some printmaking, old and new

a few weeks back i attended a one day lithography workshop at the curwen press with three other artists, valerie armstrong, jenny goater and lynn hutton, organised through the art group artworks. valerie has very kindly sent me a cd of the photographs that were taken of our day at the curwen studio. it was a day of leisurely learning and perhaps a little professional development…


some photographs of the day at curwen studio

the curwen press (now known as the curwen studio) was established in 1958 as a professional printmaking studio for artists and fine art publishers, originally set up in London but it relocated to more spacious premises at Chilford Hall in 1989. the curwen studio has worked with a number of national & international artists over the years including henry moore, eduardo paolozzi, howard hodgkin, paula rego, john piper and chris orr (who happened to be one of my tutors at the rca). the curwen studio has bequeathed a collection of its prints to the tate’s print archive and it has also established strong connections with the royal academy and its academicians. in 2008 the curwen studio celebrated its 50th anniversary with special display of original prints at tate britain.

for the curwen lithography day, i decided to take along some small, textured pebbles from my collection so that i could explore drawing & mark-making from real objects, on a small scale – the six drawings are about A4…


crayon & tusche drawings on drafting film and the final lithograph print

here’s a close up (about life size) of one of the litho drawings on drafting film, of a very pitted and nobbly stone found many years ago on a beach in south wales, drawn in tusche ink wash, graphite and lithographic crayon – they were created on drafting film as the drawings were going to be used as the photo positives to process onto one large photo litho plate…


lithographic drawing on drafting film

however, when my images were processed all the delicate lines and textures of my drawing were pretty much lost – perhaps they needed a slower exposure, as it seemed even the tiniest trace of oily tusche on the film created a very dark, flat tone..


lithographic print on somerset paper

so, my final lithograph prints were a slight disappointment but nevertheless i still enjoyed my printmaking day out…

special thanks go to jenny roland and michael the studio manager for making our day both rewarding and special -  a fabulous buffet lunch was also laid on for us which was much appreciated!

i did quite a bit of lithography as an art student, on zinc plate and stone, and if i had the opportunity to pursue it again i would like to do more stone lithography…

along with the final editon of lithographic prints, which i’ve decided i will develop further with some drypoint intaglio or collagraph embossing, i still have my original crayon & tusche drawings on the drafting film… the second set of tusche washes (used for the blue grey colour in the lithograph print) seemed worthy of closer inspection since the subtle textures changed according to the direction of the light, shown here actual size…


tusche backlit from light from a window


with white paper placed behind the drafting film


photographed in a raking light

there was such a tremendous amount of subtle detail that i zoomed in further – these are the same three images, cropped to show those subtle textures…


this crop is about the size of a large postage stamp…


they look like something viewed through a microscope… (i would love a microscope that links up to a camera)…


and here, once again shown in a soft, raking light….

these photographs are very inspiring, as i see so many connections to my other work, from the drawings of bark & lichens to the textured panel paintings… and how digital images derived or developed from one’s own artwork are a useful aid to the creative thinking process.

so, a little time was spent browsing my digital archives, some digital printmaking from a few years ago…


char, digital print, august 2002

these are from a series of experimental digital prints in 2002, created in a very low-tech way. i scanned an old photograph (one of a piece of charred wood, the other of some rocks) as tiff files. the programme i used was an early version of graphic converter – it was freeware at the time. i then proceeded to print the images numerous times on a single sheet of paper, each time rotating the image in the software and then feeding the sheet of paper through the printer again. here’s another example…


rock, digital print, august 2002

i printed them for my portfolio but i did not exhibit or frame them.