sue.jpg (33845 bytes)The musical term originated with the 1928 recording of "Pinetop's Boogie-Woogie" by Clarence Pinetop Smith. Working men and women loved to frequent lively honky tonks and barrelhouses where Smith and others plied their humble profession by playing these often complex, quick-fingered note patterns.
pinetopx.jpg (15196 bytes)Here, artist Susan Dysinger captures Smith in a more relaxed moment. Has he taken off his hat and coat to play for his own amusernent, or for paying customers? We anticipate the rhythmic rolling bass and melodious eighth notes when we observe his fingers striking the keyboard. Earlier pianists such as Smith often didn't rely on drummers and bass players to liven the crowd; it was enough to watch the pianist's hands.

coltranx.jpg (13211 bytes)Among the variety of artists that have influenced the development of Jazz, Susan has chosen to illustrate those musicians that she feels helped the movement evolve from Ragtime to the Classic and Modern periods; Scott Joplin, Bessie Smith, Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Using her etching process to its fullest extent, she captures the intimate moods of the time, whether on stage, or as the musicians enjoyed the quiet moments of their own personal lives.

Susan's Background

Born in Corsicana, Texas, Susan studied drawing and painting at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the State College in Plattsburg, New York. In 1973, she began printmaking at the Laguna Beach School of Art where, combined with her love of music, she created a unique style of etching in aquatint and mono-type that today represents a vivid portrait of American Blues and Jazz musicians.

Susan works in her own printmaking studio in Laguna Beach, California.  This allows her to maintain complete control over the many steps involved to produce her work. Susan Dysinger is a long time exhibitor at the annual summer Laguna Beach Festival of Arts and also at the Sawdust Festival.

Susan's Exhibitions
Her work has been purchased by the Minnesota Museum of Art, AT&T and Standard Oil, ITT Corporation and by private collectors.  Susan Dysinger's works have been featured in many one-woman and group shows, such as at the Oakland Museum in a one-woman show, "Susan Dysinger; An Artist's View of Music Makers Past and Present."  Her current work may be seen in fine galleries throughout the country and at the annual Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach.
The Making Of an Etching
suebw.jpg (39741 bytes)"In keeping with the tradition of Illustration, I use my etchings/aquatints to depict an important subject which is personally meaningful, American Jazz and Blues. My inspiration comes from the real people who made it happen and the places where it originated, as well as the sounds and lyrics which frequently approach pure poetry."

What makes etchings special? For some, it’s the fact that the artist is so closely involved in the actual platemaking process.

Today, so many kinds of art are just photocopied from the original, and the artist isn't involved in creating the actual print. But in an etching, all the work is done on the plate. It's a very time-consuming method. The artist who makes an etching is very devoted to the medium, and it’s very personal for her.

Susan Dysinger works in these three media:
media/bluedot.gif (255 bytes) Monotypes : one-of-a-kind painting, printed on paper
media/bluedot.gif (255 bytes) Etching/aquatints: multiples of about one hundred,
hand printed from an engraved or etched metal plate
media/bluedot.gif (255 bytes) Reproductions: giclee prints in limited editions of some of
her drawings, paintings, watercolors and monotypes.
An etching is one entrant in a whole category of art that falls under the heading "Intaglio prints."  The underlying principles used by Dysinger in her etchings, can be traced back to Medieval Europe where the process was developed by goldsmiths and armorers. To record the engraved metalwork designs, these artisans rubbed ink into their intricate patterns and with tremendous pressure the paper was pressed against the metal. In the fifteenth century the importance of the engraved image grew, and the pictures produced with the intaglio method were used to instruct and to entertain the largely illiterate population. A more expressive use of etching began to be seen with Albrecht Durer in the late fifteenth century. However, it was not until the seventeenth century with the genius of Rembrandt that etchings with flexibility and creative freedom evolved.
Susan's Methodology
Dysinger uses a combination of three basic techniques for creating her etchings:
media/bluedot.gif (255 bytes) Line Etching: The metal plate is coated with an acid resistant waxy ground.    The lines are then drawn with a sharp needle which exposes the metal. Then the plate is put into an acid bath. In printing, the ink settles in the etched lines and the plate is wiped clean.
media/bluedot.gif (255 bytes) Drypoint: The sunken lines are produced directly by diamond-hard tools pulled across the plate. This produces a ridge along the incisions, which gives drypoint a soft, velvety appearance absent in the clean-edged lines of an etching.
media/bluedot.gif (255 bytes) Aquatint: Aquatint is used to print areas of color. The plate is covered with a rosin powder and heated so the rosin will melt and harden onto the plate and leave a porous ground. The plate is then repeatedly put into an acid bath where it is etched to different depths. The final effect is an image on a fine, pebbled background.

Starting with the same basic steps as the ancient artisans, Dysinger coats a large zinc plate with an acid resist substance called a ground. The ground is then drawn upon with an etching needle, which exposes the metal wherever the point cuts through the ground. The plate is then put into an acid bath which "bites" the exposed line without penetrating the surrounding ground. Thus, a drawing is now etched onto the zinc. To yield the wide fields of rich tonal areas, Dysinger uses aquatint. Derived from the Latin aquafortis, meaning "strong water" and the Italian tinto, meaning tone, it is a process to achieve these tonal areas using a weak acid bath. A powdered substance called rosin is baked onto the plate and the plate is put into a weak acid bath which bites around the rosin. All these acid-scored areas are then wiped with ink to produce the intaglio image.

Like other kinds of printmaking, the etching process results in an edition of multiple originals: a limited number of finished prints all created personally by the artist and all subtly different.  Dysinger produces an edition of usually 100 prints. Each print is a handmade original work of art.


Dysinger uses the best French etchings inks available and the finest Italian etching papers to produce her etchings.
Each etching/aquatint is actually the result of a careful multi colored painting on the plate. which yields one impression only. The plate will be completely repainted for each color etching/aquatint. therefore no two impressions of an edition will be identical in coloring.  Another method is to add watercolor or oil pastels to the etching after it has been printed, thus further individualizing each piece. The result is more than a display of how one masters an intricate art.