Supporting the arts in so many different ways

Button Factory at PMAC 2015

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My one and only hope

Just heard from a new fan of The Caress of Her Hand. Ah, yes, ‘tis one of my favorites as well. This piece found a good home early on and, truthfully, this is my one and only hope: For my art to find a loving home.

The Caress of Her Hand.jpg (ID 131)

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Autumn Art Jaunts (#2)


If you love Winslow Homer’s art as much as I do, you’ll love touring his studio on Prouts Neck in Scarboro, Maine, which I did this past weekend. This is where Homer lived and worked for the last 27 years of his life. The Portland Museum of Art owns the Winslow Homer Studio and offers tours of this art lover’s mecca, April-October. So very inspiring!


I’m looking forward to another day, come springtime, walking in the footsteps of Winslow Homer by visiting the PMA and viewing his work in their collection, heading over to Prouts Neck for lunch at the Black Point Inn, and ambling along the cliff walk to see the actual sea views shown in some Homer’s most spectacular paintings.


Meanwhile I’ll study Homer’s watercolors, paintings, and illustrations with a deeper understanding of Winslow Homer as a person and as an artist.


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Autumn Art Jaunts (#1)


Yesterday my husband Dave and I caught an early C&J bus into Boston to visit the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).

I’m a huge Vermeer fan, and was eager to see the MFA’s big new exhibit, Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, which opened less than two weeks ago (continues through January 18, 2016). Throughout half a dozen galleries of spectacular paintings and objects focusing on the three different 17th century Dutch classes (upper, middle, lower — sound familiar?), Class Distinctions offered up two oil paintings by Johannes Vermeer: The Astronomer (c. 1668) on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and A Lady Writing a Letter (c. 1665) on loan from the Musee du Louvre, Paris. So beautiful. So quiet. I also discovered a new favorite painting in the exhibit: “The Shipbuilder and his Wife”: Jan Rijcksen and his Wife, Griet Jans by Rembrandt van Rijn (1633). The man’s lace collar is painted in fine detail on the left and with exuberant dashes and swirls on the right. Wonderful!

I’m also a huge John Singer Sargent fan, and wanted to see the small exhibit Sincerely Yours, John S. Sargent before it closes on November 15th. Lots of handwritten letters, photographs, and sketches. The touch of the hand. Spontaneous. Immediate. Really brings Sargent to life as a person as well as an artist. By the by, the MFA recently became the fortunate recipient of The John Singer Sargent Archive and now will serve as a center for Sargent scholarship.

Next up: A tour of Winslow Homer’s studio on Prouts Neck in Maine with the Portland Museum of Art.


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Another way to print transfer monotypes


As mentioned in my last post, I stumbled upon a new method of printing transfer monotypes last week by following these steps: #1. Rolled solid layer of ink on Plexiglas plate. #2. Using black Sharpie, traced original drawing on tracing paper. #3. Placed tracing paper with drawing face down on top of inked plate. #4. Traced over black Sharpie lines with end of brush handle. #5. Removed tracing paper and put aside (photo above). #6. Printed inked plate on a fresh piece of BFK Rives paper (first photo below) #7. Printed ghost from inked plate on a fresh piece of BFK Rives paper (second photo below). #8. Printed inked tracing paper on a fresh piece of BFK Rives paper (third photo below). #9. Dampened a fresh piece of BFK Rives paper and printed ghost from tracing paper (fourth photo below). Now I’ll look at each of these four transfer monotypes and ask myself, “Is this a finished monotype or is this an unfinished monotype I can use as an underpainting?”



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Transfer monotypes add new dimension to printmaking


The merry month of May is drawing to a close, and I celebrated by devoting studio time to printing transfer monotypes (a first) as part of the Seacoast Women Project. I started off by printing a batch of transfer monotypes according to the traditional method: ink plate, place paper on plate, draw on back of paper, pull paper. No press needed. Then I put that same plate on the etching press and printed. Finally I printed the “ghost” of the same plate. A total of three transfer monotypes per “batch.”

On my next batch of transfer monotypes, I made a “mistake” and actually stumbled upon another method of printing transfer monotypes which I’ll describe in another post.

In the past couple of days, I printed about 20 transfer monotypes, experimenting with different papers (BFK Rives, Hahnemuhle Copperplate, rice paper). They’re all drying on big racks in the studio. I’ll begin using the transfer monotypes printed on rice paper next week in my hand bookbinding sessions.

This month’s printmaking felt like breakthrough sessions in the same vein as last July’s sessions when I began the Seacoast Women Project. Very exciting. Great fun!


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Monotypes + hand bookbinding = ?


This week I worked in my friend Darlene’s third-floor corner Button Factory studio, trimming a bunch of little abstract monotypes which I had printed last November. An experiment: nine little monotypes on one full sheet of paper. I came upon these printed sheets and started trimming them while thinking about various ways I might be able to combine my monotypes with hand bookbinding.

This past week I finalized plans with Lynn Crocker to begin working on hand bookbinding projects on a regular basis in her second-floor studio in The Button Factory. I completed Lynne’s Hand Bookbinding workshop last September. Now I want to get into a rhythm of hand bookbinding. For me, working alongside Lynne in her studio seems the best way to refresh, maintain and surely strengthen my hand bookbinding skills.

Meanwhile I now have a stack of small trimmed monotypes awaiting some next step. I don’t know what I’m doing nor where this monotype + hand bookbinding combo will take me. It occurred to me, while I was trimming and thinking and trimming and thinking these past couple of days: the only way to create something totally new actually is to have no idea what you’re doing. Case in point, Henri Mattisse and his cut-outs.

Keep working and trust.


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Marching into spring with Seacoast Women


This past week I continued working on the Seacoast Women Series which I began last summer. Spring has arrived here officially yet the actual weather outside tells a different story. Teeny tiny snowflakes have been falling since about 8 o’clock this morning. The Seacoast Women appeared yesterday in winter garb and cool dark colors. They are looking a bit somber these days. In another monotype from this past week’s printing sessions, the Seacoast Women look truly grumpy, almost witchy, as they endured yet another week of frigid air. This photo (above) shows a detail from one of the monotypes (in process) which I printed yesterday (first drop) at The Button Factory here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I’ve posted a few more studio photos from this past week on Facebook at Barbara van Buskirk, Artist. Where, oh, where art thou springtime?

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Waking from their winter slumber

Seacoast Women (In Process)

I’m working in the studio again after a three month hiatus which came about willy-nilly then unfolded due to, well, yes, you guessed it: Life. First, an unexpected family surgery in early December reset my priorities and simplified life to its minimalist best through the end of January. One day at a time. Then, of course, the snow began to fly here in New England. One day at a time.

Today, with family health restored and better than ever, lots of snow on the ground yet sidewalks and roadways clear and dry, and creative longing in my heart, I returned to The Button Factory studio. What a huge hug Darlene and I gave each other this morning! Three months is a long time be be away from the studio. Three months has been a long time away from “my girls”: the Seacoast Women series I began last summer.  I could not even remember where I left off. Once I unzipped my portfolio, I began pulling out the quarter sheet and half sheet pieces I’d been working on. Then I removed the lid from the storage box where the full sheet pieces have been nesting. I took my time pinning up each piece to the big moveable board until the entire surface was chock-a-block full of color, line, and summer spirit. You can see for yourself what I saw today in the photo I snapped.

Yes, it’s been a long winter. No matter. I feel very lucky. Very lucky indeed. We have about three more weeks until the official start of Spring (March 20). Meanwhile I’m having a blast with “my girls” and am once again in the zone. Stay tuned.

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One of my all-time favorites

The Guide. Printed and sold years ago. I love this piece every time I look at it. Really touches a chord in my heart strings. Still.

The Guide

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