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Landmark Images and Influences

Chris: A landmark image,for me, must open doors for different exploration of content or technique. Sometimes an image will dwell in my mind for over a year in a dialogue of sorts on the technical way that it should be done. One must be far along with plans for the etch before it is tackled in metal.

One example, "Concord Steeples," was a very graphic im age with some good layering of color. Another, "Dawn upon Moosilaukee," stands out as a landmark piece in terms of the texture and the joy of working the metal, the variety of textures, and the way things came together for the final product. Two multiple plate color works continue to be pieces which I am most proud. "Star Lake" was the first and solved some of the difficulty of merging the layers of multiple plate color without harsh divisions which can be problematic to the technique. "Cobbit's Pond Bridge" was crisp and graphic and had a wonderful sense of space and strong design. It was one of the five editions which was commissioned for Windham, NH's 250th year celebration.

Lucky Stones

"Lucky Stones"

The piece that introduced the idea of working on a series, "A Serendipitous Resurgence of Neoteny," better known as the dancing bears, worked out to be a landmark image. I used it to test the waters, so to speak, to see if I could go ahead with a long term series, finding out how people might respond to work significantly different from my previous work. Its overwhelming success has it still ranked as our best selling image to date.

Most recently, "My Studio, Sanctuary at the Beginning of the Path," has become a landmark piece. It was created for a show called "My Studio," a tribute to the wood engraver Herbert Waters. I did the piece in black and white because Herbert Waters was best known for his black and white wood engravings. It has led me to create a burst of several exciting new black and white images, very different than anything I have created before.

Denise: Landmark images are ones that distinguish themselves from anything else up to that time for any number of different reasons. Finding new reasons for my choices and use of color often leads to a landmark work. The color becomes a language of expression rather than a documentation of what it looked like. This has become an ongoing evolution in my work. I enjoyed developing blended colors to create the feeling of space. I remember when I introduced animals in their environment into my work. This is a theme to which I keep returning. My series about wildflowers is an effort to express the flower as a living being and not just a botanical specimen. "With the Song of the White Throated Sparrow" was a landmark using the title to evoke sounds that could complete the sensation of being perched high up on a mountain ledge. This, of a works, speaks most successfully about the intimate oneness one can experience in the outdoors absorbing sights, sounds and air.

Starflight's Night Canopy

"Starflight's Night Canopy"

"Starflight's Night Canopy" was my first shaped plate. It is another image in which I attempt to jog the other senses toward the sense of place that I experienced. It evokes a cloaking magic that at once you feel both enveloped by night and at the same time suspended in great space. "Lucky Stones" was a self portrait of my being completely absorbed in the activity of picking up stones in a river. I love the movement and light in the upper foliage. It was my first two-plate piece, and my first award winner. The responses that people have shared with me about this piece have helped to make it come alive! "A Manual Course to Center," the piece that I did for the "My Studio" show, was a celebration of all my etchings and a mini personal history. This was a very important work for me. It succeeds in holding the sum of what is important about my work. In the process of making it, I found confidence that I can draw upon for years to come.

Christopher: Denise is more painterly in her style than I am, both in the way she etches her aquatints and in her inking technique. She naturally has patience and there is a calm in her best work. This also makes it very hard for her to create new works as deadline pressures arise, or as the pace of our show schedule increases. To create new works, she needs to feel more of a sense of space. She needs to wait for a time when we are not juggling things just to get from one show to the next. Many of her customers know that some of her best works do not jump out at you as you look at our display. Indeed the calm that she expresses is uncommon to a show environment; however, when they do find them, the rest of the world can just walk past. Her pieces "Starflight's Night Canopy," "Lucky Stones," or "The Players in the Tides of March," would often hold a person in their tracks for minutes of meditation right in the middle of the crafts fair crowd. She has created a new piece, "Winter Walk," which expresses some of this space which characterizes her best work. She may have to work harder to find space in her own life to create such pieces, but her many collectors are blessed by her giving them this peaceful grant of time in her work. I admit that when I have felt the frantic pace of things hit me at busy shows, I too use the solace of being surrounded with her work, and it calms me so that I can help to offer this sanctuary to others.

Denise: Chris' compositions are strong graphic statements. He pushes space best. In his most recent work, he has begun to express light and the sense of a strong light source better than ever before. It is magic. Chris pushes texture impressively for effect. He is very innovative in viscosity printing. I learned much about viscosity from his efforts.

Winter Walk

"Winter Walk"

The works of his which I like the best have these qualities. "Dawn upon Moosilaukee" is a tour de force of light, color and texture. I always get the feeling I can sail through the air and get lost in the dawn's light, at once feeling both the warmth of the sun and the cold of the craggy hoarfrost. Chris' multiple plate color etching "Cobbit's Pond Bridge" is classic and forever fresh. It reflects the style of Japanese wood block prints which I favor. In "Star Lake," I love how Chris evokes the glimmer of a star in Star Lake with a reflection of a cloud. "Hear the Soaring Chuckle of a Lone and Lonely Loon" is a mystical piece and creates a primal magic that is poetry. The luminous light of "Asleep in Friendship's Security" creates a dream-like quality which I love. The strange cut plate in "In Their Element Like Bubbles off Their Backs" adds movement to the fish spilling out of the picture plane. I am grateful for Chris' insisting on pushing the texture in this etching, giving the work incredible movement and design. One of his newest black and white images, "Quench," is a major landmark piece and shows off all Chris does best.

Chris is stretching the meaning of our original philosophy with his newest works such as "Quench." He is responding to a need to comment in a provocative but universal way about basic requirements for human life and our connection to the Earth. These are clever pun-filled works. They are very rich black and bright white and show well-developed texture and detail. They have come into being with a flourish. I look forward to his next images.

Christopher: I continue to have eclectic tastes in Art. I like work in many different styles. It is more often the energy a piece gives to me rather than any specific style or content which leads me to create. Sometimes Art with strong spiritual content stirs me. The Hood Museum at Dartmouth had a display of fern wood statues of stylized figures from the Pacific Basin. These were powerful for me. Frederick Church's Iceberg Painting at the Dallas Museum of Art gave me great pause. The Winslow Homer exhibit which came to Boston, was amazing. I found inspiration from his works, "The Gulf Stream," "The Herring Net" and another painting of a soldier returned from war scything hay. A more conceptual artist, Andy Goldsworthy, who appeared in the February issue of Smithsonian magazine, is doing some very captivating work. I really love the playful interaction that he sets up in his art between the work of the artists hand and the patterns of nature.

Ten years ago, I enjoyed the breadth of the Arts equally. However, my confidence to reach toward a broader audience with my own work has grown. I have favorite images for different reasons, it is hard to judge on an emotion meter if a piece that attained a high level of technical excellence exceeds my enjoyment of something satisfying for other reasons. When there has been time between a piece and its creation it is easier to judge its overall impact. Content seems to edge slightly beyond craftsmanship in my overall enjoyment of a piece, although a piece which has both satisfies me even more. I do not have a favorite style; if a loose painterly style better communicates a relaxed summer attitude in a piece, then the marriage of style and content is important.

Quench
"Quench"

The new direction that my work goes after I hit a landmark piece sometimes helps to put my previous work in context. Straight representational work did not seem to make it clear to all members of our early audience that we were attempting to empower them from an optimistic and constructive perspective, with the stewardship of our public lands. Subsequent series have challenged the audience to interact more with the work because of its narrative content, or because of the inclusion of just enough clues in the image to suggest that there is something beneath the surface. We hope that this inspires further dialogue with the piece. Recently, my work is about story telling.

Denise: I am strongly influenced by elements of Chinese and Japanese works. I like the landscape design, the sense of space and air, the quiet lyrical lines and format characteristic of that art. I respond to its statement of truth that there is a place for man's heart and mind in the natural world. From my experience with the work of The White Mountain School artists, I store away information and impressions which are bound to enrich my own work. The work of my contemporaries, the other printmakers of New England, has a strong influence on me. I think that we all are awakening to one another as we get to know each others work. We can't help but be influenced to do more, inspired by watching the progress of our peers, even if in a competitive sense. I know that I am constantly comparing my work to others. I believe this is all for the good. My relationship to my fellow printmakers is friendly and even. These friendships result in a printmakers' collective consciousness which contributes to a vital art making scene.

The Players in the Tides of March

"The Players in the Tides of March"

I am motivated by a desire to evoke through my work, the kind of emotive response that music can create. My images about water and my woodland scenes reflect the influence of phrase, space, color, air, and the poetry of human emotion expressed by composers Copland, Debussy, Vivaldi and Mozart.

I do not present my images as lessons; they are more a communication of the serene peace of mind that I experience both from the exploration of nature and from my creation of each etching. I embrace the litany of celebration conveyed in our landscapes. Because the actual experiences are profound and soul enriching, I hope to evoke this happiness with my work. I believe that this is why our etchings speak to so many people. They often evoke memories of one's own experiences with the outdoors.

These are qualities that I feel in my favorite images. In my new piece, "Winter Walk," I hoped to create the close, blanket-like feeling of the night around you in which I expressed in "Starflight's Night Canopy." There is magic in the limited vision in the darkness and the uplifting vastness of the night sky giving one the feeling that you could just take off into the infinite. "The Players in the Tides of March," was my second two-plate piece. I love the moody ocean in contrast to the close-up detail of the carefully placed shells. It is a statement about the uncontrolled and the ordered. Earth and the forces of nature verses the hand of man. A lyrical piece, my first collaboration with my husband, "In Their Element Like Bubbles off Their Backs," celebrates the best of our abilities. My recent piece, "Celebration at a Source," comes from my hiking experience. It is a story of a true discovery of a mountain spring. It was the best cold water that I have ever taken directly from the ground! It took me several years to be ready to do this etching. A collector told me that it ties the wildflower series works to my landscape works. To me, I express a compelling connection between my thirst for faith and the reminder that we all belong to the Earth despite our humanity. It presents an environment full of the comfort and peace which is offered by an abundant source of clean water.

Celebration at a Source

"Celebration at a Source"
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