Glossary

Creative Process / Monoprints and Monotypes / Printmaking / Painting Terms & Definitions / Painting Techiques

The Creative Process

Understanding the various media employed by artists can be important in determining the quality and value of a particular painting or print. Original works of art are created with oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel and pen and ink. Original prints are most often made by using one of the following printing processes: lithography, etching, serigraphy, and relief printing. A brief synopsis of these common printing techniques follows:

Lithograph:
To produce a lithograph, the artist draws on a limestone slab with a grease crayon or with tusche (liquid ink). Water is spread over the stone and covers only the areas not drawn on. Ink is rolled over the stone, adhering to the greasy lines drawn by the artist, but not to those areas covered by the water. Paper is placed over the surface and a print made in a special press. Today, artists use various materials, from aluminum plates to acetate sheets, to create lithographs.

Etching:
Here the medium is a copper or zinc plate coated with acid-resistant varnish. The artist draws the design through the varnish coating. The plate is then immersed in acid and the lines are etched in the metal plate. When inked and placed in a press, a print impression of the design results.

Serigraph:
The artist uses a tightly stretched screen, often silk, and covers the screen with a varnish-like substance to block out the areas he does not want to print. Ink is then forced through the screen onto the paper, printing only through the unvarnished sections.

Relief Printing:
In making a relief print, a block of material, often wood or linoleum, is used instead of a metal plate. The artist uses sharp tools to cut his design into the surface of the block, removing all the undesired surface and leaving his original design on the block. The design is then inked and applied to paper.

Original prints are always produced in limited editions, usually several hundred, at the most. The print will have a figure on its border, indicating the number of prints made and the number of that particular print in the sequence. For instance, the figure 50/100 indicates that the edition has been limited to 100 prints and that this was the 50th print made. The print should be signed in pencil by the artist, and the printing plate or screen destroyed after the edition is completed.


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