Evolving steps in preserving art, history and culture

Last Friday I stopped in at D. Pratt, Framer in Kittery, Maine, and picked up the newly reframed “A Visitor – Holland” by Martha Silsbee. Folks who tune in to Barbara van Buskirk, Artist on Facebook may remember my post on November 11, 2016, in which I mentioned I’d acquired this undated watercolor and pastel from Northeast Auctions’s New Hampshire Fall Auction. When I saw the reframed “A Visitor – Holland,” it took my breath away!

I’ve now completed three projects to preserve original works of American art and the legacies of two American artists whose work I love.

Project #1
Untitled by Carl Van Buskirk (1886-1930). 
Color monotype and ink. No date.

My mom gave me this original monotype in 2008 during a visit to my family home where it had hung since about 1987 when Mom and Dad acquired it from the estate of my grandmother, Rita Van Buskirk, who lived in Santa Barbara, California. At the time I received my grandfather’s picture, I’d been making and framing my own original monotypes for eight years, so I felt comfortable and confident reframing Carl’s untitled monotype myself. I aimed to stay true to how this piece was framed when I received it.

The steps I took to better preserve Carl Van Buskirk’s untitled color monotype and ink included a new custom made frame from Bruce Loyd Furniture Maker, Albuquerque, New Mexico; new silver matboard which mirrored the original mat (sorry to say, silver matboard is not available in archival or acid free quality); acid free foam core; and archival quality linen hinging tape.

Project #2
“The Goodest Goodest” by Carl Van Buskirk (1886-1930). Color pastel. 1913.

Folks who follow this blog on www.bvanb.com might recall the post “Preserving works on paper as well as family history” which I published on June 8, 2016.

In addition to being more than 100 years old, my grandfather’s color pastel was painted on wafer thin paper and showed some fading and water damage. This project clearly was beyond my level of skills, so I took the piece to the pros at D. Pratt, Framer.

The steps they took to better preserve Carl Van Buskirk’s “The Goodest Goodest” included a new frame, museum quality glass, archival quality mat, acid free foam core, and archival quality hinging tape.

Project #3
“A Visitor – Holland” by Martha Silsbee ((1859-1928). Watercolor and pastel.
No date.

“The frame is probably worth more than the picture,” the man who worked at Northeast Auctions in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, told me when I picked up “A Visitor – Holland” by Martha Silsbee in November 2016. Hmm. I loved the picture. I hadn’t given the frame any thought beyond noticing a couple of labels glued to the back of the frame, one of which was from the Philadelphia Watercolor Society’s Ninth Annual Watercolor Exhibition in 1911. Once again, I turned to the pros at D. Pratt, Framer for their expertise and guidance in reframing this beautiful piece of art.

David Pratt knew at a glance the frame had been made by hand (not manufactured) and  gold leaf lay beneath the radiator paint which, at some point in time, had been applied to the front surface of the frame. “If I were having the piece reframed,” David told me, “I would restore the frame first.” Abby at D. Pratt, Framer led me to Jared Tuveson of Tuveson Studios in Rollinsford, New Hampshire. Jared is a pro who didn’t blink an email eye when he saw the photo of “A Visitor – Holland.” Jared sanded the surface of the frame smooth, sealed the frame then regilded it.

Steps taken to better preserve Martha Silsbee’s “A Visitor – Holland” included restoration of the 100+ year custom made frame, spacers to provide air space between the picture and glass (this piece had originally been framed without a mat and we wanted to keep it in its original frame), and museum quality glass.

I’m finding preserving and caring for art to be incredibly fun, interesting and satisfying. Yes, this work involves an investment in time, energy and resources, all of which is a pleasure. I’m learning more about art, art restoration, conservation, history, and culture. In addition, my eyes delight in seeing these original pieces of art each and every day, adding beauty and grace to my life and our home.

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Happy New Year

This morning I moved the Seacoast Women monotypes back into my home studio to start figuring out what I want to do with these prints. Hard to believe I began the Seacoast Women series in July of 2014. I am in a very different place now than I was when I began printing this series in July of 2014. The world is in a very different place now as well.

This afternoon I began shaping dozens of monotypes I printed as part of the Seacoast Women project into a body of work which may include stand-alone-suitable-for-framing monotypes and collages as well as book covers, illustrations for cards, and who knows what else? Discovery and experimentation are part of the creative process.

This new year will be a year of exceptional Creativity with a capital ‘C.’ I will let every drop of creative expression I have flow through my fingertips, heart, soul and mind. I will Create and shape the world in which I want to live. I will not waste or give away a single ounce of my energy and power.

This is what I’ll be putting out into the Universe in 2017.

What will you be putting out into the Universe this new year?

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Looking forward to meeting you

You are invited to an Artist Reception for “The Button Factory at PMAC” exhibit which will be held on Monday, December 12th, 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at Portsmouth Music and Art, 973 Islington Street. Refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.

“Peace on Earth” (shown here in top right corner of poster) is one of three of my mixed media on wood paintings included in this small gem of a show.

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The art of play

Nearly seventeen years ago I learned how to make monotypes in a workshop I took at New Grounds Print Workshop, a group printmaking studio, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“This Purest Freedom Must Exist” (2000), shown here, is my first monotype. It continues to inspire me to make art to this day.



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Creative minds think alike

I love when the collective unconscious appears in all its magical wonderment!


I saw William Merritt Chase’s pastel The End of the Season (about 1884-1885) (above), Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, for the very first time this morning and noticed a crazy similarity to my monotype Cafe at Sea (below) which I printed in 2005. Gives me the feeling I’m part of a wild, wide creative vibe, and I love it!


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Artists who make monotypes

Late Autumn, 2015. Color monotype by Barbara van Buskirk

During the past couple of weeks I’ve been sorting through some of my old art notebooks, studio notes, sketch books and Morning Pages notebooks to box up and store, providing much needed breathing room and working space in my small home studio. In the process, I came upon a list of artists who have made monotypes which I started compiling when my studio was located in The Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico (2006-2011). I could add so many more artists to this list now as the number of artists who are making monotypes and the number of monotype exhibitions keeps growing in leaps and bounds! Still, for your perusal, contemplation and enjoyment, my original list includes 100+ artists as follows:

Mary Cassatt. Paul Gaughin. Jean Dubuffet. Marc Chagall. Sam Francis. Frank Duveneck. Camille Pissarro. Pablo Picasso. William Merrit Chase. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. William Blake. Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione. Edgar Degas. Jasper Johns. Nathan Oliveira. George Luks. John Sloan. Maurice Brazil Prendergast. Robert Henri. Georges Rouault. Richard Diebenkorn. Wayne Thiebauld. Jim Dine. Matt Phillips. Milton Avery. Abraham Walkowitz. Mary Frank. Joan Miro. Robert Motherwell. Adolph Gottlieb. Mark Tobey. Oskar Schlemmer. Henri Matisse. Jacques Villon (born Gaston Duchamp). Benjamin Creme. Robert Colquhoun. John Kashdan. Keith Vaughan. Prunella Clough. Michael Rothenstein. Terry Frost. Bryan Wynter. Robert Adams. Alan Davie. William Gear. Eduardo Paolozzi. Charles Abel Corwin. Arthur Bowen Davies. Paul Dougherty. Eugene Higgins. Michael Mazur. Albert Sterner. Charles Alvah Walker. James McNeill Whistler. Otto Bacher. Gottardo Plazzoni. Frank Van Sloun. Perham Nahl. Armin Hansen. Eugen Neuhaus. Paul Rohland. Ot Schmidt. Reginald Gammon. Sarah Anderson. Barbara van Buskirk. Ron Mier. Wendy Creel. Pierre Bonnard. Romare Beardon. Pat Malcolm. Miklos Pogany. Carl Van Buskirk. Harry Bertola. Rita Deanin Abbey. Jill Christian. Pam Castaldi. Joseph Solman. Betty Sabo. Sandra Williams. Paul Klee. Max Ernst. Pop Hart. Bertola. Morris. Graves. Boris Margo. Adja Yunkers. Hans Moller. Will Barnet. Hedda Sterne. Herman Rose. Leon Goldin. Richard Mills. Bicknell. Guarino. Higgins. Hobart. Kahn. Kainen. Katziff. Mora. Peterdi. Phillips. Scanga. Sharp. Stella. Sterner. Walker. Yunkers. Katherine Bowling. Suzanne McClelland. Tom McGrath. Malcolm Morley. Forrest Moses.

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“Baby, It’s Hot Outside”

Baby, It's Hot Outside.jpg (ID 223)

Baby, It’s Hot Outside, 2008. Color monotype.

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Degas monotype exhibit musings and notes

I’ve seen lots of reproductions of this monotype on paper, The Jet Earring (Profil perdu à la bouche d’oreille) 1876-1877 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Anonymous gift, in memory of Francis Henry Taylor), and have loved it. Last week I saw the original monotype for the first time in Degas: A Strange New Beauty at MoMA in New York City.

The Jet Earring by Degas

This monotype is a small jewel. Actually it is very small: 3.25 inches x 2.75 inches. I was fascinated to see this monotype had been printed crooked on its sheet of paper which makes me wonder if Degas did not expect the nuances of the monotype to travel well from plate to paper. Perhaps Degas thought the fine lines in the woman’s hair would disappear or the lightness and softness of the feather in the woman’s hat would be lost or the seven or more discernible textures in the lights and darks on the plate would dim or all of the above.

I can only imagine Degas’s thrill when he lifted the sheet of paper and saw this monotype for the first time. What a keeper! I wonder if Degas’s second thought might have been, Alors! Remember to double check and make sure the plate is straight on the paper before you print the plate. Perhaps the placement of the monotype on the paper is why Degas did not sign this piece. (Oval atelier stamp and chop mark on recto) In reproductions I’ve seen, The Jet Earring monotype image has been straightened.

Seeing this perfect little jewel of a monotype imperfectly positioned on its sheet of paper, I truly felt the touch of Degas’s hand. Magnifique!

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More than 100 Degas monotypes on view thru July 24


Last week I spent a few days in New York City to see Degas: A Strange New Beauty at the Museum of Modern Art. I did see this wonderful exhibit. Twice. On Monday, I soaked up a sweeping view of the exhibit which features more than 100 monotypes as well as charcoal sketches, oils, pastels, etchings, lithrographs, and a couple of Degas’s sketchbooks. On Tuesday, I returned to MoMA for a closer, more studied look at each individual piece included in the exhibit. If you have the opportunity to see an exhibit, any exhibit, twice on two consecutive days, do so. You will be amazed at how much more you see during the second viewing.

I am strongly drawn to Degas’s black and white monotypes. Much is made of Degas’s pastel over monotype pieces and, of course, one can use a monotype as a sort of underpainting over which any medium can be applied. Degas’s pastel over monotype on paper works are lovely. Still, I find Degas’s monotypes on paper to be stronger and have more energy. All are black ink on paper, monochrome, and employ both dark field and light field techniques. Rubbing. Scratching. Using fingertips to tease out the image. Degas utilizes the monotype medium magnificently, enthusiastically, in all its spontaneous and experimental glory. Totally inspiring.

Degas: A Strange New Beauty continues at MoMA through July 24, 2016.

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Feeding the soul

Today is a bit overcast and cool here on the Seacoast in contrast to one week ago when the weather was picture perfect: sunny, warm and clear. Last Thursday I simply had to get outdoors, so embarked on an art-filled excursion. I drove the “long way” through Kittery Point, York Harbor, Long Sands Beach, York Beach and Cape Neddick to the Ogunquit Museum of American Art which sits perched overlooking the Atlantic Ocean amidst beautiful flower and sculpture gardens.


Soaked up two new exhibits: “Jamie Wyeth: Private Collection” and “Bernard Karfiol: Ogunquit Master.” I especially liked, no, loved, Bernard Karfiol’s work, all of which is new to me. Reminds me a bit of Leon Kroll’s work. Also included in the exhibit are some of Karfiol’s sketchbooks. This glimpse into the artist’s process is something I always enjoy. Lingered in the gardens.


Then headed over to Ogunquit Beach, found a free 30-minute parking space, and sketched for a bit. A soul satisfying and art-filled morning!


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