Tag Archives: woodblock print

Robert Bateman on Plein Air; An Artist’s Work; Walker Joins Altamira

Robert Bateman & "Chief"

Robert Bateman & “Chief”

A recent Plein Air Magazine newsletter highlighted the presence of world-renowned artist Robert Bateman at the Susan K. Black Foundation’s Dubois, Wyoming workshop, where Bateman spoke at length on the subject of plein air painting. And, to quote the OutdoorPainter.com on-line article, Bateman is “at the point where his level of success and experience frees him to be very outspoken.” Ah, freedom! At what point do artists begin to feel that freedom? The tipping point differs for everyone. If members of Jackson’s arts community made the trip to Dubois perhaps you’ll let us know how it went.

Bateman discussed plein air from two perspectives: as a tool to better our lives by improving our minds and connecting ourselves to the world around us, whatever our immediate world may be; and as an art form in itself. Bateman, perhaps most well known for his iconic painting “Chief,” part of the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s permanent collection, “ruffled some feathers (and smoothed others) with his praise for certain abstract expressionist artists and his criticism of wildlife art tropes. Bateman stressed the need for mystery in a painting.”

Robert Bateman-Roseate Spoonbill - Courtesy National Museum of Wildlife Art

Robert Bateman-Roseate Spoonbill – Courtesy National Museum of Wildlife Art

“Chief,” a massive painting ( 71 x 98″) depicts an American bison emerging from a mist; brown prairie grasses or  late-season sage is suggested in the painting’s background. Bateman’s early art was abstract, but, says the museum, after being inspired by the works of Andrew Wyeth, Bateman turned to realism; his art was mentioned prominently by Fine Art Connoisseur’s editor Peter Trippi. Read the OutdoorPainter.com article and view their Youtube Video interview with Bateman here.

Wendell Field, on location in Grand Teton National Park

Wendell Field, on location in Grand Teton National Park

“Wendell Field: An Artist’s Work,” Jackson Hole painter Wendell Field’s first solo show of works this year, opens on Friday, October 18th, 4:30 – 8:30 pm, at Teton Art Lab, 130 South Jackson Street~~that cute yellow house that cradles artists so perfectly. Field plans on exhibiting a dozen paintings, many of them created near Field’s home in Kelly, Wyoming.

“I’ll have a new print based off drawings I did on Static Divide, looking north in Grand Teton National Park; it’s a woodblock reproduction print—a carved block printed with a mixture of pigment, rice paste and mica dust. Then it’s carved again, printed until the block is destroyed, and the print complete,” says Field. “Each print is a good study base for paintings, and for art fans it’s affordable, original, hand-made art.”

Wendell Field - Mormon Row, Toward Jackson Peak

Wendell Field – Mormon Row, Toward Jackson Peak

During Travis Walker’s über successful art exhibition at Altamira Fine Art, Field and I had a chance to talk about some of the gallery’s artists. Specifically we looked closely at Glenn Dean’s paintings, an artist Field says “speaks to him.”  He considers Dean’s work out of the ordinary, even “surprising” in style. Comparing Dean’s work to another artist’s, Field said that the former’s rendition of landscapes was a choice Field understood. Dean, of course, recently won the very prestigious Maynard Dixon Gold Thunderbird Award—so Field’s estimation of Dean’s work is not unwarranted.

Wendell Field - Western Motel

Wendell Field – Western Motel

Though their painting styles differ, the two artists would enjoy each other’s company. Field’s images of mountains, snow, clouds, and structures are voluminous, rolling towards us, exhibiting a fairytale-like quality. He has developed a distinct color palette that turns real locations into magical destinations, and his paintings reflect his printmaking proficiency.

I’m looking forward to seeing Wendell Field’s new work!  www.wendellfield.com


Here comes the magic Altamira Fine Art bus! Late last week the gallery announced that Jackson artist Travis Walker is the newest addition to the gallery’s roster of fine artists.

Prior to Walker’s recent inaugural Altamira exhibition, gallery director Mark Tarrant remarked on Walker’s fresh and wholly unique color palette and compositions. Walker’s images of Jackson—downtown scenes as well as depictions of the region’s great natural landscapes and landmarks—have truly become iconic, big markers on Jackson’s arts timeline. That first show, “In Such an Hour: New Views of Jackson Hole,” sold out.

Tarrant noted that the gallery is slow and deliberate in its approach to adding artists, inviting a new artist on board perhaps once a year.

“Travis’ innovative artwork is a welcome addition to the gallery,” Tarrant said. “We are all extremely pleased, and we are excited to see what he does next. Collectors from Jackson and around the nation expressed their appreciation of Walker’s unique style and vision.”

“ArtMatch.com” is a registered trademark now. I KNEW it. Yay!!!  www.altamiraart.com 


Teton Art Lab Gets Close

Chuck Close Self-Portrait Woodcut, 2009 Woodcut in 47 colors Image Size: 28 x 23 inches Paper Size: 35 1/2 x 28 1/2 inches Edition of 70 Printed by Karl Hecksher Published by Pace Editions, Inc.

Chuck Close Self-Portrait Woodcut, 2009 Woodcut in 47 colors Image Size: 28 x 23 inches Paper Size: 35 1/2 x 28 1/2 inches Edition of 70 Printed by Karl Hecksher Published by Pace Editions, Inc.

Now that Teton Art Lab (TAL) has taken up official residency as a Center for the Arts tenant, with representation on the Center’s website, newsletters, et cetera, TAL’s executive director Travis Walker is announcing some exciting shows.

Though Jackson’s 2010 September Fall Arts Festival is a ways off, TAL has sent word that its FAF highlight will be a show of woodblock prints of the works of famed artists Chuck Close, Richard Estes and Alex Katz.    The show represents the first time these works will be seen in Wyoming.   Each exhibition print is the work of New York City master print maker Karl Hecksher, who will also be teaching a class on traditional Japanese hand printing, Moku Hanga.

The exhibition runs September 10 – October 5, 2010.   Mark your calendars.

Close’s work knocks Walker out.

“In 1998, I saw an exhibition of Close’s work at the MoMA in NY,” says Walker.  “It floored me. I had seen photorealistic work before, such as Richard Estes (also in the exhibit), but what he was doing with these images seemed pretty genius, an Escher like blend of math, art, and science. Close makes big pieces with fingerprints, paper pulp, and overlapping circles of color, that become little abstractions up close, but are photorealistic from a distance. Those fingerprint pieces are especially awesome.”

Walker feels the accessibility of Close’s work appeals to the TAL mission, because its so readily educational.  Walker himself says he’s not previously been exposed to Estes’ photorealism.  “When I was a kid, a Jackson Pollock said nothing to me, but the photorealistic stuff was really amazing, technically. How did they do that?”

Walker says this is an unprecedented opportunity for Jackson residents to work with one of the world’s most noted print makers.   And, he giddily notes, the exhibit is free.

Hecksher is a friend of TAL board member David Gottfried. Schwing!   Hecksher, the founder, owner and director of K5 Editions LLC, has been printing in a variety of media since 1983. He spent the first three years after college as head printer at Prasada Press, collaborating with artists on stone and plate lithography.  In 1986 he became a New York artist, printing editions at several major print studios.

Hecksher’s goal is to establish a more painterly approach to printmaking, one reflective of the individual artist’s touch; to make the print speak clearly and express the artist’s download-1intentions.  He’s been at it for two decades, honing his skills, and working with a full roster of noted artists.

A few years back, Walker took in a Portland, Oregon show of these prints and their matrixes.

” At the show there were these intricately carved wood blocks, stencils, paper screens, and etching plates that were just as beautiful as the prints themselves, side by side with the work to help viewers mentally grasp his process. It was truly mind blowing, from a printmakers perspective, to see the work involved in carving the blocks or etching the copper plates….At that time the Artlab was only a couple of months old, and we had only started to plan our printmaking studio. I knew if we ever did get a print program off of the ground, this work was something we should try and exhibit. So Dave made it happen with a few phone calls and a visit to Karl’s studio,” says Walker.

For his part, Hecksher is thrilled to be introducing his experience and method to Jackson artists.  His hope is that students will develop their own personal approach to wood block printing.

(Photo, top Left: Chuck Close Self-Portrait Woodcut, 2009 Woodcut in 47 colors Image Size: 28 x 23 inches Paper Size: 35 1/2 x 28 1/2 inches Edition of 70 Printed by Karl Hecksher Published by Pace Editions, Inc.)

Bonnema-Leslie at Center St. Gallery

This article appeared in the Jackson Hole News & Guide, August 2008

What: New Works by Kathy Bonnema-Leslie
When: Opening Reception Saturday, August 23 4-7 pm
Where: Center Street Gallery, 30 Center Street
Telephone: 733-1115

A first glance at Montana artist Kathy Bonnema-Leslie’s work triggers this response: “Wow, that girl does good woodblock!”

“We hear that a lot,” says Center Street Gallery’s Ryan Wright. “Kathy pays extreme attention to countless, individually defined shapes. Her watercolors and serigraphs are fashioned in an exact manner and easily taken for woodblock. All that detail means time spent on the work increases significantly.”

Bonnema-Leslie wants to deliver details, but she she’s also exhilarated by the air standing between her and the mountains, aspen trees and bodies of water she paints; that air creates atmosphere and space; it also brings energy. Primarily portraits of Montana’s country, her watercolors are often landscape series, visual chapters in a book about favorite locations that more fully explore feelings about place.

Even as the artist invites space, her compositions are flattened by the use of large, geometric color fields. Children’s first art lessons often include cutting up colored construction paper to create design. Bonnema-Leslie’s watercolors ultimately do produce the feel of a Japanese woodblock print; the art form is common and long-standing in Japan, as well as in the west. Painters such as Matisse, Monet and Vincent Van Gogh were some of the most influential western artists to incorporate woodblock; this exhibit wraps its arms around that tradition.

One woodblock style, Ukiyo-e, translates to “scenes of the floating world.”

Let’s talk about the color! To say that these skies are blue is like saying Robert Downey Jr. is cute. This artist’s color palette exaggerates every hue. Her blues! Indigo, sapphire, ultra-marine, and electric blue are right; robin’s egg blue, baby blue and sky-blue are wrong. Bonnema-Leslie’s ‘the water is bluer at the bottom’ blue surrounds foaming, bubbly aspen leaves. They buoyantly crown and surround long, leggy aspen tree trunks.

Regardless of medium, the artist favors using intense glazing or layering techniques to produce rich, saturated colors. Generating Montana’s landscapes sparkling hues and dimensional light are a priority.

Clouds, often rendered amorphously, now resemble flying oyster shells. They’re arced, rippled; shadows are as clearly defined as tree rings. “Piper #11,” an autumn landscape, depicts distant mountain peaks and golden fields pushed down by the sheer pressure of a procession of marching clouds—they come towards us, flying over and past us, an onslaught of nature-friendly UFO’s.

Bonnema-Leslie’s serigraphs are created by hand, as opposed to relying on film and computer imaging to mechanically produce a finished product. This artist lays linen stencils down, applying them with watercolors. In any given work, each stencil represents a single color. When multiple layers of stenciling are completed, a finished image results. Bonnema-Leslie’s serigraphs are all unique, but the artist does produce compact series of her works.

“For some of her smaller serigraphs, Kathy might do 50 editions,” notes Wright. “Larger prints may warrant 15 editions. But all are original. Serigraphs are a more affordable option, with prices ranging from $175 – $800.” Watercolor prices begin at $800. The show includes 25 works now on display; an additional dozen will be added.

In his last decade of life, Matisse found renewal through his bright and playful cutouts. Using paper, he designed stained glass windows for the Chapelle du Rosaire. Bonnema-Leslie could work big; her paintings feel as if she wants to. She should push past her current parameters. If Montana is the church, its mountains the steeple, then her aspens, lakes, clouds and wildflowers are surely the people.

Tammy Christel

Jackson, Wyoming