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About this blog


Why a blog? Because I am an artist who writes. My visual art takes half-remembered moments from a childhood in an English mining town which I turn into books, prints and installations. I also love art and writing about other people's art, so this blog is an expression of that.

I chose the title 'Praeterita' in homage to John Ruskin's book. Ruskin was an artist and a writer on art who wrote passionately in defense of J.M.W. Turner, and then the Pre-Raphaelite painters such as John Everett Millais, at moments when none of these painters was fashionable. Ruskin was a complicated man, and 'Praeterita', written towards the end of his life, reflects this: not quite an autobiography, not quite a manifesto, it looks back on his past and tries to document the significant experiences that produced his personality.

So this blog documents my own artistic personality through the things that interest me: the past, my own artistic processes, word and image, and the art of my contemporaries, living and dead.

About me


I was born in a mining town in the north of England. My father was a soldier in the British army, who was killed on active duty when I was five. My mother, brother and I then moved into my grandparents' house. He was still a working miner, and we all lived in a house with no bathroom and just one tap. Bath night was once a week, and we all had to take turns filling and emptying a tin bath tub in front of a coal fire.

I studied for a BA in English and American literature at Cambridge University, and received my MA in Fine Art from Winchester College of Art, which is about 70 miles south-west of London.

I've lived in Paris, Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Madrid, London, but now I call Chicago home. I teach part-time at Columbia College Chicago and arts centers around the American Midwest. I currently hold the post of Master Instructor in Printmaking at the Highland Park Art Center. I am also married to a writer, so the entwining of the word and the image continues in and out of the studio. To contact me, send an email to philipanthonyhartigan@gmail.com.

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How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.

Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations:
Most of this is…