In a career spanning more than five decades, artist and printmaker Beth Van Hoesen (1926-2010) created a remarkable body of graphic art with quiet poignancy and compelling charm. The Bay Area artist is best known for her ability to distill the bare essence of her subjects (animals, flowers and people of everyday life) through pure line while capturing their individual personality and character.
I draw directly from life. I don’t seem able to draw from remembrance — I feel I would leave something out. It is difficult for me to work from photographs, for I feel something has come between me and the model. I care about the individuality of each leaf or hair — and I must feel directly, personally and immediately about whatever I’m drawing.
artist’s handwritten journal, 1978
Van Hoesen started drawing consistently at age six as she could always carry pencil and paper. Once she developed a habit of drawing, it was as easy as keeping a diary—a visual diary. Her interest in line drawing eventually brought her to printmaking, which she studied in the 1940s. By the 1950s she was “addicted” to printmaking and obsessed with every aspect of the craft to capture her subjects utilizing the characteristics of her chosen media.