High Skies

High Skies

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"High Skies" is a color woodcut by Frances Gearhart (1869-1958) which probably dates to the 1920s. She worked almost exclusively with landscape subjects in the woodcut medium, inspired by the nature surrounding her California home, which she shared with her artist sisters, May and Edna. "High Skies" has a vertical composition, with the sky occupying most of the print, and a very distinct foreground, middle ground, and background. Grassy fields and a small stream make up the foreground, giving way to a small cluster of trees casting a heavy shadow in the middle ground. More trees run across the horizon, silhouetted in blue against a brilliant green and blue sky full of swirling white clouds. The black outlines and black border are part of the key block, which she printed last. A technique commonly employed by Japanese masters, thus evidencing her influence from eastern aesthetics, a key block is meant to sharpen the appearance of the shapes and colors of a print. In "High Skies," it also gives the impression of late afternoon, creating dark and dramatic shadows.
Although she eventually worked full time on her printmaking, Gearhart, along with her sisters, taught in the Los Angeles public school system. As her career progressed, she became more involved in the local artistic community. In 1919 she joined the Print Makers of Los Angeles, later renamed the California Print Makers Society, which exhibited the work of U.S. and international artists. In 1923 the three sisters opened a small gallery in part of their home studio in Pasadena, where they showed primarily international artists' work, including many woodcut artists. Unfortunately, her failing eyesight forced Gearhart to give up printmaking in the 1940s.
Currently not on view
Object Name
relief print
block print
Object Type
Other Terms
Print; Relief; block print
Date made
ca 1925
date made
ca 1922
Gearhart, Frances H.
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 22.4 cm x 23.2 cm; 8 13/16 in x 9 1/8 in
sheet: 31 cm x 29.5 cm; 12 3/16 in x 11 5/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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