Painter knows her place

Pat Lipsky knows exactly where her dot will be placed on the timeline of art history. As she speaks, her language is soaked in the names of art movements and great artists.

She slides her hand over one of her paintings to show a viewer the shadows of Matisse, Mark Rothko and Edouard Manet as they influence her work.

Lipsky's paintings are deceptively simple -- a canvas of rectangular color fields. They say that the average gallery visitor looks at a work for no more than three seconds, but in order to appreciate Lipsky's visual thought process, more self-control to stop and explore is needed.

Lipsky is nearing the end of a two-week stay at Riverhouse Editions in Clark, where she has been working on a series of monoprints and etchings of her work. She leaves Saturday and when she does, the Clark printing house will stay quiet until December.

Since early summer, artists from New York and Boston have been visiting the Riverhouse one after another for two attempts to translate their painting styles into the printing medium.

For her etchings, Lipsky used carborundum, another name for silicon carbide, to create a thick paste of grit and ink. It makes her colors rise off the page even after the weight of the press's roller has pressed it into the paper.

After 30 years as an artist and almost as many years growing roots in the New York art world, Lipsky knows exactly what she wants from a piece.

From a distance, her color fields seem stark and minimal, but a closer look shows rough edges and colors bleeding through from behind. In those edges is Lipsky's message.

She studied the way Matisse used edges in his work.

"I watched the way he moved from one line to another," Lipsky said. "His transitions are very sensitive. I lifted that information from him, even though his work is figurative and mine is abstract. I think my edges are interesting because they are unexpected. They are more than what you ask for."

Since Rothko, she said, contemporary American painters have been paying attention to edges and "transitional places."

"My paintings are about more than putting one color next to another," she said.

She compares her paintings to a Bach fugue.

The longer you look, colors come into focus the same way that a theme expands and overlaps itself in a fugue.

In the past two weeks, Lipsky learned to print for the first time.

"In those first few days, I had to learn everything," she said. "This is a much more choreographed, more calculated, activity than painting.

"This etching thing is no joke. It's hard. It demands different things of you."

To save time, Lipsky brought a catalogue of her recent paintings with a plan to copy them into prints.

"It's exciting to see these images printed," she said. "And it's interesting to revisit an image."

Printing paintings is an age-old tradition. Manet printed every one of his paintings, she said, mentally drawing a timeline between herself and the early 19th century painter.

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