Art instructor Sara Sealander has always loved art, finding it “the most engaging, fun thing to do.” She loves watching her art students expressing themselves through their work. The progression of her students from novices to the more experienced artists that they grow into at the end of the semester is very rewarding to her.
“So many people tend to be passive,” she said, “In art, you’re reaching out to the world.” Sealander is currently teaching a class for her first time: Art15A, Printmaking. Although the class had been offered in previous semesters, this is Sealander’s first time at the helm thanks to a year-long sabbatical to learn about the art of printmaking.
Sealander began her sabbatical in the fall of 2000 at California State University, Chico. She completed graduate work in Printmaking, and also took a course in Italian for her upcoming sabbatical. Once the fall semester ended, Sealander spent two months studying in Cairo, Istanbul, Greece, Spain, Paris, Stockholm, and Germany. She then spent her remaining two months in Florence, Italy, where she learned the nuances of printmaking.
During those two months, she worked as a printmaker student at Santa Reparata in Florence. In June, she began an intensive printmaking workshop, spending six hours a day, five days a week in the studio. There, she created some beautiful prints of country houses, Italian buildings, orchids, and even sea turtles.
“I’d sometimes go to dinner at 10 o’clock with some of the other students, all of us covered in ink,” she remembered.
The process of printmaking can be very time consuming, yet the results can be beautiful if accomplished. One of the techniques Sealander studied, “Monoprinting,” uses either oil or water based paints. “The oil base tends to be more intense,” she pointed out.
Using only one color at a time, she would print when the paper is wet, let the paper dry overnight, and then start the process again with a different color the next day. Sealander had to be very precise about where she would press the color, for sometimes a millimeter can make the difference between a clear picture and a distorted picture.
Sealander returned after her sabbatical ended on July 11, prepared to share what she had learned with her students this fall semester. “I have a good time teaching all my classes. I have a lot of students this fall, and my printmaking class is overflowing. We have 25 students, and only 3 functioning presses.” A reception was held in her honor on August 24, which was well attended.
Sealander has donated three of her prints to the Yuba College Foundation, and they will be “selling chances” on them through October 15. Two of the donated prints were worked on in Florence, including a print of an orchid, and one of a sea turtle. The other she had worked on in Cairo features an African tribal mask. The public may see those and many of her other prints in the Library.
The displays are excellent, including captions that explain what techniques and materials she used by the print. Donations from the “chances” will go towards purchasing high quality “Tepolo” paper that Sealander had discovered in Italy.
“The Tepolo paper is a lot better for printmaking than other papers,” she explained. “It only costs 3,000 lira ($3 US) a sheet in Italy, compared to about $14 a sheet in the US. I left Florence with a portfolio stuffed with the paper, as heavy as Icould carry.” She wants to insure that her printmaking students will use the best materials for their art.
Sara Sealander discovered a lot this past year. “I wouldn’t be teaching printmaking if I hadn’t gone on the sabbatical,” she said. “I got to spend a lot of time in the studio, working on my art. I don’t always have that kind of time to work in the studio as a teacher.” She will continue to apply this experience to the job she adores.