Monday, January 27, 2014

the crawl

It was an icy start, coming in on highway 210 east, where my wife and I passed a rolled off vehicle in a corn field, its owner standing beside it, talking on a cellphone, waiting for the wrecker to arrive.

The house gallery was full of print society members and non-members, sipping orange juice and nibbling baked goodies.

Each time I attend a PS function I seek out people I've met and meet new ones.

That day Mark Jeske told me about an art appreciation class he took and the color theory talk with Margie Kuhn he attended. He had read about both events and the print crawl in the bi-monthly brochure that Nelson museum sent out. That was what brought him to Kathy Ashen- brenner's house that morning.

Finally, we squeezed around the dining room table and listened as each print was presented. People glanced back and forth from the handout sheets, leaning forward to inspect the inked impression, and make mental notes for themselves.

Then, it was gathering coats and hats and heading of in carpools to the next location.
     Karl Marxhausen

Photos left,
taken by PS member Elizabeth Carroll.

Hi Karl. Thanks for asking.  We enjoyed visiting with Jan and you. Besides the art, we were
and continue to be delighted by the large turnout of PS members and their strong interest in supporting the Nelson.   Jane and Jack Coakley

Kathy Ashenbrenner of Gallery Karl Oskar presents selected prints by Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn. Three minutes.

Jack Olson of the American Legacy Gallery on Claire Leighton:
   "She actually became a citizen in 1945. But she is known for her book illustrations and for her rural America-type prints. Where we got involved with carrying her work was, she did a gift print for the Prairie Print Makers. The Prairie Print Makers, as you probably all know, is a group that started in Kansas in 1931. And every year, from 1931 to 1964, printed a gift print. If you were a patron of the Prairie Print Makers, and paid your $5.00 a year dues, you got a gift print. So, it was a pretty good deal for a long time."
   "This is a big wood engraving. This is the first time I've had . I suspect it has never been framed."
   "I'm going to do the ones I think are the coolest. (group laughter)"
    Double click on images to enlarge.

Olson went on to discuss the Jackson Lee Nesbitt, a student of Thomas Benton, and a rare etching by John Sloan.
Three minutes. See transcription excerpts above.
    "I love the idea of a print crawl to examine prints that Beth has hand selected for us, and talking with people who have special interest in the art of the print.  For example, Ruthie showed me the business card she designed for Doug.   I was especially glad to visit the new Haw Gallery and see how the Dolphin has successfully transitioned.  It was also a pleasure to review the Thomas Moran chromolithograph in Jack's office after learning about this print technique on our road trip to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa."    Curtis V. Smith

     I enjoyed the annual Print Society print crawl once again.  It is always good to get together with fellow print enthusiasts, to socialize and look at art.  Once again, the first stop at Galerie Karl Oscar (Kathy Ashenbrenner's home) was warm and welcoming with good coffee and treats. I enjoyed meeting some new members, and catching up with others.  At our second stop, American Legacy Gallery, it was a treat to see the wonderful etchings that Jack Olsen showed us. Then on to Haw Gallery for more art treats, and also to see what Bill Haw had done with the old Dolphin Gallery space.     Susan Lawrence

Emily Eddins of the Haw Contemporary Gallery introduced us to belgium prints by Michael Krueger (pronounced kree-ger), a unique relief print by Laura Berman, and a set of lithographs by Peregrine Honig. Six minutes.

Our final stop was Lawrence Lithography Workshop, where our host, Mike Sims, explained the prints that he was offering for our consideration.  He is keeping his holiday sale going through the end of January, and several of us took advantage of the opportunity to purchase prints for our own collections.        
Susan Lawrence

Mike Sims of The Lawrence Lithography Workshop introduces a set of lithographs by Susan Davidoff. Five minutes.


We then adjourned for lunch at the Bull Dog pub (we had the back room to ourselves) where we engaged in lively conversation, marked our ballots, and enjoyed good bar food.  susan lawrence

Our goal is to buy prints with the intention that the public will be able to view them in a Print Study Room. Two minutes.

The Print room was located on the Mezzanine. It was a good size room and could house different exhibitions. It is really too bad that it has been discontinued.  Last Fall several members of the Print Society (including me) wrote to the director requesting a new Print room. So far nothing new has happened.   Jean Howard

Concern was raised: were frames included in the purchasing price?
No, they were not. Discussion before casting vote. Four minutes.

 I am looking forward to the next step in our print selection process, the Love of Art luncheon on February 15 when we will vote on the print that we will donate to the museum.    susan lawrence

photos by elizabeth carroll and karl marxhausen
comments from jack and jane coakley, curtis v. smith, karl marxhausen, susan lawrence and jean howard

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

up until four years ago

Up until about 4 years ago, the Crawl was a event in which only Print Society Board Members partook.
Double click on images to enlarge

At that time the Board awoke to the advantages of opening this event to any and all.

To name a few of these advantages:
  •   members get out and visit spaces they may not otherwise see

  •   local galleries get to meet and visit with our members and potentially to sell work that otherwise would not have come about; - a prime reason for the Print Society's being is to support the local art community be it the artist or the for-profit sector

  •   it builds a sense of community within the Society - frequently one can hear someone say, "I don't know what that is, tell me about it"

   Over these few, short years, the sense of learning community has taken seed. It is not unusual for potential and very new members to think that they are too uneducated, too inexperienced with prints to join our Society. They soon realize that we are all learning and that it is OK to 'go with the flow and say I don't know.' 
And the Crawl continues to attract more participants. This year I noticed people felt much more at ease in each gallery to look not only at the works Beth had selected for us to view, but also to cruise and peruse around the gallery to see what else was on the walls that might attract their attention. I also noticed that our members are developing relationships with the local galleries - a win - win relationship.  

In these few years I have seen people come out so that they can participate in an art event with their friends, with like-minded folks ...  we are ever becoming and learning how to be a community of lovers of ink on paper.

Guest writer: Robin Gross

Editor's note:
Thoughts and personal stories about ink on paper from the Nelson Atkins Print Society community are welcomed to this blog. Send all communications to Please include your first and last name. karl marxhausen

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

doug osa - kc printmaker

As a 30 year old student, fresh out of grad school and working a day shift as a composition tech at Custom Color in Kansas City, Doug Osa was looking for a way to continue exercising his excitement in etching. Osa shares what he did. One minute.
I can't see, having worked as an artist, especially AFTER HAVING FOUND MY WAY INTO ETCHING, to just have experimented with it, and put it aside and not doing anything with it after that. Just, IT WAS A BIG ENOUGH DEAL that when I got out of school, and I was trying to figure out HOW I WOULD KEEP ON WORKING IN PRINTMAKING AND ETCHING. The thing that I ended up doing was taking the biggest part of the summer, in evenings after I got off work, and I actually went out to a friend of my dad's who owned a machine shop and HE HELPED ME BUILD my first, MY ONLY PRINTING PRESS, WHICH I STILL USE. All these prints I've done have been pulled off of a handmade press that I built that summer. IT WAS THE ONLY WAY it was going to happen. This was long before you find stuff on the Internet. I didn't know how to go about looking for used print presses or anything.      Doug Osa
Close details of etched lines from one copper plate.
Double click on images to enlarge.


     Painting was his core classwork and his first love in grad school. He also took an elective class in intaglio, at the University of Kansas, under John Talleur, where he learned the basics of etching. Osa said, there was a whole different approach at developing an image when one etched. Instead of mixing pigments in paint, a value was created with layers and layers and layers of lines, almost a science of lines. Instead of wielding big brushes, he used a very fine needle. Osa said, that later on, etching would give him a mental break from a painting he was working on. He found himself recharged, given a reprieve from painting concerns. He often worked impulses from painting into an etching and from etching into a painting. But that, in both mediums, he had a drive to involve the senses when he worked outdoors en plein air. He used every means to suggest the details, even down to the insects at his feet. Because the richness of that experience called for it!!

A passion to describe all of it outdoors. Two minutes.
A lot of what I was trying to accomplish in prints and in painting was capturing the light that was literally at my feet, while I was out working outdoors. Right down to, painting insects in, not painting the insects themselves, but painted images of painted insects in paintings, and, smaller and smaller details. If I could see it, I tried to paint it, or tried to put it into a print. And that is why these, you know, foregrounds, in both the paintings and the prints from that era are just CROWDED WITH ALL KINDS OF DETAIL. I was simply TRYING TO GET EVERYTHING that, added up to WHAT IT WAS TO BE standing out in someone's field, on a particular morning, a particular day, and the weather was, something was happening about the weather. And it was THIS MOMENT IN TIME, where everything around me just seemed to be, uh, just as important as the rest of the area!!   Sometimes I look at it and think maybe I, it was to a fault that I tried to put so much detail in to it, but, in looking back I don't think I could have done it any other way. IT JUST SEEMED IT HAD TO BE THERE OR THE WORK WASN'T FINISHED!!      Doug Osa
details of insects in the foreground
inked impression from the copperplate etching 
Double click on images to enlarge. 

Olmstead's Farm by Doug Osa, etching.
One minute view of hedge rows.
More on Olmstead's Farm, click HERE.

Doug Osa enjoys the manual rigor of etching. The real creating takes place on the copper plate itself. It is physical. To use some metaphors, it is like dragging your equipment along your property, and digging post holes for a fence. What begins with penciled ideas is tilled into the metal. Then the scenery is overhauled - shoveled - broken down - scraped - and managed. In due time, the transformation, pulled up on an inked proof pleases his eye.

Action on the plate.Three minutes.   

Olmstead's Farm inked impression and copperplate, respectively.
Three minutes.


County Line Sunset,  2 3/4" x 3 1/4"  Click on image ABOVE. Entirely dry point. This is an intaglio process in which the lines are produced by drawing on the plate with a sharpened point which leaves a groove in the plate and a raised burr alongside the groove. You could think of it as being similar to a plowed furrow in a field.  By holding a little extra ink, the burr produces the characteristic soft edged lines when printed. The amount of burr used in the image can be controlled by pressure on the drawing point, the angle that the point is held at during drawing, scraping away unwanted burr after the lines are drawn, and during the wiping process.  The crisp lines in County Line Sunset have had the burr entirely removed leaving a line similar to an etched line.  The softer areas in the print have been produced by the burr.
The breakthroughs in an individual's career or sensibilities happen by accident, just by pushing the envelope, outside the comfort zone, trying something that you thought, 'well I wonder how that would work?' but you've never really done it. Either jump in and give it a shot or you never do.    Doug Osa   

A painter considers mezzotint. Three minutes.
I liked the idea of, in this case it's, in my mind, it's taking a step closer to painting, than just etching. Instead of working with lines and creating edges and shapes with lines, it was more like taking this value that was black, but then modifying it almost like adding in white paint to get lighter greys, and then, finally, like pure white to get whitening in the print.  So, it was a little closer process to painting, you know making an image strictly in values.     Doug Osa 

Facade detail

Doug Osa (DO) and Karl Marxhausen (KM) discuss the creation of Facade. Three minutes.
DO: Facade, the process that I used in making this image is called mezzotint. The plate begins clean, polished, and without any marks at all on it. A mezzotint rocker, which is kind of a curved chisel-like thing, that has, it's lined with teeth along the edge, is rocked over the plate. It's kind of walked back and forth. LAYERS AND LAYERS. You basically do a pattern of lines that you rock with this thing. And you move the plate, and kind of walk that rocker, LAYING DOWN ROWS OF THESE LINES 
KM: Sort of like tire tracks?
DO: Around the clock. So, you basically rock THE ENTIRE PLATE through twelve different directions. And it is a real tedious, long process. But the whole point is to arrive at a plate, that if you were to print it at that point you would get a jet black, solid image, just a black rectangle. (simulated image, NEXT)

DO:  And then, the image is arrived at by scraping and burnishing that burr. The teeth in that rocker punches little dots down into the plate, and each one of those dots has a little chip or a burr of copper pushed up beside it. And, uh, uh, that's what holds the ink. And to get rid of that you scrape and burnish. So, you can do a very small amount and get something like a real dark grey. Or you can scrape and burnish it back to a polished plate, in which case you get a totally white area within the image. And that's how this was done.

KM: So, like the door area (in the Facade detail, NEXT)

DO: This area (points to white door area, ABOVE) right here would have been nearly scraped and polished back to a shiny plate. And all these others (in shadows left of the door and at bottom of the steps) like down here there was just a very small amount of scraping and burnishing. You know, the shadow area up through the doorway, maybe nothing at all was done in there. And then you can look and see that there are some etched lines, which I also added in as I got the values put down where I wanted them. Then I added some etched lines, just to help clarify some of the architectural detail, and stuff like that. But basically this is entirely a mezzo tint print.   Facade,  full image BELOW, 6 3/4" x 3 3/4", Double click on image to enlarge.

In each medium 
the main thing  
is to find out
for yourself.

The time is better the EVER to try it your self. One minute.
Osa is member of the Nelson Atkins Print Society. 
He was one of 20 vendors at the Fine Print and Paper Kansas City Expo, April 19 and 20, 2013. The exhibit was in the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the Crossroads District.
Follow Doug on Facebook, click
(Photo of County Line Sunset provided by artist, Olmstead's Farm courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art,, and Facebook,,  accessed Jan 7, 2014)
Interview took place June 9, 2013
Submitted by Karl Marxhausen