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THE GALLERIES : SIXTY YEARS
b. Selective Older Prints
c. Etching & early color work
d. ‘Genesis Two’
e. ‘Small Worlds’
f. Current work
1958 – 1970: Woodcuts: Early on the relief process of woodcut was the medium of choice beginning while in graduate school with Alfred Sessler at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 1958 the first serious use of the medium was used to produce a multicolor woodcut using the reduction technique. A systematic process of printing a color followed by cutting away those areas where that color will appear. Repeating this sequence until all colors for this image are complete. This method requires that each for an edition be printed in this progressive fashion.
The work during this period remained the medium of choice while exploring new spacial, pictorial directions. Most of this work was essentially black and white with a few exceptions such as ‘Shamrock Tree’ using an ink bleed technique. By 1970 the work was becoming less expressionistic and more abstract in the use of the formal elements and pictorial structure more defined.
Following a two year break from printmaking and concentrating purely on pencil drawing on reams of 8.5 x 11 inch writing paper the linear element of line was discovered. A great revelation requiring a new approach to the printmaking: thus etching and the intaglio process of hard ground line, aquatint, soft ground and deep relief etching. This produced a series of black and white hard ground etchings titled ‘Autumn Veil’, ‘Autumn Moon’ and a score of others using this technique while developing hatching and cross hatching for stronger light / dark patens.
This transition lead to experiments with color and the development of a color system based on the use of the three primary colors of yellow, red, blue and black ink on white paper. This method required a sound understanding of color theory. This approach relied on over printing the various colors wet on wet to achieve blending to produce secondary and tertiary hues. This printing process required the development of a new method for registering the four color plates.
1969 – 1979: Selective Older Prints: The first color intaglio print was made in 1969,
titled ‘Genesis’ (not related to a later series called ‘Genesis Two’). This print was made using a single cooper plate and wax paper stencils to separate the four colors on a single plate. This marked the beginning of an on going passion with color. It soon became evident that this stencil `method of separation was no way to make a multicolor print for it involved cutting stencils to place over each freshly inked color on the single plate. This print was titled ‘Genesis’ simply because it was the first use of color. (no biblical reference). This experiment was followed by a series of images using multiple plates, one for each color. This was an important learning experience, slow, self-taught, eventually developing into the the personal system of color theory and registration used today.
Prints produced during this period included ‘Red Klee’, ‘Candy Mountain’, ‘Magician’, ‘Up Up and Away’ among others. The work during this period was greatly influenced by the works notably of four artists: Glen Alps, Paul Klee, Gabor Peterdi, Johnny Friedlander and later Wassily Kandinsky. Early on the pictorial theories of Paul Klee became a significant influence ( see ‘The Mind and Work of Paul Klee’, Werner Haftman, Prager, 1967). The ideas expressed in this book, chapter eight, ‘How a Picture is Born’, became and remain the greatest influence on my personal artistic picture making philosophy.
1980 – 1990: ‘Genesis Two’: A series of eighteen multicolor intaglio prints and papier colle images were developed using the personal intaglio process developed during the 1970’s previously described while adapting a new needle point method of registration developed during this same period. These images began as papier colle paintings based on various creation stories and other ideas provided by the writing of Zecharia Sitchin (see The Complete Earth Chronicles’)
Papier colle is a French term used to describe a collaging technique using small pieces of paper material to develop a flat two dimensional surface. This developmental process used colorful magazine material cut into small, compound shapes. The object of this action was to destroy all reference to the original pictorial image; allowing the spontaneously cut pieces to function as the formal pictorial elements of shape, color, texture and patterns of light and dark. These paper pieces essentially became a pallet used to paint an abstract image of a particular creation story. Coupled with parallel stories from the ‘Book of Genesis’ and Sitchin’s interpretations of images found on Sumarian cylinder seals and clay tablets describing the Anunnaki.. By this process a means was found to give form to ideas and thoughts of the mind having no physical form.
A mylar master pattern being made and transferred to each of four zinc plates to begin the intaglio developmental process. The first plate (black) was developed using primarily the hard ground technique of line to establish the pictorial structure. detail and definition of an over all light / dark pattern. The three color plates; yellow, red and blue developed using primarily the aquatint technique to produce flat areas of shape and color. Gradations of color and value were achieved by introducing another invention of grease pencil stop-out, a simple pencil gradation technique to produce soft blends of color. Controlling the exposure time of any particular area to the acid action controlled the depth of etch and a means of measuring the amount of color pigment in those areas. The three original prints in this series ‘Noah’s Ark’,
‘Eden’s Secret’ and ‘The Deluge’ are larger prints, 17.5 x 23.5 inches. The remaining prints and papier colle images in this series measure 13.5 x 18 inches. The smaller prints required approximately three month to develop from plate work to finished print; the three larger prints in this series from five to six months each.
1990 – 2000: ‘Small Worlds’: A series of twenty four images reduced to a square
12 x 12 inch format was chosen for this body of work as an opportunity to simply play with a group of color drawings and enjoy again the process of making a print. These images were greatly influenced by the work of Wassily Kandinsky, whom I had discovered in the 80’s while working on a set of woodcuts called ‘Totem Toys’
The pictorial philosophy of Kandinsky as expressed by his thoughts ‘Concerning The Spiritual in Art’ ( see publication by same title). The concept for this series of prints began as an idea formed while reading the book ‘Flat Land’ by a British mathematician where he describes how one might experience one, two, three or more dimensions of space. These thoughts coupled the idea of a vast universe reduced to a twelve inch square became a starting point; how then to inhabit this space with a variety of simple two dimensional shapes, each with a distinct personality of marks, lines, textures, and color. Allowing them to interact with one another in all manner of spacial, pictorial relationships.
The drawings for this body of work were made using color pens to rough out the color shapes and pictorial structure. A mylar pattern was made of each drawing and transferred to sets of four zinc plates (yellow, red. blue and black) for twenty four prints a total of 96 plates in all. The plates for each image were developed using the intaglio process as previously described in other color work. The element of line in this series assumed a dominant role for achieving texture and patterns of light and dark. Each of the twenty four prints in this series were made from the mylar transfer to finished print in one or two weeks. The intent of these images was to be more playful and whimsical. What a joy!
2000 – Present: Current Work: The content of the work at this time is quite unlike any that has come before. The imagery is based upon stories in Homer’s Iliad telling of the wanderings of Ulysses and his sailors on their return to Utica and Penelope following the Trojan war. This series of ten prints focus on the various encounters with the gods and mythical personalities found in these narratives including the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, Penelope’s Web and the Magic of Cierce among others. Two in this series of ten are finished, one of which recently received an award in the current Royal Society of Painter Printmakers Exhibition at the Bankside Gallery in London.
The Future: More prints on the wanderings of Ulysses, as well as, Three wall art quilts in progress!