Margaret Bedell

From the Artist


Calm, quiet and serene, Margaret Bedell was the exact opposite of her wildly colorful artwork. Her unique "plant paintings" radiate vibrancy and warmth. Lines are clean and bold, colors are rich and true.

Just-picked plants, florals and fibers are used as the print matrix, making Bedell's print process extraordinary in itself. Flowers and foliage are artistically composed to create wonderful gardens - environments that are a riot of color, yet they seem to sooth with feelings of peace and quiet.

Margaret Bedell's monoprint process begins with the careful selection of natural materials - leaves, freshly cut blooms, fibers and grasses - which she arranges into masterful compositions of vibrant, rich color. The plants and flowers are then handpainted by the artist, layers of oil based printer's ink combined with metallics. This matrix is then arranged on the bed of her etching press (one of the largest flatbed etching presses in Hawaii), and a print is pulled, using dampened Arches 100 % rag paper. The resulting impression becomes deeply embossed, and it is then the basis for subsequent mixed media artwork. Depending upon whether or not the organic plant arrangement is damaged by the embossing, several prints may be pulled. However, since these prints are each made at different pressures and with multiple layers of printer's ink, there will be considerable difference in each piece of work in the same series. When dried, the prints are then individually painted with watercolors by the artist, rendering each one a completely original work of art. "The mingling and rejection of media (especially the oil based ink, metallics and watercolors) create unique effects of transparency, color and dimension," Bedell once explained. "I'm interested in extremely intense colors, saturated, vibrant colors."

This combination of techniques allows the artist to explore many creative variables while still experimenting with the actual print process. Bedell was considered to be one of the most outstanding university-trained printmakers in the country. After the last of her five children were in school, Bedell returned to college and earned a masters degree in studio art (printmaking). It was Bedell's education in viscosity painting (one plate multi-hue color printing) that eventually led to the development and invention of her unique print process.

Margaret Bedell used her printing press much in the same way as a musician uses an intrument. She created symphonies of color, taking full advantage of the dazzling array of floral colors in the islands. Her work is exuberant, with a tropical richness that is most unusual in traditional printmaking, but a very natural result of her own avant-garde multi-media artistry.

By the way, we've used the term "multi-media" several times without really explaining what this means. At least in the case of Margaret Bedell's work, it means creating the prints with a combination of several different mediums, such as: printer's ink, Japanese inks, watercolors, metallics (including silver, bronze and gold) and the use of graphite pencil.