Lisa Tornatore | Artist


If you find yourself drawn to art that you relate to or feel emotionally, than you are in the right place. My mission is to help heal and nourish feelings, through empathy and compassion. This is especially apparent in my heart print series of work. Each heart print signifies an emotion I have been through and am sharing with you. I welcome you to take a look around, experience my art, and engage with me! Visit my Blog, Instagram, or Facebook Page for info about my art and upcoming shows or events!

Printmaking Processes Series 4

Photography by Nancy Strahinic

Photography by Nancy Strahinic

Carving, Inking, & Printing

With four wooden plates and my image printed on them, I am ready to carve. I pull out my wood carving tools and go to town. When carving a wood plate, remove all areas that you don't want seen on the final image. So I am working with what artists call negative space. The positive space are the lines seen on the image and negative is all space around it. I carved around each line that was printed on my plates, very carefully. When carving a wood plate, there is no room for mistakes. I cannot glue pieces of wood back onto the plate or erase a mistaken line as if I was working on paper. Many times, if I make a mistake or my hand slips accidentally removing a piece of wood, my options are to create a little something extra around it or live with it. I just say it adds character to the print! 

Photography by Nancy Strahinic

Photography by Nancy Strahinic

After I finished carving my wooden plates, which took me what seemed like eternity, I began inking my plates. Now inking up plates take a little bit of planning in regards to how the layering will work with each run through the press. It is always best to start with the lightest color first. I did a quick run of all the plates on some clear acetate to see how the registration of the plates were going to be and to see if I needed to make any adjustments. There did seem to be a few adjustments. I needed to print a couple of the plates about ⅛ inch higher than the rest. 

Before inking my plates, I mixed my oil based inks to create the color I desired. My first plate to print was a light sky blue. I used a 4 inch roller to apply the ink to the plate. I started out inking them with just a solid blue, but after a few prints, I decided that I would use a darker blue on the top portion. I mixed my darker blue and put the ink next to the light blue on my table. I then centered my roller between the two colors and dropped the roller into the ink and rolled in a downward motion. I moved the roller up and back till I got just the right consistency on the roller. This is always tricky, but most of the time I can tell how much ink is right by the sound the ink makes as I roll it back and forth on the table. I then roll the ink onto the plate. I never use any kind of pressure when rolling the ink out or on the plate. I rolled the ink until it makes that special sound.

Photography by Nancy Strahinic

Photography by Nancy Strahinic

To print this plate, I placed the registration mylar onto the press face up, so that I can see all the marks as to where to place my paper and my plate. Next, I place the wood plate on top of the registration mylar and place my paper on top of the plate. So on the press, from bottom to top is the registration mylar, plate, and paper. Finally, I rolled it through the press and removed the paper and whaaaa la, just like magic, my image is transferred to the paper. 

I followed the above process for all 4 of the plates, but for each run through the press, I used the same paper each time, so the first run had light blue on it. Then after the second run, it had blue and green. The third run had blue, green, and orange on it. The fourth run had blue, green, orange, and lastly I added red.

Drum Roll....and the final touches! The zinc plate enters the scene! Inking zinc plates is a slightly different process then rolling ink onto a wood plate. For Zinc, I take a small square of matte board and scoop a tiny amount of ink onto the plate I spread it in all directions until the entire plate is covered in ink. After full coverage, I begin dragging the card on the plate to remove the excess ink. When most of it is removed, I begin wiping the ink off the plate with a cheesecloth very gently until the plate looks like most of the ink is gone. The ink stays in the groves of the plate. In order for the paper to catch the ink in those small groves, the paper needs to be soaked so it is flexible. The fibers of the paper will be smashed into the grooves of the plate to catch the ink when the plate and paper are run through the press.

The zinc plate was the tricky plate. Unfortunately, I had a bit of trouble with registering that plate. I ended up having to run the zinc plate as two separate runs. One with the central area and one with the flower border, so they lined up better. This was a registration error on my part. Luckily, I was able to figure out a way to make it work.

Finally, I present the final art printed on white archival BFK and ready to be framed and hung in a special place, but hopefully close to your heart!

Continents Apart, But Always In My Heart $275.00

Continents Apart, But Always In My Heart

My Mission

Recently, I finished an art business course that I took last year. During this course, I found myself faced with the question of why. Why do art? What motivates me, fascinates me, and draws me in? What are the deep seated feelings that drive me in my life. How is that reflected in what I do? In the course, I was asked to identify certain defining moments of my life, the feelings I felt, and what I learned from them.

I found this to be one of the most valuable things to learn about myself and it is teaching me how I can help others. My mission is to help heal and nourish feelings through empathy and compassion.

In my journey, I reflected on painful moments and happy moments. I realized that I had gone through some very rough times. At one point in my life I was even suicidal. I found myself in pain, trapped, alienated, and feeling worthless. I am not telling you this for sympathy, but rather to explain how I got to where I am now.

Metal Plated Heart

Metal Plated Heart

When I was growing up, I was told I was too sensitive. My feelings were always something that heavily dictated my decisions. When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time alone reading, hoping to find something that spoke to me about who I was and if I had a purpose. On this path to healing, I realized, that emotions don’t have to rule my life. I found that I had a choice in what I felt. I had a choice whether to linger in dark, hollow places alone, or step out of it. It was and still is not always easy, but I am the only person who can makes changes in myself. Everyday I choose to wake up. I choose what emotions I nourish and which ones I acknowledge and put away. I choose to show up with all that I am, positive and negative, struggling to do my best making conscious decisions about how I use my feelings. Learning that I can adapt, gives me the strength everyday to continue my emotional journey. Taking small risks and being vulnerable were how I began. Later, I learned that being a little vulnerable was ok and helped me connect with others. This helped me figure out which types of people that I connect with and those that gave me energy and positivity.

One day, I stumbled upon the Heart Math Institute. I spent hours watching videos and reading on their website. I was totally fascinated with human heart. I learned about the heart and emotions. There is so much to our emotions. They effect how we feel, how we function, our health, and our decision making. I realized that there are lots of ways to manage emotions through breathing, yoga, meditation, journaling, art making, etc…

Heart Exploding with Love

Heart Exploding with Love

Armed with this ground breaking knowledge, I began my heart series of images. At first it was all about emotions. Explaining a feeling through the visual of a human heart. I chose the human heart image to remind me that the heart is not just the center of the bodies circulatory system, but the emotion center as well. I started with both positive and negative feelings. Enabling others to empathize with feelings of heartbreak after a break up, to the feeling of pure love and light.

And that is where I find myself now. I love exploring the feelings and emotions of the heart. Not just mine, but I love hearing others stories about their feelings. I found myself wanting to make more space in my life to help others with their emotions. There are tons of people out there who are still feeling like slaves to their emotions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We all have a choice and we are not alone.

My journey lead me through many nooks and crannies of spirituality. I learned about manifesting. By using visualization and feelings together, I realized I could use the heart and my knowledge about emotions to help people manifest those feelings they might be struggling to choose in their lives, through creating it visually for them to feel, just like I was doing in my own life.

This revelation that I could help people with their feelings through art was not new. Enter art therapy. I am now taking some online classes and volunteering at places to help others though art; however, I wanted a more direct approach. Not everyone feels comfortable doing art therapy. Some people are timid just seeing a blank sheet of paper, but what if I could do the drawing for them. Enter my newest project, Explorations of the Heart. I created the example image below based on my own heart’s longing to grow my relationships and connections.

Explorations of my Heart-Growing Loving Connections

Explorations of my Heart-Growing Loving Connections

By visualizing imagery and discovering the feelings you are struggling to manifest in your life we can together create a heart image that speaks what you need to feel and see everyday to help you be conscious about nourishing that emotion.

I would really love to share this experience and journey with you! Contact me for more information and thank you so much for your time and attention.

Explorations of the Heart

The heart is the center of your emotions. I have done a lot of research on the heart and have found that not only does your heart beat differently according to your feelings, but it also has it's own brain matter. This matter, called the heart-brain actually tells the brain about certain feelings. The heart has the largest magnetic field than any other part or organ of the body. The magnetic field can be up to a 3 foot radius and is one of the reasons why one can sense the feelings of others just by being in their presence. 

This project is about exploring the heart and what makes it beat happily. It has been proven that people who look at art with a sense of awe have improved health, brain, and immune function activity. The idea behind these explorations is to help manifest what the heart desires. In my Exploration, I felt my desire was to grow more connections and loving relationships. When I look at my Exploration, I feel a sense of sacred, cosmic, fulfilling love. I am so excited to present the Exploration of my Heart! I really love how it turned out!

Exploration of My Heart - Growing Love

Exploration of My Heart - Growing Love

My idea is to make this project into art that is unique to many peoples heart desires. I would love to do a commissioned Exploration of your Heart. By creating an exploration of your heart for you to hang in your home, you will be able to see what you want and feel what you want. By feeling what the picture evokes and feeling like it has already happened, your heart will tell your body to create that kind of physicality and energy needed to help the universe manifest it in your life. When your mind and heart are in sync, manifesting can happen easily. I would love help you nourish and bring those desires, feelings, thoughts, visions and ideas to life!

Here is a bit about how I am planning for it to work. If you are interested, there are some preliminary questions to be answered. After you answer the preliminary questions there will be a quiet 90-minute session where we will do a meditation, a visualization, and I will ask lots more questions.  After this session, I will have what I need to begin creating the Exploration of your Heart. When I finish, We will have a revealing ceremony and you will have a new piece of art to help you manifest your heart desires! Yay!

Thank you so much for your time and attention. I would really love to share this experience and journey with you! Contact me for more information.

Valentines Day For All Kinds Of Love

Valentine’s Day is upon us! It is a time to celebrate our love, but it doesn’t have to be only romantic love. For some reason, society has dubbed this a Hallmark holiday only for couples, but I think it is a really profound holiday to celebrate all kinds of love. It can be a time to be grateful, to be cherished, and to be celebrated.

On this special day let’s be grateful for and reflect on all the different kinds of love we have in our lives. Many of us have experienced love between a child and a parent, or love in friendships, or love for oneself. There are so many different kinds of love. It is a wonder that we have not adopted some of the Greek words to help us better define and understand love. The Greek language has many different words for love that define different types of love. Here is how I understand and interpret them.

Heart Exploding With LOVE by Lisa Tornatore For Sale $275

Heart Exploding With LOVE by Lisa Tornatore
For Sale $275

Let’s start with Eros, the most common type of romantic passionate kind that most people think of when celebrating Valentine’s Day. This is the fiery sexual desire kind of love that is written about and painted in the books and paintings, however the Greeks felt that this kind of love was dangerous, hence the saying that one is madly in love.

Philia is a very general kind of love. It is filled with loyalty toward your neighbor, your family, your friends, your buddies. This kind of love was highly valued especially in all the heroic Greek warrior stories. It was the kind of love that lasted much longer and was much more stable than Eros.

Storge is sometimes put under Philia, but I think it is important to break it out. It is the kind of love we feel for family or the loyalty we feel for our country. It is considered a long lasting type of love.

Pragma is the long-lasting kind of love. The kind we see when we think of older couples who still show so much love toward each other. It is about lasting compromise, patience, and tolerance.

Then there is the fun loving type, Ludus. This type of love is characterized by playfulness including flirting, dancing, role play, or teasing, but it not limited to lovers. It also includes the playfulness of the children at the park, teenagers joking, and friends bantering.

Self love, Philautia, I think is the most important. There is a saying somewhere that says that you must love yourself before loving others. If we can take time for self care, and kinder self talk, that can spiral out and not only effect us, but others as well.

Lastly, Agape is love for all. It is feeling empathy or sympathy for your neighbor, for your family, for your friends, for those you don’t know, for animals, for the planet, for the universe, and for the source of all creation whatever you believe. It is taking time to wish and spread loving-kindness, safety, good fortune, wellness, and happiness upon those you know and those you don’t know.

So, I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on the different types of love and who you share them with. Find a way to celebrate with ones that you have in your life whether it be with flowers, chocolates, poems, dinners, little heart cards, the homemade kind, special treats or just dropping by to let someone you love know you care. Celebrating love doesn’t have to be the usual Hallmark kinds. It can simply mean sending good vibes or volunteering to help others. However you choose the celebrate this year, let’s not celebrate just Eros this Valentine’s Day, but all kinds of love. Love is for All!

Healing Your Heart Through Art

Many people view art from a decorative standpoint, but I am proposing a view of art from a wellbeing standpoint. I believe that art can effect the biology of thoughts and emotions and has the potential to heal. In this blog, I propose to back up these statements with research and studies and possibly bring about a new view of art as a healing vehicle in our lives, whether we are simply viewing art, creating art, or doing art therapy.

Researchers typically say that the brain and heart are separate entities, which explains why many people feel such a strong dichotomy between the brain and the heart. It also explains why many do not get relief from trying to control their painful emotions through thought alone. The brain is only half of the story.

Metal Plated Heart 8x10 Linocut on Silver Paper For Sale $125

Metal Plated Heart
8x10 Linocut on Silver Paper
For Sale $125

There is new research that shows that both physical and emotional pain share the same brain area and circuitry. This fact explains why a person who has or had physical pain often times experiences mental or emotional pain as well. Both types of pain share the same notification system, so, when you stub your toe, your system knows where the pain is. With emotional pain, the same bodily reaction happens, but where the pain is experienced is typically in the upper torso area.

Research done on emotional pain and this notification system, explains that the vagus nerve is the place of communication between the upper torso and the brain. In fact, it is not just the brain telling the body to experience this pain, but the heart tells the brain via the vagus nerve when one is hurt emotionally. This communication explains why people experience chest and abdominal tightening, as well as a hunched over posture in an effort to shield their heart when they experience emotional pain.

As with physical pain that alerts us to a problem, emotional pain is also alerting us to a problem. The issue is that in today’s society, emotions are often times pushed away or hidden. Many of us are afraid to let people see us cry or be emotional. I see this especially in work place culture. It is expected that you keep your personal feelings at bay while at work, but these types of actions do not help us resolve or heal the pain.

Just as a physical pain might happen from a splinter, you take action to remove the splinter and help your finger to heal. In the same way, we need to think about why we feel emotional pain and help ourselves heal.

When we push our feelings down or hide them and not address them, they can continue to physically manifest into chronic pain in the body. Many doctors and researchers are learning that illness is not always physical. There are some people who are so strongly affected by their emotions that they become debilitated by them. This can lead to disease, which is exactly what it sounds like, the lack of ease. They can even become unable to function in everyday life, whether it be a paralysis, physical pain, PTSD, anxiety, stress, depression, lowered immune function and the list goes on.

One way we can address and help to heal our feelings is though art. Whether we are viewing art, creating art, or doing art therapy, it is an emotional activity. It can put us in into a very meditative state where our brain waves change and serotonin is increased. This state of mind is where we enter a healing, relaxed place that has shown to reduce pain. Researchers have found that participating in art therapy for an average of 50 minutes significantly improved moods, and lowered levels of pain and anxiety. Doing art can also help us address and give outlet to hidden feelings or subconscious feelings we sometimes don’t even realize are there. Just by drawing a picture of what the pain looks like -- colors, lines, and composition -- can tell us more than words about what we are feeling. A picture is worth a thousand words. Many people misunderstand and believe that to do art, you must be an artist or have skills and training. But any art done as a therapy is simply that: a therapy for your heart, for your brain, for your body, for healing; not a masterpiece.

It is not just doing art that can effect us, it is also viewing and analyzing art. Those who view art typically experience wonder, awe, and beauty. These feelings have actually been proven to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow to the brain, help healing, increase life expectancy, and improve over-all health. If that isn’t enough to send you to the art museums, there is more. When we look at art, we have a tendency to feel empathy towards the art. This is called embodied cognition, so if you are looking at a wet forest scene, you may feel a sense of humidity, or if you are looking at flower art, you may feel as though you want to smell them, as though you were actually in the art and were able to use your senses to experience what you see. In this way, we are experiencing connectivity with art, the artist, and a sense of community with those who also have those same feelings. This is how having an art piece in your home that reflects what you want to manifest in your life can literally effect your emotions. So, having an art piece that makes you forget about your pain and reminds you of a healing, relaxed state can literally reduce your pain and effect your brain and heart in a positive way.

Obviously, art is not a fix-all, but I believe that our heart and emotions is the second half of the story, the one that we can create. Just by doing art or looking at art, we can relieve both physical and emotional pain, effect healing, and positively impact the brain, heart, and body biology. Now go look at some art or get creating! It will make you feel good!

My Art and Fung Shui

How my art could be used in Fung Shui for your home

Recently, I have been seeing a lot about Fung Shui coming across my feeds and I was actually approached by a friend and real estate agent about how there needs to be more art for Fung Shui. Art is very subjective and the way it interacts with the elements in each persons home is different, but mainly it is about how the art makes you feel.

While researching for this post, I read an article about a professional Fung Shui consultant who kept going into people’s homes and noticing the art in their homes was of what the person is feeling presently in their life, not what they wanted to feel in their life. For example, one might feel lonely, but instead of surrounding yourself with art full of lonely people, surrounding that person with art full of couples would be more beneficial. It follows the law of attraction.

I suggest to anyone looking to add any type of art to their home to really feel what the art is making you think about and what kinds of situations it brings to mind. What about it resonates with you? Which Fung Shui area of your life would this art benefit you by seeing it and feeling it. Is that the type of energy you want to feel everyday and nourish in your home?

Using the Bagua map there are certain areas of your home that are meant to excel specific areas of your life such as love, career, balance, wealth, health, etc. The below are some suggestions using my artwork.

Career & Wealth

A good water element to add to the home is my artwork Partly Cloudy With A Chance Of Raining Fish. It might help aid in the career area of your home, because it is a serene, mostly blue nature scene and gives a feeling of calmness. This print could also be hung in the wealth area of your home since it has koi fish in it. Koi are a symbol of wealth and prosperity and who wouldn’t want it to be raining wealth into your home?

Another couple of dark blue works that I offer that may work for a water element for career is A Tale and Per-SPEC-tives. A Tale might be great in the career area of a writer, inspiring tales and stories. The latter artwork would be great in an office to remind one to see things from different angles and viewpoints aiding in problem solving, or just a simple reminder to wear their glasses. LOL!


Another example might be if you needed something to hang on a wall in your health section of your home which typically is green and brown. My artwork Mehendi Inspired Leaves could work.

Fame, Reputation, Recognition

For the fire section of your home, typically the colors are reds, oranges, and bright yellows. They add joy, vibrance, passion, and warmth. Much of my artwork could potentially aid in this area of your home. Some that I think might work well would be this untitled woodblock or this other untitled work that resembles a dragon face and dragons are good in Fung Shui. Many of my heart artworks could serve as fire elements by bringing vibrance and passion into the home as well.

Mentors or Helpful People

Maybe you need to add Metal elements to your home. Typically black, white and grey are elemental colors for metal. Out of my artwork, I recommend this untitled work because positive energy follows a curved path. Or any of my sketches might work great in this area as well!

Family Heritage

Another option I offer for the family heritage section of your home would be a commissioned portrait of your pet.

I am not a Fung Shui expert, but these are only a few generalized suggestions that follow some of the elements of Fung Shui. From my understanding the artwork you add into the different areas of your home need not be completely blue or yellow to fall into being a water element or earth element. What really matters is how you feel about the art you are adding to your home. Perhaps it is a lucky grey elephant picture, and it reminds you of wealth and prosperity. Even though the wealth section recommends art that is green and brown with earth tones, this picture gives you the feelings and thoughts of wealth, so really it could go in the wealth area of your home. Fung Shui is not always about following the strict rules of color and texture, but more about the feelings the art invokes when you look at it and see it everyday.

Take a look at the artwork you have in your home. Does it resonate with you? Does it make your feelings come alive with a sense of calm, passion, or inspiration? Does it remind you of your life long dreams of having a boat or remind you to listen to your heart and feelings everyday. If the art in your home leaves you feeling flat, maybe it is time to think about new art for that area of your life that is in line with the things and feelings that you want to manifest.

Just Breathe Monotype

As many of you know, the last few years of my life have been very trying. Recently, I quit my job and started working on myself and my art. I am taking an art business class, some art therapy classes, and am taking time for my meditation and visualization most days. 

I have found that I am a person that when excited or stressed has a tendency to tense up my entire body, to the point where I forget to breath. It is like in Under The Tuscan Sun, when the Lesbian couple breakup and she asks Frances how do you do it, and she responds with breath. Through out the hardest times, I have found the only thing that was holding me together was breath. Now, I am in this time of healing it is also what is holding me together. 

When I was working, and my co-workers had a rough day or I had a rough day, my mantra was simply Just Breathe, often sung Anna Nalick style. If you know me, you know my voice is not nearly as good as hers. Now, that I am not working a 9-5, I do my meditation practice most days and have added another self visualization practice. These practices are giving me a whole new meaning to that phrase.

Recently, I was doing an art therapy exercise where I imagine myself breathing and thinking about what color my breath was as I breathe in what color it is, as I breath out what colors it changes to as it spreads, and how it moves. Immediately, I thought my breath was purple and blue and spread into green, yellow, and orange swirls. The vision I saw was so beautiful that I decided to try to recreate in my monotypes below.

Just Breath Media: Monotype Price: $150

Just Breath
Media: Monotype
Price: $150

Just Breathe Media: Ghost Monotype

Just Breathe
Media: Ghost Monotype

Breath seems to be such a huge part of our essence as humans. Just by changing the way I breathe, changes so much about about my physiology and psychology. I chose to include both the lungs and the circulatory system in my monotype, because just the act of filling the lungs lets the oxygen travel via the heart and circulatory system through the body allowing a feeling of aliveness and healing. In a way, I have shown what I imagined was happening through color and feeling with the exchange of the oxygen I breath inside my body and the carbon dioxide I breath outside my body. 

Thank you for taking the time to read and check out my work. For more information please email, Facebook Messenger me or text me if you or anyone you know have questions or are interested in my art. Follow my Blog, Facebook, & Instagram to know about shows and more exciting new artwork to come!

News & Pet Portrait of Your Furbaby


It's been a while, but as many of you know, I am working on ramping up my art business right now! I am working on some new art, adding a pet portrait by commission option, creating some new versions of my old art, looking into printing on fabric, and also doing some research on how I can make my artwork more sustainable and less of a load on the environment.

As part of this growth, I am excited to announce that I will now be offering monotypes of pets! This is due to the popularity of the monotype I did of Mowgli, my dog. I have gotten a lot of compliments on it and suggestions that I offer portraits in addition to all my other awesome work. ;)

The idea is to capture the feeling of your pet, not a realistic representation, that is why I will be spending time listening to your stories and getting to know your pet. It is a very special opportunity to not only capture your pets personality and feelings, but also to have a colorful piece of art in your home that not only memorializes the feelings you have about your pet, but really means something to you. 

I recently had a friend ask me to do a portrait of her cat. I was honored, but then I found out that her cat had passed away about a month ago. I was saddened by her loss. It is important that we take the time to remember our pets in a special way and to really enjoy and capture those special moments of our pet while they are still alive. 

To help save all those great memories, I am offering to do a pet portrait photo book in addition to the portrait. Many of us are so busy with our lives and all those photos just end up filling memory on our computers, but this is a great way to create a keepsake of your special family member. The memory book will include photos of your pet that I took, as well as some of your favorites and a short synopsis of your pets life based on our conversations! Plus, it will have the certificate of authenticity and a blurb about my creative process while making your pet's portrait at the end of the book! 

More information on pricing etc is in the Services section of my website. Please email, Facebook Messenger me or text me if you or anyone you know are interested! 

Have a great rest of the summer and I look forward to interacting with all of you much more on my Blog, Facebook, & Instagram in the coming months!

Art & Food Thank You!

Thank You For Your Support

Contents apart, but always in my heart

Thank you to those who shared in the Art & Food night I had. It was nice to see everyone and share my art. This was a significant showing for me, as this is the first time my color version of Continents Apart, But Always In My Heart print is on displayIf you were unable to visit, please drop by the cafe to enjoy some delicious organic food and my artwork. It will continue to be on display for a while longer. 

Purple Sprout Cafe
341 E Dundee Rd, Wheeling, IL 60090
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Tuesday - Friday
10 AM - 9PM Saturday
10am - 6pm Sunday

Art & Food

Art On Display At Purple Sprout Cafe

Come on out and enjoy some delicious, organic food and my art on display. I have 3 prints on display at Purple Sprout Cafe, including a color version of Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Raining Fish and a color version of LOVE. Also, on display finally for the first time in color Continents Apart, But Always In My Heart.

Purple Sprout Cafe
341 E Dundee Rd, Wheeling, IL 60090
8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Tuesday - Friday
10 AM - 9PM Saturday
10am - 6pm Sunday

Printmaking Processes Series 3


THE TRANSFER - image to plate

In order to transfer my images to my plate, I use a red carbon paper. I place the carbon paper between my plate and my drawing and traced the lines on my drawing to transfer my lines to my zinc plate. I then carved up the plate. The thing to remember is that the images get reversed onto the paper when printing the plate. If there are countries, letters, or something that will be noticeably incorrect if flipped, then the image needs to be reversed before coping onto the plate. Most of the time I don't really worry about the image being flipped. I didn't have any text in the image, so I dismissed that issue and made a HUGE mistake!

Rolling plate, paper, and blankets through the press

I carved up the whole plate. I etched the plate by dropping it into a bath of copper sulphate. After waiting a short time, (times varies on each plate based on the amount of detail and how deep the lines are wanted) I removed the plate from the bath. The plate is now etched, which means that it has grooves eaten away by the copper sulphate, where I planned to put the ink to print it.  I then inked up the plate. I used a small piece of cardboard and scooped out a small amount of thick black etching ink and ran the ink along the entire plate covering the plate in ink. I then wiped away the excess ink, leaving ink in only the grooved areas. I was then ready to print, so I wet my paper. Wetting the paper losses the fibers so they can sink deep into the grooves of the plate to catch the ink. I put my plate on the press bed and layered my paper on top of it and the press blanket on top of that for cushion. I rolled the bed through the press and it came out on the other side. I raised the blankets and my image was printed onto the paper. I removed the paper only to realize that the US and India printed backwards. Unfortunately, I had to scrape the entire plate to remove the countries from the plate. I had to make a photo copy of the drawing, flipping the image and then re-transfering the countries to the plate. The way it turned out, India is first on the left and US is on the right, which is reversed when looking at a real map. Also,because of my limited space from having to switch the location of the two countries, I ended up having to omit some states that are on the northeast side of India, but I figured, it is there for symbolic purposes not for geographic reasons, so it would be understood.

After scrapping out the countries, I had to burnish the plate, which is a sort of like polishing the plate to rid it of any extraneous rough marks that could catch ink when printing. To burnish, I use a very smooth metal tool called a burnisher. I put a few drops of 3-in-1 oil on the plate and rub the plate with the burnisher until all the marks are gone. It took me a very, very, very long time to burnish out all the marks, and the thing about this method is that I had removed some of the zinc in scrapping, so the areas where I scraped and burnished are slightly lower than the rest of the plate. This can make it tricky to ink the plate evenly, especially for a beginner. Thank goodness I had some experience under my belt! 

Registering the paper

I then repeated the printing process to check my image. Yay! My countries were now facing the correct direction. So now, I needed to transfer this image to my 4 wooden plates. First, I use a shellac to seal the wood. Then  I printed the image onto the paper and made sure I put the wood plate in exactly the same place where I had the zinc plate and laid the freshly printed paper onto the wood plate in exactly the same place as it was when I printed the zinc plate. We call this registering the plate and paper. Then I rolled it through the press. The fresh wet black ink on the paper transferred to the wood plate when I rolled it through the press, so when I removed the paper my image was on the wood plate. This gave me a guide to where I need to cut the wooden plate. I did that for all 4 wooden plates being careful to register them as best I could.

Next Up...

THE EXECUTION...Read about the final processes to carve, ink, and print leading to the final art. 

“ART FOR A CAUSE” Exhibition 10/2-10/4

October 2 & 3, 2015, 6:30pm to 10pm
October 4, 2-6pm.

Indoors at the Buffalo Grove Community Arts Center, 225 McHenry Road, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

Please join me and other artists at “Art For A Cause!” This show features me and 20 artists who have donated our entry fees to the American Cancer Society for Pediatric Cancer Research. Come out and support the cause!

Also featured are the Buffalo Grove Singers for their 23rd Annual Choral Concert as they premiere their commissioned song that was featured on the Today Show, "Truly Brave" that served as an impetus for them to raise over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society and Pediatric Cancer Research.

Please note you do not have to buy a ticket to the show to attend the art event, but if you'd like to hear some great singers, you can get tickets from

Printmaking Process Series 2


First off, I'd like to explain a bit about what an edition is and why I felt that this sketch would make a great print edition.

An edition is a group of identical impressions or prints. In some cases there may be more than one edition.  A trial edition or proof is one in which the artist may print a group of images for himself to see how things are looking during the process.  An edition is usually labeled in the bottom left hand corner below the image. The format is to write the number or sequence of the impression as printed over the total number of prints in the edition. i.e. 1/23. So that would be the first impression printed of 23 printed total at the that time. Most hand printed editions are limited due to the amount of images that can be run from a plate before the plate will begin to warp or wear away. Another reason they are limited is to add value. The more editions made the less value the prints will have. Many times artists may choose the change the state of the print before making another edition. This means the artist has changed something on the plate or matrix causing a change in the printed impression. This creates a new edition and does not devalue a print bought from a previous edition.

Another area of confusion is when people hear the word print, they may assume that it is the same as a giclee prints. Giclee a french word meaning to spray or spurt liquid, in this case ink, is a commercially or digitally printed image of an artwork. These are NOT hand printed or hand plated. These are the ones you may see labeled A.P., B.A.T. etc. These are images of the real artwork, sometimes touched up by the artist or painted on top of to add value.

So the beauty of a hand printed and hand plated artwork is that all of the work is done by the artist, therefore in an edition of say 30;  there will be slight variations between images making each one almost like an original artwork. This is what makes each piece or print so special and beautiful! Some printmakers will even skip the whole idea of an edition and just keep changing the state of the plate or print it in different colors, so each print from that plate is different and a unique print.

Back to why I chose this piece for a printing edition verses say a painting or other media...

When I finished my drawing, I thought that many people might be able to empathize with my feelings, so an edition of many to go to those who felt and understood the idea would be perfect. Being able to create more than one of an image is a benefit of printmaking verses any other fine art media.

A variety of different  plates all carved up and ready to be inked and printed. Photo by Nancy Strahinic.

A variety of different  plates all carved up and ready to be inked and printed.
Photo by Nancy Strahinic.

After my drawing, the next step for a print would be to create a master plate, a plate that I will use to tranfer the image to multiple plates. It is usually the last plate printed in a multi-plate process. I knew I wanted this project to be very colorful, but also have some delicate details as well. From experience I knew that wood relief prints worked really well for multi-color projects, so I chose to use 4 woodblock plates one for each color: Blue, Green, Orange, Red. Then, against the odds, I chose a zinc plate for my master plate, because my drawing had a lot of delicate areas that might not show up as well on a wood plate.

I say against the odds, because there is some risk of the images not matching up properly, due to the fact that the paper must be wet to print a metal plate. When paper is wet, the fibers stretch and contract, causing the paper to get larger or smaller, so it may be a challenging process to make sure all the printed images from all the plates are printed on top of each other in the right place. 

Next Up...

THE EXECUTION...Read about I carved up all my plates and some the bumps and I ran across and how I solved those issues. 

Printmaking Processes Series 1


After my first trip to India and meeting my family for the first time, well let's just say a lot of firsts happened on that trip to India, I felt a great love for my family and discovered a new love for the Indian culture...almost like a hug. Yes, that was it! I wanted to hug the country! How do I portray a hug? Lately, I had been doing a lot of work on the heart, and I knew that feelings such as love are felt strongest from the heart. I wanted to incorporate that into my work, so I came up with the idea of the heart with the veins reaching out with love and hugging my family in both countries. 

When I was in India, I discovered that the marigold flower is everywhere, which was surprising to me, since the only place I had seen so many was in my home town the Marigold capital of Illinois, Pekin. I knew right away that was not just a coincidence. I wanted to include that in my work as well, so I nestled my heart in the marigold flower. 

I learned about Ganesha while I was there and his story. There was something very welcoming, kind, fun, and whimsical about him that I loved. I felt I could identify with him very easily, and it wasn't hard to feel his presence, since he is everywhere in India. He also found his way into my artwork as well. More about Ganesha

The butterfly from my childhood also found it's way into my work. The story about how it met me while I waited for the bus on the first days of school and how my mother swore it looked like we were dancing together. More about my butterfly story...

So in a way it turned out to be a sort of portrait of my life up to that point. I had all these things in my head and one day I sat down and did a drawing of it. The minute I finished the drawing, I knew it needed to become a print edition.

Below is the sketch. As you will notice if you look closely, it is color coded, so that when I began my plates, I would be able to know what to carve out.

Next up...

THE PLAN - Find out how I planned out my plates to get the style of image I wanted. In addtion, learn what an edition is and it's role in art collecting.


I donated a Monoprint of Mowgli, my rescue pup, to the  Art Unleashed Auction and it SOLD! That money was donated to the Chicago Canine Rescue!
Mowgli is very close to my heart. Below is the print of him and his story! 

TITLE: Mowgli MEDIA: Monoprint SIZE: 11X14

TITLE: Mowgli MEDIA: Monoprint SIZE: 11X14

Mowgli’s Story

We adopted Mowgli in March 2014. He was one of two in his litter with the blue merle coloring and a tail. All the rest were black and white border collie looking pups with bobbed tails like the Australian Shepherd they were mixed with. I wanted to get Anna, a fuzzy black sister to Mowgli, but she didn’t have a full tail, so I wasn’t sure. I have always loved to see a happy tail wagging. My husband was sure that Adam(Mowgli) was the right one for us. The minute they put him in my arms at 10 weeks old, I fell in love with him. We adopted him right away from the Midwest Animal Rescue.

One week later he caught parvo, a virus that can sometimes kill young pups, and we were faced with a tough decision, but we loved him so much, and it was just the start of his life, we had to try to save him. We caught it early. Thousands of dollars and weeks later Mowgli was declared healthy and able to come home to his family. I did this monoprint of him off of one of the few pictures I had of him before he went into the hospital. I missed him so much while he was sick. I worried about him and even went to visit him in seclusion, just to see him through the glass. He was and is the light of our lives!

Now we go everywhere with him. We teach him new tricks all the time! He learns so fast. Only yesterday he learned to bring us the newspaper from outside. He also helps out in the kitchen by closing cabinet doors and drawers. We are teaching him to dance and he can even count to 4!


May 2 Artists’ League Pop-Up Show and Sale

Saturday is The Buffalo Grove Artists’ League Pop-Up Show and Sale, from 6:00 to 8:30 pm in the theater lobby of Stevenson High School. Artwork available will include paintings, prints, photography, jewelry, wooden items, and hand-lettered items. I hope to see you all there supporting us local artists!

1 Stevenson Dr, Lincolnshire, IL 60069

If you are interested in buying a Lisa original not on my website yet or in the Shop, or have any inquiries , Please Contact me at

I ship to continental U.S. addresses by USPS within 2 weeks of receipt of payment. Costs are dependant upon size, weight, shipping materials, and method. If you are not in the continental U.S. please contact me and we may be able to make some shipping arrangements.

Personal checks must clear before purchased items will be shipped. I accept only U.S. Dollars as currency.

All sales are final if the art work is not returned within 15 calendar days of receipt. Buyer must pay return shipping costs that include a receipt of confirmation with tracking number. Item must be received in the condition in which it was received by the buyer.

All artwork is signed. Please note that colors in some of the digital images may not match the colors of the original artwork.  All prints are made from plates made and printed by hand, resulting in slight differences in each print within all editions. Most measurements are given to the nearest inch.

Photography by Nancy Strahinic.

All reproduction and licensing rights to the artwork and images of artwork are reserved by Lisa Tornatore.