I am a paper geek. I use archival quality paper which means it should last for centuries. Most of my work is done on Zercoll, BFK Rives or Somerset papers. The exact specification is stated next to each piece of work.
Zercoll is a lovely smooth paper that makes it very suitable for block and screen printing. It has a creamy white colour and I generally use a 145gms.
The Somerset 250gms is a soft creamy white with a light dimpled texture and I use it for drypoint intaglio prints, cyanotypes and occasionally screenprints. I also like it as the basis of my mixed media work.
The BFK Rives is a thick 250gms pure white paper with a fine, smooth surface, ideally used dry in monotypes but also very good for screenprinting. It’s also my preferred paper for photopolymner intaglio (etching) prints.
Fabriano Accademica is a good all-round paper that I use mainly for my huge maniere noire style drawings. I like to stretch massive pieces of it onto the wall in my studio before working on it. The only problem I find with it is that, as it comes in a roll, it needs to be soaked and stretched in order to flatten it.
I use top quality archival oil-based printing inks for block prints and monotypes; makes include Intaglio Printmakers, Graphic Chemical and T. N. Lawrence. Screenprints are done with Daler Rowney System 3 acrylics. These inks should last for centuries when they are printed onto archival quality paper.
Printing press and facilities
I use the resources at Swansea Print Workshop, an artist-led community based facility. I use the Victorian Colombian press (below), dating from 1855, for block prints and the equally ancient Radcliffe for monotypes and etchings. The print workshop also has a super new vacuum bed for screenprinting.
I work with a variety of drawing materials – all top artist / archival quality including conté crayons, oil pastels, Indian ink, Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, graphite blocks, Derwent pencils, Winsor & Newton oil bars, carbon, compressed charcoal. Here is one of my large (60 x 125 cms) maniere noire style drawings constructed with graphite block and gesso onto Fabriano Accademica.
The three-colour reduction monotype technique
This is an advanced form of reductive monotype, where the image is redrawn three times in three different colours – yellow, red and blue and the prints overlaid – or stacked – to give a final full-colour image. As with all monotypes, the image is unique; although a ghost image can be taken with the remaining ink on the plates (Degas used ghost images under his pastel drawings of ballet dancers). It’s a fabulous technique for those who like to draw or paint.
Litho/relief oil-based inks in the three process colours are thinned in a 60:40 ratio with medium plate oil [or linseed oil] so they are translucent. A very thin layer of process yellow is rollered onto a perspex plate and put over the original drawing. Different drawing tools are used to make marks in the ink and to remove areas of colour – stiff brushes, cotton buds [Q tips], scrim, rags, bits of wood like cocktail sticks and kebab skewers etc…
A piece of DRY BFK Rives 250gms paper is put onto the bed of an intaglio press [I use a Radcliffe] and the perspex plate placed ink-side down onto it. Tissue is put on top to protect the press blankets and the print is taken. The perspex is cleaned with vegetable oil and a final swipe of methylated spirits and then rollered with a very thin layer of Process Magenta and a second drawing made. The process is repeated once more with Process Cyan. The final pressing gives every colour from a velvety black through to white.