with Barry Petri,
over Christmas
in Victor, Colorado
overlooking the Continental Divide

The lines came first...just like with Shinobu. The joy was in the exploration, the leap just to see what would happen. We jockeyed for position, toyed with territory. Barry wasn't sure how far he should push his influence. I could tell in the hesitancy, the power of the silence within the urgency.

Barry and I had lived together 30 years back in another studio, with another perspective about relationships and mutual energy sharing. I was his "lady," his cohort, and a fellow artist. I had no identity of my own other than that. I stayed awhile and then journeyed on. He found me a few years ago to renew our friendship, share a kindred adoration of art and all its passion, processes and challenges. We had both married, had kids, and still made a living and a lifeworld on our wits and unstoppable creative life force.

In our current collaboration, I took the first step, began the journey of our monoprint making. With all the willingness of anxious invention, Barry didn't know where to place his foot--how to see the path. It was the playfulness and "show me what you mean" that gave us grace. We worked in oils, new for me, on an acrylic "plate." We applied the pin stripe tape, making it move in curves across the surface, making a landscape type image.

Play with Nuance, monoprint
Play with Nuance, monoprint

We tried pulling the tape off the plate after the paint was applied, before running it through the press. We also tried leaving it on the plate so that the paint would gather up next to it and we could use it to separate and dam up the colors. This was quite a play with nuance of materials and process: oil, turps, paint, tape and types of paper--smooth, or textured and absorptive.

Mid Mud Season, monoprint
Mid Mud Season, monoprint

Barry was quite concerned with making "art" and said he'd like to work with this process and build these collagraphic plates (with textures glued on them) to create prints "like no one has ever seen before."

Snow Eater, monoprint
Snow Eater, monoprint

On the first day, we created 11 prints, with ideas and creative juices stirring us on. Over the next two days (Christmas) Barry prepared the larger plates, we studied the starting prints, and talked about our ideas on and off.

I kept returning to the view out Barry's windows, of the Continental Divide: South Park, the San Luis Valley, the San Juans, Sangre de Christos, the Collegiate Peaks. The names spilled off my tongue like tinkling wind chimes. From 10,000 feet, we could see about 50 miles or so from north to south. Looking west, the mountains were constantly changing color, light, shadow clouds against the sky. There were a million colors of blue in the sky. And as the sun dipped low behind the mountains, the hues fell through warmer ranges of peach, golden grace and lavender.

October Afternoon, monoprint
Christmas Blaze, monoprint

The second session we pushed further into new realms. We began by creating a base of texture on our plates. Barry worked on the long plate, I worked on two small ones.

While the glue dried, I water colored more depth onto the first prints from before Christmas. This process covered some of the texture created by our collograph materials and added an ethereal softness. It brought our colors from printing up into the paint adding new nuance of color. It was especially interesting to see Barry's response to my workings because he is partially colorblind. So our textures, shapes, lines of energy through the works were a common language.

November Snow, monoprint
November Snow, monoprint

Color was our area of tugging back and forth, and here we were able to help each other. I showed Barry about using color as a visual language about creating depth on a 2-D surface. Bright, high contrast colors look closer; and cool, dull, low contrast colors appear further away. Using these ideas with our landscape images, especially when going over them with an additional layer of paint, created a sense of vast space. Barry showed me about applying color with a palette knife, scraping color off and layering. Barry used big blocks of color (like Cézanne) to create structural form: hard edge, bold. I used dancing lines, fluid movement and gradation of color. The result was a fascinating mix of his assertive masculine oomph with my delicate feminine flowing through the work.

Premonition of Snow, monoprint
Premonition of Snow, monoprint

We discussed how the context of our whole lives, history, and direction played and important role in this creative experience:

  1. Foundation- having lived together 28 years ago and known each other personally as friends and artists

  2. Validation and inspiration- having shared as artists over the past few years, working through issues involving our work and its context in today's economy, our own lives, and our development as artists

  3. Development of trust- visiting the Petris last summer and working on a few small projects together, getting through the initial "feel" of collaboration, and Jenna and I being with his family over this wonderous holiday


Veldean's Onion Tub, drawing
Veldean's Onion Tub, drawing

We became a family.



digging with many hands ruckus, oh my! muckity between the toes


Mud Soup an atelier of art and writing
Back Home


This work is © Copyright 1999-2011 by Aimee Colmery of MudSoup Studio, Santa Fe, NM, USA
It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission.

All trade marks, brand names, and works cited are acknowledged as belonging to their respective owners.