Linda Richardson  artist printmaker

About Prints

Cat Nap

'Cat Nap' Etching

For those who are new to buying original prints, here is a brief definition of what to look for. I know it can get confusing!

Artist's Printmaking Techniques

RELIEF PRINTS - These can be linocuts, wood engravings, wood cuts, deeply etched plates or any objects where the printing surface is the raised part. Anything that is not required to print is cut away. Ink is then rolled over the relief part which transfers the ink onto the printing paper.

INTAGLIO PRINTS- Made from metal plates with the image being engraved or etched. The ink is held below the surface of the plate, while the top surface is wiped clean.

Damp printing paper is placed on top and wound through a press at great pressure. The pressure transfers the ink out of the plate and onto the paper.

In this category are the following:

ETCHING - Wax is melted and rolled onto the metal plate. This acts as a protective ground which acts as a resist. Lines are inscribed through the wax and the plate is immersed in acid. The mordant eats into the metal where the wax has been removed. Using varnish a variation of line depth can be achieved. If the plate is stopped out after a while, the depth of line will hold less ink than parts of the drawing that have been bitten for longer. The wax is then removed. The plate is inked over the whole surface and wiped to leave the ink in the recesses. The pressure from the press pulls out the ink onto the damp paper when it is wound through.

The Dovecote

'The Dovecote' Aquatint

AQUATINT - A dusting of rosin powder is melted onto the plate. Using varnish the plate is stopped out after each immersion in the acid for varying lengths of time. A short etch will produce light grey tones to a deep etch which will produce black. The rosin is removed after biting and the plate is inked and wiped to leave the ink in the recesses. The pressure from the press pulls out the ink onto the damp paper when it is wound through.

DRYPOINTS - A direct way of working onto a plate. A stylus scratches into the metal leaving a burr which is raised beside a furrow. The burr of metal holds more ink than the incised line itself.

The Farm

'The Farm' Lithograph

LITHOGRAPY - Also known as planographic prints. The image and support are in the same plane. This is a flat process based upon the natural antipathy of oil and water. The image is made on a stone or specially prepared zinc plate using greasy ink or crayon. It is treated with various chemicals and gum. After processing it is rolled up with a special lithographic ink. The plate must be kept damp during the inking, so that only the greasy image will accept the ink and the rest of the plate will reject it.

SCREEN PRINTING - Also known as serigraphic prints. A silk or nylon fine meshed material is stretched onto a wooden or metal frame. The design is blocked out onto the screen using stencils or filler which can be painted on. the printing ink is forced through the open parts of the screen onto the paper underneath using a squeegee.

Straw Bales

'Straw Bales' Screenprint

COLLAGRAPH - A collage of materials are glued onto a base plate. An intaglio or relief print can be produced, or a combination of the two.

MONOTYPE - Also known as a monoprint. This is a 'one-off' print. A non-absorbent surface such as glass, metal or plastic has ink painted onto it. A sheet of paper is placed on top and pressure is applied which transfers the image onto the paper.

(All images by Linda Richardson.)

Original Prints


'Hares (purple)'

Whatever the medium, whether etching, relief/block printing, lithography or screen printing, the important thing is that the artist has conceived and worked directly onto the plate, block or screen. It is the artist's own hand that has drawn or made the marks from which the edition will be printed. The artist produces a number of prints (an edition) and signs and numbers each one. The number of the individual print and the size of the edition is indicated by a fraction, eg. 2/75 is number 2 in the edition of 75. A/P stands for artist's proof and ideally should make up to 10% of the print run. An original print is an original work of art and not to be confused with commercial reproductions which can also be marketed as limited edition prints.

Reproductions can have an edition number. I have seen reproductions of artist's paintings that look amazing. The commercial printer has the ability to produce fine giclée prints (digital prints) on high quality inkjet paper and there is nothing wrong in buying them, but they are reproductions, not originals.

From my personal point of view, I love the fact that there is a slight variation in an artist's edition. Sometimes a little more ink was used on the roller or a colour wiped less on the plate. I can say that every print produced in my studio is hand printed. The plates and blocks have to be inked up for every stage that is needed to make the finished print.

© All images are copyright of the artist

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