Monday, May 16, 2016

Daniel Curiel's Review of "Wayne Thiebaud: Prints in Process" at the CSULB University Art Museum

Wayne Thiebaud Review

Wayne Thiebaud is a painter and printmaker from the Pop Art era who takes objects and ideas from popular culture, along with other known artists like Andy Warhol, and inverts them in his own way.  Though Wayne Thiebaud and other Pop artists like Warhol were contemporaries, their work draws very different visual experiences of often similar inspirations.  While Warhol sought to flatten objects with uniformity and a methodical detachment from his work, Thiebaud uses thick impasto in his paintings as well as different layers in his printing to create a feeling of depth and personal touch.
One piece that illustrates this point is Thiebaud’s Dark Cake from 1983.  Though many have believed otherwise, this work is actually a woodcut printed with water-based inks rather than traditional oil-based.  This gives the cake the appearance of a moist exterior, almost dripping down to the plate.  The cake’s layering of color and use of color to frame the shadows and edges helps create a strong three-dimensionality and a painterly feel.  In contrast, works by Warhol are often screen-printed using flat plains of color layered in flattening way.  Warhol and his followers sought to take away the human element and create a detachment between themselves and their works.   His workshop was even named “The Factory.”
Another work that highlights this difference is in how the two artists dealt with the iconic character of Mickey Mouse in their works.  While Thiebaud painted Mickey Mouse’s head onto one of his signature cakes with a thick impasto, Warhol made prints of Mickey Mouse with a cool detachment.  Thiebaud’s use of the Mickey character is not surprising since he had worked previously with Disney in production, but his painting depicts Mickey in a more personalized way, traditional to the character.  Warhol rendered Mickey in a flatter way, using blacks and greys to create a colder, unfeeling character.  Though he often said his work did not have meaning, the piece can be read as showing the coldness of the fame “industry” and how the character itself does not hold any physical substance, it is only an image on the surface of the canvas.   
This exhibition will continue at the University Art Museum until 5/29/16

Daniel Curiel's Review of a Presentation by Henry Klein

Henry Klein Presentation Synopsis

            Henry Klein is a printmaker and art dealer who represents many printmakers from Eastern Europe.  He is also a very good story teller and I found it quite interesting listening to him discuss printmaking during the turbulence of Eastern Europe and how their approach is different to that seen in America or Western Europe. 
Jiri Anderle etching

            In listening to Klein discuss art and his experiences, it is clear he has had a unique and more worldly perspective.  He was in the Czech Republic setting up a show during the time of the Velvet Revolution. The show had to be put off for a year due to these events. When Klein participated in previous Biennials, he noted that the winners were always from the Czech Republic. He attributes this to the fact that many Eastern Europeans read books, and the illustration of books was taken very seriously.  Czech printmakers would use these illustrations and their training from such projects to create large pieces that had an immense amount of detail throughout.
            I also really enjoyed seeing the collection of “funny money” prints by Oldrich Kulhanic. The fact that Klein has one of if not the only full set of these prints was quite impressive.  I liked the fact that the prints themselves were so ornately illustrated, and that they all had their own subtle criticism …the more you looked and the more Henry Klein explained, the more appeared. 
Oldrich Kulhanic lithographs

There were also other excellent contemporary prints.  Ingrid Ledent is a Belgium printmaker Klein represents with a more modern style.  She uses her own body as a measurement of time and does many prints based around her own body. 
print by Ingrid Ledent

           My own personal favorite was titled The Parable of Noah by the Russian artist Nikolai Batakov. He spent a year printing this large work full of detail.  This work is the style I find intriguing which shows how much detail and shading is really possible with the medium of etching.

            I would say the event was more than inspiring.  Not only did it leave me wanting to immediately go incise lines into my plate, but it contrasted sharply to the feeling of tedium I get when I listen to presentations about graphic design. I would say that seeing these prints and what was possible as possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me decide to switch fields of study.  

More information on these artists can be found at Henry Klein's website:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Day With Master Printer Dirk Hagner

posted by Nancy Young
In October 2011, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at the Irvine Fine Arts Center with master printer, Dirk Hagner, who teaches at Saddleback College. Dirk allowed me to photograph as he printed the final layer of a reduction woodcut, registering the block for printing, mounting a print and hand rubbing his prints.

He marks his block outside of the printing area and uses this to register the layers. For each color he does a tracing and lines up each layer using the same marks.

Pine is good for its grain -- pick your wood based on the effect your wood  can contribute to the work. Plywood can even be OK, it just depending on the thickness of the veneer. Hardwood best for precise lines.. Fruit wood, if you can afford it is hard enough and has very even grain though harder to work with, and it does not come in larger sizes. Poplar is good. White pine is available at Home Depot. Select based on the location of the knots. Bass wood, which is similar to Shina is easy to carve. Lemon wood is available at McClain’s only in small pieces. Dirk does not usually like to print using a press since wood blocks tend to bow so he usually hand rubs his prints.

Portraiture is his personal way to pay tribute to his subject. Music as well as Philosophy inspires. Drawings are bsed on photos, then transferred to the block using carbon paper. He then covers the drawing with Min Vac, a non water based wood stain which dries quickly so he can see the contrast when he carves. He doesn't use a water based wash as it warps the wood.

Inks :: Graphic Chemicals – oil based block print black, or Caligo. Mixes all his colors, only the black does is straight out of the can. He prefers colors thin to allow the other colors to come through so to thin the ink he uses Flash Oil #4, and reconditions it throughout the da keeping extra cans on hand to store any colors mixed. Best not to ink in to the non printing area – if any gets ink in there wipe it off.

Paper: Japanese Mulberry rice paper, it needs to have some sizing and long fibers. Japanese Mulberry is much thinner than BFK Reeves -  you need a thinner paper to print by hand; even so you must rub the paper hard so the paper also needs to be strong.

How to tell if there is enough ink on the block, there will be a sheen – and by how it prints.
When rubbing be sure to give it “all you have”, the paper is strong. Note – if you use Teflon it will make your paper shiny. It usually takes three prints each time to get a good print.


Plans all color layers before beginning cutting

 Use a heavy item to hold down the paper so it won’t slip while rubbing.  Rub with the grain
You will see the color come through
Continue to check for any sand grains which could cause the paper to tear.

Printing: Dirk's editions are usually 15, so he prints at least 20.

 He uses many undercolors which makes the final layer of black, pop. He uses a 4” Takech medium brayer, inking from various directions and only inking the area to be printed. Using the registration sticks, he places the paper on the inked block.

Hand rub the print with circular motions as well as straight up and down, using a custom baren that looks kind of like a a 1-1/2” diameter doorknob. You can also hand rub using a wooden spoon.

Stick registration: Marks on the back of the paper and matches this mark up and makes a corresponding mark on a stick. Also marks the block.

Registering a large piece.
Make a stick/bar. Line up the top of paper, center mark (though no mark on paper/notched out stick), so clips a stick on paper using binder clips. Keep stick on for entire process.

Rolls paper face out and lines up stick to bar, then rolls down – keeps from lifting and laying down.
Prints final black layer, then removes clip

He brought out another reduction – a smaller print that will have one more layer for shirt and not quite black.

Tools for carving: Dirk uses various sizes of “U” gouges 1-1/2, 3, 6 mm. He starts with the smallest first, then follows up with larger

Inking the block for the final layer

rubbing rubbing rubbing - can see the wood grain through the mulberry paper
In some works he cuts the board in different parts, inks then puts back together using a plywood base to fit/lock in the pieces.

Plan your wood purchase. You can use bbq brushes to bring out the grain of the wood, enhance the grain.

Even large prints are hand rubbed, but are initially run through a press to set.

The wood grain of the  plate is utilized as part of the print.
Mounting a print

Wet mounts can be reversed(and is archival):
* Uses Henkle wallpaper paste, Metyln standard:
 2 cups water
5 tsp Henkle
let sit so becomes jelly like – leave overnight.  (Check, you may need to add more Henkle.)
It can be stored.
Tearing the Japanese paper – difficult since fibers are long. Determine size, wet the paper using a brush – then tear using a straight edge or the edge of a table.
Uses gaterboard or plywood – very light but very stable.

Prep: using paper tape, tapes paper to gaterboard. Moisten/sprayor if smaller BFK.

Smaller works – print face down on table, glue apply to back of print with glue applicator. Once you start, don’t move the pice. BFK line up and place over print using shower crubber to smooth on. Paper tape BFK with print on to board so won’t buckle.

BFK on gator board is dry
1)   relax paper by squirting with water andy water based ink preset with Krylong
2)   roll it up using a roller
3)   apply glue over all
4)   roll over using brush (wallpaper brush)
5)   glue top
6)   newsprint over – smooth with shower scrubber
7)   wipe excess glue away from paper

Ideas: mounting old photos – archivally on linen

Can reverse mounting by spraying with water and peeling off.
When can’t be typeset must be relief etching
Printed from back

When asked how to price art?  He said it's really really hard – gallery usually takes 50%. You can try to figure your price by the hour – it can be a full time job to just promote yourself.

Visit Master Printer Dirk Hagner's website here:

Friday, April 24, 2015

California Printmakers 1950-2000 at the Laguna Art Museum

posted by Nancy Young
California Printmakers 1950-2000 is now showing (February 22 - May 31, 2015) at the Laguna Art Museum and proclaims to include “most of the leading California artists of the second half of the twentieth century”, and it does include artists such as Wayne Thiebaud , David Hockney, Richard Diebenkorn, John Baldessari, Bruce Nauman and Ed Rusha, who though all painters are not all printmakers. The title card states that “printmaking flourished thanks to the establishment of workshops where artists could benefit from the technical know-how and inventiveness of expert printers. The most notable were Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, founded in 1960; Crown Point Press in San Francisco, founded in 1962; Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles founded in 1966; and Cirrus Editions, also in Los Angeles, founded in 1970.”

I am not sure how the works were selected but it seems they are from the Laguna Art Museum’s permanent collection augmented by some local private collections. The show claims to be a history of “outstanding” works by California printmakers of the period. The artists represented included well known painters Wayne Thiebud, Richard Diebenkorn, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari, but with a title as broad as “California Printmakers 1950-2000” the list of printmakers included was somewhat limited. The title touted 50 years of California Printmakers, but the show included many who were famous painters, omitting many outstanding printmakers from 1950-2000. Though it was nice to find items from the artists in the show for sale when when exiting through the gift shop.

The show is well presented and the inclusion of a glossary of printmaking terms enhances the experience for those unfamiliar with the different printmaking processes: what is an edition, what are stages and what are print shops. The show also attempts to educate viewers on the various types of printmaking and terminology by providing a glossary for use in the gallery. An observation was that those shown to be published by a press, Tamarind, Crown Point, Gemini G.E.L., the entire edition was not printed by the artist, but by the master printers of that print shop.

My two favorite pieces were actually by those that were made by actual printmakers: Egon Schiele, a formidable, life size wood cut by Dirk Hagner and Dazzle a delicate hand colored drypoint by Beth Van Hosen.

I had the opportunity to see a show at the Norton Simon in 2012, Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California at the Norton Simon which was a much more comprehensive show so think a more apt subtitle for this show might be “proof-lite”.


Egon Schiele, 2004
Dirk Hagner (b. 1953)
Woodcut, from the edition of 15

Rabbit, 1986
Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
Lithograph, from the edition of 30, printed and published by the Tamarind Institute, Albuqurque
Museum purchase

Untitled #5 (Stones), 1988
William Brice (1921-2008)
Etching and aquatint, from the edition of 25
Museum (gift of Peter Norton)

Untitled, 1972
Bruce Nauman (b. 1941)
Drypoint, from the edition of 25, printed and published by Cirrus Editions, Los Angeles
Museum (gift of Ed Moses and Family)

Cone, 1995
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)
Etching, from the edition of 40, printed and pubslished by Crown Point Press, San Francisco, 2011)
Museum (gift of Rich and Ariane MacDonald)
Dazzle, 1985 (detail)
Beth Van Hoesen (1926-2010)
Drypoint with roulette, hand-colored in watercolor, from the edition of 35)
Museum (gift of the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Adams Trust)

Palm Road, 1965
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)
Soft –ground etching, second state, artist’s proof
Museum (promised gift of the artis

The Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-8971 Open: Monday-Tuesday, Friday-Sunday: 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Closed Wednesday