Featured Artist | Stephen Harmston – Fall 2013

Stephen has been creating hand‐printed serigraphy for more than 25 years. His imagery is a way of sharing his experiences from travels throughout the wild and rural parts of the land. He has lived in the Southwestern states of the Colorado Plateau up to the Pacific Northwest, and the large skies, distant mountains, and seasonal textures of this expansive, beautiful land have been a constant source of inspiration.

feat_artHe has a BFA in Printmaking and has spent his career working both as a commercial screen printer and as a printmaker in the fine arts. His works have been sold to art collectors and galleries and have frequently been used as promotional subjects for fine art shows and cultural events.

Harmston’s artwork reflects a point of view that he attempts to make both visually attractive and unusual. Unusual, in that the artistic medium he chooses to create with is called serigraphy or screen printing. Serigraphy is basically a stencil making process, in which each color is hand‐cut, and hand‐printed onto the papers surface. With this medium of fine art printing expresses his personal attachment to the imagery with simple hand cut shapes, overlaying with a vibrant palette of opaque and translucent colors. He loves the physical aspects of creating his art: “the stencil cutting, color mixing and the act of pulling the ink across the screen onto the paper. The medium of screen printing, while very time consuming and labor intensive, seems well suited for my creative process. It’s still exciting to lift the screen and see the colors build up on each other.”

A serigraph is an original fine art silkscreen print. There are a variety of techniques to create stencils. Harmston chooses to hand cut his stencils using litho film with an Exacto knife and exposes the stencils to the screen using a photo emulsion process. The screen is a rectangular frame over which a mesh fabric is tightly stretched. Each color is printed by pulling ink across the screen with a squeegee onto the paper. This process is repeated over and over, sometimes requiring 20 ‐ 40 stencils until the image is complete. It takes between one to two months to complete each edition, which are short, usually 50 or less, and they are never reprinted again, the stencils are destroyed and the screen is reclaimed.

Screen printing creates a unique type of art with a smooth, satin like surface quality that’s almost impossible to create with any other technique. Serigraphy became a fine art medium around the late 1930’s and by the 1960s it became widely accepted by both collectors and galleries when artist’s such as Andy Warhol , Roy Liechtenstein and others began creating major works in the medium.

This artwork is not to be confused with mass produced, mechanical, or commercial reproductions or computer graphics. Each piece is a hand cut and hand printed original, and due to the nature of the hand printing process, slight variances occur with each pass so no two are exactly alike. Each print is truly an original, handmade work of art.

Moonlight Gulch (2012) is a mixed media piece that incorporates both screen‐printing and acrylic painting. Harmston will bring a limited edition of Serigraphs of Moonlight Gulch to exhibit and sell from his Featured Artist booth during the Festival. The image itself was inspired from Harmston’s many backpacking trips into the Cedar Mesa region of Southeast Utah. “In particular, during one of those trips I stayed in Grand Gulch, a major canyon in the area. While in the daytime the views are impressive it is what occurred one night during a full moon. The full moon effect transformed the gulch into an ever changing, other worldly place. The moon was so bright during this visit that it was bright enough to read by while also remaining at times spooky. It was a thrilling sight and it inspired this piece.”

During the 2013 Fall Tempe Festival of the Arts, Stephen Harmston will be located in the Featured Artist booth at the intersection of Mill Avenue and 5th Street.

The original of “Moonlight Gulch” has been added to the Tempe Festival of the Arts Featured Artist Gallery, and will be on display at the Mill Avenue District offices at 310 South Mill Avenue, Suite A‐201, in downtown Tempe, Arizona.