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Francois Houtin, influence and inspirations

JANUARY 20, 2012
The reinvention and evolutionary process in ones career has always fascinated me so when I discovered Houtin's work at the Cleveland Print Fair presented by Chicago gallery Richard Reed Armstrong I was immediately struck not only by Francois Houtins fantastical etchings and draughtsmanship but also his background as a landscaper.  No doubt his prior career as a gardener, floral decorator and then landscape architect have influenced his new direction as a superb printmaker.  His work reminded me of my childhood fantasies of the perfect habitats to hide within the immersion of a mystical albiet utopian, forest. I also found a similar affinity to his personal history within my own mother's artistic talents. I grew up observing endless drawings by my mother Virginia Bleck, influenced by her passion for trees.  Aside from raising nine children, she worked as a landscaper for her father's tree nursery, where we also resided and then later in life, she also like Houtin began to explore her personal work inspired by her work in landscaping with a similar direction of fantastical landscapes but in watercolors and pen and ink. There are some pieces of art that we are drawn to that serve as a metaphor for our own personal goals as an artist as well as fulfilling lasting impressions of our imaginations explored and then fulfilled…Houtin's work is all of this for me.  I purchased this print and one for my amazing mother who also by the way was one of Hallmark cards first freelancers from the age of 48 until 72 years old. 
This Friday, Jan. 20th my Houtin print, "12 Cabane de Jardinier" will hang at Zygote press, "Collected Gems ll : Zygote Memebers Collect"
French, born in Craon en Mayenne, France on August 25, 1950.
Etcher and Draughtsman.
Lives and works in Paris since 1971.
Learns printmaking with Jean Delpech at the Ville de Paris printmaking class.
Starts his career as a gardener, a floral decorator and a landscape architect at Jacques Bédat
and Franz Baechler in Paris.
Became a full-time artist, focused on imaginary garden landscapes in 1979.
He was awarded the Prix de Gravure Lacourière in 1981.
He was awarded the Prix de Gravure Florence Gould in 1986.
Became a member of the Société des Peintres-Graveurs Français in 1991.
He also worked on such prominent projects as the renovation of the Jardin des Tuilleries in 1991.
My son James had a fascination with waterfalls when he was little so my mom picked up some of my scratchboard for the first time and produced this tiny gem for him. I wish I had some more of the fantastical pieces she has done on forests.  Perhaps I will add them later.
The tree nursery is now a forest preserve filled with rows of magical pine trees, bending and twisting and ready for imagination's play. (my daughter Ana feeling the trees energy!)

We moved off of the tree nursery and my mom decided to order 10,000 seedlings and managed several of us to plant them with her. Quite the manager of all tasks. The below greeting card is one of the hundreds she created for Hallmark from the time she was 48 until she was 72.

And here is my own Houtin influence in this piece "The Falls"