Barbara Marcus-McKenna

Studio Tour #1: Open Oct 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 - noon to 5pm

235 Evans St, Lyons, CO 80540

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The world of fine art has always aroused my passion. Born in New York City, my youth included excursions to the finest museums and galleries, forming my affinity with art history and modern art. Professionally trained at Rhode Island School of Design, my love of painting is perfectly expressed in contemporary fine art monotype. In my junior year, I was chosen to represent RISD in a scholarship program at Yale Summer School of Music and Art. Upon graduation, I relocated to Colorado, and set up my printmaking home studio in Lyons in 1999. In partnership with my husband, we have exhibited our artwork through Juried Art Exhibitions and Festivals nationwide for over 25 years. The benefits include visits to national art institutions, and more importantly, engaging with clients directly.


My process combines freedom of painterly expression with the ingenuity of the etching press technology invented by the renaissance masters in the 15th century. Embracing abstraction and painterly gesture with tools of brush and brayer, I layer printmaking inks on a clear polycarbonate plate. I begin by mixing three or four colors of light, bright, muted and dark, in various viscosities. The viscosity of ink refers to its flow characteristics, so thicker viscosity will be applied with brayers and thinner ones will be for brushwork.


I begin by applying a small amount of “resist” medium on the plate to allow areas open to the white of the paper, as my best source of light in the final transfer. Even white pigment will be more dense than the brilliance of raw paper. To keep colors fresh, I put colors next to each other and overlap colors mostly at the edges. Because ink is sitting on a smooth nonabsorbent plate, I can easily remove areas with a scraping tool and blend colors with dry brush or a clean brayer for smooth gradations. Before printing the plate, I hold it up to light to make sure there is a balance of transparent and opaque areas. This will ensure a composition of areas that allow more light of the paper, balanced with dense color.


Through the high-pressure of my manual etching press, pigment is forced into the fibers of the paper. The image is transformed and reversed as the pigment recedes into paper, creating alchemy of color and movement. This transformation is always a surprise. The exhilaration of seeing this is quite rewarding, and finally revealed! I paint with instinctual rhythm, lightheartedness and a joyous sense of purpose, using non-toxic, soy-based Akua inks, that clean up with soap and water. I print on dry “Arches 88” unsized smooth paper, made in France, which allows for distinct detail and nuance, engaging to the eye.


Each image is painted on a single plate that passes through the press one time only. There are no multiples, editions, or reproductions. Each one is distinct, offering unique surface effects that cannot be achieved by painting directly on paper. My husband professionally frames the artwork with designer moulding, non-reflective glass, and acid-free materials.


With thought provoking titles, my art communicates to the subconscious through suggestion. I believe the role of the artist is not just to render or illustrate, but to lead humanity to a higher vision. Artists can be the shamans of society acting as a visual connection between the physical and the invisible spirit world. A work of art can be a symbol of healing when the viewer is receptive to its energy. Through my artistic vision, my intention is to interlink the rhythms of nature with mankind’s desire to connect with universal and divine sources.

Monotype, Painterly Printmaking

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