"Women in Print" Exhibit: Four Printmakers Draw Inspiration from the Natural World
Distinct styles and printmaking techniques differentiate the four printmakers in the latest Arts at Adair exhibit - Women in Print: Four Printmakers - but the artists share a commonality in that each draws her inspiration from observing and detailing the natural world around her.
The exquisite prints - some in black and white, others in vivid color - celebrate the artists' connection between the seen and the imagined.
"My energy and vision come from a curiosity about the everyday, the mundane, the familiar as well as the unusual, the hidden, and the cosmic," says Kathie Lovett, who uses her favorite wooden spoon in her printmaking process.
Linocut and woodblock printing have offered a way to simplify and hone Rachel O'Meara's visions. "The wild force of Inspiration descends from without, wells up from within. Its spark could be anything seen, dreamt or remembered. Art distills this spark to form," she says.
Kelly Slater's prints in this exhibit are devoted to forested landscapes and trees - some imaginary, but most based on actual sites. She strives to produce artwork "with a strong, dreamlike intensity that hints at a powerful world within and behind the visible world."
Pam Smith's winter garden, and the flora and fauna of New England have inspired her work in this exhibit. Her monoprints are created with gathered natural materials such as grasses, leaves, and dried flowers, used as backgrounds and collage material. "I added handmade and torn papers to showcase a variety of hues and textures," she says.
The Women in Print: Four Printmakers exhibit will be unveiled at an opening reception at the Gallery at WREN on Bethlehem's Main Street on Saturday, March 4, from 5 to 7 p.m., with a snow date of Sunday, March 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. The show is on display at the Gallery at WREN through Sunday, April 30, with select pieces on display at the Adair.
Meet the Artists
Based in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Kathie Lovett works in the spirit of this special place.
Attracted by the material world, and by the world of ideas, Kathie makes her way to her studio where she gathers up her material goods - a wooden spoon, rollers, painting knives, paper, and lots of ink.
"My energy and vision come from a curiosity about the everyday, the mundane, the familiar as well as the unusual, the hidden, and the cosmic," she says. "Printing is my newest media, and it feels like a bit of magic. Preparing a surface and transferring the image to paper remains surprising no matter how well planned. It keeps me alert to the process and attentive to the unfolding images. Art making combines tactile and visual stimulation, critical thinking, and a way to stay present in a fast-moving world. I hope to create a dialogue with viewers through my visual works."
As the process unfolds, Kathie says she is surprised by the unexpected details in each print and new avenues to explore each time. "An image traveling across space and time from plate to paper remains mysterious."
In the first step of the design Kathie draws or arranges materials. The planning stages of multiple plates and/or color roll-ups involve a written set of steps to keep her on track. The material work starts with cutting paper when Kathie decides on size, kinds of paper, and a registration system if she is using one. Clean paper is key, so it gets stacked in a pristine corner of her studio.
Next on the agenda: mixing and testing inks. Testing allows her to evaluate the true color by trying it on the actual paper she will be using. Rolling ink to the proper tacky state requires attention to sound as well as visual inspection. Applying ink to the plate requires a slow, methodical approach to produce an even layer. Whether doing monoprints, wood, or lino cuts, the inking follows the same rules.
Kathie prints by rubbing the back of the paper with her favorite wooden spoon. Lifting a corner of the paper, she checks to see how much more she needs to rub to get an even distribution. Once the print is dry, she can do new layers of printing or alter it by drawing or painting on top. Each printing session runs about 5 hours, including lots of clean up at the end. "I am in my native habitat when my studio is messy and full of ideas, mistakes, resolutions, and a few good prints," she says.
Kathie has a BA in Art History, an MFA in Painting, and a long independent bookstore ownership behind her. Fifteen years ago, she decided to spend some dedicated time in the studio, which allows her to explore ideas, try new media, and craft skills. Since the start of the pandemic, Kathie has been printing at home, a wooden spoon her most important tool. Strong segments of her life have been devoted to fiber arts, architecture, painting, community art, and now printing. Other threads lead to reading, gardening, building, education, serving on non-profit boards, family, friends, and being outside in all seasons. Kathie's plan for the future is more of the same.
A quote from George Gershwin guides Rachel O'Meara's work: "Melodic. Nothing Neutral. Utter simplicity. Directness."
Rachel notes that, "The wild force of Inspiration descends from without, wells up from within. Its spark could be anything seen, dreamt or remembered. Art distills this spark to form. Often a pencil drawing will open the door for me and from there I may turn to printing or painting. Linocut and woodblock printing have offered a way to simplify and hone my visions. Designing and planning the blocks, cutting the flat planes, and printing can be a revelation. Munakata Shiko, a mid-twentieth century Japanese woodcut printmaker and calligrapher, is a guiding light."
The works in this show vary in technique. She printed two (Shelley quote and Ballerinas) in traditional mokuhanga style, with multiple woodcut blocks, using watercolor and rice paste brushed onto the wood, along with a Western printing paper, BFK Rives. The others were printed using Western inking methods and are either black and white, or colored with watercolors on Japanese washi papers. The Tennyson quote and the Asters were painted on the back of the paper (in Japanese called urazaishiki, or 'back coloring' technique).
Rachel grew up in rural New England, left for a few years, then returned. Primarily self-taught, she has been engaged with art-making for over 35 years. Along the way she has received inspiration and guidance from several teachers: Jeneane Lunn, pastelist; Thomas Kegler, oil painter; Ralph Stone Jacobs, oil painter in Whitefield, NH., and Matt Brown, mokuhanga printmaker of Lyme, NH. Woodcut and linocut printmaking and oil painting are her primary media, but she has been known to dabble in watercolor and always has pencil and paper at the ready.
Rachel is a member of WREN and of the Connecticut River Artisans Group, based in Columbia, NH. She also exhibits her work regularly at the William Rugh Gallery in Lancaster, NH. Rachel lives in Stratford, NH, in the hills above the beautiful Connecticut River, with her husband Jamie Sayen. She is the mother of three and grandmother of four. Gardening, walking, spinning and knitting, flute playing, reading and other activities besides art-making ensure that she is never bored.
Rachel may be reached at email@example.com or via Instagram at @romearart.
Kelly Slater's goal is "to produce environmentally sustainable artwork with a strong, dreamlike intensity that hints at a powerful world within and behind the visible world."
A self-taught artist, Kelly specializes in figurative abstracts of the Northeastern landscape. Her particular obsession is trees - most recently old growth trees. Beginning with a 2017 residency at Mount Greylock (MA) State Reservation, she has focused on several woodlands and groups of trees in the northern Berkshires and northern New Hampshire. In 2022 she received a Sustaining Practice Grant from the Collective Futures Fund to research a multi-year project centered on depicting old growth trees of Massachusetts, teaching tree-inspired art workshops, and sharing information about the benefits of both old growth and urban forest trees.
In this exhibition, Kelly's prints are exclusively devoted to forested landscapes and trees - some imaginary, but most based on actual sites. These include the summit of Mount Greylock; the grounds of Field Farm in Williamstown, MA; her own street in Saugus, MA; and old growth areas at the Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont, MA.
Kelly's printmaking ranges from woodblock prints and drypoint engraving to painterly monotypes and mixed media collages. She is currently incorporating more found and sustainable materials in her prints and paintings - including recycled and sustainably sourced papers, handmade inks made from plant materials and egg yolk, and charcoal and wood duff collected from forests. Kelly works out of her home studio in Saugus, MA.
A New Hampshire artist and printmaker, Pam Smith has been making art for as long as she can remember, and began formal instruction in her early 20s. The inspiration for the work in this exhibition is her winter garden, and the flora and fauna of New England.
Monoprints were created with gathered natural materials such as grasses, leaves, and dried flowers, used as backgrounds and collage material. "I added handmade and torn papers to showcase a variety of hues and textures," Pam says. "Original linocuts with organic lines and strong design features complete the composition of each work." All of her linocut prints are designed, carved, and pressed by hand at Art Haven Studio in Enfield, NH.
Pam is an avid gardener, and her inspiration comes from the natural beauty found everywhere. Her work ranges from botanical prints to whimsical collages, and combines traditional printmaking, painting and mixed media.
She is an artist member of WREN, AVA Gallery in Lebanon, NH, and the Women's Caucus for Art, NH. She has recently shown her work at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; Artistree in South Pomfret, VT; Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen, NH, where she teaches printmaking classes; and at Collective: The Art of Craft in Woodstock, VT.
She was active for many years on the Seacoast, in the Durham, NH and Kittery, Maine Art Associations, and has participated in dozens of group shows throughout Southern Maine and New Hampshire. She relocated to the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire in 2019.
You can see more of Pam's work at her website: www.art-haven-studio.com.
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