A unique feature of the graphic works on this website is their metamorphosis from original drawings inspired by nature, in faithfulness to the Renaissance tradition. Each piece, therefore, reflects the artist’s personal interpretation of shapes, shades, lines, dimensions and perspective. A close examination of the works reveals the artist has merely suggested an idea to the observer; the mind has subconsciously filled in the missing details. The power to evoke this subtlety is an important dimension of the artist’s talent.
Drawing is a time consuming and solitary process. Unlike more collaborative art forms, the draftsman receives full credit for the successes, but must accept all blame for any failures. When done in the field it is subject to numerous complications: varying sunlight (and thus changing shadows), an uncooperative subject, or even difficulty finding a suitable vantage point. Drawings executed in studio demand careful staging for composition and light. Patience is critical. In all cases, the artist must doggedly return to his subject matter again and again to faithfully capture the essence of what originally caught his attention, not to mention his imagination.
An etching involves translating these drawings for a new medium: a metal plate as a repository for ink. In the process, there are new opportunities to reinterpret the original composition and pursue changes suited to the new medium’s strengths. Whereas drawing relies on shading to suggest shape and volume, etching may require lines of differing depth and separation for its integrity; whereas drawing might be limited by the shades of graphite, an etching surrenders to a range of strong contrasts tendered by the mystery of its ink.
Over the last sixty years, John Paulus Semple has accumulated an extensive collection of drawings now being indexed and archived in his Vermont studio. He continues to add to his collection as a basis for new graphic and painting experiences. While this process is slower, rarer, and more painstaking than the graphic techniques frequently in vogue today, it results in an exceptionally unique product in the classical tradition that has become increasingly hard to find and experience. We hope you enjoy viewing the results on this website.