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Making a Litho

Hot off the press, no, reallySince March I have been working on a lithograph with master printer Brian Garner. Each time, we approach a project in an open-ended way. What may begin as a one- or two-color print can, as it did in this case, with a print I call The Trollers, turn into a seven-color event.

A print image can begin from scratch, a fresh idea, or spring from an ongoing process. There have been many water/boating images as themes for my paintings over the years, and the Troller image is a continuation of The Drifters, On the Reach, and this painting, in particular, as well as ceramic relief works like this and this.

The beauty of collaborating on a print, especially with a great printer, is that you end up pushing limits and trying endless combinations of colors or the many possible versions of a particular color itself. We experimented with three to five possibilities for each. The transparency of each color can also be adjusted: this is very important when colors interact, as when blue and yellow overlap to form green.

Printer Brian Garner and his Steinmesse & Stollberg Dufa V, circa 1955, 30" x 40" bed press

The print started with a key image, which in this case is a strong line drawing, produced with grease pencil, brush, and ink on acetate paper, then transferred to a light-sensitive aluminum plate. The key image, in black, was the last plate to print and, if all went well, would tie the whole piece together, making a cohesive image. The qualifying word here is if. Although it’s a great thrill to witness the result, as the ink-laden roller lays down each color on the paper (and we coo, eeewww and ahhhh!), it’s never complete until the final plate brings the image home.

We ended up with an edition of 20 signed, numbered, and embossed prints. Go to my Flickr site to see photos documenting the project.

Mark Barry ( is an artist living and working in Baltimore.


Anonymous said...

Love the print, paypal on the way, 5/20 is my lucky #! Dig the, Anya, playing in the background, you guys are so sensative....

Mark Barry said...

Thanks, tg, 5/20 is at the framer and is yours! Yes, Brian and I would be a ball of mush when ever Anya shuffled on the iPod. There are tear stains on the proof.

Anonymous said...

It's Enya guys...if your going to swoon at least get the girls name right. This print turned out amazing! Love the youtube.

Mark Barry said...

Enya-anya-yanya, it's all background to me. But thanks, l-o, you know I really only swoon for you! Now buy a print so I can pay for your college.