The Shoshone are often referred to as the Snake Indians because of their proximity to the Snake River, although their name actually translates more directly to The Valley People. From a place called Warm Valley (part of what today is the Wind River Indian Reservation), war and hunting parties would climb up into mountains. I know from my own riding that a group of riders ascending a switchback often resemble a snake scrambling a hillside. The parallel of a snake climbing out of a valley was too fun to ignore. I even placed a snake hieroglyphic in the painting to further identify the tribe.
Drawing is a necessary building block to any good painting, but often the artistic value of drawing itself is overlooked. Now and then, I'll surprise myself and capture the essence, the flow or gesture of the horse in a drawing. Being able to express that emotion creatively through lithography is truly art in one of its purest forms. – BD
Art collectors have never seen anything like the phenomenon of Bev Doolittle's Fine Art Limited Edition Prints. It is only natural that the artist who gained such renown for reproductions of her original paintings would return to the arts in the form of original, hand-pulled lithographs.
With some editions set at as few as 100 pieces, these original lithos are already "rare." The imagery reflects the artist's love of horses, passion for the natural world and her affinity for the Native American's spiritual relationship to the land. These original lithographs are an exciting peek into the creative "sandbox" where Bev Doolittle continues to explore these themes.
Speaking Through Stones
Stone lithographs are regarded as originals because they are not reproductions of an existing image but rather the creation of a new work of art on stone, through the hand-pulled inking process, that art is transferred to paper. Lithography literally means "writing on stone." Bev starts by sketching ideas on paper. Once she is satisfied with a composition, she recreates it on the highly polished, fine-grained surface of the limestone with a lithographic (waxy) pencil, a process that takes days for a large or complex image. Brushes, tusche (in stick or liquid form that works to hold ink similar to crayon), pens or etching needles can also be used to soften, scrape or form the drawn images. Besides being an original work of art, much of the inherent value of a stone litho lies in this difficult drawing stage and the irreversible nature of working on stone. Small mistakes can be fixed with a sharp blade, but otherwise the artist needs to start anew by grinding down the stone to a flat polished finish, or starting on a fresh stone.
Lithographic stones are super-smooth limestones mined from a specific quarry in Bavaria. They range in size from something that looks like a 2" thick postcard weighing 10 pounds, to a 26" x 40" x 4" thick stone that weighs over 1,000 pounds.
Once Bev is satisfied with the image on the stone, special etching compounds are used to fix the drawing on the stone and to make the drawing more receptive to ink. The printing process is based on the principle that grease and water do not mix. The stone is inked, and wiped down with a wet sponge. The parts of the stone not protected by the greasy pencil soak up the water. The flat, polished parts of the wet stone repel the ink. Ink holds fast to the drawing, and when the paper is pressed to this surface it picks up the image in a flopped version of what the artist first drew onto the stone. The stone is sponged wet and re-inked between each print. A delicate balance between ink and water (keeping the stone wet and properly inked) must be maintained throughout the run. Acid-free, 100% rag paper is preferred. The edition is left flat to dry for a few days before Bev signs, titles and numbers each sheet in pencil.
Bev Doolittle prints her stone lithographs in the studio of master printer Wayne Kimball in Utah. Stone lithographers are considered master craftsmen and artists in their own right, since the interpretation of the artists' original drawing onto stone, and then to paper, is a collaboration between artist and printer. A talented master printer can both "correct" unwanted mistakes and suggest methods to execute an artist's idea.
Bev Doolittle - Shoshone Switchback
Product Code: DOOSH3
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