Category Archives: studio visits

Studio Visits #6, Laura Antonella Mancuso, Print maker, Dover Delaware

Last week I went to see Laura Mancuso’s studio here in Dover. Laura is a print maker and works in a variety of substrates. Wood, cardboard and monotypes are favorites though! I kind of jumped ahead. The first thing you need to know about Laura is how to say her name! It’s pronounced Lowra, where the “ow” sounds like the word you say when you bump your toe. Not the F bomb, the other one! Anyways. Back to the visit. Her studio is just a small space with great lighting, a few tables to work from, and places to hang prints to dry.

Not much to it. Great light and a good size table or two

The tools are simple too. Here are some gouges and chisels to carve the wood. The wood is just some readily available pine from the big box store. Of course it needs to be flat!


Laura is working on some architectural roots stuff. This is part of one section. The print is kind of reverse from the carved wood.
Laura is working on some architectural roots stuff. This is part of one section. The print is kind of reverse from the carved wood.
Laura Mancuso working on a wood block print
Laura carving into the wood block.
Carving out some of the wood on the block
Carving out some of the wood on the block

After rolling some ink on the block, Laura makes a test print to show me how the small scratches she made make light or shaded areas on the print..

Hand printing is more physical than I imagined. She bore down pretty hard to get the ink onto the paper!
Hand printing is more physical than I imagined. She bore down pretty hard to get the ink onto the paper!
Here's the print from the block!
Here’s the print from the block!

I was interested in how the paper affected the look of the print. This paper had some kind of water marking on it, that was very organic looking and added to the tree root look. Laura said she could add water color paint or other stuff to the print to complete the look she has in mind. She could also have done different colors by using rollers in tandem. My take away was that Laura has to make a thousand different choices and each one could take the finished print over the top, or just kill it!

Laura showed me how she makes mono prints too! For those she puts her ink right on a glass plate, or really, anything smooth and not porous, and then draws, scoops or otherwise manipulates the ink. She then gently lays the paper on top and then presses the paper firmly, but not too firmly, into the ink to transfer the print. It’s called a mono print because each print can only be made one time. Any secondary images are different.

It's kind of hard to imagine what this will be
It’s kind of hard to imagine what this will be

Laura made one print from this and then I suggested she take out the three big stripes you see kind of on the top right of the ink here. She entertained the idea and added some other colors and came up with the secondary print. I’m thinking I got the name wrong, but, anyways…  In the photo below the first print is up top and the second print is in Laura’s left hand. I showed it in color so you can see some of the changes from one print to the next.

Laura Mancuso with 2 monoprints
Two different prints from the monoprinting process I talked about above. There will never be any duplicates!

Speaking of hands, cleanliness is next to godliness for printers! If you get some ink on your hand, and don’t know it, when you pick up your fresh print, bad things happen! The cleaning material of choice is baby wipes! For the plates, blocks, and printers hands and tools!

I had a great time talking with Laura about the process and her artistic vision. We talked for over an hour and I’m sure I barely hit the tip of the iceberg.

As has become my custom, here are Laura’s answers to the little survey I’ve been asking folks.

What kinds of art do you do?

I am primarily a printmaker. The thing I like most about printmaking is the freedom that it offers as a medium. It allows you the ability to create so many kinds of artistic styles within one medium-you can be painterly, sculptural, minimal, textural or expressive just by changing the material you are carving/etching on. I also love how the material can become part of the print- For example, if you are carving into wood the knots and grain add texture and can be incorporated in the composition of the final print.

I like all the various techniques but my favorite technique at the moment is called a cardigraph, where using an exacto knife you cut and peel away at seven-layer cardboard plate. The deeper you cut away at the plate, the darker the tone will be on the final print. Once complete the cardboard plate  is sealed and compressed using a printing press. By applying ink on the plate and wiping away the ink, the optimal tones are achieved. Once the plate is inked, it is placed on damp paper and pulled through a press. I love how in this technique, from an ordinary and non-traditional material, I can create texture as well a range of tone from light to dark.

When I am not printmaking, I like to draw using charcoal, ink and watercolor, often combining these materials.

Do you have a day job too?

I am the Curator and Manager of the Dover Art League (DAL). I really enjoy working there because I get to work with artists as well as meet art lovers and appreciator of all ages. I love connecting with the community and collaborating with arts organizations and love curating the exhibits.

Is there something that drives your art?

I’m inspired by dreams as well as stories and landscapes that live within a community. I’ve lived in many different places from Central New York, Florence and Pescara, Italy to Anchorage, Alaska and in my artwork I explore the various landscapes and various stories collected while living in all these different places. I try to find the common themes in the collections of stories and use those common themes that link all of humanity. For example, in my last solo show, in Anchorage I explored human resiliency in a series of cardigraph prints. The idea came about after I dreamt about a group of people walking through a woods with all their worries and emotional weight. They approached a beach, applied mud on themselves, washed away the mud then headed back to the woods. The series included images of emotive portraits, woods and beach landscapes.

(Editor’s note: Check out these awesome prints Laura described!)

Postcard from a show Laura did.
Postcard from a show Laura did.
another print from the show
another print from the show


How long have you been doing it? Any special training?

Although I liked art as a kid, I started creating and studying art seriously in high school. In the ninth grade I created my first linocut relief and got the printmaking bug. Shortly after, in 1999, a big Labor Day storm hit in Syracuse, NY. I suffered third degree and second burns on my right shoulder and upper arm when my shirt sleeve accidentally brushed against a lit candle on a table and caught on fire. I was in the burn unit and out of school for the majority of the school year and turned to drawing and writing to express what I could not to others and to heal emotionally after that dramatic event. When I returned to high school and through the remainder of my high school years, I studied the fundamentals and filled my elective classes with art classes, graduating with AP credits and an art scholarship for college. I attended Nazareth College in Rochester, NY and graduated with a B.S. in Studio Art, with a concentration and focus on printmaking and continued showing my work in group and solo shows. I am currently working on my portfolio and planning on applying for and hopefully attending graduate school within the next couple of years.

How can I find you online?

My website it currently being updated and should be up by the end of August. I will keep you updated once it is published. I am also on Facebook at

Do you have a series or theme you’re working on now?

Yes, in January 2017, I will be having an exhibit in The Holden Gallery at the Dover Art League called Roots: Architectural Prints by Laura Antonella Mancuso. The series will be blending bookmaking with printmaking and drawing and will explore the many meaning of the word ‘roots’ as it relates to people and nature. The series will blend printmaking and bookmaking techniques, creating print that have form. They will have an architectural quality being both 2d and 3d.

I also love reading and writing. This project is very much influenced by my love of the literary and art and my desire to combine them


Laura, thanks for letting me into your world and sharing it with others! I can’t wait to see the show in January!


Studio Visits #4, Cheryl Young, Dover, DE

Cheryl Young in her studio!
Cheryl Young in her studio!

I had the chance to visit Cheryl Young’s studio in downtown Dover, Delaware. Cheryl has a nice space at the back of her home to do her stained glass art and copper bracelets and other jewelry too. It’s interesting to me that Cheryl said she got into the jewelry and bracelets because she couldn’t find the things she wanted so she decided to do them for herself!

Here are the questions I had for Cheryl and her answers!

What kinds of art do you do? Is there something that drives your art?

Stained Glass– My love of colors is a good answer for this question. I love putting colors together in different designs, and enjoy seeing the end result hanging in a window.

I am a person who believes that a beautiful piece of stained glass brightens a room and a mood, even on the dreariest of days.

Cheryl was showing me the texture on the glass she was holding
Cheryl was showing me the texture on the glass she was holding

Copper/Rustic Jewelry-The creative aspect of being able to make a wearable piece of art, coupled with being able to make the jewelry appear to be from an array of eras.

I work with 5 or so different patina methods, each with their own look and feel.

How long have you been doing it? Any special training?

Stained glass– Approximately 8 or so years. My husband and I took a basic 3 day class concentrating on techniques, and the rest is self taught through research and practice.

Copper/Rustic Jewelry-Began jewelry design a short time ago. Although many of the processes for jewelry is the same as with stained glass. Self taught.

Cheryl showed me a little about how she works with templates and ceiling tiles to make her art
Cheryl showed me a little about how she works with templates and ceiling tiles to make her art

What’s your favorite kind to do? Why?

Although I thoroughly enjoy both for many reasons, stained glass remains my favorite. In addition to enhancing a room, I enjoy seeing how happy my clients are when the piece is installed. This sort of art also allows me to give silent auction and benefit assistance.

Do you have a favorite piece?

Not a favorite piece, per se, but my transom pieces are my favorite type of glass to design.

How can I find you online?


   (Do not have to be signed up with Facebook to visit this page)

Do you have a series or theme you’re working on now?

Yes. I am currently putting all of my efforts into a large art show in Berlin, Maryland called the Berlin Heritage and Peach Festival, which will be held in August. Both the stained glass and the Copper Jewelry will be featured.

Dog Bandana. I took out the owners phone number. Cheryl said she knew of one success story that got a lost dog rescued in an hour!
Cheryl’s art!  I took out the owners phone number on the bandana. Cheryl said she knew of one success story that got a lost dog rescued in an hour!

Cheryl and I talked for a while about the other projects that we do and she wanted to be sure to talk about something near and dear to her heart, making some bandana thingys (do you like that technical term?) for dogs. Cheryl and her husband have several pets and clearly care about them! Here’s what she said about the dog project:

One thing I do which is not what I call art, but it does help, is I make and embroider custom bandanas for dogs. The bandanas are embroidered with the dogs name and the owner contact information. 40% of the proceeds go toward helping Safe and Sound Pet Care, which is a low cost veterinary mobile unit that visits pet stores, and other locations. People can take their animals to them for vaccinations, routine visits, flea and tick meds, as well as nail cutting and many more things. The cost of their care is a fraction of what regular veterinarians charge, subsequently affording more people the ability to keep and take care of their animals.

Studio Visits #3, Natasha Rodríguez, Dover, DE

We talked about Frida Kahlo's influence on Natasha. Natasha has a Frida bag you can see hanging on the door.
We talked about Frida Kahlo’s influence on Natasha. Natasha has a Frida bag you can see hanging on the door.

I met Natasha Rodríguez , a skilled self-taught painter, at the Dover Art League a few weeks back, and asked if she’d be interested in participating in this project.  I got a chance to visit with her today in her home living room where she does her paintings in a very small corner. We also checked out her awesome deck, where she paints when it’s decent out.  Natasha’s home is filled with many beautiful photos and wall hangings. Art is in her blood!
Natasha’s day job is as a Nurse working with folks in  drug rehab.  We talked a little about how her father’s experiences with drugs and AIDs affected her career decision and some of the tough things she’s seen in her  job.

I tried something a little different for the project this time in that I sent some questions to Natasha to get her responses to so I could use them for this post.

Seated Natasha

Natasha revealed a lot in her answers. More than I might have. She was darn brave to share it. I was concerned about sharing her brutal truths because I started this studio project with the idea of being more “sunshine and happiness”and “isn’t this a cool person and workspace that few people know we’ve got such talented artists in the area?” theme. But, nothing is ever that simple, now is it? Part of what art is supposed to do, in my view, is to tell the truth. Just be real. Well, you can’t get more real than her answers.
Here are the questions in bold and her responses italicized. She added a question, and it’s bolded and italicized.

What kinds of art do you do?

I use Acrylic on Canvas and as of lately I have been painting a lot of portraits that portray humans from around the world.  I like to highlight on the different ethnicities…  I have also done abstract painting, landscapes and botanicals.

 Is there something that drives your art?

It is a release for me…a release of emotion…an outlet.  When I’m feeling sad…painting is my therapy…when I’m happy…painting is a way for me to share my happiness.  I use to have a love/ hate relationship with my art because I would start on something..and if it didn’t flow…I would abandon the piece..for months..even years.  And doing this…would get under my skin…but I would refuse to go back to that piece because it no longer spoke to me.  Then sometimes…I would start a piece..and frantically work on it…won’t stop to eat..drink..just obsessively work on it until completion. 

Overall, as of very recently, I have found a healthier/ happier medium between the both and can paint with much more ease.  Though, my emotions still are the driving force for painting.

How long have you been doing it?


As a little little girl, I have always been interested in art.  My father was my big inspiration because he, himself, was an artist (painter and photographer).  He had an ability to see beauty in many things around him in our world..and I noticed I had that same eye, same appreciation in the beauty of many things.  He introduced me to the artwork of Norman Rockwell and many other artists.  I actually still have a drawing I did in colored pencil of one of Rockwell’s paintings…concentration on a woman sitting in a rumble seat.  I was maybe 9 or 10 when I drew it.  I have always dabbled with sketching and have painted a few things for friends in 2007.  It was in 2011 that I started really diving into my art.  I started building up my clientele..doing commission work for people around the states. 

In 2012, my world became a horrendous struggle from there up until very recently…so I almost completely fell off from painting all together.

What happened in 2012?

Well…a lot of craziness.  I will try to sum it up if that’s even possible.  In 2010 I had left a terrible, emotionally abusive marriage.  I know there are 3 sides to every story…Mine..His..and the Truth…but..I’m here to tell you…mine IS the truth.  My ex-“husband” had taken me to court for sole custody of our daughter in 2012…whom he hadn’t seen for over a year due to a deployment.  I had already restarted my life..was in another relationship and actually pregnant at the time.  I didn’t want my ex to know any aspect of my life because he was mentally sick and would stalk me so bad that even the military put a No contact order on him..which he continued to break..hence them deciding to send him to Korea for a year in hopes that he would: 1: not be able stalk and torment me and 2. maybe “get over me”.  Well moving forward…the day before court in 2012, he requested he see our daughter for a few hours to “spend time with her”.  Stupidly and naively I let him..and the next day in court he came suited up with a lawyer and told the judge that our daughter told him that my current boyfriend hits on my then 4 year old daughter.  Which is not true at all, but of course the judge pulls up everyone’s criminal history..and unfortunately my then boyfriend had an extensive criminal background.  So without further investigation of my home and without getting a child psychologist or DFS involved to evaluate my daughter, the judge ordered joint custody and gave my ex primary placement.  The very next day I had to bring my daughter to the courts and turn her over to her father.  This completely completely broke me. All this..for my ex to give me back my daughter 6 months later.

Then in the summer of 2013, my then 10 year old son came out and told me while I was married to my daughter’s father he was being raped by him  when he was four years old.  Delaware dropped the ball on the military picked up the case but because of “lack of evidence”…he was found not guilty for raping my child.Then in 2014, I was not only dealing with the blatant injustice for my son but I was back in custody court and my ex was trying to get sole custody of Sonya again.  Thank God, I was given primary placement this time…but unfortunately they had given us joint custody with him getting unsupervised visits with my daughter.  I’m here to tell you, there is something sickly wrong with the justice system and our family courts.  After all this…almost 2 years now, my ex has not ONCE tried to see my daughter or have her for visitation.  And for that…I am sooo very grateful. 

Here we are in 2016, getting our life back together…my children are with me…they are SAFE…they are happy children, they are flourishing…and thank God they are resilient!  So here I am now…finding inner peace…working…going back to school..and creating art!  We take it day by day…and our small steps have allowed up to put many, many miles of horrible days behind us.

 Any special training? Awards?

When I was in school I always excelled in Art class…won all the awards…lol.  In high school Art I joined the Art Club..but didn’t fare to well because I got bored with instructions and having to “follow what the teacher said”.  I liked the be free with my art..and that is also how I like to live.

What’s your favorite kind to do? Why?

I love painting people.  Especially the eyes.  There is so much to the eyes…they can tell a thousand stories with no words…many people don’t get that.  I do…and I like to concentrate on that…

Do you have a favorite piece?

All my pieces I love… but I have to say my most recent one is my favorite.  It’s a selfie! (Self portrait).  I was able to incorporate Mi Orgullo (My Pride).  I’m 100 percent Puerto Rican- though I was born in Los Angeles.  My Mother is from New Jersey, my Father from New York and both maternal and paternal grandparents are from Puerto Rico.  I have always loved learning about mi cultura (my culture) and the history of it.  So in this specific painting I was able to incorporate some Taino symbols. Tainos are the original Indians of Puerto Rico..and actually all of the Caribbean. I also added El Coqui…which is the frog indigenous to Puerto Rico.  In addition you will find above me on a branch La Reina Mora which is another indigenous species to La Isla Del Encanto (The Enchanted Island). 

With this particular piece I would like to say the work of my most favorite artist is what also inspired me to create this piece as well.  Her name is Frida Kahlo.  She was a Mexican artist who actually was known for her self portraits and bright vivid paintings that were very raw and unapologetic. 

How can I find you online?

Right now I am on Instagram where I post my work.  You can look me up on Instagram as artedenatasha  My actual website is in the works as of right now.  I will keep you posted though.

Do you have a series or theme you’re working on now?

I want to work on more portraits of humans from all over the globe.  As of right now, I am starting to get swamped with clients wanting me to create portraits and different pieces for them. 


Outdoor Natasha Rodriguez

Natasha, thanks for allowing me to visit you in your space and so openly sharing your truths with me and the world. And, just as importantly, making and sharing your art.
Natasha’s work is currently on view and for sale at the Dover Art League in Dover, DE.