Archive for Sunday, June 29, 1997


June 29, 1997


The traveling museum will show how artists can modify an original work.

Several types of printmaking exist, but they all share the same basic principle: Ink is applied to a block, plate, stone or screen. The ink adheres, or is drawn to, specific areas and does not adhere, or is wiped away from, other areas.

The "Art in Celebration!" exhibition carried by the Artrain, a touring art museum that will be open for visitors July 10-13 in North Lawrence, are representative of these common forms of printmaking:

  • Lithography -- An image is drawn on stone or an aluminum plate with a grease crayon or greasy liquid called tusche. The surface is covered with gum arabic and nitric acid to sensitize the greasy areas and then wiped clean with turpentine and water. An oil-based ink that sticks only to the greasy design is rolled onto the stone. Dampened paper is placed on the stone and rolled through a press to make the print. If a print is more than one color, a separate stone is prepared for each color and the image is applied to the original paper.
  • Off-set lithography -- Off-set lithography starts with a color photograph of an original artwork. From the photograph, the image is separated into four basic colors -- yellow, red, blue and black -- which are used to create all other colors. A plate of tiny dots is made for each of the four colors. Each color plate is put on a rotary press of three large cylinders, one over the other. The printing plate with the original art on it is fastened to the top cylinder. This plate is rolled against a water roller and an ink roller which tranfers the inked image to the rubber-covered middle cylinder. The print is created as the paper passes between the middle cylinder and the bottom cylinder.
  • Silk-screen process -- Also known as serigraphy, this is a sophisticated form of stencil processing. A screen is created from silk stretched tightly in a frame. An image is painted on the screen with tusche and coated with glue that does not stick to the tusche. The tusche is then removed with kerosene, creating a stencil of the original design on the open silk. The screen is then placed on paper (or fabric, wood, glass) and ink is squeezed through the silk, leaving an image of the stencil. If a print is more than one color, a separate screen is prepared for each color and the image is applied to the original paper.

Although some artists make their own prints, others work closely with a commercial fine art print studio to produce their prints. Printmaking also allows artists and printmakers the opportunity to experiment.

There are several examples throughout "Art in Celebration!" that demonstrate how artists can modify an original work during the printmaking process.

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