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First Love

November 30, 2006


I was majoring in painting at art school. In my last year, I took a printmaking
class, where I discovered – and fell in love with – the technique of drypoints.
Drawing with sharp metal tools onto copper was for me the closest to actually
drawing on paper. I made several drypoint self-portraits like this one that
year. Here my love affair with printmaking was sparked. It was then too late
for me to change my major, yet I decided that one day I would come back to the
medium. Some fifteen years later, I did. And, now, twenty years beyond that, I
still make art using many printmaking techniques. Can an artist fall in love
with technique? The answer is yes, and in this case the affair has lasted
almost as long as I’ve known the man I married, my other first love.

by Marja-Leena Rathje

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  1. November 30, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    This is a beautiful print, Marja-Leena. I share your excitement about finding a technique that resonates with something in your head that nothing before could quite capture.

  2. November 30, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    Simply beautiful, Marja-Leena – spontaneous and full of life.

  3. December 1, 2006 at 7:02 am

    Wow. Something particularly direct and palpable about a self-portrait from this angle, and the clarity-but-subtlety of the technique enhances it. Thank you so much for sharing this and your memories.

  4. Ivy
    December 1, 2006 at 11:36 am

    How gorgeous, both the image and the story!

  5. December 1, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    I left a comment a day or so ago but it was swallowed up. Wanted to add my praise for your lovely drypoint M-L. I share your love for this medium, so immediate and expressive and such strong sinewy black lines alternating with barely-there filaments. Thanks for writing about your discovery and for the well-chosen image.

  6. December 1, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you everyone for the nice comments! I want to send a big thank you to one of the editors of this theme, writer Tom Montag, for his excellent editing help on my writing! Visual arts (rather than writing) being my strength, in exchange I offered to help Tom with any art work that he may be struggling with.

  7. December 1, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    I struggle with ALL art, Marja-Leena. Though I confess I did win a ribbon for a drawing of my impression of what I was hearing when the teacher played “The Grand Canyon Suite.” I don’t think they realized there was a rock on this side of the donkey so I didn’t have to draw the legs…. :)

  8. December 2, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    Tom, I believe all artists and writers struggle with their art. I guess what I meant by this is that I think it is easier if one has found the right medium for one’s voice. For me it has been printmaking, while writing is much more difficult. Of course there are some artists who excel in many media. and I admire them!

  9. December 3, 2006 at 12:53 pm


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