Within the 19th century, former carriage house of the Lockwood Mathews mansion in Norwalk resides the Center for Contemporary Printmaking (CCP), which was founded in 1995 as a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting fine art printmaking, including lithography, monotype, silk screen, and several other printing techniques.
Members of the CCP have participated in the CCNS Art Show & Sale throughout the years, and this year’s show includes two fine art printmakers who are “key holding” members of the CCP, Betty Ball and Jane Cooper. I recently had the great pleasure of meeting with Betty and Jane at the CCP where I received a tour of the facility, observed an ongoing Norwalk Community College class, picked up a lithostone (there is seriously no reason for a lithographer to join a gym … ever), learned about Betty’s and Jane’s creative processes, and was even put to work pressing one of Jane’s prints!
What I learned during my visit to the CCP is that there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to creating a fine art print. Fine art printmaking is the creation of an original artwork using whatever medium and materials the artist chooses, and most definitely should not be confused with a print or reproduction (these days often done by giclee printing) of an original artwork. Both Betty and Jane create monotypes and monoprints, which involve the transfer of ink or paint from a plate to a paper or canvas often with the assistance of a press. To sound like a true aficionado, here are some key terms that you should know:
- Monotype – A monotype is essentially a printed painting and is created by transferring ink or paint from a clean, unetched plate to paper or canvas. Betty and Jane use oil-based paints that they apply to plates using brushes, cotton swabs, brayers … any number of items.
- Monoprint – A monoprint is the same as a monotype except that it will reflect a pattern or part of an image that is part of the plate. In creating a monoprint, the plate is not clean but etched or has some kind of pattern such as lace or leaves, which will always be reflected in a print created with that plate.
- Ghost Image – Generally, almost all of the ink or paint is transferred from the plate to the paper or canvas; however, some artists create a ghost image of the original print by pressing another piece of paper or canvass with the same plate without re-inking or re-painting.
- Chine colle – Chine collie is a method in which thinner paper is bonded to heavier paper before ink or paint is pressed onto the papers. This method can add texture, color or depth to a print.
Be sure to stop by the CCNS Art Show & Sale June 4-7 to see some of the beautiful fine art prints created by Betty and Jane!