It was a few weeks before Christmas and down at the square
People were shopping in stores and Santa was there!
He wanted some gifts, unique and handmade,
For lovely Ms. Santa, the elves, and his reindeer brigade.
He knew just where to find some really great gifts:
In the middle of Texas in a very special place.
Art Connections Gallery that is--
On the square in La Grange,
Where everything inside is artisan made.
Santa hurried right there with his list in his hand.
He opened the door and entered a magic land.
He was met by Renate who gave him a hug
And then smiled and asked if she could give him a hand.
She looked at his list and gave up a laugh!
“Oh Santa, this will be so easy, don’t sweat.
We have so much stuff here, on that you can bet.
All those on your nice list will get such special surprises.
Each are made from the hands of an artist you see,
And are meant to fill their hearts with love, that I guarantee.
So first on his list was Mrs. Santa, of course.
She loves bling, how could she not,
She lives on the North Pole surrounded by sparkly whatnots.
He looked at the jewels, so much to choose from,
But found a perfect bauble to please the heart of his lady love.
He went through his list, not naughty, just nice,
And found something just right for each creature on that list.
A warm scarf for Rudolph ‘cause it’s cold in the snow,
for Dasher a really nice salad bowl.
A painting for Comet, and some flutes for Blitzen
(who does sometimes get “blitzened”, you know).
And for the reindeer who looks out at the world, a new point of view.
After a rest in the Book Nook, onward he goes,
To the back gallery where he finds some little elf girl hair bows.
And these wee shoes for little Eddie Elf
Who has been really quite good
And, never forget,
This beaded bag for his sweet mom, Ellen Elf.
Finally, when the list is all complete,
Santa checks out and pays,
Not surprised in the least.
For he knew when his shopping was done here,
his wallet would still have a little something
For the homeless man on the street.
Renate piled on his packages (and piled on his packages) and to the door he did stroll.
Down the sidewalk he went and so the story goes.
Those also shopping on the square could hear him say,
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good day.
I’ll see you at Christmas in just a few weeks.
Remember how I like cookies and always be sweet.
Mary Faust Carradine is Featured Artist for this Saturday's Second Saturday Soiree. We were able to visit with her via email about her life as an artist.
Tell us a little about your life before you became an artist.
My first recollection of someone recognizing that I may have artistic talent was in Kindergarten. At an open house my teacher told my mother I had the ability to differentiate form and reproduce what I saw. When the other kids were drawing stick figures, I was drawing people with recognizable body parts and facial features, although clumsily and inexperienced. Thus began my art education.
Did you do art or "artsy" things growing up?
When I attended school, art was still part of the curriculum. I always excelled in art classes, and in eight-grade was placed in the advanced class. I remained in advanced classes through high school. My first "commercial" jobs where making hand drawn posters for the Community League events in my hometown, where my mom was an active member. I got to experience constructive criticism at a young age. I realized pleasing the "boss", in this case my mom, could be a challenge. Learning to take criticism helped during critiques and in jobs. I also drew a few cartoons for my high school newsletter, and made a few screen printed posters for high school events, where I developed my first interest in printmaking. Eventually the interest I developed in doing posters led to a career in the graphic arts later in my life. I attended the University of Wisconsin Stout. In the Printmaking class, I experienced stone lithography for the first time and just loved the feel of the crayon on the stone and still do lithography, occasionally.
When did you start to create art, in particular printmaking, and why or how did you make the decision to do this?
I worked in various major retailers' display departments, and had a freelance display business for many years. When store display became less about creativity and more about merchandising, I changed directions and became a graphic artist. During that time I worked as the Publication Specialist for a large school district, I designed and produced the district's newspaper for the Communications department. One of my functions was to take pictures during school events, at the many campuses in the district, to be included with the articles; I developed an interest in photography. Later down the road, after being reorganized out of my job in the marketing department at JCPenney's corporate offices, I decided to concentrate on my own work, and sold my photographic work through fine art fairs across Texas. Saturation of this market –and various severe weather events– prompted me to stop doing fairs, go back to my roots and concentrate on making art. Because of my background in publishing, and prior experiences in high school and college, printmaking seemed a natural progression.
Who was your first mentor or person of inspiration?
Unable to afford the presses and other expensive equipment involved in printmaking, I attend Brookhaven College, and am in my tenth year in Printmaking. My mentor is David Newman, who teaches Printmaking and Photography, and is the Gallery Curator at Brookhaven Community College. He has expanded my horizon and broadened my knowledge of printmaking techniques. I also enjoy having in-depth art discussions with him. Michelle Martin, Professor of Art at the University of Tulsa, and Wisconsin artist Paul Yank both contributed to my current direction in mono prints. Jon Goebel, Associate Professor at the University of Hawaii Hilo, influenced the direction of my imagery. He was the first to tell me my images should include a narrative. Lithographic artist, Katherine Polk, showed me that delicate mark making can be very powerful. Caravaggio has influenced my background composition, mysterious shapes within a darkened background. I relate to Georgia O'Keefe because we're both from Wisconsin and made our way to Texas, and try to emulate the fluidity of her lines and color in her work.
Where do you get your inspiration for each piece?
Having grown up in Wisconsin, I feel especially attuned to nature. Elements from nature are featured in most of my work. Travel plays a huge role for inspiration. I use my photographic images as a resource for my artwork.
Tell us a bit about how you approach making a print and the process that you use to work through one.
I begin the process for my mono prints by placing different textures and shapes on an inked –using a split or rainbow roll– plexi-glass surface; placing a sheet of paper over it and running it through a press. Once I have the background made, I look at the patterns created and try to see the image in it. Sometimes the image is immediately revealed; sometimes it takes awhile for me to see it. After I have an image in my mind, I tape the background print to a piece of transparent vellum and draw the image on it. I remove the background print from the vellum, turn the drawing over and trace it with magic marker; and then tape it back-side up to a piece of plexi-glass, which becomes my plate. Using rollers and brayers, I ink the plate. After I have the ink where I want it, I take a rag and wipe away the excess ink, where I don't want it. Once I have the plate inked just the way I want it; I wet the paper, put the image side on top the inked surface and run it through the press. I start with the lightest ink color. By layering the ink, blending different colored inks to make new colors or darker colors to create value, you can get your desired result. This technique is similar to reduction wood-block relief prints. I can also use stencils, for crisper edges, or dab with my hand, rag or sponge to blend or make softer edges. I normally have more than 15 runs though the press. Although time consuming, I find it very rewarding.
Our featured artist for November is Mary Faust Carradine who has chosen print making as her chosen form of artistic expression. I have found that using the term “print” can frequently be confusing to the uninitiated (including myself, sometimes) so I decided to do a little research into what exactly does “print making” involve. I want to give credit to Wikipedia and Venice Beedenbender of Washington Printmakers Gallery, as well as Metropolitan Museum’s “Heilbrunn Timelin of Art History” for the information below.
For most of the history of man, images were rarely seen by anyone other than the wealthy. However, around 1400 the first forms of printmaking began to develop giving man the ability to print thousands or more of the same image, opening the visual image to become an art form as well as a means of communication.
Items referred to as “prints” are not to be confused with reproductions of originals. An original print is an impression produced from a block of wood, stone, plate (such as linoleum) or screen which the artist has created. If using a fine art medium such as oil paint, watercolor, or ink, the artist can make a series of originals, each hand done by the artist. There is usually an inking, wiping, and printing of each copy in an edition.
The artist will usually determine how many of these “hand pulled” prints will be in an edition. In recent history, the limiting of these editions increases the value of each piece in the edition. The artist generally signs the print with the number of the print in the edition and the total number to be printed in the edition indicated as well.
When talking about print editions, the term “artist proof” is used and designated with “P/A”. These are the first 5-10% of prints pulled by the artist as he or she works through trial proofs to create the process for the “final proof”. These artist’s proofs record the creative process of the artist and are considered to be valuable because of this. The final proof is called the “bon a tirer” and is considered the ideal.
There are several general types of prints:
1. Relief printing started in China around AD 105 and showed up in Europe in the 15th century
Predating printing, the Chinese used stone rubbings to made holy images and create texts. Lines were carved into the flat stones, wet paper pressed into the stone, and ink was applied. The image was white lines on a black background. When they applied the images and texts to the same paper, it was called block book printing and was the foundation for printmaking today.
Woodcuts were the first form of printmaking starting in China in the 9th century, was widely used in Europe during the Middle Ages with German artist Albrecht Drurer bringing it to an expert art form. It was further developed to high art as the Japanese used woodblock printing in daily activities such as newspapers and flyers but also developed incredible wood block prints influencing well loved artists such as Manet, Degas, and Van Gogh. The design is carved into the wood with the part sticking up or in relief treated with the paint or ink. Each color used has a separate plate carved in the design that is to be inked and printed. Then the paper is printed in layers of each color to give the final design.
One of the gallery artist who does woodblock prints is Daryl Howard. Daryl studied in Japan with the masters and is well known as one of the premier American woodblock artists. As Daryl lives in the Austin area, we are very fortunate to be able to offer her work to our customers.
Linoleum cuts are a relief print carved into linoleum rather than wood. As the linoleum does not take the more delicate cuts known in woodcuts, it has a more poster like or blocky look and is generally not as valuable as a woodblock print.
Engraving is a form of print making in which the artist uses a hardened steel tool called a burin to cut a design into a metal plate. It is characterized by a deliberate look and clean edges. This technique was started in Germany by goldsmiths.
Etching was begun in Germany by Daniel Hopfer in late 15th/early 16th century but Duhrer was the first to have a dated one recorded. It is considered to be easier than engraving and became more popular because of that. It is opposite of a woodcut in that the raised portions of the etching remain blank because the ink goes into the crevices. The artist may coat the plate with a waxy or acrylic ground and then carve into that ground. These exposed lines are then dipped in an acid bath which then leaves the lines on the plate.
Collagraphs are made with a combination of relief and print. A collage of materials is made on a plate, usually linoleum, building the relief which is then printed. Gallery artist Kathleen Stafford uses this technique in her editions of prints showing the peoples of Africa where she has lived for most of her husband’s diplomatic career.
Our featured artist for November, Mary Faust Carradine, prints lithographs, serigraphs, and monotypes:
Lithography is based on the chemical repulsion of oil and water and dates back to 1798. The image is drawn on a porous surface, usually limestone and covered with a greasy medium. When acid is applied to the surface, the grease transfers to the surface, burning the image into the surface. Then the surface that is not covered by the drawing medium is sealed. When water is applied to the stone, it only adhers to the surface not covered by the greasy medium. Oil ink is rolled on the surface where it adhers to the greasy parts. Paper is applied and the image is transferred using the pressure from a printing press. Some of the artists using this method include Van Gogh, Toulouse-Latrec, and Willem de Kooning.
Serigraphy, also called silk-screen printing or screen printing, was developed in the 20th century in America and was introduced as fine art at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. While the origin of screen printing may have been in Japan, the term “serigraphy” was coined by Anthony Velonis of NYC. He was head of the Fine Arts Project in the WPA. Unemployed artists were hired by the government project to produce commercial works, mostly posters and mass media work. He noticed that the artists were suffering from depression and lack of self-esteem so he worked with a gallery owner and came up with the idea for the artists to do creative work that was differentiated from the commercial applications and called them serigraphs. This was successful in elevating the feelings of the artists.
Serigraphy in its simple concept is forcing ink through a stencil that is attached to a silk or mesh screen. The thick ink is forced through a tightly stretched screen and deposited on the paper. A separate screen is used for each color and then hung to dry.
Monotypes or Monoprints refer to any print made in a particular version but incapable of being exactly replicated. They can’t be editioned and are unique prints or variations on a theme. The designs are applied directly to the plate using a slow drying paint. The image is transferred before the ink dries and is printed with a press or by hand. There is only one strong impression made. The ink may be reworked but the next print will not be an exact replica.
Photography also refers to its final product as prints. There are various levels within that definition. Some photographers print unlimited copies of the same image using commercial printers. These are usually much lower priced that those photographs printed in editions and by the artist himself or herself. These limited edition and artist select prints are much higher in value. David Johnson is one of our artists who prints his own work himself in limited editions.
Many of us own framed items that we may refer to as “prints” but, in actuality, they are “reproductions” made digitally from a photograph of the original. They may be printed on paper, canvas, metal, or any printable surface and sometimes may be hard to distinguish from the real thing. It is important that the art collector makes sure they know what they are buying before they pay a high price for a piece of art labeled “print”.