Nancy McIntyre. American, born 1950

McIntyre is known for her water base ink silk screens. Some of her prints have as many as 158 colors.


Artist Statement

When I walk around with my eyes really open, there's sometimes a moment when what I see is intensified by an extra dimension - a sudden feeling that the details in front of me and their relation to each other crystalize the truth about a place more than they garble it. Nearly every print I've done is an attempt to portray a place seen at such a moment.

Nancy McIntyre

Essays

Endangered Spaces
By Nancy McIntyre

The kinds of places I find most appealing to look at, and make silkscreens of, keep getting closed or torn down and replaced by big box stores, high-rise offices and seaside McMansions. Windows and porches — public edges of private lives — are the subjects I have return to most often. I want my art to say: treasure those battered old porches and those cluttered, human-scale storefronts while they’re still around. As you pass by, notice them.

Look hard at a place that was built on a human scale and has known a lot of use, and it begins to suggest stories of the people who’ve put their hands to it. You can start to find an interplay between the original design of a place and how it’s been lived in and changed over time. The present is overlaid onto visible ghosts of the past.

And if you happen to be looking through a window, there is another layering, as the scene behind you is superimposed upon what is inside. Reflections on old storefront windows make downtown walks fascinating. They create layers behind interesting layers, the scenes moving and changing by the second and yet seeable by every passerby for decades or a century.

But for how much longer?

One of my key motivations as an artist is the urge to save what I see. It’s such a foolish-sounding old-fashioned wish, in this day of photography. Yet photography helps my goal along, making people and light stand still, as colors and forms recorded by the camera’s eye capture some of the beauty in everyday places. Then I go home and try to recreate how the light hit, how the air felt, at the moment I was there.

I print all my own editions. (There’s no real choice: it is only during the printing that the images evolve.) Using hand-painted and hand-drawn stencils, I build up many layers of varyingly transparent ink. Most layers are themselves blends of colors fading into each other. The best of my prints have a surface quality which I find hard to match in my paintings: a richness and depth that come from overlaying so many transparent blends. One of the finest thing about silkscreening is the way it enables an artist to produce all-at-once washes of transparent, blended colors. I don’t know any other way of working so readily with planes of color, not flat planes necessarily but multi-directional, curving planes that, when superimposed, can create a much deeper sense of space than silkscreen gets credit for.

The silkscreen process lends itself to printing curved planes of color as readily as flat planes of color, and I like to create a sense of space.

However hard I try to plan, it usually takes 50 to 100 layers before a full-size silkscreen comes alive. After a particularly interminable edition, when I may have spent a year working on one image, it can be a relief to shift gears and turn to a bit of acrylic painting. But I soon start to miss the physical process of screenprinting and that smooth sweep of colors blending across the page, and I return to the medium I love best.

Biography

About Me
The Art League, Alexandria, VA , 2013
By Nancy McIntyre

I’ve been silk screen printing ever since I took Art Wood’s class at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1971. After graduation, I taught art in elementary school for three years. Then we moved to the D.C. area, where we raised two kids and I’ve been otherwise printing full-time, exhibiting work in galleries and museums.

Like many other screen printers, though, I found it increasingly sickening to breathe the fumes of oil-based inks. Silk screen is such a fast process, great quantities of ink-filled paper are all drying at once, which is why the fumes are such a problem. In 1987, I switched to the water-based inks and stencil materials made by Speedball that I use today, at home and in class. The water-based method takes some getting used to, but has many advantages over the oil-based approach, besides being much healthier and safer. I’m glad to help any other screen printers who want to make the switch.

I began teaching at The Art League School in 1997. Screen printing has always been exciting for me, and I find that teaching it is, too. In fact, in every class I teach, the ideas of the students add to my understanding of just how many ways there are to use the silk screen process to make good art. I hope the classes are half as much fun for the students as they are for me.

CV

born 1950, Torrington, CT

education
1972 Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A., Providence

permanent collections
Art Bank Program, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC
Boston Printmakers, MA
CIGNA Museum and Art Collection, Philadelphia, PA
Clark Construction, Bethesda, MD
Cleveland Museum of Art, OH
College Board Collection, NYC
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Washington
Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC
First National Bank, Boston, MA
First Pennsylvania Bank, Philadelphia
Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA
Georgetown University, Spagnuolo Art Gallery, Washington, DC
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Madison Art Center, WI
Mellon Bank, Pittsburgh, PA
Minnesota Museum of Art, Minneapolis
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Pennsylvania State University, State College
Philadelphia Free Library, PA
Rochester University, NY
Salisbury State College, MD
Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
3M, Minneapolis, MN
U.S. Department of State Art Bank Program, Washington, DC
USIA, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Utah State University, Logan
The Washington Post, DC
Widener College Museum of Art, Chester, PA
Worcester Art Museum, MA


Reviews

Arts Club of Washington
by Jennifer Woronow January 13, 2010

At first glance, the work of Nancy McIntyre looks like a series of delicately crafted watercolor paintings depicting inviting scenes of city store fronts and quaint beach houses. It is upon further inspection that one realizes that they are actually screen prints which are carefully composed of over 100 transparent layers of ink all seamlessly blended together to form exquisite interplays of light, shadow and rich color. McIntyre's expertise in printmaking involves a meticulous process of drawing individual stencils by hand for each layer, which creates a great deal of detail within the prints. The result is a depth and subtlety not usually captured in silk screen printmaking. With each layer, she builds upon the last to gradually bring out reflections on glass, the glare of street signs or the gentle cast of shadows on a quiet room. Images such as "Wicker Chair" and "Heller's Bakery" provide intricate detail and transparency to bring about a sense of still contemplation. Whether McIntyre is depicting the busy streets of Washington D.C. or the serenity of a secluded home at Rehoboth Beach Delaware, each print offers an intriguing atmosphere which draws the viewer in.



"Realism in All Its Many Colors"
The Washington Post, December 24, 1994
by Lee Fleming,

In "Windows of D.C." at Jane Haslem, Nancy McIntyre offers depictions of city life. These paintings and print "portraits" of Washington storefronts and street scenes are loaded with detail and extremely complex, with reflections layered upon reflections: People shine forth from the sides of cars that in turn appear as ghostly forms on a polished tile facade or window.

In "Trio's Pizza Man," for example, the employee looking out a plate-glass window is surrounded by the lurid green light and broken-angled reflections coming from inside and outside the diner in which he stands. Glaring signs for subs and Coca-Cola, combined with the man's quizzical expression, recall Hopper's "Nighthawks," that classic evocation of a late-night, neon-ravaged diner and its lonely patrons.

"3 Hr Shirts" is another Hopperesque work. A woman bends over an old-fashioned sewing machine in the window of a dry cleaner that seems caught in a time warp. The only touches of light and color are a length of translucent fabric, a brilliant orange pincushion and the neon sign spelling out "Shirts." The seamstress is surrounded by background shadows and muffling garments that seem as oppressive as failed dreams and memories, and McIntyre beautifully captures the woman's patient resignation.



Review on WETA TV of Windows of DC exhibit at Jane Haslem
Dec. 1994 – Jan. 1995

by Peter Fay Aroundtown, 1994

"I love both [Nancy McIntyre's] realist technique and that sort of hint of mystery, with all the reflections she brings in...This is real talent...It's a wonderful exhibit.

Robert Aubrey Davis, from the WETA (PBS) program Aroundtown, December 1994 review of "Windows of DC," solo exhibit at the Jane Haslem Gallery

"Being native Washingtonians, we know, just looking at this stuff, this is the soul of the real Washington, not the Washington of museums or the Washington of big government, but really the town and the people living here. That's really what it says.



Joe Barber, Aroundtown, Dec. 1994

"She's mastered this technique. Different photographers have used this kind of reflective imagery, never to the extent that she does. One of the things she does...[is] the idea of using time... You have a sense that the past and the future are passing in front of our eyes here, and you're never sure which is which."



Journal of the Print World, fall 1989
by Jane Haslem

Jane Haslem Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Light, shadow and reflection combine to capture scenes that seem to come from our own visual memory, yet that we've somehow never quite fully noticed, in Nancy McIntyre's evocative silkscreen works.

"My pictures are of everyday places and the way those places reflect the people who made and use them," says McIntyre. "I want to say: treasure those old places; don't ignore them for being ordinary; take a good look, while they last."

Take, for instance, "Barbershop Window" (1983), a 91-color rendition of an old-fashioned barbershop storefront a few blocks from the Capitol in McIntyre's home town of Washington, D.C. The scene itself no longer exists in real life, having been replaced for over a decade by a succession of restaurants. But McIntyre's interpretive history of that vanished moment in time not only reminds us of our past, but also asks us to reflect on what we think is important in our lives.

"The predominant mood in my images is peaceful and still, sometimes intensely still, as I try to recreate that initial sense that prompted me to choose a particular subject," McIntyre says. "I try to make the world in the picture not only convincing but inviting—or at least part-way inviting." Indeed, a frequent source of energy in McIntyre's pictures is the tension created by her strong invitation to come stand or sit in a certain place, even as something else—a window, a door, or some tangible barrier—holds the viewer back.

McIntyre began her career as an artist in 1973 after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has been making silkscreens ever since. While her earliest works were executed in only five or six colors, later ones involve the multiple overlaying of 40 or 50 transparent planes of color on color—or even more in works such as "Barbershop Window" or the recent "Jessie's Ice Cream Place," 1987, with 107 colors.

Helping set McIntyre's silkscreen works apart from others is the palpable sense of space that she is able to achieve. She renders her subject matter with vibrant colors carefully blended together, subtle shadows and light, even reflections on top of reflections, to produce her stunning results.

Her technique is far different from that of artists who design their silkscreens to be printed by others. For McIntyre, printing is an integral part of the creative process. She typically plans and prints about 15 colors, then stops to study the image. At that point, she says, "I have to get more air and light into the picture."

"With pastels I draw right on top of a copy of the print, carrying every idea too far in order to tell how far is far enough," she explains. "Once something looks interesting, I try to reduce the changes to a manageable number of printed colors or pulls. Often I'll add small patches of intense color, dissolve some lines and emphasize others and weave the picture together with transparent blends running vertically, horizontally, and every which way."

Until 1988, McIntyre printed with oil-based inks. But as she became aware of the health hazards of those inks and their solvents, she switched to water-based inks. While this process is still new to her, the resulting prints have been highly successful. As an aid to other artists interested in making the same switch, she has written an informative article on water-based screenprinting that describes her approach to this process.

McIntyre's most recent work is a poignant story of people and places she came to know on Prince Edward Island in Canada. It includes 30 acrylics on paper, along with a narrative for each painting. These works and related silkscreens will be exhibited at the Jane Haslem Gallery from October 11 through November 4 [1989].



"City Reflections"
The Washington Post, February 1984
by Paul Richard

Nancy McIntyre is a Washington artist worthy of support. Her silk-screen prints on view at Jane Haslem Gallery, 406 Seventh St. NW, deserve their popularity. Printed with great skill, they are complex but not busy. They are multiples, of course, but their textures are so many and their colors are so subtle that they have the sort of decorative weight one associates more often with paintings than with prints. And they are very inexpensive. "Jets," a small colored skyscape with contrails and rooftops, sells for only $35.

McIntyre's imagery is not particularly original. The French photographer Atget was using shop window reflections to activate his quiet scenes of quiet Paris streets in the 1890s; photographer Robert Frank was lovingly examining barber chairs through windows in the 1950s; and the painter Richard Estes has, for many years, carefully combined streetscapes and reflections in his many-colored screen prints.

But McIntyre portrays Washington, not Paris. And her mirrorings and glintings have a spirit that is softer, sweeter, less cerebral, than that which lends such toughness to the gem-hard prints of Estes. It is easy to forgive what seem to be her borrowings, for the viewer never doubts her patience, her affection.

She likes Capitol Hill bars, Victorian red brick doorways, unprepossessing streets. She does not picture monuments. "A place attracts me most, she has said, "when it looks straightforward and much-used. I want to find a place that people might pass by without noticing and try to show that it is beautiful. I would love for the viewer to want to be there." The nicest prints on view — "The Tune Inn," for example, a view from a front table in that quiet bar, or the newer "Barbershop Window," a large print that combines aspects of two older prints — evoke a sort of reverie. There are 91 colors in "Barbershop Window." McIntyre, though she uses stencils, knows how to drift and blend her hues, and how to soften their hard edges. And her prints are full of air.

Washington has been lucky with its silk-screen artists. Lou Stovall and Jonathan Meader are two of the best-known. Both men print at home. They do not shock their viewers; their pictures are much loved, one sees them everywhere. McIntyre's silk-screens extend that tradition.



The Washington Post, June 4, 1977
by Jo Ann Lewis

The closest thing there is to a free-for-all, nationwide talent hunt for new printmakers is the National Exhibition of Prints staged every other year since the early '40s by the Library of Congress. In recent years, the National Collection of Fine Arts [renamed Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2000] has become joint sponsor and host, and it is at the NCFA that the 25th National Exhibition of prints opened last week.

Dealers, curators and collectors flock to these shows to see what's going on in the contemporary print world, and to find talent as yet undiscovered and underpriced. There is, as always, much new talent here... including several noteworthy examples by Washingtonians... Nancy P. McIntyre dazzles, Estes-style, with an intricate serigraph of a barber shop.



Solo Exhibition by Nancy McIntyre
Art Club of Washington, DC 2010

At first glance, the work of Nancy McIntyre looks like a series of delicately crafted watercolor paintings depicting inviting scenes of city store fronts and quaint beach houses. It is upon further inspection that one realizes that they are actually screen prints which are carefully composed of over 100 transparent layers of ink all seamlessly blended together to form exquisite interplays of light, shadow and rich color. McIntyre’s expertise in printmaking involves a meticulous process of cutting individual stencils by hand for each layer, which creates a great deal of detail within the prints. The result is a depth and subtlety not usually captured in silk screen printmaking. With each layer, she builds upon the last to gradually bring out reflections on glass, the glare of street signs or the gentle cast of shadows on a quiet room. Images such as “Wicker Chair” and “Heller’s Bakery” provide intricate detail and transparency to bring about a sense of still contemplation. Whether McIntyre is depicting the busy streets of Washington D.C. or the serenity of a secluded home at Rehoboth Beach Delaware, each print offers an intriguing atmosphere which draws the viewer in.

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