Tag Archives: Abstract

Inside the Artist’s Studio with KS Lack

I started working with letterpress almost eight years ago, when I was looking for a way to print a mixed-media piece for a gallery in Brooklyn. I fell in love with the medium:  the richness of the inks, the juxtaposition of typography and imagery, how different paper types interact with ink and pressure—the list goes on. There are so many ways to create something unique, even if you are making multiples.

I also write poetry and both facets of my work have a profound influence on one another. There is poetry in presswork. Nothing makes you understand the weight of words like laying them out by hand.

Laying out type at the London Centre for Book Arts

Laying out type at the London Centre for Book Arts

Squall and Sunset, the two pieces featured in the Land and Sea exhibition, were printed at the London Centre for Book Arts. The prints were created on a Stephenson Blake press, a manufacturer that is common in the UK but rare in the US. For a pressure print, the ink is applied to a base instead of onto the rollers. The paper is then rolled over the ink, and the weight of the press is what makes the print. The cylinder on this Stevie B is very heavy, which makes for great pressure. As for inks, the LCBA has a wonderful collection of vintage, oil-based inks that were great fun to play with.

Some of the vintage orange inks at the LCBA

Some of the vintage orange inks at the LCBA

Printers love this Stevie B model because it has a very wide bed. This let me print on 22-inch squares (I used Redeem 130gsm, a 100% recycled paper), which are quite large for a single letterpress page. I printed each piece four times; the paper became so supersaturated with ink that it took over a week to dry.

Prints drying on the racks

Prints drying on the racks

Finished prints

Finished prints

Then I took the plunge and cut each sheet into four strips.

Cut down to size

Cut down to size

While living in the UK, I was particularly struck by the vitality of the countryside. Everything seemed so lush—the sea off Cornwall, fields of grass and hay with poppies growing by the side of the road, summer sunsets and rainy days—it was all on my mind as I mixed and applied the ink.

The individual strips were getting overwhelmed when mounted with traditional matboard. I decided to use acrylic for the front and back, allowing the vibrancy of the inks to stand out. I also like how the colors seem to float within the frame when hung on a wall. 

RBR  for R&T

RBR for R&T

Green Flash

Green Flash

As a person with a long-term disability, I find there is a lot of synergy between my art and how I try to live my life. Working on a press could be all about its limitations. Instead, I find that the structure inherent in presswork grants me greater freedom by giving me something to lean on. I may not always be able to hold a pen, but I can create something beautiful by working within the constraints of the press in order to transcend them.

You can find out more about my work at my website: www.zitternpress.com.


KS Lack is one of 28 artists featured in “Land & Sea”, a national juried exhibition of landscapes and seascapes juried by Deirdre Aureden, director of programs and special projects at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. The exhibition runs through June 29, 2018.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler: Part Two

Bradley Butler

Detail of Inner Interior (2012)

I have always been attracted to a darker palette. Muddy colors, mixing lots of black and white with my colors, using copious amounts of India ink and powdered charcoal… This led me down a path of slightly grey, almost “dim” work that masked the color that was present in my paintings. For a while, I was trying to mask this color as a way for people to discover it as they stared into the surface. Images and colors would show themselves after your eyes adjusted to the darkness on the immediate surface. You would begin to notice that it wasn’t a flat black or grey you were looking at but a rich grouping of blues, reds, browns and greens.

Bradley Butler

Detail of Sliding Frame of Reference (2011)

Bradley Butler

Detail of Underneath The Expanse (2012)

My work as of late has been a reveal of the colors that were always there but were just hiding beneath the surface. I still “muddy up” the palette and most likely, will always do that;  but more color—vibrant at times—has been showing up in my compositions. I see my recent work (March–October, 2014) as a refined approach to color and also to mark-making. Using brushes I have not picked up in years, leaving marks I would have otherwise covered in the past, and trying to think differently about the way I begin a painting. These are all ways in which I have “forced” a change. Other natural changes have resulted from this as well.

studio shot bradley butler

Two new 30in x 30in canvases are in the works in the studio.

detail of new work by Bradley Butler

Detail of 30in x 30in painting in progress

The paintings have become more consistent, and I feel, more impactful. There are still subtle and understated areas but they pack more punch now… The mystery and depth I am after is still there and will always be there (I hope), but with a new palette. I still use the same colors, I just mix them differently and set different expectations for myself. The colors I use are Golden Brand acrylics because that’s what Kathy Calderwood told me to use when I took her class in college. I use cadmium red, napthol red, cadmium yellow, phthalo blue (green shade), ultramarine blue, titanium white, and mars black. At times, additions or substitutions are made but that happens rarely.

Bradley Butler

My current palette as I work in the studio. This is a popular mix for me lately: ultramarine, pthalo, and cad. yellow with varying degrees of black and white… I also let the colors run into each other to see what happens!

Part three in this series will be coming soon. Until then, stop into the gallery to see The Opposite of Concrete where six of my paintings are featured, along with great work by 4 other talented artists.

Read part one of Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler, here.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler: Part One

Bradley Butler

The studio just before bringing these paintings to the gallery. Pictured (L to R) “The Impossibility  of Understanding”, “Intentionally Losing Direction”, and “The Mirage of Truth”.

Preparing for this exhibition, for me, was a multi-faceted experience. Being both the gallery director and also 1 of 5 exhibiting artists, I found myself feeling many different things. Even though I was concerned with the way inclusion of artwork by the gallery director would be perceived; I was excited to host an exhibition featuring abstraction as the unifying conceptual theme on the main floor.

Abstract painting has been the most direct way for me to communicate visually with an audience. It affects me on the most primal level and allows for a contemplative and direct connection to my deepest thoughts in the studio. When painting, I am sorting out my thoughts and beliefs, processing world events, and also cultivating a visual language. I am constantly experimenting with different approaches to achieving images that are thoroughly “worked” and wrought with a fury of brush strokes, washes of fluid paints, and linear scratches of charcoal and conté crayon.

Bradley Butler

Detail of “Intentionally Losing Direction” while in progress.

For this exhibition, I knew I wanted to have an entirely new set of paintings and I had already begun working towards my current frame of mind in the studio. On January 1, 2013, I began working on new paintings in a new studio for the first time in 8 months (My wife and I bought a house, I had 3 jobs, and no time…). This was a very important time for me and I experienced a renaissance of artistic activity that was lacking from my life. I began to make a body of work that was distinctly different from my MFA thesis body of work from 2010, while still working within the confines of an overall aesthetic I had developed. Realizing this, I pushed on and continued to evolve as an artist. This is still happening and I couldn’t be more excited.

Bradley Butler

Six paintings on paper, part of the “Planes of Existence” series. Three of these are included in the exhibition.

The paintings featured in  The Opposite of Concrete are my most recent. They represent the direction I am heading in as well as my chosen format for the foreseeable future, or at least for a while… I have come to realize that working within a structural standard (30in x 30in canvases and 6in x 9in or 9in x 12in works on paper) takes my mind off of questions like “how big?” and “vertical or horizontal?” I am able to focus on the composition and the development of a more refined color palette, as well as a larger repertoire of the lines and shapes that make up my images. The intuitive manner in which I work usually dictates the direction I end up taking with my paintings. It is an adventure without a specific plan and that is both exciting and frightening! Making formal decisions about the surface or color palette is the only control I allow myself to have. Everything else after that is a chance encounter with brushes and pigments…

Bradley Butler

Detail of “The Mirage of Truth” while in progress.

You can see more images from my studio on Instagram.

Read Part Two of Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler, here.

Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, by ceramic artist Samantha Stumpf.

Carl Chiarenza: The Opposite of Concrete

Photographer Carl Chiarenza is one of five artists who will exhibit abstract artwork in our upcoming exhibition at Main Street Arts, The Opposite of Concrete.

Carl Chiarenza, Somerville 10, 1976

Carl Chiarenza, Somerville 10, 1976

Chiarenza recently showed his work at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center as part of their Makers & Mentors exhibit. In an interview for the show, A Conversation with Carl Chiarenza, Carl covers everything from how he began taking photographs to his opinions on the art world’s preoccupation with money.

Carl Chiarenza’s unique perspective on photography, collage, and abstraction itself is one of the strengths of our upcoming exhibition here at Main Street Arts.

Carl Chiarenza, Noumenon 148, 1987

Carl Chiarenza, Noumenon 148, 1987

The Opposite of Concrete features 5 different approaches to making abstract imagery through painting and photography by Carl Chiarenza, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, Patricia Wilder, and Bradley Butler (gallery director at Main Street Arts).

Carl Chiarenza, Rossini, 2013

Carl Chiarenza, Rossini, 2013

Check our Upcoming Exhibitions page or our Facebook page for updates.

Exhibition Dates: September 6–November 1, 2014

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 4 to 7 p.m.