Monday, September 24, 2012

robert quackenbush -- kc printmaker

Mineral spirits were causing light colored ink to drip across a wood plate covered with dark ink. Caught up in the moment, its creator invited attendees to take notice. Robert Quackenbush was giving an print demonstration for members of the Kansas City Print Society, in the studio of artist Jane Voorhees across from the Plaza (photos below). Voorhees had given permission to use her press for the demo.

Often in the world of prints, the final image can be seen as rigid, set in stone, a finite quantity, a collision of colors frozen in time. This print maker had the attitude of an explorer. To him the equation to a product had variables and his job was to try them all. Saturday he let us in on the wonder. That was what he intended when he inked his plate with a beige swath across the top and a black swath across the bottom.


By design he intentionally let a solvent mingle with both colors, letting gravity pull rivulets downward. Solvents that were used for cleaning up oil stains in a work room could very well destroy or wreck a carefully planned image. Who would ever risk losing such an image? To do so could be seen as a careless act. It was our teachable moment. Clearly, that gentleman wanted us to see what the chemical reaction would do and share in his excitement.

    Girded in an orange apron, Quackenbush explained how he once was doing an aquatint and how he wanted to block out a certain area, so he applied ground over the area. (Ground was used by etchers to keep portions of the plate from being eaten by the acid) He couldn't get the ground to work as it was leaking all over the place. So he streched some masking tape across instead, figuring if the acid ate up the tape, it was no big deal. It was a chance he was willing to take. When he took the plate out the the acid bath he noticed that the acid had no effect on the tape. He liked the way the taped area looked, so he printed it up. Through trial and error he came up with his wood plates (ABOVE) which are covered with tape patterns. Double click on images to see enlarged. He used a brayer to roll on the oil-based ink. The paper for his prints were 
soaked and blotted Arches or Stonehenge paper. He discovered that certain tapes are too slick and would not hold ink. Others had the right kind of tooth or grit to hold and transfer the ink, when he ran them through the press.

A simple purchase of lotus leaves at the Asian Market inspired two artists. His friend, Reilly Hoffman, whom he shared a space with in the Kansas City Crossroad district, created a sculpture of a lotus leaf. Robert, in turn, used re-hydrated lotus leaves for printing. He sprayed shellac on the leaf to give it strength. Double click on ABOVE closeup to see enlarged. His techinque captured every crease and detail from the leaf. But it was a sacrificial thing, the leave was so fragile it distegrates after passed under the rolled pressure of his press. He mounted the leaf on a glass substrate and brushed the ink onto the leaf before printing it. It was labor intensive and used lots of ink, but the results were fantastic. He showed us a large leaf print done on a heavy black paper. He got the 40 by 60 inch sheet from Daniel Smith Art Supplies at fifteen bucks a page.

Her husband was a perpetual learner his wife Merry pointed out.

"Any place we have lived Robert has always found the best art school in town and taken classes, always wanting to try something new. Even at his age, he is still curious and willing to risk failure, because, usually, anytime you start something new you make mistakes."

You can watch her FULL INTERVIEW on the video below. She spoke in length about the lotus leaf project. Video is three minutes.

According to Merry Quackenbush, the white ink on black paper and black ink on white paper ABOVE were some of the first images Robert produced when he began using masking tape. After eight to ten prints, he has since learned, the tape on the plate would begin to fall apart.

Part 1. One minute video of the solvent drip demo.
Click on triangle.
Members study large leaf print.
Part 2. Solvent drip demo, six minutes.
Click on triangle.
RQ: I just want to let this rest another couple seconds. Can you all see how that is turning out?
MQ: What is that little block over there? Is that tape coming up a little?
RQ: Yes, that is a piece of tape coming up. Remember how we talked about this plate has been used before, it's been cleaned, and eventually the solvents will get under the tape and compromise the glue. Particularly where they have little points and what not. But I am going to let that go, We'll just see what happens. It was on the other plate too, and it did not seem to have a big negative effect. Still need to bounce this one a little more. (He lays plate on the newsprint on the press bed)
MQ: You can see where Robert has penciled in guidelines, so he knows where to place the plate. In this case he is centering this.
RQ: The last plate was a little bigger, that's why you see those lines. Now there is a chance that some of these lines may come off on the print. This is just an experiment for today.
A piece of paper coming up. I like to use paper that is a little wetter than most printmakers would recommend. I feel more comfortable about it, I think the ink takes better. (He blots the wetted paper with clean towel on work table. Husband and wife bring large paper over to the press bed) The paper is in place. I have added a couple sheets of newsprint. I am pretty sure that some of this ink will be coming through this paper, cause there is a lot of it. We can't soil these felts.

MQ: They would never have us back (in the Voorhees studio or use their press). We would never have another party here. (chuckles)
RQ: In the printmaking world, the biggest thing you can do wrong is mess up the felts. Frankly, art students are terrible human beings when it comes to being neat.
This is called a pusher, catcher rather. You will see a lot these with images off.
Now the experiment begins. (Robert rotates the big metal wheel next to the press bed, hand over hand, moving the pressbed under the steel roller, with even pressure)
Viewer: Does the speed of how you roll that affect any of the printing?
RQ: It can. Sometimes if you move too fast you can push the plate. If you are using multiple plates, it is important to have them angled a certain way,. For instances, if you are going to make a print that has three plates in it, you got to do it from the side, if you don't that third plate is going to move. It is one of the things you learn the hard way. If you move too fast you can move the plate, and some printers actually roll it back and run the plate through again. (Robert and Merry, on either side of the press, pull the layer of felt blankets back over the top of the roller).....OK, are you ready?? (ahhs and wows) (Robert gently pulls the paper off the plate to reveal the print BELOW) Double click on image to see enlarged.
Robert and his wife Merry, BELOW.

RQ:  We are going to run a ghost, which means I am not going to ink this plate again. I am just going to run another piece through. Sometimes they are very interesting, and like the other ghosts we ran in the first demo, they can be used in other ways. (Merry takes above print and lays it out on the table for the members to inspect up close. Husband and wife carry a second blotted sheet over to the press, carrying it by the edges with both hands. They carefully lay it on the taped plate, BELOW. They lay sheets of newsprints on top and felt blankets) 

Viewer: Some of us are going to be tempted to try the taped thing. Do you have a patent on it, Robert? (laughs and giggles)
RQ: I should. Although I can't be the first person to have tried this. (Robert rotates the big metal wheel next to the press bed, hand over hand, moving the pressbed under the steel roller. Felts are pulled back, newsprint rolled up, print it lifted up. Regarding the print: ) Not much, not much.
Viewer: No, but you could do something with it....
RQ: Absolutely!!
MQ: You could paint over it.
RQ: You could draw or paint over it. I could cut it up and collage it into something else.
Viewer: Could you print over it?
RQ: You could print over it. Sure, sure, absolutely!! Well, that's us. If you have any questions....(applause)
More on monotypes, click HERE.
(courtesy of Wikipedia, accessed September 16, 2012)

To view Robert's print page, click HERE 
accessed September 16, 2012

Robert is a member of the Hand Print Press
at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
To visit Hand Print Press, click HERE.
(courtesy of Hand Print Press,,
accessed September 16, 2012 )

A word to the Kansas City print community:

"Be prolific! Do a lot of work. Constantly improve your skills. One of the best lessons I ever learned is not to be afraid of my imagination. If making art is your passion, go after it. Don’t wait for anything. As Chuck Close once said, “Inspiration is for amateurs
…..Get to work!”
(courtesy of Art By Karena,, accessed September 16, 2012)

submitted by Karl Marxhausen, September 22, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

jane voorhees - kc collector

Hallmark artist and KCAI professor Jane Voorhees opened up her showcase home to look at art and enjoy a beautiful Saturday afternoon in leisure with others who love the fine art of printing. Double click on images to enlarge.

Two minute video tour

A printmaker herself Ms. Voorhees took questions from members of the Kansas City Print Society. Voorhees taught part time in the print department at the Kansas City Art Institute. Double click on images to enlarge.

To see her print page, clic HERE
(courtesy of Jane Voorhees website,, accessed Sept.22, 2012)

Akua water-based inks were used for both substractive and additive techniques in her monotype class. Robert Quackenbush was a student in her class. He loved the process from the beginning. Saturday afternoon Jane talked about her collection, and not much about her own work, according to fellow member Greg Schieszer. (in an email Monday, Sept 24, 2012)

Lite hors d'oeuvre were served.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Print Society By-Laws


  • The name of this organization shall be the Print Society of the
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
  • In cooperation with and support of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art the Print Society is organized 
    to support the Print Department of the Museum in the presentation of exhibitions and in acquiring prints for the department collection through gifts or purchases; 
    to promote interest, awareness, enjoyment, education and collecting of works of art, early and contemporary, done by any recognized print technique;
    and further to do so whenever feasible by supporting artist and galleries in the community.
  • Section 1. Membership shall consist of those persons who are members of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and who have paid Society dues for the current fiscal year.
  • Section 2. Levels of membership shall be determined by the Board.
  • Section 3. Written permission from the Board shall be obtained before the membership list may be given to anyone for use as a mailing or solicitation list
  • Section 4. No member shall use the name of the Society for personal gain and no entertainment or undertaking whatsoever shall be given in the name of the Society except by written permission of the Board.
  • Section 5. Only members in good standing shall serve on a committee.
  • Section 6. Current address and other contact (email) information held by the Society is the responsibility of each member.
  • Section 7. Dues
A. The amount of dues for each level of membership shall be determined by the Board.

B. The membership year is January 1 – December 31.
Membership dues are due the first of the year.

C. Dues shall not be refundable
  • Section 8. Fiscal year
    The fiscal year shall coincide with that of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.


Section 1. Definition

The board shall consist of four (4) officers, and

three (3) at-large board members elected by the general

membership, the immediate past president and the Chairs of

all Standing Committees. The curator of the Print

Department, who also serves as Financial Advisor, shall serve without vote.

Section 2. Authority

A. The management of the Society shall be vested in the

Board who shall be empowered to act upon such business as may

come before it providing there approval by the Nelson-Atkins

Museum of Art.

B. The Board may enter into contracts to further the

objectives of the Print Society.

Section 3. Duties

A. Each Board member will be encouraged to participate in

the activities of a standing committee, special committee, or

business of the Society and shall fulfill such other duties as

may be designated.

B. All projects of the Society related to the Museum shall

be coordinated with the office of the Print Curator.

C. The Board shall approve any major expenditure from the

Print Society funds.

D. The Board shall prepare an annual report for the


Section 4. Financial responsibilities

A. The Board shall not pay out money or assume financial

obligations in excess of the net worth of the Society, except

when the cost of a project approved by the board is to be

underwritten by individual guarantors.

B. Compensation for any service performed shall not be allowed

for any office or Board member.

Section 5. Meetings

A. Regular. The Board shall hold a minimum of six meetings every

fiscal year. All members in good standing are welcome to

attend Board meetings.

B. Annual. The annual membership meeting of the general

membership shall be designated as the annual meeting of the


C. Special. Special meetings may be called by the President or

upon request of at least five (5) members of the Board. The

business to be transacted shall be specified in the notice of

the meeting.

D. Members of the Board shall be given at least three (3) days

notice of all Board meetings.

Section 6. Quorum

Five members shall constitute a quorum for a regular,

annual, or special meeting of the Board.

Section 7. Vacancies

A. A position on the Board may be declared vacant by a majority

vote of a quorum of the Board, for just cause. Failure to

attend three consecutive meetings shall be just cause for

replacement of a Board member. Neglect of duties shall

constitute just cause for declaring an elective position on

the Board vacant.

B. Any vacancy in the elected membership of the Board occurring

prior to the annual meeting shall be filled for the unexpired

term by a majority vote at a meeting of the Board.



Section 1. Definition

A. The officers of the Society shall be President, Vice-

President, Secretary, Historian and Financial Adviser (Curator

of Print Department). The officers, (except Financial Advisor

who is not elected and not voting) shall be elected by the

general membership at the annual meeting.

B. Term. Officers shall serve for two (2) years from the date of

election or until qualified successors are elected.

Section 2. Duties

A. President. The President shall…

1 Preside at all meetings.

2 Appoint all standing committee chairs, with the approval

of the elected officers.

3 Create and delete special committees as needed.

4 Be the official representative of the Society at all

Museum functions requiring representation. If the

President is unable to attend, an official representative

shall be appointed by the President.

5 Call special meetings and shall call special Society

meetings upon written request of ten (10) members.

6 Serve as ex officio member of all committees, except the

Nominating Committee.

7 Prepare the Society’s annual report for presentation to

the membership at the Annual Meeting.

8 Perform all other duties as consistent with the office of


A. Vice President. The Vice President shall …

1 Perform all the duties of the President in the absence of

the latter.

2 Assist in the general supervision of the business of the


3 Be the official representative of the Society, at the

request of the President.

4 Shall serve as the chair of the Selection and Acquisition

Committee as provided in Article IX herein.

B. Secretary. The Secretary shall

1 Record and maintain minutes of all Board meetings.

2 Maintain attendance records of all Board meetings.

3 Notify Board members of Board meetings.

4 Be responsible for all correspondence as requested by the


C. Historian. The Historian shall

1 Maintain a journal of all programs and events of the


2 Maintain the bylaws and supervise any amendments to the


D. Financial Advisor/Print Curator.

The Financial Advisor/Print Curator shall…

1 Supervise and maintain an account of all receipts and


2 Prepare and submit a statement of income and expenses for

each Board meeting.

3 Furnish an annual statement of all contributions,

donations and other receipts and of all expenditures.

4 Assist the other officers in the performance of their

duties as requested.

5 Assume responsibilities and perform duties as the

President requests.



Section 1. Nominating Committee

A. A nominating committee, chaired by the immediate past

president, shall be formed 90 days prior to the annual

membership meeting.

B. The Board shall select two Board members and one non-board

member of the Society to serve on the Nominating Committee.

C. The Nominating Committee shall nominate one candidate, who has

agreed to serve, for each vacancy on the board. The Committee

shall present the proposed list of its nominees plus a list of

all nominees submitted by petition, as provided for below, to

the Board six (6) weeks prior to the annual meeting so that

the list of candidates may be distributed to the membership

prior to the annual meeting.

D. Not later than two (2) month prior to the annual meeting,

nomination for any office may be made by petition signed by

ten (10) members of the Society and filed with the Chairman of

the Nominating Committee.

E. Eligibility. A nominee shall be any member of the Society in

good standing.

Section 2.

A. Terms. Term of each office shall be two (2) years.

B. Elections. Officers and other Board Members shall be elected

at the annual membership meeting by the members present and



Section 1. Annual Membership Meeting

A. The annual membership meeting of the Society shall be held in

the spring of each year.

B. Notice shall be mailed to all members at least ten (10) days

prior to the annual membership meeting, or any special


C. Any business of the Society, except an amendment to the Bylaws

may be transacted at the annual meeting without specific

notice prior to the meeting.

Section 2. Special meetings.

Special membership meetings may be held upon the call

of the President, and shall be called by the President upon

written request of ten (10) members. The purpose of the

meeting shall be stated in the request. No business may be

transacted at any special meeting except that specified in

the notice of the meeting.

Section 3. Quorum.

Ten (10) members shall constitute a quorum for the

transaction of business at any annual or special membership




Section 1. Definition and membership eligibility.

A. There shall be the following Standing Committees: Membership,

Program, and Selection and Acquisitions Committee.

B. Standing Committee chairs shall be appointed by the President

with approval of the officers.

C. Each Standing Committee chair shall submit to the Board a

written annual report for the committee’s activities including

a financial statement if appropriate.

Section 2. Membership Committee

A. Shall be responsible for promoting membership in the Society

and maintaining a current membership roster.

B. May plan events for the membership in cooperation with other


Section 3. Program Committee

A. Shall be responsible for investigating programs and reporting

to the Board.

B. If a program is approved for further action, the Committee is

responsible for implementing the program.



Section 1. Selection and Acquisition Committee

A. A Selection and Acquisition Committee shall be organized upon

determination by the Board.

B. The Selections and Acquisition Committee shall consist of the

Vice President and those members approved by the Board.

C. It shall be the duty of the Committee to select and recommend

prints for purchase by the Society for the Nelson-Atkins

Museum. Furthermore, it shall be responsible for researching

and identifying appropriate artists for Society commissions.

D. No print shall be purchased by the Society unless approved by

a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Board or by a simple

majority vote of the general membership.

E. No print shall be submitted for purchase to the Board or

General Membership unless, prior to submission, an assurance

has been received from the Curator of the Print Department

that the Nelson-Atkins Museum desires to add the art object to

its collection.
  • F. Funds for purchase of a print shall be determined by the Board and approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Board.

    • The current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the proceedings of the Society in all cases not provided for in these bylaws.


      • The Bylaws may be amended by the unanimous vote of the Board at a regular or special meeting of the Board or by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the general membership at a regular or special meeting provided notice of the amendment is given to the membership prior to the meeting.


      The effective date of these bylaws shall be March 7, 2011.
      Revisions proposed 10/4/10
       Approved by the Print Society Board 3/7/11 page 8 of 8