Blog: ARTY FACTS | Printmaking Part 2
Printmaking Part 2 - Screen Printing
In our second weekly blog looking at the techniques and processes of our gallery artists we have the next printmaking installment, this time focusing on screen printing (also known as silkscreen printing or serigraph printing).
Screen printing is a method of transferring ink to paper by pushing the ink through a mesh screen. Areas of the screen will have been blocked off by the blocking stencil (the areas not to be printed). The material of the mesh was traditionally silk, however currently synthetic threads are used, the most popular being polyester.
A squeegee is then used to move the ink across the screen, then with a swift reverse motion and pressure with the squeegee the ink is pushed through the small mesh holes so that the ink is transferred to the paper underneath (the ink could be transferred to different types of substrates including canvas, aluminium or fabric). Finer mesh is used for screens that will result in more detailed printing.
Historically screen-printing originated in Asia and was introduced to Europe in the late 18th century. However, it was artist Andy Warhol and the pop-art movement of the 1960's, that popularised the technique as an art form.
This is where the technical skill combined with the artist's vision comes in to play. It requires a staged process because the final design/picture to be printed is often made up of several layers and can require several screens if it is multicoloured.
To create the hand-made stencil, the design is painted or drawn onto drafting film (the film is transparent). Multiple stencils can be made for different layers of colour/detail. *What you draw is what you will see on the print, so you are drawing/painting the stencil in the positive.
To prepare the screen, a photographic emulsion is mixed which is then coated onto the screen and dried in a drying rack or dark room (it is important that the screen does not undergo any light exposure at this point).
The screen then goes into an exposure unit with the stencil positioned underneath the screen.
The light shines from underneath the stencil and screen, the light is unable to penetrate the areas of the stencil that are black (the positives of the image) but the areas that are not black the light will reach and the emulsion layer will harden in those spaces.
The screen is then washed quickly (to ensure no exposure occurs to other areas).
The areas where the black part of the stencil was positioned where the light couldn't get through enables the emulsion to be washed away exposing those areas - these are the positive areas of the image, the areas of the mesh where the ink can pass through.
At this point the screen is now ready for the printing.
Screen prints from our artists
Below are three artists from the gallery who use the screen printing process to create artwork. Each artist produces something very different which demonstrates how screen printing is a technique found in many different styles and genres of art.
Screen print on aluminium with paint and airbrushing
Contemporary pop-artist Devin Miles is both an artist and graphic designer who has combined many creative approaches to produce his screen prints. Please read more and view the collection here.
Turquoise Hosepipe Ban
Screen print with paint embellishment
A major figure in contemporary british art, read more about Bruce Mclean and view the gallery collection here.
Harvest Moon, Louisa Boyd screen print with metal leaf
Louisa is an artist and printmaker local to Chester who regularly exhibits in exhibitions across the UK, most notably at the Royal Academy in London. Shortlisted for the John Ruskin prize in 2017, please read more and view the gallery collection here.
Please take a look at the clips below from Louisa Boyd showing the screen printing process for her new pieces.