Interview with Donna Stallard
1. What is your research process like at the beginning of a new project or series? I tend to take a lot of time and let visual information simmer in my head while I do other mundane things like cut grass, do laundry and my all time favorite is cleaning house, my studio, garage, etc. The act of visualizing was instilled in me as an athlete, and I have found it very useful for creating artwork. I used to spend time sketching and re-sketching ideas, now I rely heavily on the process of visualization and find that I get to the heart of the project much quicker and more efficiently. 2. Could you share a particular moment when you decided to pursue printmaking more specifically over other sorts of art media? I made this decision as an undergrad at IUS. I applied to two schools for grad studies: the University of Cincinnati for drawing and the University of Dallas for printmaking. I was accepted at both schools, and thought because I had grown up in this area, I would go further away from home, my parents and learn more about a discipline that required more technical equipment. I ultimately told myself I could draw anywhere with little to no materials, but in order to master printmaking, I really needed to learn more technical things about etching, acids, and layering imagery. 3. I’ve noticed that your work often includes a sculptural or some sort of 3-D configuration. Can you tell us how you started working in printmaking with the third dimension added? As an undergrad, I learned how to matte and frame artwork and was pretty proficient at it. I started out as a painting major, where I began my first constructed/sculptural paintings with the help of my dad. He was a cabinet maker for a time, and had all the necessary tools to cut and construct items in wood. This proved to be a tense collaboration because we were so similar; both perfectionists with little to no patience. I always wanted to do create things that didn't confirm to a rectangle or square, so in grad school my work became much more organic and fluid. It was while at the University of Dallas that I really honed my wood working skills and acquired the freedom to experiment with a variety of materials. Through the visiting artist program, I encountered artists who worked sculptural but still relied on the traditional printmaking techniques of intaglio and relief. At this time, I also refined the handmade papers I was creating when one of the Twinrocker twins, Margaret Prentice came to create an edition of handmade papers and multi-plate relief printed images. Learning how to make my own paper better was transformative because I could control the weight, color and texture.
4. How do you balance making your own art with other obligations in your life? This has been a struggle since becoming a full time Lecturer and ultimately Senior Lecturer here at IUS. I can begin pieces easily, my biggest hurdle is completing them. I usually will use a solo show or juried exhibition as motivation to complete projects. I am a procrastinator, so that pressure to meet a deadline is the best motivator for me. 5. If you could go back in time and give the younger you, who was fresh out of college, a bit of advice, what would it be? Let go of the idea of working on something until you think it is perfect. Over the decades as I continue to make creative work, I am much more open minded and allow myself to make things that are unsuccessful or even ugly. The public might not see these objects or prints, but I store them away or sometimes even burn them. There is something very satisfying in destroying something which one has created.