October 09, 2007


Printmaking 70th Anniversary Competition Winners

by Karen Stanger Johnston

Eulogy for Kreischerville
by Bill Murphy, 2006, etching, 11 x 21. Image courtesy The Old Print Shop, New York, New York. Collection Newark Public Library, Newark, New Jersey.

First Place: Bill Murphy

New York City artist Bill Murphy says he doesn’t select his subject matter; the subject matter selects him. “Sometimes a picture is delivered to me fully formed,” Murphy explains. “I might see a building or a person under a particular light situation and feel compelled to draw. When it happens that way it feels like a gift. More often I need to dig for the image by visiting a site repeatedly, waiting for the germ of an idea to surface. When it does, I try to visualize all the various forms it can take. For me, the most challenging aspect of this process is finding an idea I haven’t yet tried, an idea that can excite me.”

Read about the semifinalists in each category, and vote, by October 30, for the Readers' Choice competition winner on our message board, Artists' Forum.

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Colored Pencil
Grand Prize Winner
Mixed Media

Murphy created Eulogy for Kreischerville after finding an abandoned, decaying Staten Island shipyard, which had been hidden for many years by overgrowth but was recently exposed by development. “I was knocked over when I stumbled upon this place—a mile of old wooden vessels sinking into the shoreline,” the artist says. “I find a certain type of sublime beauty in the textures, the rust of decaying objects.” Although he works in many other media, he depicted this scene with an etching. “I felt the fine lines of an etching would be useful in describing the multitude of textures one might find in an abandoned shipyard,” he explains.
Murphy studied at Brooklyn College and the School of Visual Arts, in New York City, and he earned a masters of fine arts from Vermont College, in Montpelier. His artwork is in many collections in New York and in other parts of the country.

For more information on Murphy, visit his website at www.aburninglight.com.

Second Place: Alan Petrulis

Jones Walk
by Alan Petrulis, 2006, etching, 9 x 12.

“Instead of creating a drawing and using stop-out varnishes to create lights and darks, I begin by drawing in all my dark lines first, etching the plate, drawing in the next set of lighter lines, and then repeating the process until all of the values are in place,” says New York City artist Alan Petrulis. “This requires that the entire image be finalized in my mind before I begin working on it. The tones in my etchings are built up through careful line work. In this way I can create a wider range of subtleties.”

The subjects for Petrulis’ etchings are inspired by photographs. “Although I may occasionally seek specific subjects, such as Coney Island in the case of Jones Walk, most of the images I shoot come my way serendipitously,” the artist says. “The photos themselves are taken out of intuition. Any scene that is balanced interests me, but I usually choose to work from compositions that are more unconventional. However, once the first line is drawn, the etching takes on a life apart from the photograph. I am interested in creating a transformative experience.”

Petrulis earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Queens College and a master of fine arts in printmaking from the Maryland Institute of Art, in Baltimore. He had a solo show in 2003 at The Old Print Shop, in New York City, and his work has appeared in many group exhibitions and juried shows.

For more information on Petrulis, visit his gallery’s website at www.oldprintshop.com, or e-mail him at .

Third Place: Mike Southern

Gravel Bar, Tyron Creek
by Mike Southern, 2003, etching,
18 x 13.

“I think my work operates visually in two interesting ways,” says Oregon artist Mike Southern. “From a distance things seem very sharp, full of a sense of place and realism. When viewed up close, the minutiae of the marks and the abstract quality of the landscape become more apparent. My goal is to create work that draws you in from across the room and then is able to hold your attention upon a closer look.”

Southern begins his landscapes by visiting a chosen site, usually multiple times. He sketches, takes photos, works on the copper plate and familiarizes himself with the location. “The process of working up a plate and generating the image is a continuum,” the artist explains. “Making the sketches, beveling the plate, drawing into the metal, and printing the finished image are intertwined. I try to stay open to the possibility of change, and I view my materials as collaborators in a sense. When the materials inject an element of the unknown into the process, something interesting usually happens. In Gravel Bar, Tyron Creek, the plate had its issues with water. It took many scrapings and burnishings to get things heading in the direction I wanted.”

Southern received his undergraduate degree from Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1990, and a master of fine arts degree in printmaking from the University of Georgia, in Athens, in 1995. His work has appeared in many solo and group shows and is in a number of collections, including the Portland Art Museum, in Portland, Oregon.

For more information on Southern, visit his website at www.mikesouthern.com, or e-mail him at .

More Semifinalists

Busy Umbrellas
by Roslyn Kirsch, 1982, hand-pulled serigraph with oil-based ink, 18 x 24.

Florida artist Roslyn Kirsch creates her silkscreens using the same thought process that inspires her original oil paintings—she starts with an idea or a sketch. For a silkscreen, she then plans the consecutive color runs that will be needed to achieve the look she wants in the final image. Some of her prints require many transparencies, while others only need a few color separations to produce the complete image. Kirsch employs a variety of materials to create her screens, including tusche, paper, glue, and photo-emulsion stencils. This print incorporates more than 20 colors because of the many transparencies on which she used tusche.

“The process of preparing and creating a silkscreen is very physical,” the artist says. “In the last 20 years digital printing has made it easy to produce cheap, colorful images. Unfortunately, the average consumer does not understand the difference between a silkscreen and a commercially produced image.” Kirsch builds, prepares, and hand-pulls all of her screens and only prints small limited editions.

For more information on Kirsch, e-mail her at .

Lori McAuliffe Niemtschk

Never There
by Lori McAuliffe Niemtschk 2006, press painting on Mylar and Rives BFK paper, 6¾ 6 x 6.

Illinois artist Lori McAuliffe Niemtschk never goes anywhere without a pencil, journal, and camera—the tools needed to help her depict landscapes. However, the artist sometimes finds inspiration in landscapes imagined by others and created in the digital world of Second Life, as with this piece. “I explore the digital environment just as I would any landscape, looking for the perfect location and the perfect lighting,” she says. Once she decides on the tone or message of a piece, she then chooses the landscape photo that suits it best. She uses music to enhance her creative process and employs materials she feels will best express her intended sentiment. “For this image I used the Mylar as a barrier, to block the viewer from the tactile quality of the inks and paper, and to enhance the feelings of separation, longing, and hope,” the artist explains. “I wanted it to feel like one of those wonderful dreams that you can’t quite remember upon waking.”

To achieve a depth of color, she creates a monotype printing of a mostly transparent, high intensity warm blue color to serve as a backdrop on Rives BFK paper. She then begins to rough in the landscape with her hands, laying out bands of color on the back of the Mylar secured in a quilting loop, allowing each successive application of ink to bloom through. Using brushes, her hands, or whatever makes the mark she needs, she then works other colors into the landscape in the same way. When the Mylar image is ready, she runs it through the press with the BFK piece, inky sides together.

Niemtschk recently graduated from Illinois State University, in Normal, Illinois, where she studied printmaking. Her work is in the Japan Print Association Collection of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, in Japan, and in private collections in seven countries.

For more information on Niemtschk, visit her website at www.briminnan.com, or e-mail her at .

American Artist would like to thank the following sponsors for making our 70th Anniversary Competition a success:

Blick Art Materials
General Pencil
Hartford Fine Art & Framing
Jerry’s Artarama
Legion Paper
Savoir Faire

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