Mary Ott’s February solo exhibit “Metallics: Paintings and Prints” at Touchstone Gallery features artwork that includes copper, silver and gold-colored paints and inks. Mary’s techniques, whether on a smooth canvas base or a unique and textured paper, result in images of nature that seem influenced by the Zen of Japanese art, an art aimed at uncovering the essence of the object under scrutiny. In Mary’s work, grasses are singled out and isolated from complexities of a natural biosphere; then presented in a simplified space, elucidating the purity of seemingly simple life forms--forms often forgotten in our contemporary rough-and-tumble mechanical world.
All of the paintings were created in a two-step process in which a base layer of paint is applied to the canvas followed by the addition of delicate lines. Mary dips fine embroidery yarn into acrylic paint and drags it across the base layer forming lines that allude to grasses and other features found in nature.
Mary also makes images by “pulling” prints from a plate using a printing press. In the printing process, inks are applied to a rigid plate that has been etched in a particular design, then transferred to paper as it passes through a press. Several of the prints titled “Wide Grass …“ were produced in the following manner:
First, liquid “stop-out resist” was applied line-by-line to a 9” x 24” plate with a piece of thread, in a manner similar to the method used to create linear elements in the paintings.
Second, using a process known as aquatint to create a tonal effect, some areas of the plate were sprayed with a fine mist of black lacquer to resist the nitric acid. The plate was etched for more than 40 minutes in nitric acid, producing deep grooves in the plate.
For “Wide Grass XXXVII,” silver-colored etching ink was applied to the completed grooved plate and excess ink was carefully removed. Using a printing press, the image was printed on Unryu blue printing paper.
On the other hand, “Grass Bouquet VI” was created by printing a soft-ground etching in combination with a screen print. To create the etching plate:
An acid-resistant coating called a “soft ground” was applied to a zinc plate.
Dried ornamental grasses were pressed into the ground and then the grasses were removed.
The plate was etched by submerging it in nitric acid.
Then black etching ink was applied to the etched plate.
After wiping excess ink off the plate, the etched image was printed on BFK white printing paper.
Finally the copper-colored image of grasses was added to the print using screen printing techniques. –Rosemary Luckett and Mary D. Ott
Explore these paintings and hand drawn prints featuring artwork with copper, silver and gold elements from February 1 through February 26, 2017, Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC.
Reception: Friday February 3 from 6 to 8:30 pm (snow date Friday February 10).
“Meet the Artist:” Saturday February 18 from 1 to 3 pm.
Hours: Wednesday -- Friday 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday & Sunday --noon to 5 pm. No admission fee. www.touchstonegallery.com ; 202 347 2787.