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.
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.
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.