Three Color Reductive Etching
click here polymer photogravure
click here three color etching
click here large scale colograph
Art Scene Magazine
Los Angeles 1988
Dan Mitchell Allison
(Schwartz/Cerlak Gallery, west side) Originally from houston Texas, Dan Mitchell Allison uses some symbols which connect him to that region, but he is bvy no means a regional artist, limiting himself to mining the regional turf. rather he endevors to work in symbols intended to make his vision and insights universal.
His imagery seems as easy, almost too easy, as childrens cartoons. But this can be a deceptive first impression. It is the viewer who really has to supply the meaning, because allison's imagery is universal enough to demand subjective interpretations from the viewer.
His symbols include arrows, airplanes, hearts, checkerboards, crosses etc. One print, entitled, Roses del Fuego, shows three roses engulfed in splashed of fire, as if the red buds had just been hit by a direct blst, cartoon fashon. As cartoony as theis is, the direct impact of the conection between the roses, love, fire, burning and the transitory nature of heat and beauty is conveyed. In Target he uses a checkerboard pattern, using shading at the edges to give the illusion of bvolume. This heart is overlayed with two red diagonals, crossing in the center is shadowed, to give the illusion of solid brush strokes floating over the heart. Is the heart crossed out? Is it marked as a target? This is entirley up to the individual's interpretation. But Allison's perchant towards paradoxes is nicely illustrated here.
"Chi Si Fi" three color aquatint, 36"x 40" y.1985
In Mother's Little Daughters this paradox is more hidden. An interior in rich orange hues is peopkled by black silhoueites of five femal shapes. the silouttes give no indication of clothing, but thier high heeled pumps. The ropom is also bare except for a colorful checkeared surface and a window opening into a dark blue night. From the raised arms and open mouths of the figures we cannot ve sure: are they in fright of are they frolicing? Is the surface a floor or a patchwork quilt? (If the latter then they would be covorting in bed.) All ambiguities must be resolved again by the viewer. The richness of the colors and surfaces make these prints outstanding achivments inm the medium. Rosas del Ruego and Mother's Little Daughters are Aguatints, whereas target is a collograph. the latter process seems to ve the direction in which Allison's more experimental imagery is found. the Majic Pool, a collograph and the newest work, has an exceptionalyrich surface texture as well as much more fluid and losose handeling of lines and composition.
The collograph mentioned allows the artist to use various materials such as leaves, fabrics, etc. which sometimes merely produce a printed collage. But Allison uses metal shavings, glue lines, and other subtle materials to draw and paint much as other artist work with paint and canvas but with unusual textuse and configurations. Only a very limited number of impressions, usually five, can be made before these non-print materials disintergrate.
The aquatint method of the other works requires covering a zinc plate with a hard ground ad transfering a prepared drawing into the ground, scratching the hard ground away to expose the line drawing to the nitric acid bath. the values of color are achived by blowing a grainy ground over the surface of the line etching on the zink plate with anh airbrush, to which it will adhere to areas that have not been masked out with varnish or blocked out with oil pastel and hardground. The plate is then emersed in the nitric acid bath over and over aging, blocking out more and more areas of the plate to created a varietiy of grained areas that will then create a variety of tones as the colors are aplied by the artist in the actual printing process. Allison's technique breaks new ground at this point as he re-aquatints the same plate for each of the three primary colors he uses to create his final image, as oppose to making seperate plates for each of the colors he uses.
The richness of the colors and textures he achives by these painstking methods are unquestionable, but besides the high degree of craftmanship and deep symbolism found is many of the works his images are just plain beautiful.