As a child Margaret Jean, who would become an artist, recorded the summer sun’s furthest reach in chalk on the porch of her home. Forgotten for years, such lessons sparked her 1993-94 paintings, of winter shadows across the snow, “Shadows from a Single Tree.” Fifteen years later summer shadows and changing light compelled Jean to begin recording those shadows on index cards with yellow markers and pencil. In 2016 she prepared nine canvases for the series of paintings, “The Hours of Summer.” To these paintings of summer light, she brought a sense of space and three-dimensional form: space as the field of vision becomes a theatre in which to enact the drama of changing shadows and form in the sculptural treatment of tree or foreground fence.
Both of these landscape groups are New England paintings and serve as bookends for the years between them when the artist traveled every year to the American southwest, painting, drawing, photographing and writing. Jean speaks of a renewed awareness of space as her paintings of rivers and canyons show depth and distance as one whole space. Here, in her paintings of the southwest, the idea of a window into a scene emerge: the artist begins the drawings with the desert plants at her feet and when it is finished it will include the distant horizon.
Jean completed thirty-seven paintings between 1995 and 2005. The largest is 4 x 6 feet, the smaller Grand Canyon ones, 28 x 22 inches. From the decade of studying the “Big Sky” landscapes, she has also gone into the print studio with her drawings and journal notes to work again with etchings and woodcuts.
Margaret Taylor describes falling in love, as a young student, with the whole etching process during an intensive six week study under a Master printmaker. Beyond fascination with the process a practical reason for printmaking had emerged: she was raising children and working outside the home.
From markings made on a bright copper plate, the meditative period of timing the plate in acid, preparing heavy ink to be spread by a pallet knife onto the plate, and wiping it off by Tarlton cloth. Then the print is completed by placing the plate on the press, positioning the dampened paper and blanket, then turning the press that puts great pressure on the inked plate, forcing ink into the fine lines. After this long and complex process, the first proof is pulled: the inking process is repeated until the edition is finished.
Of importance also, Margaret began using this process to discover her own way of “seeing.” Having spent five years creating abstract paintings, she began to use these methods in her drawings of landscapes, many of which she subsequently translated into prints.
Later, she explored woodcut, lithography, color printing, and layered plates. Ideas from her prints often carried over into her paintings. The compositions executed in different media, each with their own characteristics, helped her to fully explore her subject matter.
Over the last 15 years Margaret has also experimented with polymer plates – which allowed her to reproducie a drawing onto the polymer plate that could be printed under an engraving (see ”Engravings”) or used in combination with monotypes (“Montana Spring.”)
There is always another day or another way – Children know this, and so do Printmakers.