Mark-making - Playing with Fire / by Jeannine Cook

My artist friends in the silverpoint world are always guaranteed to surprise and delight with their creative inventiveness. I have just had a fresh reminder of this when Jane Masters, a fellow British/French import to the Northeast, sent me a notice about a show which she has just had at the Miller Block Gallery in Boston. She is a most successful artist with a wonderful resume of achievements to her name.

Entitled "Playing with Fire", this was clearly a most unusual exhibition and very well reviewed in the Boston Globe. This is an installation view of the exhibition she sent me.

Jane has, in addition to her wonderful silverpoint drawings, been extending her vocabulary to include mark-making by burning hand-forged steel brands on heavy-weight Arches watercolour paper. The resultant burnt drawings are wonderfully eloquent and energetic: the richly-hued burned marks and remaining smoke marks combine to form complex, sophisticated dances on the paper.

The images below are examples of this work.


The works on left (Playing with Fire - circle) and right (Playing with Fire - Curve) are full 22 x 30" sheets of watercolour, while the centre image is a panel of four full watercolour sheets, or what is left of them after the creative and elemental forces are done. I am left awestruck, not only at the sheer dedication and skill of making such drawings, but also by the fact that beforehand, Jane makes the steel brands by hand-forging them. That is a labour of love and passion.

Jane shows the same passion (which I had seen in her silverpoints) when she also uses heated needles to pierce holes through the paper to create pinhole drawings that make me think of Victorian samplers, albeit with a lovely sense of humour in the messages she includes.

Jane Masters reminds me that there is such a multiplicity of ways to make marks on paper that become wondrous drawings. All it takes is creativity and passion. Bravo, Jane!