Beverly Zawitkoski’s Process Toward Beauty

By Shannon Gallagher

Zawitkoski Figure-Red 43 mixed media on paper 7 x 4.25

Zawitkoski Figure-Red 43 mixed media on paper 7 x 4.25

Beverly Zawitkoski got her introduction to fine art through a career in design. She was first interested in fashion design, and then theater design. She worked in theater after graduating from Concordia University in Montreal, and continued her theater design studies when she won a Commonwealth scholarship to the Slade in London. During her time there, she was working directly next to the printmaking department, which piqued her interest, and she was simultaneously growing a bit weary with the hours associated with working in theater. “The lifestyle is very difficult,” she said. “I love the design aspect, and it’s a very sociable lifestyle, but it takes you away from home for 14-18 hours a day sometimes, which was inappropriate for me, because I’m a homebody.”

Her last theater project at Slade evolved into a printmaking project because of both the proximity of the printmaking studio to where she was working, and her fondness for the medium. “I love printmaking- the quality of ink on paper and the deep richness that can be achieved.“ Printmaking led simply to creating works on paper, using a variety of media. She has a fondness for charcoal and pastels, particularly chalk pastels. “The matte quality reminds me of printmaking, and I love the powdery earthiness of the pigments.”

Zawitkoski Figure-backview(6) mixed media on paper 8.25x6 LowRes

Zawitkoski: Figure-backview 6, 8.25″ x 6″ pastel and mixed media on paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Zawitkoski turned to working more and more in painting, she looked for other materials to suit her needs.

Zawitkoski- "A Passing Moment" 17 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski- “A Passing Moment” 17 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

“When you are putting paint down and removing it, paper is not the most logical choice. I switched to Mylar because I liked the idea of translucency. I was first introduced to the material at a Jim Dine exhibition. He had a few works on Mylar, and I thought to myself, ‘What a wonderful paper for me to experiment with.’ I was using a lot of watercolor and gouache at that time, so I had to change my painting medium as well, which is how I got started in acrylic.” Zawitkoski, who now does a lot of painting on Mylar, calls it again “transitional” as she added working on rag papers to Mylar to canvas and hard board.

Zawitkoski "Sail" 36x46 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski “Sail” 36×46 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski "Gestural Rhythms" 36 x 48 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski “Gestural Rhythms” 36 x 48 Acrylic on canvas

Zawitkoski uses a variety of tools to achieve the marks in her work. She utilizes paintbrushes, squeegees, and scrapers to get the initial marks down on the surface. “That’s the key- I don’t usually have any idea in mind other than an ambiguous visual, which is not very tangible. By putting down marks on the canvas or paper, it allows me to start developing the image,” she said. “Of course, it doesn’t look anything like the finished product, it’s a stepping point to set me off in the direction I need to go in.” She describes illustration as “controlled because it has to work with the manuscript.” Moving from that vein to abstraction was an adjustment.

Zawitkoski "Draped In Red" 6.75 x 6.75 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “Draped In Red” 6.75 x 6.75 Acrylic on Mylar

“My work flows best when I completely let go and avoid thinking about what I’m going to paint- I just get my paintbrush or scraper and put paint down on the surface, move it around until it looks interesting, let it dry, repeat. It builds, and I push and pull the paint to develop the image. Sometimes, you have to let go of those beautiful, spontaneous marks that you started with in order to benefit the whole.”

Zawitkoski "Break Away" 40.5 x 27.5 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “Break Away” 40.5 x 27.5 Acrylic on Mylar

The artist admits that she sometimes has difficulty letting certain pieces go. “There are times when I finish a work and it encompasses a world I’ve tried hard to achieve, and when that happens, I want to hold onto it forever. Those pieces seem like a mystery to me, and their evolution is almost cryptic.”

Gallery installation view of "Changing Spaces" and "Fall"

Gallery installation view of “Changing Spaces” and “Fall”

Sometimes, the works become reference studies for future paintings, and others she keeps because they have successfully captured the mood she so desperately strives for. “My goal as an artist is always to create my idea of beauty, in whatever form that may be. My painting process and finished works are an escape from all I see as being harsh, cold, and sterile in the world. My objective is to intuitively develop ambiguous worlds that, through imagination, encapsulate that experience and vision into one that hopefully connects with others. When a work transports me on many different levels, it becomes difficult to part with.”

Zawitkoski "The Little Stream" 24 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “The Little Stream” 24 x 36 Acrylic on Mylar

Making art can sometimes cause frustration, as Zawitkoski is familiar with. “My inability to just trust on a daily basis causes some issues,” she says. She conjures an image in her mind, and feels the need to pursue it and bring it to fruition. “Sometimes, in process, the painting sends me in a completely different direction. There’s some part of me that finds it hard to be free enough to just trust what comes out, but the work is more successful when I don’t think, just do.”

Zawitkoski "Entrance" 6.75 x 3.25 Acrylic on Mylar

Zawitkoski “Entrance” 6.75 x 3.25 Acrylic on Mylar

Conversely, the moment that the image is actualized creates a feeling of elation within her. “When it all pulls together, which doesn’t always happen, and you’ve worked so long on it and achieved what you intended, it is magical. There are rare days when I pick up my brush and it feels as if everything is out of my control, the brush is moving and it’s just as much a mystery to me as it is to any viewer. Those days are amazing.

Ted Preuss’ Timeless Aesthetic

By: Shannon Gallagher

Photographer Ted Preuss’ work has a timeless aesthetic. Although he has recently begun to shift from the figurative photography, for which he is known, into more landscape and seascape imagery, the goal is the same: to create simple, enduring, beautifully shot images in black and white that expose the natural elegance of the subject he is working with.

Otter Cove

Preuss: Otter Cove, 36×30, Archival Pigment

 

He is acutely interested in lines and shapes present in the composition, regardless of whether the image is of a nude figure or the rocky terrain of a seaside cliff.

Flow

Press: Flow, Platinum Palladium print

As the focus of attention varies, the approach to photographing must change as well. When he plans on photographing outdoors, Preuss often scouts out the places he’s interested in capturing on film, in order to create his vision. “When I’m working with natural elements, I often have to just sit and wait for the right moment, the right light, etc. Sometimes I wait for the waves to come crashing in a certain way, or if I want there to be fog in the image, I just have to be patient- I have no control over it. When I am shooting figurative work, however, I can direct the model, conduct the shoot to go the way I want it to.” Preuss said that while it is difficult to choose a particular series of which he is fondest, he does greatly enjoy shooting landscapes and seascapes. “It’s very calming, and I get to enjoy the natural world.”

Muir Woods

Preuss: Muir Woods, 10×8, Wet-plate Collodion Tintype

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One challenge of working with the natural environment, aside from a lack of control of the elements, is the tintype process that he often utilizes. He keeps his darkroom chemicals in his car when he is out photographing nature, because the procedure must be immediate. “Often, when I go hiking, I’ll pull over to the side of the road and shoot, then use the portable darkroom in my car to develop the image,” he said. Preuss pours collodion (a substance used during the Civil War to suture wounds together with linen bandages) onto a piece of glass, tin, or aluminum. Once the collodion is tacky he dips the plate into silver nitrate for three minutes. Then, while it is still dripping wet, he must insert it into the camera, take the shot, and then process it. He only has about five minutes before the collodion dries and is no longer useful. The results are hauntingly alluring black and white images with beautiful imperfections indicative of the tintype process.

Acadia

Preuss: Acadia, 8×10 Silver Gelatin

In his series The Sea, Preuss has employed a long exposure time to capture soft, ethereal images of flowing water that feel quite different from the uncontrollable, rushing water that exists in reality. “In actuality, [the sea] is full of vitality and life, and it’s not calming at all,” he said. The five-minute exposure time lends a dreamlike quality to the images.

Preuss Pacific Grove  28x36 Archival Pigment

Preuss: Pacific Grove 28×36 Archival Pigment

Every year, Preuss and his wife spend a month in Maine, and he does a lot of shooting in Acadia National Park, the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River. He described the scenery as “incredible, with lots of cliffs and waves constantly crashing into the shore.” The park encompasses mountains, an ocean shoreline, lakes, forest, and islands, and provides a wealth of inspiring scenery worthy of photographic documentation. He also frequents the Point Lobos State Park of Central California’s Pacific Coast, and plans to return this year as well. 

Ted

Ted Preuss with his camera and works: Otter Cove and Pacific Grove

Preuss, who typically works on a smaller scale, is enjoying the large scale of the new photographs currently on display at ZIA Gallery. Some of the pieces are as large as 3 feet across, and present an environment that the viewer can feel as though he or she can step into and be a part of. He is also delving into the idea of working with some negatives that he found from 1917. The photos were taken with a 4×5 camera by his great grandfather while he was traveling throughout the United States, in places like Yosemite National Park and Niagara Falls. “I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with that yet, but it has been fun to explore,” he said.

Yosemite 1915

Ted Preuss’ great grandfather Albert A. Jeaneret’s Yosemite 1917

Ted Preuss’ work is on display at ZIA Gallery through February 28, 2015.  These works range in imagery and technique from large archival pigment prints, to 10” x 8” tintypes, 16 x 20 silver gelatin works, and small, beautifully subtle platinum palladium photographs including some printed on a leaf skeleton. Preuss’ fascination and mastery of various techniques are clearly evident in the current exhibition.

Subdue

Preuss: Subdue, Platinum Palladium Print on Skeleton Leaf