in the gentle verdant hills of New England along the Connecticut shoreline, where I've raised my own two sons now grown (the lads in the boat, on one of my 'Paintings' pages).
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 while out en plein air; some are painted from photographs I've taken on my many travels, and still others come from memory or imagination. And many 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 components: (1) Pigments (inks or paints), (2) a surface (e.g. a wood block, a cut potato, a copper or a plastic 'plate') that the pigments are applied to, and (3) another surface (usually paper or fabric) to which the pigments on the first surface are transferred, e.g. by running paper and an inked-up block through a printing press.
Most people are familiar with Relief printmaking, in which a picture or design is carved into a block of wood or linoleum (or into the cut face of a potato, for a quick & easy Sunday art project with the kids at the kitchen table). The surface of the carving is coated with ink - 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. Multiple, identical prints can be made from a single carved block (or potato) - one has only to re-ink the block and apply it anew to another sheet of paper to get another print identical to the first.
What is a Monotype?
Monotypes are, in essence, paintings made using a printing process - in which the artist paints a picture onto a smooth plate, then presses paper tightly against the plate by one means or another (such as hand rubbing the paper against the plate, rubbing it with a specialized implement called a baren, or running plate & paper through a printing press). Most of the ink painting is transferred to the paper - so the plate no longer contains the painting. Thus, there's no way to make another identical print - the artist needs to paint a new ink-painting on the plate. Every print, for this reason, is a unique, one-of-a-kind work of art (this is what puts the 'mono' in 'monotype').
There's usually a faint layer of ink remaining on the plate after pulling the print. An artist might just wipe the plate clean to make way for a whole new ink painting. But she or he could also do something with that faintly inked plate: she might pull a 'ghost' print that will be lighter and fainter than the first print, creating a very different effect. Or, she might add additional layers of ink to the plate, perhaps making new lines and shapes on top of the 'ghost' elements to create a new image that's related, but not identical to, the first.
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 overlapping 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, and other relief variations in a plate; these will all influence how the ink lies on the plate, and will show up in the final print.
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.
Bachelor of Arts, McGill University
PhD in Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor Emerita, Yale University
JJY Pillay Visiting Professor, YNUS College, Singapore 2020