Art Stroll lets the public meet the people behind the pieces

·3 min read

Jul. 21—Lydia Thompson's favorite form of expression for quite a long time has been printmaking, which involves using a carving or etching to transfer a design onto paper in ink, not dissimilar in principle from a stamp.

She called it more graphic art than painting, but it results in beautiful works either way. Many of her pieces focus on animal life, some on landscapes like the island's Pier Village, while others are more abstract.

She'll be showing off her work during this afternoon's St. Simons Island Art Stroll from 4 to 7 p.m. at ArtTrends Gallery. More than 100 local and regional artists will be on hand at five local galleries to meet and greet the public, accompanied by wine and light refreshments.

For Thompson, it was love at first sight with the printing press. Back in school, she took a class on printmaking. All it took was one look at the process to know it was what she wanted to do.

One of the fun parts of working the press is getting the pressure and colors just right. You can end up with entirely different results depending on how hard the rollers compress the plat and canvas. Every piece is a surprise.

"What printmakers say is 'it's always Christmas,'" Thompson said. "Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."

Printmaking typically involves metals and corrosive chemicals, but Thompson said lately she's been experimenting with "green printing" techniques that use environmentally friendly substances.

"It's not so toxic," she said. "You use things like soybean ink and gum Arabic."

Some of Thompson's works will be on display at ArtTrends Gallery at 3305 Frederica Road, along with pieces by Trish Rugaber, Deborah Jinkins, Ella Cert and others in the nine-artist studio.

Four other studios are participating — Wallin Gallery at 3600 Frederica Road, Anderson Fine Art Gallery at 3309 Frederica Road, Artists' Annex Gallery at 100 Sylvan Blvd. Suite 170 and Glynn Visual Arts at 106 Island Drive — and will be open for the event today.

Ken Wallin, the owner of Wallin Gallery, has been doing his own experimentation with oil painting lately — painting in two layers.

His latest fixation sprung out of an effort to add more depth to his paintings. He tried a few different techniques, like fashioning small pieces out of paper and plaster and attaching them to the painting. None did the trick until he tried adding a later of plexiglass over the top.

That opened up a world of options. At first, he simply wanted to convey the sense the birds in his largely nature-themed paintings were actually flying. Since then, he's seen the potential to portray underwater scenes and create other illusions.

Covering the plexiglass with another translucent medium creates an oil-painting effect on top of the see-through material while still training depth.

"I'm always in love with what I finished three months ago, but I really think I can do a lot with this," Wallin said.