The work of printmaker Elizabeth King Durand
by Nancy E. McCarthy
Printmaker Elizabeth King Durand grew up in the town of Irondequoit in Rochester, where she and her sister played in apple orchards by their home that extended nearly to Lake Ontario. “A connection to nature and outdoor play were constant,” says Durand, now 77. Her parents valued creativity and imaginative play and encouraged Durand’s artistic interests from an early age.
Well-traveled and having lived in several cities, Durand and her husband settled in the town of Pittsford in 1969, where they raised their three children. She’s experienced decades of ever-changing local landscapes – a recurring theme in her impressive body of artwork. Durand’s artist statement notes: “I endeavor to picture a strong sense of place in my etchings; the rolling hills, lakeside scenes and the seasonal changes that are representative of this locale. The interplay of parkland and skyline, so essential to the look of our region, figures prominently in my work, offering a rich variety of images and impressions.”
Rochester’s Shoestring Gallery represented Durand’s work for nearly 40 years until it closed in 2007. Retired owner Nancy Esmay says Durand was “without question, the most popular artist. Her work speaks to the hearts of people of all ages and lifestyles.”
Durand studied drawing, painting, silk screen and woodcut printmaking at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana and graduated in 1960 with a degree in fine arts. Etching evolved into her preferred art process after Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) classes with Eric Bellmann in 1973. She also enjoys creating unique collagraph monoprints. “The etching process provides a way to be descriptive in a linear way, while the monoprints allow me to explore veils and layers of color that evoke my sense of landscape and mood,” Durand explains.
She teaches classes at Saint John Fisher College and summer workshops in Nantucket. She has three printing presses in her home studio: portable for demonstrations, medium-sized for etchings and a large motorized model for collagraph monoprints.
Prints start with the creation of images on a master plate, using either “intaglio” (impressions etched into the surface) or “relief” (applying materials that raise the printing surface) methods. Durand’s etchings are produced intaglio. Designs are drawn with an etching needle and bitten with acid into a zinc or copper plate. Black ink is pressed into the lines and the plate surface is wiped before paper is applied and turned through the press to produce the print. She later embellishes the images with watercolor. Plates are wiped down and ink re-applied to create up to 100 prints before the plate degrades. Etchings yield multiple editions, each an original work of art.
Larger scale collagraph monoprints are singular works. Durand utilizes intaglio and relief processes, using plastic master plates, colored ink and overlaying multiple images in the printing process, sometimes later stenciling by hand. The result is a delicately complex and unique masterpiece.
Meet the Artist
Durand participates in the Arts at the Gardens show at Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, and MAG’s Clothesline Festival in Rochester. Her prints are carried at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs and other galleries. Durand created a new print for the themed exhibit Myths and Mytholologies, which will showcase the work of more than 50 artists at Oxford Gallery in Rochester on April 30 through June 11.
“Whatever the subject, Elizabeth’s work always projects an easy freedom possible only through a considerable experience in, and understanding of, the print medium she is using,” says Oxford Gallery owner Jim Hall.
Meet Durand and other artists during an Artists’ Reception at the gallery, 267 Oxford Street, on Saturday, April 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.