Jim Dine: Art, Techniques & Biography

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

Jim Dine is an artist whose work has explored all types of modern art. However, his choice of motifs and themes are designed to present a modern twist on a familiar topic.

Jim Dine's Beginnings

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935, Jim Dine would go on to become a well-known pop artist. Dine's artistic endeavors have included sculpting, painting, graphic design, and even poetry. He studied at several art schools, including Ohio University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School.

In 1958 he moved to New York City and became part of an artistic group that started a form of performance art known as the Happenings. Many of the Happenings' performances involved audience participation, and Dine's first collaborative performance involved innovative music and body movements.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts School

He is married to photographer Diana Michener and has three children of his own, all of whom have followed his footsteps into various artistic careers. He lives in the West Village of New York and travels often, to places such as France, Germany, and India, to work on his art.


During the 1960s he began to combine ordinary objects of daily life with the painted canvas reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism. In his works, Dine uses the power of simple images that are both familiar and symbolic to his audience. He tends to repeat use of certain images. For example, images of tools are intended to be autobiographical, representing his childhood in his family's hardware store, but he also uses bathrobes to represent himself. Hearts are symbols of his wife, Diana.

The bathrobe motif first appeared in his work around 1964, and later in his 1975 work The Woodcut Bathrobe. It is said that Dine adopted the motif as a metaphor for himself after coming across the image of a man's dressing gown in a newspaper ad. In this example, Dine used the centuries-old woodcut method of making a print. In this method the artist carves a design into a piece of wood, often beechwood, with the designs on the raised areas of wood becoming part of the final print. Depending on how many colors are used, multiple wood blocks could be required.

Chinese Woodblock Sample
woodblock image 1

Another one of his well-known prints is Tools and Dreams. It mixes two of Dine's frequently occurring motifs: hearts and tools. In this particular print, he used two different techniques of printmaking. One technique of printing he used is known as etching, which is when you use a needle to draw on a metal plate that has been coated with an acid-resistant wax. The plate is then put into an acid bath, and the acid eats through the surface anywhere the wax was removed with the needle. The plate then can be inked and stamped onto any surface the artist desires, from paper to canvas. Another technique he used is known as dry point, in which a print is scratched directly onto a metal plate, to which then ink can be applied to create a print.

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