Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2019

From My Studio

I have these large collage pieces on panels that I made a few years ago. My work has changed a little since then, at least in technique, so rather than throw these older pieces away, I tried to bury the existing surface in a mixture of gesso and piles of acrylic gel medium. When it dried, it left this interesting surface.

The Prussian Blue areas were originally a steel grey, which seems to have interacted with the gel to make this colour. The result reminded me of the cyanotypes I've been making, so I taped up a few of those, and they seem to match:
Hmmm....food for thought.

Artists at Sea: Matisse and the Med

After writing a 1,000 word piece about Winslow Homer's eighteen month stay at an English fishing village, I'm writing a series of primers about other artists who made similar journeys.

Who

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), French painter.


Coastal association

The Mediterranean coast of southern France.


First coastal visit

In the 1890s, Matisse spent significant time on two different coastlines: Brittany, from 1894 to 1896, and Corsica in 1898. But it was his first visit to Collioure in 1905 that brought about a transformation in his ideas about painting. Collioure was/is a tiny fishing village in the extreme southeast of France, about 10 miles from the Spanish border.

Reasons for visiting

He joined the painter Andre Derain and spent the summer exploring Derain's ideas of using patches of pure colour, applied in almost crude brushstrokes, to convey light and mass. Matisse may also have wanted a change of scenery, because in 1904, aged 34, he had his first one-man show, at Vollard's…

Etchings by My Students

I've just finished teaching a First-Time Etching class at Lillstreet Art Center, here in Chicago, and here are some of the prints created by my students. Click on an image to display it at full size. First, a detailed line etching with 2 rounds of aquatint:

Next, an abstract design of line etch plus aquatint, printed a la poupee:

And then four stages of a line etching which the student put together in one frame:

Nice!


Mezzotint at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Japanese rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago have an exhibition of mezzotint prints by contemporary American-Japanese artist Hamanishi Katsunori. You make a mezzotint  by employing a blade with a rocking handle to rough up the surface of the copper plate, creating a lattice-work of tiny burrs that hold a lot of ink. The more you use the rocker, the denser the dark tone will be. You then create the image by scraping and burnishing the dark ground to introduce the grey-through-white tones. So, the more you burnish, the whiter the line. As one can see from the above print, mezzotint enables one to produce images of immense realism and delicacy. I think that Katsunori's most successful prints are the ones like this one, where he places unusual combinations of objects together in a way that enables him to explore tone and volume.

A really good feature of the exhibition was a cabinet of tools and a sample plate with graded mezzotint tones on it. This and the accompanying text pan…

My First Etching

About twenty years ago, I was in the second or third week of a course in intaglio etching. This was the first printmaking I had ever done, and I was taking the class with a German master printer called Thomas Gosebruch at his studio near King's Cross station in London. I've blogged about him a few times, and every now and then when I teach my own printmaking classes, I recount the moment during one of those first classes when Thomas looked at one of my earliest prints, sighed and said: "You haff completely misunderstood the entire process."

I was unpacking more old etching plates in my studio recently, and to my surprise I found the very plate that he was talking about. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the first etching that I ever did. As far as I can remember, it's a hard ground etching on a 10" x 12" steel plate. After cleaning off the layer of protective grease, and getting rid of a little rust, I inked and printed the plate, and this is what …

RIP Mary Ellen Croteau

I was shocked to learn last week of the death of Chicago artist Mary Ellen Croteau. For the last decade, she worked with recycled plastics to create sculptures and sculptural portraits that combined an ingenious use of found elements with a natural sense of colour and design. In fact, something I wrote about one of her earliest pieces in this style, Brancusi in Plastic, is still the most popular post on this blog.

Mary Ellen also ran a small gallery on the west side of Chicago, Art on Armitage, which I showed at in 2007 and 2012. The gallery space was just a shopfront window facing a busy street in a predominantly working-class and Latino neighbourhood. The art was usually experimental, and Mary Ellen received deserved credit for connecting art to a so-called underserved population, and for running the gallery for so long and for such little personal gain.

I also spent a lot of time with Mary Ellen when I accompanied her to the Bridge Art Fair, a branch of Art Basel Miami, and found …