Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club

August 21 - November 21, 2010



 

Other texts from the exhibition:

 

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WORKS ON PAPER

What could be more obvious? Works on paper are -- artworks, made on pieces of paper. Obvious, until you begin to look at the incredible variety of techniques that artists have used over the centuries. Perhaps the most elemental categories are the "one-of-a-kind" methods such as charcoal, pencil, ink, and pastel drawing, vs. the printmaking techniques that allow for multiple versions (commonly known as an "edition") of the same image. The two most basic printmaking processes are relief, where ink is applied to the surface of a metal plate or smooth block of wood (woodblock, wood engraving, linocut), and intaglio, where the image is formed by ink that fills the carved-out areas below the surface (etching, aquatint, drypoint). The following is a brief glossary of some of the technical terms used by the artists in this exhibit:

Aquatint -- an etching technique in which a metal plate is covered with a porous ground, or "resist." The artist creates an image on the plate by "drawing" into the ground, and acid then corrodes the parts of the plate exposed by the artist's work. By varying the etching time of different areas of the copper plate, the artist can create a variety of tones, and the resulting print resembles an ink or wash drawing.

Drypoint engraving -- a printmaking technique in which an image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed "needle" of sharp metal. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or plexiglass are also commonly used. Because the technique of using the needle is similar to a pencil, drypoint is easier for an artist trained in drawing to master,

India ink -- a simple black ink once widely used for writing and printing, and now more commonly used for drawing. Basic India ink is composed of a type of fine soot known as lampblack, combined with water to form a liquid.

Laid paper -- a type of paper with a ribbed texture created by the manufacturing process. Laid paper is commonly used for charcoal drawings.

Pastel -- an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder, and often characterized by a rough, textured surface and soft, expressive colors.

Sanguine -- a reddish or brownish color of chalk used in drawing. In the form of wood-cased pencils or manufactured sticks, sanguine may be used like charcoal or pastel.

Woodblock print -- an ancient relief printing technique in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood. The white areas in the resulting print are cut away with a knife or chisel, leaving the black areas at the original surface level, where the ink is applied. The entire block is then pressed into a sheet of paper.

 

The Philadelphia Sketch Club is America's oldest continuously operating club for professional artists. The Sketch Club began operations in 1860, founded by six former students of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts who wanted to improve their skills as illustrators. Over the years club members have been influential in the development of American art, both regionally and nationally. Members have included such luminaries as Thomas Eakins, Thomas Anshutz, and N.C. Wyeth, as well as the renowned Bucks County painters Edward W. Redfield, Daniel Garber, and Walter Baum. The Sketch Club's 150th Anniversary in 2010 will be celebrated by a year-long series of exhibitions, programs, and events at Philadelphia-area institutions. The Michener Art Museum is organizing an exhibition of drawings and other works on paper by some of the best-known Bucks County members of the club, both historic and contemporary.

 

TEXT PANELS

 

Bucks County and the Philadelphia Sketch Club

"I joined the Philadelphia Sketch Club." For 150 years, people who happened to hear an artist utter these words may have imagined a small but earnest group of weekend warriors in a modest little clubhouse, with pad and pencil in hand, earnestly sketching an apple or a potted plant. The main problem with this scenario is, the names of these "warriors" might have been such giants of American art as Thomas Eakins and N. C. Wyeth, or if the Bucks County brigade happened to be in the building, Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, Arthur Meltzer, and Walter Baum. And the modest clubhouse is in fact a complex of three picturesque buildings on cobblestoned Camac Street in the heart of old Philadelphia, complete with a gallery, library, terraced garden, fish pond, and rathskeller.

The Philadelphia Sketch Club is America's oldest continuously operating club for professional artists. The club began operations in 1860, founded by six former students of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts who wanted to improve their skills as illustrators. Over the years, the club has counted among its members some of the most influential figures in the development of American art, including a powerful contingent of Pennsylvania Impressionist painters and their Bucks County descendents.

The Sketch Club's 150th Anniversary in 2010 is being observed by a year-long series of exhibitions, programs, and events at Philadelphia-area institutions. This exhibit of works on paper represents the Michener Art Museum's contribution to this celebration. The show features rarely seen drawings and prints from the museum's collection by some of the area's best-known historic painters, augmented by a selection of works by contemporary club members with Bucks County connections. This exhibition provides ample evidence that some of the best artists our region has produced were the ones who also joined the Philadelphia Sketch Club.

Brian H. Peterson

Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator

 

A brief glossary of printmaking terms and processes used in this exhibition:

Aquatint -- an etching technique in which a metal plate is covered with a porous ground, or "resist." The artist creates an image on the plate by "drawing" into the ground, and acid then corrodes the portions of the plate exposed by the artist's work. This technique is capable of producing a variety of tones by varying the etching time of different areas of the copper plate, so the resulting print sometimes resembles an ink or wash drawing.

Drypoint engraving -- a printmaking technique in which an image is incised into a plate (or "matrix") with a hard-pointed "needle" of sharp metal or diamond point. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or plexiglas are also commonly used. Drypoint is easier for an artist trained in drawing to master, as the technique of using the needle is similar to using a pencil.

India ink -- a simple black ink once widely used for writing and printing, and now more commonly used for drawing, especially when inking comics and comic strips. Basic India ink is composed of a type of fine soot known as lampblack, combined with water to form a liquid.

Laid paper -- a type of paper with a ribbed texture created by the manufacturing process. Laid paper is still commonly used by artists as a support for charcoal drawings.

Pastel -- an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder, and often characterized by a rough, textured surface and soft, expressive colors.

Sanguine -- a reddish or brownish color of chalk used in drawing. Sanguine lends itself naturally to sketches, life drawings, and rustic scenes. In the form of wood-cased pencils or manufactured sticks, sanguine may be used like charcoal or pastel. A fixative is often applied to preserve the finished state of the drawing.

Woodblock print -- a technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printed areas remaining level with the surface while the non-printed parts are removed. The white areas in the resulting print are cut away with a knife or chisel, leaving the black portions at the original surface level, where the ink is applied and then pressed into the paper.


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