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Making a Litho

deail of Drifters in blueOver the years, in addition to painting, I’ve continued making prints: mono-prints, lithographs, and some etchings. Many artists make prints because it creates an edition of a single image, which can then be sold at a price much lower than that of a painting. Some make them solely to explore the process and possibilities of the medium, especially if you can afford the services of an experienced printer.

I lean towards the latter, and the process informs my painting, nudging me to open up -- shake it up; the sale of the edition enables me to print another day. A second benefit is that prints fit into flat files, which makes it easier for a gallery to store and then introduce their clients to your work or a museum to purchace for their collection. Mike at Modern Art Obsession recently posted 11 reasons why he bought Kiki Smith's prints, Tyler at Modern Art Notes discusses a museum's latest acquisition of prints. It’s all good.

Many artists have inspired me by their prints, Matisse and Picaso for sure, most recently Chuck Close, Howard Hodgkin, Kara Walker, Raymond Pettibon, and David Hockney.

There's nothing really that I've ever found in other lines that is like an etched line — its fidelity, the richness of it, the density — you just don't get that any other way.

Wayne Thiebaud, from View (Crown Point Press, August 1989)
Two weeks ago I met with lithographer Brian Garner at his newly renovated print shop, which houses his amazing vintage press. At the present time the press is manually operated but will soon be running in a fully automated mode. Instead of turning a big wheel to run the press bed under the roller, this press glides the roller on a track across the inked plate, picking up the inked image on the roller and then laying it down on the paper. It's as complicated and tricky as it sounds. Brian is a master printer, and this press is his pride and joy. It was a real treat to work with him.

finished editionsI made a decision as to which image I would print and how many colors to use, in this case two. Each color requires its own plate. The image is drawn on a clear sheet called transfer paper, which is then transferred to an aluminum plate treated with photo chemicals. The plates are processed, cleaned, aligned on the press, and then inked. After several adjustments the printing begins.

I decided to print three different colors, red, violet, and blue; an edition of four for each color. We ran the second plate, adjusting the color slightly for each of the three editions. After the run each print is signed, titled, and dated; then it is embossed with the printers signature marking.

I'm thrilled to print again after a few years off. I've reacquainted myself with the possibilities of the medium and look forward to doing this on a regular basis. Go to my flickr site to to see more photos of the process.

Mark Barry ( is an artist working in Baltimore.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE them!

libby said...

you're such a romantic!

Anonymous said...

One in Red please!

Mark Barry said...

Thank you mi ladies. As long as I control the rudder Libby.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for demystifying the process. Beautiful work.