The Chanute Art Gallery is currently displaying the Nichols & Wilkinson Art Exhibit, which consists of the artwork of Frank Nichols and Brad Wilkinson.
Both taught art in Chanute: Nichols at Chanute High School from 1961-64, and Wilkinson at Neosho County Community College from 1994-2017.
Nichols taught the art of printmaking – etching art onto a copper plate.
He passed away in 2013, but had described the process in a paper that hangs on the wall of the gallery.
“Using a variety of coatings on the plate, the original drawing, textures and values were bitten into the metal with a hydrochloric acid mixture. The coatings are called grounds and one must use a specific ground for each effect. For example, if lines are wanted, a ground made for producing lines is used and the lines are etched as a separate process. The image is completed by carefully building the different effects with different grounds. Before the plate is finished, it will have been immersed in the acid many times. The amount of time in the acid determines how dark the image becomes,” he wrote.
Looking at Nichols’ work, there are numerous things going on in his prints. Observers should pay close attention and look closely at his work so they don’t miss all of the details.
Nichols said he would take the finished copper plate and cover it with ink, then go back and wipe the plate until the only ink remaining was that retained in the lines and crevices etched in the metal.
He would then place paper on top of the plate and run it through the press. The paper used was imported from France with an international reputation for excellence.
Nichols would then paint or color each of the prints.
According to retired Chanute art teacher Bob Cross, the reason none of the prints have a number is because, “None of them are the same. He would use different colors in each of the prints, making each one an original piece of art.”
Nichols wrote, “The painting process is as creative and demanding as the initial creation of the image on the plate.”
Cross explained that Nichols’ method was very intricate and time-consuming.
“When you look at these paintings, you have to look closely. Some have prints from materials that were used in the background and in different places. Some are things he drew with a very small instrument,” he said. “You can tell he loved what he did because each of these pictures took a lot of time. According to his son, he died doing what he loved. He passed away at his art table.”
Another volunteer at the gallery, who took classes from Nichols at Chanute High School, and later at Wichita State, said he used needles to etch the details into the copper.
Nichols won several national awards for his artistic talents.
Nichols has around 40 pieces of art currently on display in the gallery.
Wilkinson’s art is on display in a single room, but is nevertheless just as impressive.
Wilkinson took classes from Nichols, including printmaking and Elementary Art Methods class at Fort Hays State. Wilkinson’s work is mixed media, photo manipulation and paintings with subjects from life and nature.
The exhibit will be on display through August.
An Artist Studio Talk live event will be on Facebook Saturday, August 1, from 1 to 2 pm. https://www.Facebook.com/BradWilkinson
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