Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Making his mark: Engraver uses art to find purpose in life

Special to the Hutto News

His engraving is more than a hobby. It's a therapy that has helped him heal.
“I had two heart attacks and two strokes in 2010,” said Jerrell Crider of Hutto. “That forced me to retire, so it's been my art that has kept me sharp, kept me active.”
His speech is clear, with perfect enunciation, but it's deliberate, so he sounds like an English language teacher, pausing for several seconds between each word.
“Rest and taking it slow helped me recover too,” Crider said. “And I had to work with a speech therapist, but she quit seeing me because she said I spoke better than she did.”
The 67-year-old man laughed at the memory.
“Let me explain my work,” Crider said as he got up from the couch and led the way to his workshop. “I draw, yes, and I do graphic design on the computer but that's not my art. My art is the print.”
He takes a drawn image and transfers it to an etching plate made of copper, stone, wood or aluminum with the use of a lithography pen and some acid. Once the image is engraved, he takes the plate to his printing press in the garage.
“Ink is applied and then the magic happens,” Crider said. “More or less ink here or there can create drastically different moods to the scene.
He referred to his print series titled “The Alamo Heroes & The Victor.” Some pieces incorporated the use of color, making the heroes seem triumphant and proud. Others used only shades of black, making the image appear somber but significant.
Paul Holden of Buda owns one of those prints.
“I bought it a while back when it was on display at one of the art centers in town,” Holden said. “He's got such a unique, cool style. It's all historic and accurate, and I've never seen anything like it before. In one image you get the scene and the key players in a piece of history.”

Crider sells his work online at And once he perfects his one-man show of print engraving, he hopes to sell them at art fairs.
But it's not all for profit.
“The first of every print series is dedicated to the Lord,” Crider said. “It gets donated to the church and is raffled off.”
Tree of Life church in Pflugerville has been the recipient of three of Crider's prints.
“It's raised at least $300 for the church,” said Pastor Mike Johnson. “Mr. Crider's work is very creative, and we are grateful to receive it. The images have inspired and blessed several people in the congregation.”
And that helps Crider to feel accomplished.
“My art truly gives me my purpose,” he said. “It always has.”
Before having to retire, he worked as a technical illustrator for Fourtune 500 companies like Data Point Corporation, Northrop and E-System.
“I was a font designer,” Crider said. “I worked with things like Times New Roman, Antiqua and Bookman. It took precision to figure out how those fonts were displayed, used and transferred to laser printers.”
He also taught graphic art in the Manor and Austin school districts.
“I can't remember a time when I wasn't creating,” Crider said.
And that's a trait that his three children seem to have inherited. His oldest daughter Wendy Layton of Hutto is a musician, proficient on the piano, tuba and fiddle. Daughter Amanda Lanaham is an art teacher in Round Rock and Skip Crider of Seagoville is a welder.
“Skip, he showed a lot of talent in engraving, and so did my daughters,” Crider said. “Even my oldest grandson, he's learned the process. He does good work.”

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