original fine art prints

about us

THE ARTIST

I was raised in Durham County, England and first studied Art at grammar school, and later, Law at Newcastle University. An exchange student visit to Florida eventually led to my residency in the United States.

After a period of playing soccer and bartending, I sought direction and returned to my interest in art, producing pen and ink drawings of local restaurants for stipends or food.

A geographical cure to Wisconsin in 1979 resulted in a fortuitous visit to a used bookstore where I purchased a book on British Etchers. So engaged by this discovery, I enrolled in a printmaking course at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls and quickly created six zinc plate etchings.

It was then that the “American Dream” evolved: I determined that I would be a full-time artist, and that the means to fulfill this ambition was to embark on the art fair circuit. I started with a table at a local art fair. After about three months, a modicum of success and enthusiastically producing more etchings, I decided to resign from my various part-time jobs and live the dream.

In 1986 I met and married Laura, who immediately became a full time business partner. We soon realized that our chances of success were greatly enhanced if Laura assisted in the studio and managed the details, thus allowing me to focus on printmaking. We commenced with applying to shows and assembling an annual schedule that consisted of twenty or more events. We grew our business and for the last twenty five years have exhibited throughout the United States. I have received numerous awards, completed several corporate commissions and my work is widely collected.

THE ART

My work is my own interpretation and impression of a particular location. I derive subject matter mainly from the United Kingdom and my continuing travels in Europe. The topics, which are often architectural, may not be new or even topographically correct, but I strive to obtain a fresh concept and spontaneity in the pictorial aspect of my work.

My chosen medium in printmaking is the metal plate. I specialize in etching, drypoint, aquatint and mezzotint. I often use a combination of all of these techniques on the same plate. Due to the indirect nature of printmaking, I do many preliminary drawings concentrating on the design, tone and draughtsmanship of the proposed print. Only then do I begin to work on the plate itself.

I first created pure line etchings from zinc plates and was greatly influenced by Seymour Hayden and James McNeill Whistler. I gradually introduced aquatint into my work and continued in this way for several years. I then became fascinated with the drypoint work of Muirhead Bone and Martin Lewis and have spent several years working on this difficult technique.

My current images are predominantly drypoints that start with a tonal layer of aquatint and are further enhanced by the subtle use of a roulette and mezzotint rocker. I work on both zinc and copper plates.

My ultimate aim is the print. This concept is fully expressed only when the image is transferred from the plate onto paper.

I print all of my own work, favoring the use of sepia, browns, blue and black inks applied and blended on one plate, by hand (a la poupee), as I feel that this enhances the uniqueness of each proof.

PRINTMAKING

Michael employs various intaglio printmaking techniques, including etching, aquatint, drypoint, mezzotint and a la poupee as well as handcoloring (watercolor).

Etching,

from the German word atsen, meaning to eat or corrode, is a process by which a design is eaten into metal by acid for the purpose of printing from it. The design is drawn with a needle through a layer of acid resistant wax, called a ground, laid on a thin metal plate. The ground is removed, the ink rubbed into the lines, and a print taken by passing the plate covered with a sheet of paper through a roller press.

Drypoint
lines are drawn on a “dry” plate, one without any ground on it. Sharp lines are cut by a sharp instrument (steel point, diamond, ruby or the like).

The peculiar beauty of this medium is dependent upon its power of yielding a wonderful, velvety richness in the proof. This is due not to the groove which is cut below the surface, but to the “burr” or ridge thrown up by the passage of the tool under the lee of which the ink shelters from the rag, or hand, during the action of wiping the plate.

If, as is generally the case, the burr is left untouched, each line will print with a half-luminous ridge of tone at one or both sides, giving a richness of effect quite foreign to the pure etched line. Very few printings suffice to wear away the burr, which seldom lasts out more than thirty good impressions.

Mezzotint
is technically a drypoint method. It was the first tonal method to be used, enabling half-tones to be produced without using line or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple. Mezzotint achieves tonality by roughening the plate with thousands of little dots made by a metal tool with small teeth, called a "rocker." In printing, the tiny pits in the plate hold the ink when the face of the plate is wiped clean. A high level of quality and richness in the print can be achieved.

Aquatint:
Rosin particles are dusted over a plate in the beginning of the aquatint process. Each of these particles will protect just enough of the plate so that when the plate is etched and printed, a tonal area will result.

À la poupée:
A print is printed in color à la poupée when colored ink is applied directly to a plate’s surface and worked into the appropriate area of the design using cotton daubs called dollies, or in French, poupée.

Original fine art prints
are considered unique as no two are ever exactly alike. The artist’s work on metal only comes to life as artwork when the print is made and carries with it all of the artist’s intentions. An original fine art print differs from a reproduction in that to make a reproduction, the original picture is photographed and the image is then burned on to a printing plate. The printing plate is put on a power driven press and hundreds or thousands of impressions are made during one run…all exactly the same. This method lacks the uniqueness found in the individually hand-pulled prints.

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