Etching and Watercolour by Valerie Palmer, Peace River, AB


Drawing etched on copper plate for printing on rag paper
& watercolour painting
New ‘Howard’ process. 1995

How this work of art came into being:
Printmaking is an ancient artform involving the creation of a plate (e.g., wood or metal) for transferring ink to a surface such as paper. Many of these processes involved the use of toxic materials and processes that, in time, would cause health problems for the artists. This was the case for Keith Howard of Peace River. His illness was a hardship that led to innovation.
In the summer of 1995, Keith offered a Master Printmakers Workshop at Fairview College in Peace River, Alberta. His new methods of printmaking using non-toxic materials captured the interest of artists and art instructors from around the world, and Valerie Palmer was among his students. Keith’s energy and character made him an inspiring instructor indeed. This workshop and his books and international tours created a profound ripple effect of eco-friendly creativity that is still being practiced and passed on today (2018).
Prior to taking this workshop, Valerie had been thinking about our Indigenous peoples, their lifestyle, resourcefulness, perseverance through difficult circumstances, and the challenge of passing on their skills, knowledge, and culture in a changing world. Her respect, wonder and compassion found expression in this work of art as Valerie explored the possibilities of adapting to these new printmaking processes and materials.
Valerie went on to develop her own printmaking methods, using mushrooms and toadstools gathered from the land to create organic prints as the spores drop onto the paper forming unique patterns and designs.