The Lithographic Process

The lithographic images created by Dennis are made with individual drawings for each color he uses in the print, and the lithographs are made an the Harris offset press. Offset refers to the transfer of the image from an inked plate to a rubber blanket, and then to paper. (In direct lithography, by comparison, the image is transferred directly from the plate or stone to paper. One advantage of the offset process lies in its ability to hold delicate tonal qualities not possible in direct lithography. The registration is also superior to that of direct presses, allowing multiple runs with a single plate. This is useful in modifying or adding density to the color by printing it more than once, either over the entire image, or in specific areas.

He starts with six to eight basic drawings, primarily using graphite pencil and some airbrush on drafting mylar, a translucent material with a textured surface.

Each drawing is contacted to a light-sensitive, continuous tone aluminum plate. Ultraviolet light is passed through the mylar, transferring the drawn image to the plate.

The plate is next mounted on the press. Inks, mixed much the same as paints on a palette, are applied to the press, and when the image and color have created the desired effect for that plate, the edition is printed. This is repeated with each subsequent drawing until the artist is satisfied with the completed image; in most instances, between eight and thirty press runs are required.

As the separate drawings are brought together in the developing print, the colors and their relationships constantly change, making the printing itself an exciting and creative process.

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