BCre8ive Arts Crew launch at WCIAC

West Central Illinois Arts Center invites area young people ages 13-18 to become part of the BCre8ive Arts Crew. Participants will have opportunities to share art experiences with peers, to develop collaborative art projects in the community, and to meet and work with artists around the region.

The first meeting of the BCre8ive Arts Crew will be Sunday, March 24th at 5:00pm at the WCI Arts Center, 25 East Side Square. Working as a team, the Crew will create a sculpture using nontraditional supplies and techniques. They will also begin planning future projects which may include creating a mural in the Arts Center, creating art for Earthfest, and creating artwork for the Community Gardens.

BCre8ive Arts Crew is a pilot project of WCIAC’s developing BCre8ive youth art education program. There is no cost to participants. For more information, please contact Chris Busker at CK-Busker@wiu.edu.

What are Prints?

Our fifth and final post in a series of five on Printmaking.

“Prints, Prints, and more Prints” at the WCI Arts Center ended yesterday, I hope everyone was able to see it!

For the last two weeks we’ve discussed the four main types of traditional printmaking and how each technique influences the appearance of the final print. The four types are relief, intaglio, planography, and stencil or serigraphy.

Relief printmaking is the oldest of the four and is created from a raised surface. A simple example might be a rubber stamp on an ink pad pressed on a piece of paper. The matrix, traditionally made from wood or linoleum, is created by cutting away unwanted sections to reveal the image to be printed. The completed print is then a mirror image of the original woodcut.

Intaglio is a printmaking process in which the image is cut into the surface of the printing matrix, typically smooth thin pieces of metal made of copper or zinc. The print is made by pushing ink into the lines of the design. The surface is then wiped clean so only the areas to be printed, the grooves, have ink. A dampened piece of paper is placed on the matrix and, using pressure, the paper is forced into the grooves to transfer the image.

The images made with the methods of relief and intaglio are made under pressure, an amount of force is needed to create the images. Planography, commonly called lithography, is printmaking on a flat surface and needs no pressure. This printing method is derived from the natural revulsion between grease and water. Grease attracts grease and repels water while water attracts water and repels grease. Each color desired will need its own stone or plate. Modern day offset lithography, or offset printing, accounts for more than 40% of all published, packaged and printed material.

The last type of printmaking we discussed was stencil, also known as screen printing, silk printing or serigraphy. A screen printing stencil is a sheet of mesh stretched over a frame. The mesh has been treated with an emulsion that creates a resist for the ink where the artist does not want the ink to be printed. The image to be printed is “burned through” the emulsion with a specialized light and ink is forced through the opening onto the surface to be printed, traditionally paper. This method is quite versatile and allows for almost anything to be screen printed.

Printmaking is an amazing art form that has evolved through the ages. I enjoyed doing a little research and learning more about the various techniques. I hope the readers of this Blog learned something as well. The WCI Arts Center has excellent examples of lithography by local artist, Peggy West, and screen printing by the WIU emeritus professor of art and local artist, Sam Parker, in our Fall Raffle. Tickets can be purchased to win either or both of these images at one for $5 or five tickets for $20. Stop by and get yours today!

The next exhibit at the WCI Arts Center opens this Friday, October 19. “Photo Narratives” will have a public opening reception on that evening at 6:30pm. Hope to see you all there!

What are Prints?

Our third post in a series of five on Printmaking.

“Prints, Prints, and more Prints” is currently running at the WCI Arts Center until October 13th.

Having already discussed relief and intaglio in previous posts let’s learn about another printmaking technique called planographic.

Planographic printing is a means of printing from a flat surface rather than a raised (relief) or incised (intaglio) surface. Lithography and offset lithography are the most common planographic processes.

The earliest method of lithography, discovered in 1798 by Alois Senefelder, used a block of limestone drawn on with a grease crayon/pencil. The stone, or matrix, is fixed, wet with water, and then inked for printing. Lithography is based on the natural revulsion between oil and water, in other words, the ink only sticks where the stone has grease and does not stick to the areas that are merely wet. Stones used in this method of printmaking are very stable, meaning they degrade very slowly, this results in an almost unlimited number of prints that can be created. In fine art, lithographers will typically make a limited edition, sign the work, and then destroy the stone. There are other more modern methods of lithography, but this original process remains mostly unchanged today.

The next step in the evolution of lithography was transfer lithography. The artist would create his/her image on paper, being an easier surface to draw on than was the limestone, and then transfer the image to the stone. The process for printing once the transfer was complete would continue in the traditional way. As a result of the paper being used its texture also became part of the final print.

Early lithographs were done monochromatically, however towards the late 19th century artisans began experimenting with color lithography or oleographs. The quality of these prints were typically poor. The artist needed multiple stones to create multi color images; each stone providing a different color. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a master of this multi-block color style and many of his contemporaries followed his example.

While the artists of the day were figuring out how to make multi-color pieces with traditional stone, commercial publishers were busy figuring out how to make multiple prints for the masses. Offset lithography, known today as offset printing, was patented by John Strather of England in 1853. His offset press was steam driven and used automatic rollers to moisten the ink and stone while a revolving cylinder pressed the paper to the stone leaving the impression. Unless the images were to be hand painted each color still needed its own stone. There is record of one print using as many as 30 stones to complete.

The premise of offset printing remains the same today: the inked image is printed on a rubber roller, which then transfers, or offsets, the image to paper. Commercial printing has been modernized with the use of rubber rollers and the invention of photographic processes. These new processes, coupled with the use of the halftone screen, allows photographic images to be placed onto the matrix which is now a thin photosensitive sheet of metal. Just as before with the stone, printers still need a different plate for each color, however as printing processes progressed so did ink processes. Only four metal plates are needed for the printing of full color images using the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) one plate per color and a halftone of the images on each plate will create a full color effect.

Today offset lithography accounts for more than 40% of all published, packaged and printed material. We’ve come a long way from the stone and grease pencils of the 1800’s!

Seriography is the topic of our next discussion with our last post being a summary of all the techniques and I’ll introduce a digital printmaking processes to finish out our printmaking posts!

 

What are Prints?

(Post 2 of 5)

“Prints, Prints, and more Prints” is currently running at the WCI Arts Center until October 13th.

Intaglio (pronounced in-TAL-ee-oh) printmaking is the opposite of relief. Artists carve grooves into copper or zinc plates to collect the ink, whereas in relief the ink sits on the unaltered surface and not in the grooves that are cut away. The matrix is inked liberally and then the unaltered surfaces are wiped clear. Dampened paper is commonly used as the substrate because the moist surface allows for it to be pressed into the grooves on the matrix more easily. The substrate is then placed against the plate into a printing press and pressure is applied causing the print to be created. Artists use various techniques to create the incisions on the surface of the plate, such as engraving, etching, drypoint, aquatint or mezzotint. It is very common to use more than one technique in the same piece of work depending on the look the artisan is trying to achieve.

Engraving has been around the longest, originating in central and southern Europe during the 15th century. A V-grooved tool called a burin is used to cut designs into the metal surface. It is very difficult to master this technique and when etching was discovered as an alternative, engraving quickly lost favor.

Etching is a much easier skill to master than engraving. The metal plate is first covered with a resist, a wax or an acrylic ground. Using an etching needle, artists then scratch through the applied ground to expose the matrix. An etchant, typically nitric acid or ferric chloride, is then poured over the plate to “bite” into the metal. The acid leaves sunken lines in the plate which will be the vehicles for the ink once the remaining ground is removed.

Drypoint is a variation of engraving in which a sharp point is used to emboss the matrix. The line created by the sharp point leaves a soft, blurry line quality on the finished print rather than the defined line achieved in the typical engraving process. This technique is used for small print editions as the multiple pressings of the plate on the paper destroys the burr and line character from the scratched image. It is also used in conjunction with other techniques either at the beginning, to provide a light sketch before a complete engraving, or at the end of the process to give darker contrasts.

Acid is also used when creating an aquatint print. The resist, however, is a melted powdered rosin, which is cooked onto the plate. After curing the rosin can be scratched or burnished off to re-expose the metal. This technique is primarily used to create numerous tonal values through varying levels of acid exposure.

Mezzotint is unique in that the artist works from dark to light. The surface plate is roughened using a rocker, a small wheel covered with sharp points, to cut the burrs into the plate. The design is then created by smoothing out the roughened areas with a burnisher. This type of printmaking is also known for its deep, intense tonal contrast.

Today intaglio techniques are an ideal application for the printing of postage stamps and paper currency. It is very difficult to counterfeit intaglio printing as the thickness of ink is unique to this process.

Next time we’ll tackle planography.

What are Prints?

First post in a series of five articles on printmaking.

“Print, Prints and More Prints” is currently running at the WCI Art Center until October 13th.

Many people enjoy prints but what exactly is the process to create a print? Why are they so special?

Traditionally there are four main categories of Printmaking; Relief, Intaglio, Planographic, and Stencil (or Serigraphy). An additional type of printmaking, added in the last few decades, is called Giclée (pronounced zhee-clay). In the next couple weeks I will attempt to describe these techniques and imprint some new knowledge on the reader.

The oldest category of print making is relief, the process of taking a protruding surface of the block, or matrix, and applying an ink or coloring. The recessed areas remain unchanged. A substrate, most commonly paper, is then pressed onto the matrix creating the image. Woodcut, or woodblock, linocut, and metalcut are examples of the relief technique.

Originating as early as 5th century China, woodcut is the oldest relief technique used to transfer text, images or patterns onto paper or fabric. European and Japanese woodcuts appeared much later in the 15th Century. The print artist draws the desired image on a plank or block of wood and cuts out the areas that will not receive ink. The surface of the block is then inked and the paper is placed over the block. The block can be used with a printing press, hands, spoon, or a roller to transfer the image to the paper. If the finished piece is in color, there may be several different blocks created for the different colors, or a method reduction printing can be used.

Reduction printing describes the use of one block to create multiple layers of color. More and more of the block is cut away after each color is applied. Typically the artist will create more than one impression because once the next layer is cut into the block no more prints can then be made.

Linocut is similar to woodcut but the matrix relief surface is a sheet of linoleum rather than wood. Using linoleum for a printing technique dates back to the early 1900’s in Germany where it was used in printing wallpaper. This manmade material has no direction to its grain and is easier to cut into than wood, but it will also degrade faster from the pressure of printing. Linoleum can also be used in a reduction technique and was done by art masters Picasso and Matisse who helped bring the use of linocut into more popular favor.

In the next post we’ll delve into Intaglio Printmaking!

by Kate Michael-Mattsey