A long time painter, I took up printmaking about 14 years ago. Printing is now my main artistic activity.
I started with screenprinting. The relatively recent development of water-based inks for screenprinting has made it a form of printmaking which can be carried out cheaply, simply and safely at home using non-toxic, waterbased inks.
I tend to use only a small number of colours, often just a basic blue, red and yellow. My colours are transparent so a wide range of hues can be produced by printing one colour on top of another, varying the strength of each colour.
I usually produce editions of 10 to 20; As the screen or plate is re-inked for each print in the edition there will be slight variations. (There may be in addition up to two more “Artist’s Proofs” in the edition, usually kept as gifts for family and friends).
SCREENPRINTING: a fine mesh is stretched over a frame. The design is created by blocking some parts of the screen and leaving others open. When ink is pushed over the mesh it will pass through the open areas to leave an impression on a sheet of paper below. A print will consist of several colours, each applied to the paper through a different pattern of open areas on the screen.
In the past year I have turned to other forms of printmaking, particularly drypoint and collagraph.
DRYPOINT: a design is incised onto a plate of metal or plastic with a sharp point. Ink is wiped over the plate and cleaned off to leave colour only in the incised lines. A sheet of paper is laid on the plate and both pass through an etching press; the press has two rollers which press together to transfer the image from the plate to the paper. Think of it as like an old-fashioned mangle for squeezing water out of newly washed clothes.
COLLAGRAPH: cut out shapes in paper or textile are glued to a plate and then inked up for printing. As with drypoint, the plate and a sheet of paper are put through an etching press. PAPER CUT PRINTS are similar but the stencils for each colour are not glued to a plate but individually inked and placed by hand onto the paper.
All my prints are “Limited Edition Artist’s Prints”:
• The print was designed as such from conception, never a reproduction of a work originally in some other medium.
• This is quite different from a Giclée print which is reproduced from an original work such as a watercolour and can be repeated identically any number of times.
• As each print in an edition is separately inked there will be slight variations between one print and the next.
• As the screen for each colour is cleaned after use there is no possibility of a screenprint edition being run again. An edition of 20 is just that. In the case of a drypoint or collagraph the plate is defaced once the edition is complete so again there can be no further prints.
Some recent prints are monoprints or monotypes, still using printmaking techniques but as one-offs, not editions. This is an exciting area for experiment and I’m having a lot of fun. For these I use my etching press.