Renewing a Friendship with Printmaking

mono-print no.4 oil on paper

Print making is the process of creating art through a sequence of transferring images from a matrix coated with ink or paint generally to paper. The matrix can be zinc, copper, glass, plexiglass, wood, and any surface that works for your intended purpose. Art prints generally refer to the making of images requiring creative decisions as opposed to photographic reproductions.

My interest in reacquainting myself with one form of printmaking is the result of watching a YouTube video featuring Stuart Shils, a fine painter and printmaker.  His process of applying juicy paint to a copper plate is very much how I paint on canvas or board.  It seems like a natural transition. Like most observations that appear “easy” or “natural” there is always the surprises that stop or at least slow our progress.

My first attempt was pitifully lacking in paint.  The image was thin and dry.  Attempt 2 was better, but still had pigment anemia.  Only with number 5 did I begin to get the feel of the viscosity and amount of pigment necessary for my desired paint quality. This five step progression could have been discouraged, but what I noticed is that I was enjoying the quest.

mono-print no. 5 oil on paper

I generally paint directly on canvas or paper with more immediate results.  The steps necessary in making a mono-print demand that I slow down and be more farsighted. Unique to most printing processes is that what goes on first will be seen as background and  what is applied last will be on top, what is painted on the left side of the plate will be seen on the right side.  The process is calculated in the beginning building to the moment of excitement when the paper is pealed from the plate yielding cheers or moans. These earliest images are never going to MoMa, but may lead to some good work.  In the mean time I will just enjoy the process.

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