2004-01-30 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein
From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance by Susan Hartenstein

Zwack Vogel 2 Artist: Steve Gibson. Medium: Relief print.Zwack Vogel 2 Artist: Steve Gibson. Medium: Relief print.

OK. So you love the artwork created by the techniques of printmaking, but you don’t really understand the dif ferences between one process and an other. Take heart! This column will al leviate any confusion you may have. And, best of all, it will give you the basic definitions that will make your visit to "PRESSED AND PULLED: A Juried Printmaking Exhibition" an even richer and more enjoyable experience. Of course, we’ll make it all simple as pie at the exhibit (February 7-March 7; opening reception is Sunday, February 8 @ 1-3 PM) too, but I figured I’d give you an early start. And now – A Printmaking Primer: (Pay attention.)

Intaglio – any of the techniques in which an image or tonal area is printed from lines or textures scratched or etched into a metal plate. Some of these techniques are engraving, etching, drypoint and aquatint. The plate is covered with ink and then wiped clean. What remains is ink in the in cised lines or textures of the image. Moistened paper is laid over the plate, put through a press where the paper is forced down into the incised areas of the plate holding the ink, transferring the image onto the paper.

Relief print – a print in which the image is transferred from the raised parts of a carved, etched or cast block. A rubber stamp is a perfect example of relief print. The most common type of relief print is a woodcut. The term is a general one used for all the techniques of this type.

Get the difference between these two definitions? It’s like inking valleys or inking hills.

Engraving – a form of intaglio print ing in which lines are incised into a metal plate with a carving tool known as a "burin." Burin engraving is different from etching. Engraving requires great force, from the strength of the arm. Etching is done more from the fingertips, imparting a quavering autographic quality. Engravings often exhibit elegantly swelling and tapering lines.

Etching – An intaglio print in which acid is used to incise lines on a metal plate. The plate is covered with an acid resistant ground. A design is scratched onto the plate through the ground with a stylus or needle, leaving bare metal below. The plate is lowered into an acid bath, which cuts the in cised line into the plate.

Is it getting clearer? Stick with me. Now, for inking the hills.

Woodcut – A relief print usually carved into the plank grain of a piece of wood with knives or gouges. The plank is then inked with a dauber or roller. It can then be printed by hand (a sheet of paper is laid on the inked plank and rubbed from the back with a smooth surface like the palm of the hand or a spoon) or by mechanical press.

Linoleum cut – a relief print carved into linoleum. (Duh!)

Lithograph – A printing technique in which an image is drawn on a flat slab of limestone or a metal plate. The limestone or plate is specially treated with a chemical so that ink, when rolled onto the stone or plate, adheres only where the drawing was done. The inked image is then transferred to a piece of paper by means of a press.

Did you think these next two were the same? Guess again.

Monotype – the printing of an image from a clean, un-worked surface containing no scratching or carving. The monotype is a singular image and cannot be replicated.

Monoprint – a special, often one of a kind wiping or painting that also might include direct painting onto an already worked etching plate, collograph plate, woodwork, screen or lithographic stone.

Screen print (also called a silk screen or serigraph) – a form of stencil prin t ing in which the stencil is ad hered to a fine screen for support. Ink is squeegeed through the screen onto pa per. A screen print can have a hard-edged quality due to the hard edges of the stencil.

Of course, there are more types of prints but we can save that for another time. Having given you these definitions, let me now say that artists have been experimenting and improvising with the techniques of printmaking for centuries. The possibilities are endless. Ink may be used for a print, but so may watercolor or other paint. Various types of hard surfaces can be used and techniques can be com bined. Definitions are not always hard and fast. Most of these processes allow for multiple reproductions. Other prints may be unique. Print making is a fascinating, ever-evolving means of making art. Come see PRESSED AND PULLED and explore the many pleasures of this rich medium. Remember – February 7-March 7. Opening reception: February 8, 1-3 PM @ sTudio 6. Gallery hours: Sat urdays 12-5, Sundays 1-4. And we’ll have all the "inside scoop" there to make this a very special eye-opening experience.

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