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Discovering Printmaking at our Madison Annex

A monotype is a one-off print created by painting or inking directly on the plate. In this case, the "painting" is done with water-soluble crayons.
A monotype is a one-off print created by painting or inking directly on the plate. In this case, the “painting” is done with water-soluble crayons on Mylar.

The Art League has a shiny new printing press at our Madison Annex, and it’s getting put to good use in one of this year’s new classes, Print Like the Masters. We stopped by class on a Wednesday morning to see what these techniques are all about.

The focus of this class, taught by Priscilla Treacy, isn’t on creating editions (multiple prints from the same plate). Instead, students explore the different materials, tools, and techniques at their disposal.

Marking the plate for a drypoint.
Marking the plate for a drypoint.
A completed drypoint print.
A completed drypoint print.

Drypoint is one of those techniques. It’s similar to etching, but produces a softer line and (like the other processes used in this class) doesn’t require acid or solvents. The printmaker draws directly on the plate using tools like a diamond-tipped needle or anything else that can cut into the plate. This class uses plastic plates.

Once the drawing is finished, the plate is covered in ink and then wiped clean so ink remains only in the grooves. This makes drypoint part of the intaglio family of printmaking processes. (Relief prints are the opposite: the printmaker removes the parts that won’t be inked.) The artist can also leave thin amounts of ink on the plate surface to create what’s called plate tone.

An inked drypoint plate.
An inked drypoint plate.
Here, that plate is used for a Chine-collé print, in which the image is printed onto tissue-thin paper and simultaneously glued to a stronger support.
Here, that plate is used for a Chine-collé print, in which the image is printed onto tissue-thin paper and simultaneously glued to a stronger support.

Along with drypoint, the other major technique students learn about is monotype. It’s often called the “painterly print” because the printmaker applies paint or ink directly to the printing plate and transfers the image to paper. That means it only creates one good print. The photo at the top of this post shows a monotype being made with water-soluble crayons.

In addition to Print Like the Masters, Priscilla Treacy is also teaching Abstract Exploration in Printmaking this summer.

To see all the printmaking classes this summer, click here.

Student work from Priscilla Treacy's class.
Student work from Priscilla Treacy’s class.

Two prints

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Did you know: The Art League's Art Camp is the longest running visual arts camp in the area! We've been here for more than 30 years! While sadly we can't find any photos from the '80s (please let us know if you have any lying around), let's take a look back at the last several years of burgeoning kid artists and eight years of fun at Art Camp!

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