Tag Archives: January Invitational

2011 Exhibition Line-up

Here it is, so fresh that some of it hasn’t even made it to our official website yet!  The 2011 Exhibition Schedule.  Please note that sometimes there are unscheduled trips, injuries, or outside commitments that sometimes cause a change in show line-ups, but as it stands right now, next year looks like this:

January: Bewicks Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers: This show is curated by and includes engravings from Simon Brett, as well as 5 other British Wood Engravers.  This show is up on our website, please click the link above for more information.

February: Excellence in Printmaking: We are pleased to announce that Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints for the Library of Congress, will be jurying this show.  We will also be giving out awards.  If you are a BFA/MFA student in the mid-Atlantic region, you have until December 31 to apply!  See the full details here.

March: Lila Oliver Asher: Professor Emerita from Howard University, Lila has been printing in DC for over 60 years!  Lila has shown work internationally, including prints in Taiwan and India as well as our own National Museum of American Art.

April:  Pyramid Atlantic Member Artist Exhibition: Remember Jake Muirhead and Lindsay McCulloch from September 2010’s Director’s Cut exhibition?  They print downstairs at Pyramid Atlantic, and there are many more talented artists as well!

May: Jenny Freestone: We are so excited for the reschedule of Jenny Freestone’s solo exhibition, which was supposed to happen in 2010 but due to an ill-timed broken foot (but when are they every well-timed?) was postponed.  Lots of new prints will be on display.

"Ellen at Work" by Max-Karl Winkler, an example of one of his long, thin woodcuts

June: Max-Karl Winkler: Max-Karl is a wood-cut artist whose subjects range from portraits to landscapes, many of which are characteristically tall and thin–perfect to fit into those funny little wall spaces by doors or between windows.

July: Andis Applewhite: Andis is one of WPG’s distant members, and will be coming all the way from Texas to install her show of serigraphs (screenprints).  Her most recent show of prints at WPG, Obtuse Writings, were created by writing questions with her dominant hand and answering them with her non-dominant hand.  The resulting prints explore “communications that are both known and hidden.”  We are excited to see what is next!

2010 NSW First Place Print "Bound," by Kiyomi Baird.

August: 14th Annual National Small Works: 2011’s NSW will be juried by Robert Newman, Director of the Old Print Shop in New York.  For artists interested in applying, the full prospectus will be up early in 2011, so check back frequently or join our email list to make sure you get it.  Also, 2010’s winner, Kiyomi Baird, will have a solo exhibition in conjunction with the juried show.

September: Carolyn Pomponio: Carolyn is a founding member of WPG and has tried just about everything–screenprints, monoprints, etching, solarplate–making for a varied and accomplished body of work.  We are interested to see what the focus of her first solo exhibition in 5 years will be.

WPG's director's favorite print of Mike Hagan's, "Ain't"

October: Mike Hagan: Mike is a screenprint artist who enjoys pushing the boundaries of the media.  We have heard he is working on some prints to be viewed with 3D glasses as well as printing on Tyvek (yes, the same stuff as the house wrappings). There are rumors he will invite additional screenprinters to be part of this show, but nothing official yet.

November: Pauline Jakobsberg: Pauline received a lot of compliments on her recent turn to cut-out prints (think the cut-out dresses from the September 2010 Director’s Cut exhibition).  This is just one aspect of her printmaking, and as the show is almost a full year away, it is still unknown what will be included.  Check back next year for updates!

December: Martha Oatway and Tracey Hill: You may already be familiar with WPG president Martha Oatway from her “Postcards from the UK” blog entries.  She will be sharing her solo exhibition with British printmaking Tracey Hill in part of an across-the-pond print exchange/collaboration.  Again, check back as the exhibition draws closer for more details.

A visit with Simon Brett by Margaret Adams Parker

A longer post for you to enjoy over the weekend!  This article is reprinted with permission from the Washington Print Club‘s Summer 2007 Quarterly.  It was written by one of our current exhibiting artists, Margaret Adams Parker, after a visit to our January 2011 Invitational artist, Simon Brett, at his home in the UK.

"Three Torsos" by Simon Brett, Wood Engraving, 200x250 mm, 2000.

I was fortunate last fall to visit the home and studio of Simon Brett, one of the foremost contemporary English engravers. (He is one of a handful of artists whose work is always included in any publication on British wood engraving.) He and I have been corresponding since 2005, having “met” by mail over a discussion of relief prints, and the visit to his studio was one of the highlights of a trip to Europe in 2006.

Brett and his wife, painter Juliet Wood, live and work in Marlborough, a small market town in Wiltshire, almost exactly in the middle of a line—or the old road—between Bath and London. Brett’s studio stands at the far end of a long “row-house” garden. A short walk takes the visitor from the lovely flower garden, through arched openings in a yew hedge, into the kitchen garden and the studio beyond.

This small structure is filled—floor to ceiling—with Brett’s tools, his art, and his books. There are two platen presses (one large, one small), engraving tools, inks, and papers of many kinds. His prints are organized in wooden file drawers and his carved wood blocks are lined up on shelves. Drawings and proofs are pinned to the walls,along with framed prints. Windows overlooking the garden provide light for Brett’s workbench, where his tools are laid out in remarkable order amidst the random clutter of studio objects. The latter include tiny toy knights and horses for a current project, illustrating the Parsifal legend.

The many shelves of books in his studio house the more than 40 Brett has illustrated as well as those he has written. Self-effacing when speaking about his own work, Brett is an enthusiastic promoter of the wood engraver’s art. He has served as Chairman of the Society of Wood Engravers (from 1986 to 1992) and is a frequent contributor to Multiples, its publication. In addition to Engravers (1987) and Engravers Two (1992), in which he profiled the work of wood engravers in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, Brett is also the author of one of the definitive books on his art form: Wood Engraving: How to Do It. First published in 1994 and then redesigned and republished in 2000, this beautifully illustrated and intelligently written book includes Brett’s philosophical musings on his craft, so it goes far beyond the “How to Do It” scope suggested by the title. Brett’s most recent publication, An Engraver’s Globe (2002), is an entirely new compilation of the work of 225 wood engravers from 23 countries. The “engraver’s globe” of the title was a 19th-century device—a glass globe filled with water, which concentrated the glow of a candle or oil lamp into an intense beam of light by which the engraver could work. Brett uses it as a metaphor for this latest compendium, which likewise brings into focus the work of wood engravers worldwide.

Simon Brett was born in Windsor in 1943, brought up in London, and educated at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. His primary field of study at London’s St. Martin’sSchool of Art was painting (1960-1964); he traveled as a painter to New Mexico, Denmark, and Provence (1965-1970); and he taught at Marlborough College Art School in Wiltshire (1971-1989). While at St. Martin’s, Brett had also learned wood engraving, from Clifford Webb, and he has worked almost exclusively in that medium since 1981. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers since 1991, having been elected Associate in 1986. In addition, he is an editorial consultant for the journal Printmaking Today and for Primrose Hill Press, publisher of books about wood engraving.

Brett’s own books include several he published between 1981 and 1988 under his own Paulinus Press imprint, winning the Francis Williams Illustration Award (National Book League/Victoria and Albert Museum) for the first, The Animals of Saint Gregory, in 1981. In 1989 he left teaching to work as a self-employed artist. His commissioned  illustrations include, for The Folio Society, such classics as The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Clarissa, Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, The Poetry of John Keats, and The Folio Golden Treasury (which he also picture edited.) He also created wood engravings for The Reader’s Digest Bible. Musing on the titles of books he has illustrated, Brett remarked, “Publishers think of me when they want illustrations for the heavy hitters.” Indeed, in Wood Engraving and the Woodcut in Britain, c. 1890-1990 (1994), James Hamilton describes Brett as “in the first rank of the creators of allusive religious imagery.”

Today Brett is exceedingly busy with commissions for book illustrations (the poems of Shelley for The Folio Society) as well as projects of his own (an illustrated, letterpress edition of Shakespeare’s Pericles.) Nevertheless, he was extraordinarily generous in sharing his time and his expertise with me. I arrived with questions about a printing technique called “make-ready.” Brett explained that it is a method by which printmakers can render a designated section of a print darker by adding slips of paper, either under the block or under the paper, to increase pressure there during printing. He then took a print of Parsifal on horseback in the snow, which he was working on, and he showed me, step by meticulous step, how he could create subtle but important shifts in its tonal range. For me, this was a living demonstration of Brett’s maxim that engravers are not carvers of blocks, but makers of images: “The print is the point.”

Marcus Aurelius III, Wood Engraving by Simon Brett, approx 6x3.5 in, 2002

Brett sent me home with tangible treasures as well as new knowledge: all the test prints of Parsifal from his demonstration, the Parsifal print pulled on good paper, and three engravings which I had particularly admired when we looked through his set of 13 for The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (The Folio Society, 2002). These images, based on ancient sculptures of the Roman philosopher-emperor, are characteristic of Brett’s work. In Marcus Aurelius III, we notice the wide range of Brett’s marks; the way they seem to sculpt the form; and the contrast between the lit side of the face, where the black marks read as dark lines against the white of the page, and the shadow side, where, in the most natural expression of the wood engraver’s art, the artist seems to “draw with the marks of light.”

In writing about his engravings, Brett makes a distinction between his work as illustrator and as printmaker. Looking at his prints I am moved to quarrel with this distinction. Indeed I am reminded of N. C. Wyeth’s admonition, cited by Max Winkler in his article on the Kelly Collection of American Illustration for the Winter 2006-2007 Quarterly. Responding to a student who had declared his ambition to be an artist rather than an illustrator, Wyeth declared, “You have to be an artist first.” To my mind there is no question that Simon Brett is always working as an artist, even when he is making an illustration.

If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to look into membership at the Washington Print Club.  Also be sure to stop by through January 2 to see Two Artists, Many Journeys with work by Margaret Adams Parker and again between January 4-30 for Bewicks Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers curated by and featuring the work of Simon Brett.

Printmaking 101: Wood Engraving vs. Woodcut

As mentioned before, our January Invitational this year features the work of 6 British Wood Engravers.  Looking down the 2011 schedule, Max-Karl Winkler, one of our own woodcut artist, is also exhibiting next year, not to mention Carole Nelson, who will be showing woodcuts (printed a little differently from a traditional woodcut, see an earlier post) in the upcoming December show.  This is a perfect time to discuss the difference between the two art forms.

"Silver Spring" by Max-Karl Winkler, 2 color woodcut, 7x9 in, 2010

Woodcut, or woodblock printing, is a very old art form.  Albrecht Durer may be the most well known historic woodcut artist, practicing in the 15th and 16th centuries in Germany.  Woodcut also has a strong history in Eastern art, showing up as early as the 8th century in Japan (at least according to Wikipedia).  In a woodcut print, a piece of wood is cut along the grain (if you visualize a plank of wood or wooden flooring, the broad side is here the artist would carve) to produce an image.  When printed, the carved out areas remain white and the remaining area receives the ink.  An example of one of Max’s woodcuts it to the left, this one printed in two colors to acheive the black and gray.

Marcus Aurelius III, Wood Engraving by Simon Brett, approx 6x3.5 in, 2002

Wood engraving, on the other hand, is a much newer process.  It was invented by Thomas Bewick (hence the name of our January show, “Bewick’s Legacy”) in the 18th century.  Instead of carving along the grain, the artist cuts into the end of the block of wood.  This can make wood engraving blocks very expensive, as to get a large plate one needs a section of unblemished wood from a large hardwood tree trunk or branch.  However, wood engravings allow for much greater detail than a traditional woodcut, and some modern artists are switching to synthetic replacements such as PVC.

Introductions to Simon Brett: curator/artist of our upcoming January Invitational

This is hot off the press (pardon the pun)–not even officially on our website yet!  WPG is finalizing details for our January Invitational Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers.  This exhibition is curated by wood engraver Simon Brett, who also has work in the exhibition.  Read on to learn about Simon in his own words (an excerpt from the catalog text)  and see an example of one of his beautiful prints that will be included in this show!

Marcus Aurelius III, Wood Engraving by Simon Brett, approx 6x3.5 in, 2002

I learned about wood engraving from Clifford Webb at London’s Saint Martin’s School of Art in the 1960s. I mainly studied painting, but, after early travel as a painter to New Mexico and Provence, engraving took over, beginning with bookplates and ephemera and graduating to book illustration for private and specialist presses. Work for the Folio Society includes Shakespeare, Keats and Shelley; Jane Eyre, Amelia, Clarissa and Middlemarch; Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, and the legends of the Grail and of the Ring. I started with religious books and have been called an heir to Gill and David Jones – hardly the case, but I do try to exercise a ‘religious sensibility’ in the sense of seeking the deepest echo in any text I am given to work on. Hilary Paynter asked me to be the second chairman (1986-92) of the revived Society of Wood Engravers. Curating shows and writing books has defined ‘the way I fit in’ to the wood engraving world ever since. The books include a world-wide survey, An Engraver’s Globe, and Wood Engraving: How To Do It, which will be republished shortly in its 3rd edition.

About the print above left: The variations on Marcus Aurelius are based on photographs of surviving sculptures. They are from a set of thirteen done as illustrations to a Folio Society edition.

This exhibition will run January 4-30.  Please check back here or our upcoming exhibitions page for more information coming shortly!