FINE ART LITHOGRAPHY
Fine Art Lithography is over 200 years old. Aloys Senefelder, a German, invented the process in 1798. Lithography, derived from the Greek words for stone and writing, is perhaps best known from prints of artists such as Daumier, Bonnard and Toulouse Lautrec. The use of lithography spread in the 19th century due to the appealing painterly result that the artists could achieve. The range of textures and rich tonal variations allowed each artist to adapt the medium to their own personal style.
Lithography is a “planographic” printing process. In this technique, the ink lies in a flat plane on the surface of the stone or the plate. The process is based on the simple fact that oil and water do not mix but rather repel one another.
Artists lithographs are made by drawing on a specially prepared stone or plate. Lithographic stones are almost pure limestone. The surface of the stone is “grained” or polished to a coarse , medium or smooth surface. This process is done using a variety of abrasive grits, water and another stone or levigator. This is also the way to remove an old image. Stones are used over and over again. A plate cannot be reused.
Once the stone is ready, the artist begins to draw using special lithographic pencils, crayons or tusche. These materials have a certain grease or oil content to them. With this range of materials you can produce a finely rendered drawing or a loose, painterly image. A chemical etch of nitric acid and gum arabic is applied to make the drawing image area receptive to printers ink. The original drawing is removed with a solvent. The etch is washed off with water. Keeping the stone wet, ink is applied with a roller. A film of ink stays in the greasy drawing area but not on the remainder of the stone. Once the stone is fully inked, a piece of printing paper is placed over it and it is hand cranked through a special press. All multiple color prints require a separate stone or plate. Each print must be registered to the new drawing.
Each hand–pulled lithograph should not be considered a reproduction but rather a unique, original work of art