Grace Calibo on Exploring Mediums in Quarantine

Grace Calibo on Exploring Mediums in Quarantine

Born in Everett and now living in the Tri-Cities, artist Grace Calibo has been printed in the publication Tumbleweird and hung in shows by DrewBoy Creative (read our interview with the founders here). With a foundation based in digital art, she focuses primarily on ink painting, linoleum carving, and printmaking.

As a creator of abstract nature pieces, detailed acrylic dragon paintings, and neatly carved prints of anything she can dream up, her art isn’t confined to a single medium, genre, or mood.

We asked Grace to tell us about some great graphic novels she's been reading lately, being self-taught, and the secrets of her quarantine creative process.

We know you like to make your work using a variety of mediums, do you have a favorite medium? If so, which one is it and why? Are there any others you are hoping to explore?

I picked it up less than a year ago but my favorite medium, by far, is linoleum cutting and printmaking. It’s such an involved process that when I have the finished print in my hands I feel especially accomplished. As for a medium I’d like to try, I’ve never had the chance to use oil paint. I think they’d be fun to use but I’m holding off until I can figure out an area to work in that’s better ventilated!

Grace Calibo, Covered Bridge

What is your process usually like when you’re making work?

Step one in my process is coming up with the concept of what I’m going to make, usually based on a story I’ve made up or mood I want to materialize. From there, the next steps depend on the medium. Usually, if I decide to use ink or acrylics for a more abstract piece, I go straight into painting and embrace the spontaneous nature of having next to no plan.

For anything else, especially linoleum cutting, I’m an avid planner since most of my creative work is done during the sketching phase. My sketches and preliminary line work are done digitally so I can freely manipulate it and iron out all the composition details before I start the final piece. Once I’m satisfied with what I see, I’ll transfer it to canvas, paper, or linoleum. At this point, thanks to all my planning, all that’s left is to take my time and execute the piece to the best of my ability.

Grace Calibo, Misty Morning Man

You describe yourself as “self-taught.” How did you find your aesthetic outside of a structured educational environment?

Finding my aesthetic is a pursuit of making art that I find compelling or nice to look at. A large part of my process is looking for methods to bring me closer to my desired style. Also, though it’s a term I use myself and it's entirely accurate, I feel "self-taught" implies a certain level of purposeful study happening. When trying new mediums and techniques, I tend to throw myself into the deep end and learn what I’m doing as I go. It’s not necessarily a method that works for everyone but I’m quite happy with the results so far.

Has quarantined affected your creative process?

Before quarantine I had art shows to prepare for, projects to work on, and meetings with other artists to keep me busy and inspired. Obviously, my schedule has opened up quite a bit and, because of this, I let days go by without so much as sketching when I couldn’t find motivation. I did my best to remain productive in other ways, such as learning how to add pockets to pocketless clothing, but I found myself missing my own art.

I think one of the most important things about staying motivated in such an unbelievably stressful time is remembering why you create. I make art for myself. I make art because I’m less happy when I don’t. So, while my process hasn’t changed much, I suppose the source of my motivation has had to change. Less motivation in the interest of future plans and more motivation in the interest of simply seeing what I can create.

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