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It’s all in the fine print

printmakingAfter only three months instruction in mezzotint printmaker’s work is chosen for display at Burbank Creative Arts Center.Mako Lanselle has found her niche in printmaking.

After only three months of learning the mezzotint technique, the Glendale artist’s work was one of 57 chosen from a field of 240 to be included in a printmaking show.

Printmaking has several techniques but generally it is a process of etching on a metal plate, spreading ink over the plate and pressing it to paper to create an image.

Lanselle began exploring printmaking through classes at Cal State Northridge in 1999. Three years ago, she joined the Los Angeles Printmaking Society and learned more through its lectures and conferences, she said. Her work “Sea Cabbage,” is on display in the society’s Juried Membership Exhibition 2006 at the Creative Arts Center in Burbank.

In the fall, she began experimenting with the mezzotint technique.

“I wanted to depict light and dark in a different way from etching,” she said. “You can have a velvety texture of the imagery, a distinctive quality of mezzotint.”

Masha Schweitzer, the corresponding secretary of the printmaking society and chairwoman of the Burbank exhibit, praised Lanselle’s expertise in the technique.

“This is a very technically demanding process,” she said. “It takes a special kind of artist who has the discipline to work in the medium. ‘Sea Cabbage’ is a jewel of a work.”

Schweitzer said the piece is not the usual subject for a mezzotint.

“Usually people really like to deal in subjects that reflect light,” she said. “This is much softer in quality.”

The mezzotint is an intaglio style of printmaking, Schweitzer said. There are little depressions all over the plate. “To get highlights and shadows, the artist has to scrape away at some of those depressions and has to burnish them, or shine them up and make them smooth,” she said.

“The burnished areas then become white or light or dark gray and pitted area retains black ink.”

Lanselle’s entry is small, measuring only 2 by 3 inches, because the larger they are, the more difficult they are to make, Lanselle said.

“There are many techniques, and you can combine a few techniques,” she said “It’s fun.”

“Sea Cabbage” looks like a plant but it’s an imaginary sea creature.

“We don’t know much about what is going on under the sea, but this kind of mysterious creature might be existing,” she said.

More than 240 works were submitted by members for the Burbank exhibit, and 57 pieces were chosen by juror Henry Kline, professor and chairman of the Art Department at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys. Some of the members are from Alaska, Hawaii, Germany and Japan, Schweitzer said, but the largest contingent comes from Southern California.

When choosing pieces for a show, Schweitzer said a juror likes to see work that expresses something very well-rooted in the technique and makes a personal statement.

“I look for things that I haven’t seen before, things that surprise me, things that visually excite me in ways I haven’t experienced before,” said Klein, who is a member and past president of the society.

While he said one will not find all those qualities in this show, there is something quite unique in their expression that makes use of the craft.

“But in the end, it’s not about the craft, it’s about the image and the idea that the craft is a means to the end,” he said.

FYI

WHAT: Los Angeles Printmaking Society’s Juried Membership Exhibition 2006

WHEN: Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and call for Saturday hours through Jan. 26

WHERE: Creative Arts Center Gallery, 1100 W. Clark Ave., Burbank

ADMISSION: Free


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