17 Jan Artist Spotlight: Paula Schuette Kraemer
Paula Schuette Kraemer’s prints bloom with tactile sensations emanating from the layered effects of ink blending into form. She effortlessly combines multiple printing disciplines — monotype, monoprint, intaglio, chine-collé, and others — to produce works with lush colors and fluid lines. Her subject matter is the doorway to her interior thoughts. In her work, meaning and metaphor are the golden thread tying together years of work, love, children, loss, renewal, goodbyes, and new beginnings.
Schuette Kraemer grew up around art and initially attended Vassar College to study art history. She quickly realized, however, that she was surrounded by frustrated artists — and that she, too, was one of them. She left Vassar for the University of Wisconsin, where she pursued fine art printmaking and met her mentor Warrington Colescott.
More than 50 years later, Schuette Kraemer keeps a home near the university in Madison and divides her time between Wisconsin and the mountains of Colorado, hiking, skiing, drawing, taking pictures, and spending time with her family and friends. She and her husband designed their home north of Silverthorne, Colorado, in 1998. “I find nature very healing, cathartic. I like the bigness of it,” she says. “The majesty of the mountains, the clouds, which seem closer and more dramatic, the overall perspective that one can get in the mountains. I always leave there feeling calmer, more focused, and strengthened by the beauty and peace.”
Her work happens in distinct stages, beginning with design and concept. “I tend to do my drawing on mylar because I’m very heavy-handed,” she says. “I erase right through paper, but I can erase on mylar; I can smear, it has a similar feeling to working with ink on a copper plate. It’s where I work out the design and details.”
Next, she translates the drawing to plates and runs them through the press to flesh out the design, working in reverse. Then she moves to the proofing stage, where experimentation with color, plates, and paper allows her to develop a printing “recipe.” Lastly, she pulls the final images, which she does in small editions of 15 to 20 prints, mainly because each print requires so much handwork. But this is one of her favorite parts of the process. “The thing I love the most is the smearing of paint with my hands, the expressionistic side of the work,” she says.
Some prints incorporate mixed media, in which she will explore layering materials. “I get piles of all these bits of images — like little poems — and I’ll see if they work together. I put one on top of the other. Like the print Hopscotch, I took Japanese paper and worked it with an encaustic layer until it became transparent, and then put a mylar drawing on top. I use disparate images to see how they relate.”
Over the course of her career, Schuette Kraemer has circled back to favorite subjects: her dogs, gates, hands, and other themes spring from her life. For example, her kids bought her a small trail camera that she mounted on a tree near her home, and some of these nocturnal images of wildlife now appear in her work. “I am always interested in what the animals are thinking about us,” she muses. “I suppose I give them credit for having some human traits.” Then there’s also time spent around campfires with friends and family. These moments give way to self-reflection, the reality of age and transitions, the need to find balance and harmony, not only in work but in life.
“I’m trying to give something to the viewer, something universal but personal too,” she says. “A way to see life.”
Schuette Kraemer is represented by the Ann Korologos Gallery in Basalt, Colorado, which will showcase her work through March 31. She is also represented by Gallery Marzen in Madison, Wisconsin; Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Olson-Larsen Galleries in Des Moines, Iowa; and Breckenridge Gallery in Breckenridge, Colorado.