Barbara Pihos

"My work begins outdoors as I search for a location that strikes an emotional response in me. I may find it nearby in a place I see often or far away at the end of a journey."

Artist Statement
My work begins outdoors with a search for a location that strikes an emotional response in me. I may find it nearby in a place I see often or far away at the end of a journey.

Returning to my studio with sketches, I prepare a zinc plate by degreasing and brushing on an acid-resistant ground. I apply conte chalk to the back of my sketch; place it on the grounded plate and redraw, thereby transferring the sketch to the plate. Using a needle to draw through the ground, I add an abundance of details.

I submerge the plate in a tray of nitric acid heated to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes to bite the image into the plate. I draw finer details and etch again for 10-15 minutes. To proof the plate I remove the ground, cover it with black etching ink, and place it on my etching press bed with damp, rag paper and etching blankets on top. I then hand-crank it through the press. This proof functions as a guide to the painting process of the aquatint technique and as the structure of the final work.

To do the aquatint I grind gum crystals into a very fine powder and place it in a piece of cotton cloth. I then hit the cloth bundle, releasing a cloud of powder into the air over the degreased plate to get an even 60% coverage. Next I heat the underside of the plate with a torch, which allows the acid-resistant powder to melt and adhere to the plate. However, I’m careful to leave the other 40% of surface area open for acid biting to create the tones of the aquatint. The plate is now ready for painting with acid-resistant shellac. The first painting is of the white areas. The plate is then submerged in the same acid as before, but the timing is very short- 10 seconds. The second painting is of the very light gray areas, and the time in the acid is 20 seconds. I proceed with more paintings- a total of eight. As the time in the acid is increased, the areas not yet stopped-out are etched deeper and will hold more ink, thereby printing darker. As I am painting the very dark gray areas, I have only my memory to tell me where the whites and lighter grays will be, as there is no way to tell by looking at the plate.

After 2-3 months of work, the final step is cleaning off the varnish and melted powder of the aquatint ground, inking and pulling a proof.
My detailed style using two drawings and eight stages of aquatint is complex, unique and anxiety-producing because the result is unknown until the work is finished.
The theme of my work is "Unspoiled Nature." I am drawn to the northern woods of our continent to find tranquility and renewal of spirit.

One Person Exhibitions
  • 1997 Zurich American Insurance Group, Schaumburg, IL
  • 1996 Northern Illinois Gas, Naperville, IL
  • 1995 Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL
  • 1993 Northern Trust Bank, Chicago, IL
    Arlington Green Executive Center, Arlington Heights, IL
  • 1992-3 Campbell House Art Gallery, Geneva, IL
  • 1992 Boerner Botanical Gardens, Milwaukee, WI
  • 1991 NBD Bank, Arlington Heights, IL
    Square D Company, Palantine, IL
    Zurich American Insurance Group, Schaumburg, IL
  • 1989 Barrington Area Arts Council, Barrington, IL
  • 1987 Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL
  • 1985 Kemper Group, Lake Zurich, IL

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2004, St. Louis Art Fair, St. Louis, MO
  • 2002 "Landscapes of the Heartland", Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL
  • 2001-1999 "Illinois Women Artists: The New Millennium", National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.
  • 1997 St. Louis Art Fair, St. Louis, MO
  • 1996 St. Louis Art Fair, St. Louis, MO
  • 1994 "The Illinois Landscape", College of Lake County
  • 1993 "11th Juried North Shore Art League", Midwest Print Show
    "La Primavera", College of Lake County
    "The Reality of Black and White", Barrington Area Arts Council Gallery
  • 1992 "Celebration of Women", David Adler Cultural Center, Libertyville, IL
    Artist Magazine, Finalist, Landscape Competition
  • 1991 Professional Artists Alliance, Palette and Chisel Academy, Chicago, IL
    "Portrait of Illinois Competition", Art in Architecture, Springfield, IL
  • 1988 "International Prints II", Silvermine Galleries, New Canaan, CT
    "North American Print Exhibition", Boston Printmakers, Brockton, MA
  • 1987 "American Artist Golden Anniversary Competition", San Francisco, St. Louis, New York
  • 1985 "Illinois Printmaking Competition", State of Illinois Center, Chicago, IL
Selected Multi-year Exhibitions
  • 1984-90, Norris Cultural Arts Center Vicinity Exhibition, St Charles, IL
  • 1991-96
    1982-90 Annual Print and Drawing Exhibition, Harper College, Palatine, IL
  • 1984-85, Works on Paper, Elgin Community College, Elgin, IL
  • 1987, 1990
    1986,1988, Flora, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL
  • 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996
    1990-91 New Horizons in Art, Skokie, IL
    Chicago Society of Artists, Naperville and Arlington Hts., IL
  • 1983, 1984, Alice and Arthur Baer Competition, Chicago, IL
  • 1987
    1983-90, Lakefront Festival of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
  • 1991-92
    1981-84 Art Institute of Chicago

Selected Collections

  • American National Bankon
  • American Rental Association
  • Amocore Bank
  • BP/Amoco Corporation
  • Burroughs Corporation
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • College of Lake County Fountation
  • Dover Corporation
  • Dow Chemical
  • Giro Credit
  • Graphic Chemical & Ink Company
  • Helene Curtis, Inc.
  • Home Federal Savings & Loan
  • International Minerals & Chemical Corporation
  • Kane County Forest Preserve
  • Kemper Group
  • McDonald's Corporation
  • National Banks, Comptroller of the Currency
  • Nature Conservancy
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • Old Kent Bank
  • Siemens Gammasonics
  • State of Illinois Center
  • Transamerica Insurance Company
  • Transcontinental Pipeline