Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Discovery and anticipation

Out to lunch 2007 (private collection)
Flying tonight 2009 (private collection)
Although I usually have no, or scant features on my faces in my work, being more interested in exploring the communications of body language, I am nonetheless fascinated by portraits in general.  Recently, while looking for something else (as is so frequently the way) I found the work of printmaker Ellen Heck,
(image from here - individual 'Fridas' can be found here)
also discovering at the same time that she has work in an upcoming exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London next year - news of which I have not been able to track down elsewhere.
Mary Cassatt: The bath
Ellen Heck's work immediately brought to mind Mary Cassatt's prints which I admire greatly.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington has several.
Mary Cassatt: The coiffure
Ellen Heck: The edition and the open window
Ellen Heck: The bath and the towel
Ellen Heck: The letterpress and the light
I am attracted to the breadth of Heck's work.  (Here and here are two more links to her work.)  Her work is not solely figurative: she has made some fascinating, mesmerising, inspiring colour wheels as can be seen in detail on her site, and also at the Wally Workman Gallery blog where I found this image:
In Ellen Heck's predominantly figurative work, like Cassatt she avoids sentimentality with her gentle humour, and there is that certain thoughtfulness - stillness - contemplation which I try to capture in my own work.  Best of all, however, I enjoy her examples of the printmaker at work as shown in the images above from her Place and Process series.  I find myself returning to her website every few days to savour the delights - and I look forward very much to the exhibition Facing History: Contemporary Portraits next year.


  1. What a wonderful range of faces there are in Ellen Heck's work shown here. I love the eyes, the way they look arrestingly straight ahead in the first and are downcast in sensitive concentration in the others. She looks to be another artist I should investigate when I have time.

  2. Margaret, there is just so much work waiting to be discovered - and some gems amongst it all too.

  3. I love her drypoint technique on the faces... such as "That Look" on her blog. I did not come across notes on her printmaking technique so I'll have to study her work more.

    Drypoint on copper was a first love for me in printmaking.

  4. Marja-Leena, I am fascinated by the combination of woodblock and drypoint, and love the effect. If you look at her book on blurb - the one other than Forty Fridas - she goes into the drypoint on copper process more. The images are scrummy.

  5. A wonderful post, with so many delights, starting with Out to Lunch and Flying Tonight, which are both so evocative, and moving on to the work of Ellen Heck and Cary Cassatt. I have not come across either artist before, but do intend to explore further. Wonderful discoveries. I have also made a note of the exhibition next year which I will try not to miss.

  6. Thank you Eirene. I must declare that although I very much admire Mary Cassatt's prints, I am not so fond of her paintings. I hope that you enjoy finding out about her. Wikipedia has a good long article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Cassatt