Upon first glance, the artwork created by Pattie Lipman and Dan Welden might appear miles apart in terms of appearance, style and subject matter. But both artists, exhibiting their creations simultaneously at Sanibel's Watson MacRae Gallery, have at least two things in common.
First and foremost, a passion to craft unique and beautiful pieces of art.
Second, to affix their creations on paper — although each of them make their own impressions using dramatically different processes.
Lately I've been doing a lot of florals," said Lipman, who studied sculpture at the Philadelphia College of Art and New York Studio School. "I started out as a figurative artist because I had a great interest in the human experience. But I started looking at flowers, pointing out their delicacy and fragility. And how they are so closely associated with love and loss."
In the age of digital, Lipman continues to explore the use of the methods she loves – traditional printmaking. In this exhibit, she uses a process called Intaglio, a time-honored printmaking method to create powerful pieces from simple subjects.
"Lipman’s touch is delicate and her small compositions intimate, yet these pieces contain much for us to explore," said gallery owner Maureen Watson. "By using the same subject, she lets us see the effects of different techniques of printmaking and her hand in each piece."
Originally from Philadelphia, Pa., Lipman currently resides in upstate New York. She received a BFA and MFA in Printmaking and Painting from the University at Albany. She has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, in Europe and Japan and has received numerous awards for her work in national juried exhibitions. Her prints are held in the collection of the New York Public Library's Print Collection, the New Orleans Museum of Art, Rutgers University, the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and the University at Albany.
"As I kid, I remember that I was always drawing," she added. "And I just never stopped."
Welden, a master printmaker, painter, teacher and author, has been making prints and works on paper for more than 40 years. His work has been shown in over 65 international solo exhibitions in museums and galleries and more than 500 group exhibitions in the U.S., Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand and Peru.
But instead of using traditional printmaking processes, Welden uses the Solarplate method, a technique he developed in 1970.
"All of the inking is done by hand, but it still uses an etching process," said Welden, an innovator at the forefront of the alternative health and safety-oriented movement of printmaking.
Instead of painting on the metal plate with lacquer and etching it in acid, then cleaning up with lacquer thinner, the Solarplate process starts with a metal plate coated with a light sensitive polymer. A black-and-white image on mylar is laid on the plate and it is exposed to light (either the sun or a bright spotlight). Where the light hits the plate, the polymer bakes hard. Where it is protected from the light, the polymer stays soft. After exposure, the plate is washed in cool water with a soft bristle brush. The soft areas wash away, creating a texture on the plate.
"It's important to the spirit of the art because the artist is still involved in every part of the process," added Welden, who explained that the Solarplate process eliminates many of the toxic chemicals that have historically been the bane of printmakers.
Asked which of the pieces at the Sanibel show is his favorite, the Bronx, N.Y.-born artist was quick to offer a diplomatic answer.
"I look at each of my pieces with an openness," he said. "Like a good friend. And you wouldn't pick out your best friend if your other friends were around you, would you?"
Watson MacRae's current exhibit, which also features popular local artist Hollis Jeffcoat, has been dubbed “On Paper: Print, Paint, Draw.” It continues through April 2.
“For people who want to start collecting art, works on paper by any artist are a great way to begin," said Watson. "They’re more affordable, but they offer the same incredible creativity the artist brings to their larger works."
In many ways, Watson noted, “On Paper” is an homage to this less-than-glamorous creative surface and a celebration of its versatility — especially when three accomplished and very innovative artists get their hands on it.
The Watson MacRae Gallery is located in The Village Shops, at 2340 Periwinkle Way, Unit B3. For more information about upcoming exhibits, visit www.WatsonMacRaeGallery.com or call 472-3386.
(Islander editor Jane Brickley contributed to this story.)
Master printmaker Dan Welden from Sag Harbor, Long Island, N.Y. with one of his pieces.