Give the Gift of Art this Holiday

Give the gift of art.

Many believe that art is too expensive and personal to give as a gift. This time of year however artists, like the megastores, have great deals for holiday shoppers. Around the country art co-ops, galleries, clubs, pop-ups and art organizations present an array of affordable art for gift giving.

Many organizations present exhibits based on small scale pieces at prices often less than department store wall art. Exhibits with titles like “10” X 10” or “12” X 12”” offer small pieces in a variety of styles scanning a multitude of genres. Artists’ websites may also be running holiday promotions.

Holiday bazaars abound with paintings, sculpture and handmade crafts to please anyone on your gift list. Even auction fund raisers can boast an array of affordable art.

Choosing art for that special person is really not that different from choosing any other gift. What are their interests? Animals, nature, sports, music, flowers? What is their favorite color? Blue, green, yellow or red? What style is the décor in their home? What hangs on their walls already?

Really you can’t go wrong. If for some reason the gift itself is not appreciated, it may end up on the back of a door or under the bed with last year’s waffle flipper. But, the recipient will appreciate the thought that went into buying them a one of a kind artist-made gift.

 

Featured Artist: Esther Hepler Inglesby (1909 -2000)

                              

                              

Oil on masonite                        " Blue Curtains"

 

 

Esther Hepler Inglesby's family has graciously provided the following  biography of the artist:

Esther Hepler Inglesby, was an accomplished artist who has produced many beautiful watercolors oils, drawings, and mixed media pieces.Esther was a graduate of the Philadelphia Museum School. After her graduation in the 1930s during the depression, Esther was hired as a Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) artist. Some of the nursery rhyme illustrations given to her grandchildren are prototypes of her W.P.A. murals in schools and other public buildings in South Jersey. Raised in the town of Ventnor on the New Jersey shore, Esther moved to Pennsauken and Merchantville, New Jersey after her marriage to attorney Edward J. Inglesby. Throughout her career, she has been the recipient of many awards. Her work has hung in various galleries and museums, including the Camden County Historical Society, where her "Building of The Speedline" painting was hung above the director's desk.While still in art school, Esther was honored by being chosen to be one of the judges in the first Miss America Contest, along with a group of national celebrities. Also, in order to help with expenses during art school years, Esther did portrait sketches for those waiting in line to get into movie the aters. She also had clothesline exhibits of work for sale in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.Esther came from a family of artists--her mother Carrie Salmon Hepler was a pianist, and her sister Emily Hepler Gillingham was an awarded harpist who played Radio City Music Hall in the 1930s, and her father Frank Fetter Hepler was a builder of fine homes on the New Jersey Shore, awarded a city planning degree in his eighties."

Special thanks to artist Pricilla Ingram  granddaughter of the artist: www.thestudiofairfield.com 

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Charles Day Hunt (1840-1914)

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The work of Charles Day Hunt immediately transports you back to a time when nature was everywhere. A walk along a country path might be interrupted by a spectacular view of a marshy area just as twilight sets in. The silhouette of a robin on a branch becomes a reason to pause. A snow covered path through the woods becomes a winter wonderland beckoning further exploration.

Perhaps artist Charles Hunt was inspired by nature much like Frederick Church and Laura Woodward of the Hudson River School. Hunt was born in 1840 in Detroit, but later resided in Brooklyn. It was there that he studied with Frederick F Kensett,  also a Hudson River painter . Hunt’s natural scenes depict nature in its season. His approach to the scene is controlled by the guiding principles to American art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

His composition is based on thirds. The horizon is about one third of the way up the scene. Trees are used as compositional devices something also seen in the paintings of Hunt’s contemporaries.( see Sanford R Gifford “a Gorge in the Mountain” and Kauterskill Falls”)

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In Hunts snow scene a large tree appears to be bent by exposure to the elements. The curve creates an arch over the path giving definition to the space and focusing attention on the center third of the painting. A branch in the foreground leans on a rock with its branches extending out as if to point to the tracks in the snow that moves your eyes down the path in the center of his composition. Towards the path's end the tree tops form another arch until finally details become indiscernible blending into areas of muted color in the distance.

Louis Saphier (1877-1954)

New York artist, Louis Saphier is perhaps best known for a 1945 portrait of Bob Hope which brought a substantial amount at auction in 2008. One  painting " Neck Road Farm House Brooklyn"  has lead to an interesting  search for the house the artist depicted. Several other paintings have shown up at auctions and suggest that the artist traveled extensively. The 1930 census show Louis Saphier was born in Amsterdam in about 1877 . He was listed as a self employed artist who immigrated to the states in 1889. He was interviewed  in an article reviewing the Washington Square art show of 1932 in New York. In it he applauded the show because he had only sold 3 paintings during the previous six months , but was able to sell 19 paintings within 3 days at the Washington Square show. In the 1935 show  at Washington Square one day's total sales  was $475 with 40 pieces being sold. It was one of Saphier's paintings that brought the largest price at $45!

Louis Saphier  supplemented his fine art sales by additionally performing art restoration .

An article in 1935 tells of the artist cleaning a large Venetian canal painting for art patron Clarence M Wooley. In the midst of his work Saphier noted another painting underneath. After getting Mr. Wooley's permission, Saphier painted an exact copy of the  canal scene and proceeded to remove the paint from the original, hoping to expose the older painting beneath. At the time the article was written Saphier had not been able to identify the artist , but believed the older painting to be an allegorical scene.

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Our painting Mt Tremper N Y 1949 :

Sources : Appleton Post Cresent June 1932, New York Times June 1932,  June 1935, Sept 1935, Gravesendgazette.com July 2012, 1930 Census , Julien's Live.com 2008

Esther Zittle 1911-2003

"Blood Roots"

While not everyone stops to smell the flowers, Esther Zittle does it for us  in her watercolor " Blood Roots"

Zittle’s watercolor  crosses over two genres, landscape and floral still life. Esther depicts an intimate look at the flower growing on a forest hillside . The delicate blood-roots take center stage over the larger landscape. She crops the trees in the background. The flowers appear as large as the tree trunks and capture the viewers attention . The muted browns and golds  of the forest  hillside recede against the high contrast of white and yellow in the foreground. Again  the viewers' attention is focused on the flowers making them, rather than the landscape , the subject of the work.

Artist, Esther Zittle is known for her watercolors of Chester county Pennsylvania. According to her obituary, Esther began her education in a one-room schoolhouse. Eventually she earned a degree in art from what is now the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and continued her studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  She taught in the Coatesville and Downingtown school districts in the 50's.  She exhibited works in galleries in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey and actively participated in the Chester County Artists Association. Many of her works are displayed in frames made by her husband Charles. A number of her watercolors have been reproduced and others have come up at auction.

 

Sources : Philadelphia Inquirer July 2003

Pook & Pook Auction

Pailsey Auctions Inc.

 

 

Robert C Moore 1922-2007

Sometimes collecting and researching art makes history come alive. Looking at the life and work of  artist  Robert C Moore  does just that. Born in Philadelphia in 1922 he was  the eldest of five children. In Philadelphia he designed stained glass windows and murals for the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. The 212  year old church is considered the first black church of Philadelphia .One of the  windows Moore designed  for the building was a portrait commemorating Absalom Jones. Jones, who was born into slavery, became the founder of the church. Moore visualized the church's long history in the murals that he painted for the church.

Moore went to war during World War II as part of the 370th Infantry Regiment of the 92nd "Buffalo" Infantry Division. During World War II it was the only all black unit to see military action These men went to war at a time when their own equality as Americans was still unattained.  As soldiers serving in the armed forces, some experienced prejudice imposed by their own troops and yet distinguished themselves in battle.

Upon his return home , Moore attended Philadelphia College of Art graduating with a  degree in art education in 1950. He then attended Temple University where he obtained his Masters of Fine Art in 1958. He later taught at Howard High School  a segregated school in Wilmington, Delaware.

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Howard High was a less than affluent school in the city of Wilmington where students were bussed from outlying districts. In particular,there  were students from the more prosperous town of Clayton. African American parents in Clayton were upset that their students were being forced to attend the segregated Howard High 20 miles away in a less desirable neighborhood.  They felt local schools could offer a better education for their children in a nicer environment. Eventually, suits ensued that were added to Brown vs. the Board of Education. The supreme court decision in that case did away with the separate but equal doctrine then in place, and required the desegregation of schools across America.

In December of 1969 the exhibit titled “Afro –American Artists, 1800-1969” was held at the School District  and Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center, Moore exhibited there with artists such as Romare Beardon, Humbert Howard, Hughie –Lee Smith, Horace Pippin, Faith Ringold , Louis Sloan and Henry Ossawa Tanner. The exhibit places the artist  in the context of American Art History , yet little of Robert C. Moore's work is exhibited publicly today.

Fay Freedman

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Fay Freedman ( 1922-1998)

If you were to google "Fay Freedman" the results would consistently refer to  the gallery named in her  honor at the Community Arts Center  in Wallingford, Pa. She  was a dedicated teacher there for 45 years.

A midwesterner born in Gary ,Indiana, Fay studied at Wayne State in Detroit Michigan. She later attended  the Chicago Arts Institute. After graduating from the institute she studied sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design. According to a Delaware County times article Fay also graduated from the Drexel School of Art.   She married in 1946 and moved to the Philadelphia area in 1953.

Ms. Freedman was  a painter ,printmaker ,as well as a sculptor ,whose work was exhibited in a number of venues in the Philadelphia area. Among other locations her work was exhibited at  the Woodmere Gallery in Germantown, the Delaware Art Museum and  the Wayne Art Center. During the 60’s she exhibited and presented  a lecture on printmaking at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Then, in 1972 her work was selected to hang in Gallery ’72 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

She was also a member of the Maine Coast Craftsmen and had a craft studio in the state for a  period of time.

Sources:

Philadelphia Inquirer 1988/1998, Delaware County Daily Times 1961/1963/1972

Nadine Karnow ( 1942- 2009)

Nadine Karnow was born in Philadelphia in 1942. She was multi-talented. In addition to being a sculptor, painter and illustrator, she was also a musician and dancer. During a span of forty years she performed with the Saint Andrew Balalaika Orchestra and sang in the choir. In 1966 she graduated from Tyler School of Art with her masters. She exhibited at various galleries in Philadelphia. Among her many shows she exhibited for  her masters in 1966 at Tyler University In May of 1968 Craft Horizons reviewed her ceramics and sculpture exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Nadine past her knowledge along . She taught at Sarah Lawrence and Penn State University. She also worked on illustrations and exhibits for the Philadelphia Natural History museum. In conjunction with their "Duck Stamps: 50th Anniversary Exhibition" in 1985 she demonstrated sketching and sculpting ducks.

(photo upcoming)

Sources:

Barry Slosberg Auction ,Philadelphia Inquirer 2009,Craft Horizons May 1968 Judy SKoogfors,Philadelphia Daily News February 22 1985- Dave Bitton, Fletcher-Nasevich.com

Walter Novoshielski 1917-1995

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Artist Walter Novoshielski was born in Phoenixville, Pa .  The Pennsylvania Academy of Art lists him as a graduate of the class of 1956. Judging by his age, pursuing his art career may have been interrupted by other life obligations, possibly military service. At any rate, in 1970/71 his still life titled, “ Cantelope” dated 1967  was published in a buyers guide for contemporary American artists. His work was exhibited at  the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Alliance and the Cheltenham Art Center. He was represented by The Little Gallery on 17th St. in Philadelphia. Sources

PAFA ,Artists /USA 1970-71 The Buyers Guide to Contemporary Art

Nathalie Nordstrand

Nathalie Johnson Nodrstrand (1932-) New England artist Nathalie Johnson Nordstrand was born in Massachusetts in 1932. She attended Barnard College and Columbia University. She studied with noted artists Paul Strisik and Don Stone. While living in Glouchester Ma. she also studied with Jay Connaway, and Roger Curtis.

Acording to an article in American Artist magazine in 1972 Connaway and Curtis encouraged Nordstrand to paint her finished work in her studio and emphasized working from memory and sketches. Interesting to note, the artist had two separate studios, one for painting in oil and the other, in watercolor. At the time Robert Kolbe wrote the article titled “ Poetry of the Sea” Nordstrand had been painting full time for seven years and had won over forty-five awards. She was elected to the American Watercolor Society.

In addition to her membership at the Society, she is a member of the American Artists Professional League, the Guild of Boston Artists, the Salmagundi Club, the Rockport art Association and a charter member of the Reading and Burlington Art Associations.

The watercolor shown here titled “Sugar Season” was exhibited at the Salmagundi Club in 1976.

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Sources

Who’s Who in American Art

American Artist Magazine 1972

Artists Biographical Pamphlet

Marian D Harris

In 2003 Bristol Myers Squibb presented an exhibit entitled “ The Fascination of Sun and Shore ” at its gallery in Lawrenceville NJ. It may have been there where I first encountered the work of artist Marian D Harris. However, readers that frequented the Jersey Shore in the 50’s and sixties most likely encountered her work in local exhibits in and around Atlantic City and  Philadelphia. A fortunate few may have studied with her. Marian D Harris was born in Philadelphia in 1904. In 1922 she enrolled at the Philadelphia Academy of Arts where she was awarded the Cresson Traveling Scholarship (1925) graduating in 1926. During the summers of 1921-1924 and 1932 she attended the PAFA summer school in Chester Springs, PA. After graduating from the academy, she studied with Hugh Breckenridge in Gloucester, Ma

She exhibited widely , including the PAFA, the Chicago Art Institute, and the 1939  Worlds Fair among many others. In 1991 Stockton College exhibited fifty of her paintings in an exhibit entitled “A Tribute to Marian Harris”.

In addition to exhibiting her work, Marian taught art classes and lectured. Moving to Wilmington, Delaware she became an instructor at the Wilmington Academy of Art, first in 1927-1932 and again in 1936-1937. A move to Ventnor NJ continued her teaching career at  Atlantic City Friends School ( 1956-1957) . In 1959 she added lecturer to her resume when she began giving art appreciation courses at the Jewish Community Center in Margate, NJ.

Among her many achievements and  art awards, Marian Harris held several memberships. She was a member of the American watercolor society, a PAFA fellow , a member of the Cultural Arts Center of Ocean City, president of the League of South Jersey Artists ( 60-61) , and president  of  the Atlantic City Art Center ( 65-66) .

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The untitled portrait of a seated dancer is dated 1949. It does not bring to mind qualities normally associated with ballet dancers. The figure, rather than graceful, is sturdy. Harris depicts her with strong solid legs and a substantial neck. Harris’ dancer is an athlete and performer complete with stage make-up ( the prominent red lips) and costume. The costume perhaps is what captured the artist’s imagination. It’s rendered with wonderful lively texture. The tactile quality is enhanced by the hands that rest on the dancer’s lap , partially lost in the material. ( Evidently , Marians attention to texture  in portraiture was noted by reviewers in 1939 as well) Anyone who has worn a tutu , or has watched a sister prance around in one, could identify with this aspect of the painting.

Sources

Who Was Who in American Art

Griffin’s Gallery

Bristol Myers Squibb Catalogue

New York Times 1939

Press of Atlantic City 1991

Elna Heck

Heck, Elna ( Mrs. G Leonard Heck) 1915-2007

Born in Marlton , Elna ( nee Anderson) later moved to Haddonfield attending public school there. In 1955 the artist took lessons at the local Sanski Art Center and attended classes at Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia.  The walls of her Haddonfield home were adorned with her oil  paintings and watercolors . She was very involved in the Haddonfield  community, being a past president of the Haddonfield Fortnightly and local Civic Association. She was also an active member of the First Baptist Church and illustrated a cookbook titled The Culinary Artist" that was issued by their Woman’s Union.

(photo coming soon)

The watercolor shown here titled “ John Sisty Memorial Chapel “  was painted by the artist   in 1976. According to church records, the chapel was built in 1890 and is an example of rural gothic architecture that can be seen throughout South Jersey. Considered by some to be among the most picturesque sites on Kings Highway and knowing Elna’s connection with the church , it’s not surprising that she chose to paint it.

The painting was exhibited this year through our traveling  art exhibit program. A number of viewers wondered about the sprig of holly leaves and berries in the foreground. Evidently holly bushes were of special interest to the artist . Records show a sereies of paintings based on the holly bush:

“ Manamico Holly Bush”

“Albino “ Holly

“Bonney” Holly

“ Old Heavy Berry” Holly

“ Stratford” Holly

“Cardinal” Holly and “Wyetta “ Hollly

Elna ‘s work was exhibited in a number of local art shows and many of her paintings are now in local art  collections.

Sources:

Haddonfield Public Library Biographical  Records

Courier Post

The Retrospect

Artists of the PAFA

[nggallery id=63] Students of  The Pennsylvania Academy of Art

Walter  Condit , Betty Bringolf, Christie McGinnis , Freda Reiter, Dan Miller , Jack Bookbinder , Moe Pagano, Janet Mustin , Marian D Harris, Henry Cooper, H Berman, Cesare Ricciardi

under construction

Collecting- biographical research

Eye On the Artist 2

A Guide to Researching Lesser-known Artists Your artist may not appear in published reference books nor conventional websites, but  that doesn't mean there is nothing written about him (or her).¬† Periodicals and newspapers¬† are great additional options for finding information, and you can reduce the time it takes to locate these resources by using the Internet.

Start again by looking at your documentation sheet. If you haven't set one up ;you can download one from the website. Make sure to include anything you know about the work, including casual statements made by the seller, or family member who gave it to you. Note the inventory number that you have assigned the work ( as it appears on your document information sheet) somewhere on the piece in pencil ( preferably on the back dust cover or back of the frame)

Next , based on  the information you already have. start a preliminary search of periodicals and  newspapers online. Below are some online resources that usually work best for me :

1.) World Cat - Allows a search by artist's name that identifies libraries by location that have the material(s) in their collection. Some  libraries may even have materials that allow online viewing.

2.) Library Websites -  Most libraries have websites  that give you  information about the scope of their  collections and guidelines for viewing materials.  Many also provide online data bases some of which may be available only at the library.  Occasionally you’ll find a library that compiles documentation on local artists.

3.) Newspaper Websites – Many newspapers now have search-able archives on line.

4.) Historical Society Websites – Some historical society's will  allow you to contact them with questions via email, or a form on their website.

5.) Association Websites - These include groups like watercolor societies, national women artists associations etc. Identify characteristics of your work and see if you can find related associations.

The next article of Eye On the Artist will expand researching lesser –known artist and touch upon illegible and unsigned works. Please feel free to contact us to let us know how your search is progressing. In the meantime , happy hunting!

Techniques of Printmaking

(This is the second in a series of articles on the understanding and appreciation of Fine Art Prints. Please read part one, "What is a fine art print?", first) I would first like to say the subject of printing techniques is a complex and detailed discussion, that would require pages and pages of text to explain.  We would  encourage the reader who is new to the subject to research further the many sources available that both discuss the fine points of the art, and to also see first hand the art that has been created by many great artist.  At  the end of this article we will list some  sources that may be helpful.  For the purpose of this article, we will discuss the various methods that are employed in the creation of an art print.

There are four basic methods used to create a print.  They are the relief , intaglio, planographic, and serigraphic processes.  We will explore each one briefly, discussing the various forms each method entails.

1. RELIEF METHOD

  • Woodcut - The oldest of the relief methods is called a woodcut, and was first used as early as 1400 A. D. in Europe . This entails drawing upon a wood block the design or drawing to be printed. ¬†It is called relief because the design stands out in relief. ¬†A knife or gouge is used to cut away every area of the surface except the design itself down to about an eighth of an inch. ¬†The block is then inked and a piece of paper is ¬†laid down on it and pressure is ¬†exerted to transfer the image to the paper.
  • Wood Engraving - In a wood engraving the cut side of a wood block as opposed to the plank side is used. ¬†A hardwood, usually boxwood is the medium. ¬†The use of an engraving tool called a burin or graver is used to create much finer lines than is found in a woodcut. ¬†This process was first introduced in the late eighteenth century, but was widely used in the nineteenth century to illustrate books and periodicals. ¬†the reason for this was that the thin and strong wood blocks held up better under ¬†the strong pressure of the printing process.

2. INTAGLIO METHOD

The second process we will discuss is called intaglio.  It is the opposite of the relief method in that the design is incised below the plane surface of a metal plate.  This done either by an engraving tool or acid. The ink is than pressed into the cut lines and put through a press and printed on to the paper. Within this method there are different types of processes used.  They are discussed below.

  • Engraving - In an engraving, a metal plate is used which is usually copper, but can be zinc, aluminum, or magnesium.The artist draws directly onto the plate with a wax crayon or china marker. ¬†He then holds the engraving tool called a burin parallel to his body ¬†and pushes or furrows a line in the plate while twisting and turning the plate to achieve the desired results. ¬†In engraving the artist is directly involved in the creation of a three-dimensional line , and physically experiences the relation between the penetration in depth, and the resistance of the metal. ¬†The engraved line has an intensity and dynamic quality that no other line can equal. ¬†An important ¬†point to understand is that the resulting print is the reverse of the plate. ¬†The ink is then pressed into the engraved lines and the surface of the plate is wiped clean. ¬†It is put into a high pressure press and the the image is stamped into the paper. ¬†This is called the plate-mark.
  • Etching - In an etching, the burin or engraving tool is not used to dig into the plate but rather an acid bath is used in conjunction with a so called mordant or covering that is applied to the top of the plate and then a needle is used to draw the image onto the plate. ¬†Depending upon the extent that the plate is dipped into the acid bath and the lines that are cut into the mordant, the acid lays the exposed lines bare, thus creating the image. The processes of engraving and etching are generally used to create specific lines, while the following processes of mezzotint and aquatint are used to produce tonal effects or areas of light and dark.
  • Mezzotint - A uniformly dark base is created on the plate with a tool called a rocker. It has cutting teeth that create millions of tiny holes. ¬†By using a scrapper, the artist removes the burr and burnishes the plate to create lighter tones. ¬†The more he scrapes the lighter the area will print. ¬†Light and shades, not line are what create the image.
  • Aquatint - Aquatint is another method used to create tonal effects. ¬†With this process, more porous mordants or coverings such as resin or sand are used. ¬†This permits the acid to create a granular or tonal area on the plate. ¬†Auquatinting is often used in conjunction with etching to complement the overall effect.
  • Drypoint - Drypoint involves the use of a diamond point to gouge or scratch lines into the plate. ¬†This generally is used in conjunction with either etching, or engraving. ¬†The effect of the raised burr is quite pronounced and creates a rich velvety line. ¬†The downside of this method is that the lines break down quite quickly resulting in no more than ten to fourteen impressions being produced.

3. PLANOGRAPHC METHOD

This method makes use of the reaction of grease and water to create a design on a stone slab, usually limestone.

  • Lithograph - In a lithograph, the artist draws his design with a greasy crayon. ¬†The stone is then dampened with water and the greasy mark will repel the water, but the untouched areas of the stone will absorb the water. After an operation to prevent the greasy mark from spreading, a greasy ink can be rolled on to the stone. ¬†The greasy ink will be repelled by the water, but will stick to the greasy parts. ¬†The inked design can be transferred to a sheet of paper by running the paper and the stone through a special kind of press to produce a lithograph.
  • Chromolithography - This process is simply the use of color to produce a lithograph. ¬†By using a series of carefully registered stones, each in a different color, the lithograph is produced by printing with each colored stone.

4. SERIGRAPHIC METHOD

This method can best be described as a hole in a masking surface, in other words, a stencil.  When an image is cut in a masking material, such as a very thin sheet of copper or celluloid, and laid on a piece of paper, and ink is rolled over it, an exact replica will appear on the paper.  This method has been used for many centuries for coloring prints in quantity.  An extension of this process is the silk-screen, whereby a thin fabric, such as silk is pulled tight on a frame.  Hence the term silk-screen.  Here an agent is used to block the flow of ink onto the surface below.   That creates the image that is printed.  To be clear, the area that is to be printed allows the flow of ink, while the area that is blocked does not.

Eye on the Artist

Perhaps the number one question put to me by people about their art is, ‚"Can you identify this artist?". Identifying artists can actually be quite easy... if the piece is signed and dated. It can be more of a challenge if the artwork is not .

.Either way, don't let that stop you from trying to find out more about your artist. Some of the first steps to positively identify the artist are noted below.

1.) Set up a document page to keep you information in order and easily available. The documentation of your art is an important step, not only for organizing you research, but for setting up a provenance for you piece (a more in depth discussion of a works provenance and its importance will follow later in the series). Be sure to include any and all information you can find.

2.) Try the internet. If the work is signed, start by looking the artist up on ArtWithAHistory. com.  From there, try Google.. Type the name in quotes. Check out what comes up. There are many sites that may provide information. Even auction sites like ebay may shed some light, (but always consider your source when using the information). No results? Proceed to the next step:

3.) Reference Texts. Look up the artist in art reference books. Below is a partial list that we find helpful: (many of these can be located in your local library, some are available through websites for a minimal fee)

  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index
  • Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers
  • Who‚Äôs Who in American Art
  • Who Was Who in American Art
  • Art Price Index
  • Benezit Dictionary of Artists
  • Contemporary Women Artists

These are just some initial steps you can take to identify your artist and document your artwork. Generally you ‚will  be able to locate some information if the artist is fairly well-known. Additional articles will provide resources geared to lesser-known artists and illegible signatures.

What is a Fine Art Print?

(This is the first in a series of articles on understanding and appreciating fine art prints. Succeeding articles will discuss techniques of printmaking, the advantages of  collecting prints, original vs. reproductions, and  a discussion tying all of these elements together as it pertains to the Grimes-Barber Collection.) The basis of this discussion and those to follow were derived from the sources listed at the bottom the article. What is a fine art print?

The easiest way  to describe a print, would be to say that it is an image, created by an artist using a printable medium, such as a block of wood or metal plate.  The surface of that plate is then inked and put though a press and transferred onto a piece of paper.

Printmaking allows the artist to create multiple copies of a work for the enjoyment of a wider audience , as opposed to an oil painting, for example, which must be made indivdually.  It is none the less original however. In turn, the work usually sells for far less than one original painting, thus making it less expensive for the buyer.

It is not the medium, but the aesthetic intention that creates a work of art, and gives it value. In the context of our thinking, the value is not monetary, but rather artistic.  In other words, does the piece merit consideration as a good piece of art?  The monetary value will follow if it is.

The origins of printmaking

Beginning with cave men, and following up through the ages, man has cut, chiseled, scraped, and engraved images into rock, bone, clay, and every other conceivable material. In its earliest form, printmaking was used to create illustrations for books and journals coverings such subjects, as science, history, and medicine;  essentially the precursor to photographic images now found in publications. The art of printmaking in these instances was purely utilitarian. The upside to all this of course was the augmentation of recorded history, and the ability to mass produce images and related ideas.

Aside from this use, there have been artists who have created original works of art and have used the printing processes available to them for the creation of original works of art, and have made copies to distribute to a much wider audience.  It is this work that we have considered to be fine art and have collected over the ages.

Artists in the Grimes-Barber Collection, who's work includes prints are John Taylor Arms, Florence Bradshaw Brown, Masao Maedo, Valerie Thornton, and Kitty Hockman.

In a later article in this series, we will use examples from various artists to discuss the elements that distinguish these works.

What's in Your closet?

Each of you likely has a piece of artwork that was handed down through the family or, perhaps, picked up on vacation, which now resides under the bed, or deep in the back of a closet long forgotten. With the Winter weather providing a bleak canvas out doors, now is the perfect time to drag these out. Since you’ll be spending more time inside, something new on the walls to look at will provide a refreshing change of pace, and make the coming months more bearable. YOUR FIRST STEPS

Start by taking out the artwork. Now check the condition.

Is it framed? If so, how does the hanging gear on the back look? (We'll talk about this in greater detail in an upcoming article.)

Once you're done with that, hang it up! Making this little change will add something new to your surroundings. It may even be the first step in a new hobby, or inspire a little home decorating.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

After a few days of the work hanging in the living room will surely invite a lot of careful observation. Do you experience an immediate response when you first look at it? Does it ‚speak to you ‚move you‚or remind you of something ? Wonder why? Is it the color? Is it the image depicted?

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE WORK?

If color is what impacts you most, look at the colors in the work and imagine them on the artist's palette. How an artists sets up his palette says a lot about them. There are numerous books out there, with page after page on the subject. Why? Understanding how to use color provides the artist with an element to communicate his ideas. Understanding his choices gives you insight into your reaction to the art.

The colors aren't the biggest factor for you? Maybe it pulls at your heart-strings more than anything else? Take a deep look at the content of the piece. Is it Kinkade–like, a sentimental village-scape with warm inviting candles in the windows?

You could also look at the art and wonder ‚"Where is that ?", "Who is that ?‚"When was that ?", "Who created it ? When was it created and on and on and on. You might not even have to make a conscious effort to come up with questions. Just living with the art may be enough, and it might have done a great job keeping you mind off the bleak winter just outside your window.

ArtWithAHistory.com Changes

[singlepic id=26 w=320 h=240 float=left]Over the past several days, several major changes have been made to ArtWithAHistory.com. The biggest of these changes is the new look. As of right now, we have decided to keep things fairly plain, however, the design will evolve as the site grows. The next change is ...

THE GRIMES-BARBER COLLECTION

This marks the beginning of our serious effort to get the entire Grimes-Barber Collection online, along with accompyaning research and biographical information for each artist. Because of the size of the collection, and the new pieces added every week, this will be an ongoing process. We hope to add new artist information, and new works every day.

To take a look through the Grimes-Barber Collection, click on The Collection link, located near the top of every page.

DAILY ARTICLES

In addition to the Collection, we have begun to write a series of articles, which we plan to post 5 days a week, with tips and information relevant to those of you who may have a piece of art, and would like to know more about it. These will begin appearing regularly on the site in the very near future.

While we do have many topics already in mind, this site is a resource for those who seek to get a better understanding of art, and the associated aspects of collecting and researching it. Because of that, we strongly encourage you to contact us with questions, or post ideas that you may have. Doing so will ensure ArtWithAHistory.com continues to be the best site on the internet for those with a passion for art.

STAY UPDATED WITH RSS

The last feature of the website you need to know about is the ability to subscribe to updates, and have them pushed to your RSS reader automatically. To do this, simply visit the ArtWithAHistory.com Feed, and subscribe, using the reader of your choice.