I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently, so to make up for that I’m planning on doing a good few posts over the next few weeks to try to catch up a bit!
This post documents my first go at colour printing from a stone:
- The first thing to say is that printing in colour is so different from printing in black and white. Each ink acts very differently, some being very runny and needing to be stiffened before use, others being so highly pigmented that lots of extender is needed to tame it a bit.
- Another thing I learned is that you very rarely use opaque white when printing in colour. It tends to dull colours down and decrease their vibrancy. Instead, the coloured ink is made more or less transparent using extender, making use of the natural luminosity of the paper being printed on.
- Paper stretch is a major factor when printing in colour and in register. This is especially noticeable when using damped paper to print onto. As such, dry paper is usually used. However this tends to result in not as much detail being picked up from the stone as when printing in black and white.
- In this case, I made a test stone by first applying gum arabic to the stone to mark it out in sections – wherever the gum was applied would not take the drawing. I then used a variety of different drawing materials to fill in each square, including hard and soft litho crayon, turps tusche (grease suspended in turps), water tusche (grease suspended in water), liquid litho ink, and techniques such as scratching into the gummed stone and rubbing turpsy black ink into the scratched areas.
- I then processed the stone and printed the first colour. It is important at this stage to ensure that each print you take is registered well. This is usually done using the pin registration technique, which I’ll do a separate post on in due course.
- I then re-worked the stone, using soap wash, pumice and scratching back, and printed the stone again in a different colour on top of the first print.
- When printing multiple stones in colour, you inevitably get colours mixing, and this is a very exciting part of stone lithography. It’s going to take a lot of practice to be able to accurately predict what the resulting colour will be when one is layed on top of another.
I rarely use colour in my work at the moment, and when I do I use it cautiously. I think I get a bit overwhelmed by the connotations behind using a particular colour, or using one colour against another. However I’d like to try to overcome this, and have recently been noticing colour combinations which occur in my everyday surroundings. So this week I decided to go out for walk and photograph a few. I seem to always be drawn towards muted hues, rather than bright, bold colours, particularly peeling paint – when one colour reveals another underneath, hinting at the history of the object. I’m going to try to use some of these colour combinations as inspiration for some new prints this year.