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”

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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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Preserving works on paper as well as family history

A mysterious package arrived here last week. Upon opening the box, I was delighted to find a color pastel signed by my grandfather Carl Van Buskirk and dated 1913. No note. No card. Nothing. Hmm.

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I donned my Sherlock Holmes cap and, checking the USPS tracking number on the box, discovered the mysterious package had been sent from Crown Point, Indiana. The only person I “know” in Indiana is one Mark Van Buskirk who often contributes to The Van Buskirk News, a genealogical and family stories electronic newsletter edited by Stephan Donovan in Chicago.

The portrait looked familiar. I went back into my email files and, lo and behold, found a March 2014 email from Mark to me in which he told me about a pastel of a small child by Carl Van Buskirk currently for sale on eBay. In his email, Mark said he had bid on this pastel yet would withdraw his bid if I wanted the piece. In turn, I emailed Mark, saying I would pass on the offer as our family has a large and beautiful pastel of another red haired child by Carl Van Buskirk, the subject of which just happens to be my Dad and Carl’s son Orem.

Color Pastel (Orem) 1928 by Carl Van Buskirk

Late last week I again emailed Mark and, long story short, Mark said he felt the pastel of the small child belongs with Carl’s family. Words cannot express my sincere thanks to you, Mark!

Yesterday I carefully took the pastel out of the frame. As with so many works on paper, this piece had been framed in a manner which renders the artwork highly vulnerable to damage. First, the artwork was in direct contact with the glass in the frame. Secondly, the cardboard used as backing for the frame appears to have been scavanged from and old shoe/boot box. Yikes!

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Remember: Works on paper, be they pieces which were created today or more than 100 years ago, are fragile. When framing works of art on paper, always use acid free, at a minimum, and preferably archival or museum quality matboard and foam core. Secondly, always make sure the work of art on paper never comes in direct contact with the glass or Plexiglas used to protect the art. The artwork must either be floated in the frame or framed with a mat in order to create a small air space between the work on paper and the glass/Plexiglas.

I do nearly all of my own framing yet this pastel is more than 100 years old and is drawn on wafer thin paper which shows some fading and water damage. As a result, this charming piece is headed to a local frame shop which specializes in conservation.

The touch of my grandfather’s hand is evident in this pastel sketch. I wish we knew who the small red haired child is and how this piece came to be. Our family will treasure and enjoy this pastel as a lovely piece of art as well as a part of our family history for at least another 100 years!

Words cannot express my thanks to you, Dr. Mark Van Buskirk, for helping to bring this treasure home to us!

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