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Jun 17, 2022
Paula Schuette Kraemer Artist Interview
Paula Schuette Kraemer in Studio Bio

Paula Schuette Kraemer is a Wisconsin- and Colorado-based artist whose mixed media prints use metaphors to explore life’s ups and downs, reflecting both her own life experiences facing grief and life’s uncertainty while celebrating the simple but momentous joys of life. It is the intent of the artist that her work be viewed both as personal and universal comments on life.

The works of Schuette-Kraemer are predominantly mixed media works of drypoint monoprints and monotypes, etching, and chine cole (learn more about printmaking techniques here). The prints within each edition vary, yet the image portrayed, the color, and the composition are constant within each edition. Because so much creativity and time is involved in the actual printing process, only small editions of twenty or fewer are produced. Enjoy the this interview with Paula Schuette Kraemer below, and see her work in Lightness of Spirit

What led you to become an artist? Tell us about the journey

My mother was an artist and so art discussion and art criticism were a part of my upbringing. Also, I liked drawing and painting from an early age. Originally, I went to college planning on studying art history, but quickly decided that just talking about art wasn’t for me.

How have the hardships in your life influenced your work?

My art has always kept me sane. It’s been my therapy. That, and nature. Throughout nursing two husbands and my parents, I could always go to my studio to create and focus on the problem solving there. Being able to make something gives one confidence to face bigger problems in life.

Paula Schuette Kraemer - Blue Sky Day - 5/20, UNF
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “Blue Sky Day – 11/20,” Etching, Intaglio and monotype, 17.5 x 23.5 in

Tell us about your process. What is your starting point? How do you know when a piece is finished?

My work is either directly or 2lisah@gmail.com related to my own experiences in life: children, loss, animals, nature, etc. I know that I’m not the only one going through these phases. It’s a part of life for everyone and my job as an artist is to speak to such situations, often lightheartedly, but with a reverence for nature as well.

Paula Schuette Kraemer - An Ode, 3/20 - UNF
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “An Ode, 1/20,” Etching, intaglio, monotype and drypoint, 26 x 22 in

In ‘An Ode,’ for example, I started with an idea, thanking my old hiking boots for their service. First, I drew them on mylar with oil stick. Drawing on mylar is very similar to doing a monotype on copper.  It has the same slipperiness and drag.

Next, I think of composition. What can be on the page with the boots? I settled on all of the hikes and sightings that happened in those boots, from waterfalls to bears.

Then I think about color. Because I work with etching, drypoint and monotype, many proofs are pulled before I arrive at the RTP (Right to Print) which is a visual formula and recipe for how I will print the edition, which is usually small (20 prints). I guess a work is ready to edition when I have pushed it as far as I can towards being a good work of art. Something that tightly holds together line-wise, color-wise and compositionally.

Tell us about your favorite new work for Lightness of Spirit.

Paula Schuette Kraemer - The Visitors, 3/20
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “The Visitors, 3/20,” Drypoint, monoprint and monotype, 36 x 48 in

“The Visitors” commemorates – and exaggerates – a scene which I have often witnessed outside my kitchen window: the gathering of Stellar’s Jays up in the trees. It will be a part of a show on birds and seemed to fit the requirements. I drew all sorts of poses of Stellar’s Jays and then moved them around the page until I had a composition that pleased my eye. Next, I drew the Jays and the trees on a copper plate with my drypoint tool. At times I sanded out the drawing or even whole birds to correct the image. Drypoint is my primary way of working.  For color, I do monotype on a separate clear plastic plate that has each bird’s position in the composition marked on it. In essence, each bird is an individual painting, as monotypes do not have a matrix to just ink up over and over. They are individually painted for each of the 20 edition prints.  There are 14 birds in this piece, so 14 x 20 = 280 drypoint monoprint, monotype birds. When we started to print this edition and had 6 prints done, I wasn’t satisfied with it.  It looked too flat and so I backed up and added secondary trees in the background which greatly improved the piece. I could only produce 2 of “The Visitor” prints per day so it was a big deal to back up and make the change. It would have always bothered me though if I hadn’t.

Tell us about the bird series that includes What Color?, Song, In the Air, Hovering, and Upwards. What inspired these works and what do you hope they evoke in the viewer?

Paula Schuette Kraemer - What Color?, 3/20 - UNF
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “What Color?, 3/20 – UNF,” Etching & Monotype, 28.75 x 17.25 in

What Color? was the first one to be completed and it’s about bird identification. What color was the bird you saw? From there, I had a very nice palette of mixed ink left. So, I came up with the idea of using those same colors in the four smaller square prints.  The dabs of ink reinforce the theme of the birds’ poses. These are simply happy prints about things that birds can do.

Paula Schuette Kraemer - Upwards, 5/20 - UNF
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “Upwards, 4/20,” Etching, Chine Cole, Ink Dabs, 17 x 16.75 in
Paula Schuette Kraemer - In the Air, 2/20
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “In the Air, 4/20,” Etching, Chine Cole, Monotype, 17 x 16.75 in
Paula Schuette Kraemer - Hovering, 5/20 - UNF
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “Hovering, 4/20,” Etching, Chine Cole, Ink Dabs, 17 x 16.75 in
Paula Schuette Kraemer - Song, 2/20
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “Song, 4/20 – UNF,” Etching, Chine Cole, Monotype, 17 x 16.75 in

What do you hope a collector notices about your work, or your work evokes in the viewer?

I hope that my works speak to the viewer, that they can relate to the experience portrayed.  I hope that people see my drawing as an important aspect of each piece and that they respect it as a fine work of art and not just ‘cute’ or ‘whimsical.’

Paula Schuette Kraemer - Hello -  A/P, UNF
Paula Schuette Kraemer, “Hello – 12/20,” Monoprint, Drypoint, Monotype, 23.5 x 23.5 in
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