Original Lithography Process

View a Slide Show of the Lithography Process

Original hand drawn lithographs are next in line to original oils or acrylics. Museums and auction houses have traditionally acquired original lithographs and usually stayed away from offset lithographs.

An original lithograph in its purest form, does not exist in any other medium. In making the lithograph, "Mullet Friday", Jonathan Green drew his sketches on mylar plates, 16 plates altogether and then printed them on 330 grams Somerset Velvet paper, with the help of a master printer.

The "pulling" or printing process starts with a blank lithograph paper cut to size. The master printer mixes each ink color to the artist's specifications, and then carefully inks the images on the plate. Each plate is inked and sponged two or three times before each printing is made. After the first color is printed, the artist can make corrections directly on the plate using the greasy wax drawing materials. Each time a color is applied, the artist has to wait at least 24 hours for the ink to dry. The lithography process is both time and labor intensive, usually lasting up to two months to finish the whole lithograph.

Because each color is hand applied one at a time by the artist and master printer, the resulting lithograph is regarded as a unique original because no two will come out exactly alike. These lithographs are highly sought after by savvy collectors, museums, and auction houses.

Each original lithograph is an artist creation. Instead of creating a painting with brushes and oils, the artist has to master the techniques and temperament of the plate and inks as tools to create his work of art. This is why original fine art lithographs should never be confused with offset lithography reproduction, which are simply copies of something else. Most so called limited edition prints in the market today are examples of offset lithography reproduction. The colors in hand pulled original lithographs are solid, while the colors in offset lithographs are made up of thousands of dots. To see the difference between original hand drawn lithographs and offset lithographs, place a magnifying glass over the offset lithograph image and you will see lots of dots. On original lithographs, you will see a solid color.

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