Fine Art Prints

The tradition of printmaking in fine art is centuries old, though not all printmaking techniques are traditional. A print is an original artwork created using whatever medium(s) and technique(s) the artist has selected. A print is not a reproduction of an existing artwork or painting.

As an approach to start up a print a painting, drawing, or sketch may be used , but the end result is something quite different. A print is termed “original” if the artist has worked on the processes of chosen medium themselves, as opposed to reproductive and interpretative prints, which involve the use of an intermediary person to reproduce a design. Original prints are often produced in smaller quantities and are numbered and signed accordingly by the artist. Printmaking techniques may be, and often have been, combined. Dozens of other printmaking techniques can be used, typically in combination with traditional approaches to create new original techniques. Artists are artists, not technicians — no true artist will hesitate to use any technique that gives him or her the results they desire.

Techniques

Lithographs

The word Lithography is derived from the Greek “litho” meaning “stone” and “graphy” referring to “writing”. It is a planographic medium, as is pulled from an image created on the flat surface of a stone or plate. The principle of this technique relies on the fact that grease (drawing material) and water (non image area) do not mix. The design is drawn on a stone (or certain types of plates) with a greasy crayon or ink. Water adheres to the bare stone but not to the greasy areas, while the printing ink does the opposite; it sticks to the greasy areas but not to the wet stone, reproducing the design when printed.

Aluminium plate lithography

Aluminium plates provide a practical alternative to stones for fine art lithography; they are lightweight, easy to handle, and require minimal storage space. Because plates are considerably less expensive than stones, they are a cost-effective way for a workshop to increase the number of available drawing surfaces. Aluminium plates are generally used only once on the grained side, but the reverse side may be used for other techniques, such as waterless lithography. They can be recycled. Aluminium plates are nonporous and anchor the image on the grain, unlike stones, which hold the greasy drawing materials in the pores. Plates depend on an adsorbed gum film that adheres tightly to the grain of the material to stabilize both the image and non image areas. Lacquer or shellac provides a more tenacious base than asphaltum and is, therefore, recommended for printing larger editions. Tannic Acid Plate Etch Mixture, is used to process the plates. It contains tannic and phosphoric acids, which are less corrosive than nitric acid. Printing from aluminium plates on a hand press usually requires a backer or support on the press bed. The backer raises the plate to a printable height and also provides a smooth, level surface for the plate.

Photo Lithography

Photolithography is just what the name implies- a process by which images are photographically transferred to a matrix (either an aluminium plate or, less frequently, a stone), and printed by hand. Photographic processes allow the artist to reproduce already existing images for incorporation in a print; and photolithographic plates are often used in combination with hand drawn matrices.

Monotypes

In this technique the artist creates a composition in printing ink or paint on any smooth surface which is then covered with a sheet of paper and passed through a press, transferring the image to printing paper. Because of the smooth surface, the pressure applied irrevocably alters the composition, making multiple impressions nearly impossible. In the rare instance that two prints can to be pulled from the same surface, one will be strong and the other weak.

Monoprints

Monoprints are made when an artist alters the image on an already etched or carved and inked plate by adding ink to the surface. When printed, this addition produces an impression that appears different from a conventionally printed impression from the same plate. By manipulating the ink on the plate in each successive printing, the artist may create a series of unique impressions

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