Penny Cerling studied printmaking in Houston at the Glassell School of Art and in the 1980s became a printer at David Folkman’s Little Egypt Enterprises print shop, also in Houston. She eventually opened her own printmaking shop, specializing in intaglio. Concurrently, she also created her own work, primarily prints and drawings.
Cerling is one of the late 20th century protagonists of printmaking in the Houston, Texas area. She not only built a reputation for her delicate prints that explored architecture, plant life and molecular structures, but also widened access to intaglio printmaking through collaborations with a wide variety of Houston-based artists as well as artists passing through Houston, among them Luis Jimenez, Beth Secor, Fernando Casas, Peter Saul, Derek Boshier, Robert Camblin, Mel Chin, Ibsen Espada, Terrell James, Earl Staley, Frank X. Tolbert and others.
She has been quite generous to the Artist Printmaker Research Collection, donating not just her own work but the prints of other artists with whom she printed. (By the way, these donations all honor the Skarda family of Clovis, New Mexico.) Among the prints that Cerling has donated are trial states such as the two reproduced above. These states provide rare and insightful glimpses into
the mechanics and decision-making applied toward a final edition of an image.
The three works reproduced here include a small etching by Peter Saul. The proof had been sent to Saul who was living in New York.He drew some adjustments on the image, made some notes, tore off the upper right corner, and sent it back to Cerling to be proofed again. The other two intaglios are portraits by Houston artist, Fernando Casas with notations in graphite regarding the lengths of time various areas of the work were bitten in an acid bath and a test for how long to bite lines in order to get a desired density.