Printmakers at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles are creating the biggest art of their careers May 23 at this year’s Paso Artsfest.
Instead of the small 1-square-foot prints they normally make, the artists will create prints three times that size — measuring about 3 feet by 3 feet — outside on the street. To apply ink to paper, they’ll use a full-size, working steamroller.
The printmakers will begin by placing fiberboard blocks in front of Studios on the Park on Pine Street in downtown Paso Robles — across the street from City Park, where Festival in the Park will be held May 23. The blocks will be covered in newspaper ink, a donation from The Tribune.
Paper will be placed directly onto the inked blocks to collect the design. A blanket will be placed on top of the paper to protect it from the pressure of the steamroller, which will drive over the top.
“None of us has done any of this before,” Studios on the Park printmaker Bob Simola said with a laugh. “We have no idea what’s going to happen.”
Added fellow printmaker Helen K. Davie, “I’m anxious to see how they turn out. This is so much bigger than anything I’ve done. The material we’re using is challenging for me. I usually cut vinyl (for my print work) — but the fiberboard, well, it’s a challenge.”
“We’re experimenting,” printmaker Robert “Rosey” Rosenthal said.
“And cursing,” Davie added with a laugh.
The three printmakers come from different backgrounds and will each print their own designs at Paso Artsfest.
Rosenthal calls his style of etching “mythic fantasy,” often featuring dragons and mythical creatures. He and his wife, Barbara, also a printmaker, sold their work at Renaissance fairs for nearly a quarter of a century.
For one of his Paso Artsfest pieces, Rosenthal said he will be illustrating a poem.
“‘The cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other milk.’ That’s by Ogden Nash,” he said, his eyes sparkling.
Davie is a children’s book illustrator known for her work on the Let’s Read and Find Out series published by Harper Collins. She illustrated the official Paso Artsfest poster this year.
Simola, a former English teacher at Paso Robles High School, holds a doctorate degree in English literature. He worked in stained glass before becoming a teacher, and later became a woodblock printmaker.
The artists, who share work space at Studios on the Park, are eager to try their joint experiment at Paso Artsfest.
Now in its seventh year, Paso Artsfest takes place Memorial Day weekend at locations including Studios on the Park in Paso Robles and Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Events include a dinner and keynote address at the Park Ballroom in Paso Robles on May 22, the free Festival in the Park at City Park on May 23 and an art tour, talk and reception at Hearst Castle on May 24.