There are many ways to make an image and one of my favourite methods is the monotype print. Here I’ll offer a brief description of the process for those who are not so familiar with the method. It basically involves making a painting in reverse and printing it onto dry or dampened paper to produce a one off image, hence the name – monotype.
Beginning with some ideas sketched out, I prepare, in this case, a sheet of 2 mm thick perspex sheet and my paper (Rives BFK) all cut to size so I have a border around the print.
Above you can see my sketch on top of the paper and how I have rolled out ink onto the sheet for the first of four printing stages. It is important to ensure the ink is not too thick or thin, a process of trial and error and experience reveal the best results.
Now the inked sheet is placed onto my printing board (some artists use an etching press) within a pencil registration mark to ensure each stage of the printing is in line with the previous.
The paper is carefully placed over the inked plate and then secured in place. I then use a roller to put even pressure onto the paper so it picks up ink from the plate. I also use a wooden spoon/baren and hand pressure to make selective modifications to the image where the ink may be thin or I want to emphasise a mark on the plate. Everything is subjective and the outcome often surprises me.
A tense moment of anticipation. Now I reveal the first stage of the print. Next, I add more layers of ink in a painterly manner and make another print from the plate.
The paper remains fixed in place so each layer registers with the previous. I may work another three or four layers of ink before I am completely satisfied with the print.
The illustrated print – ‘Last Few Leaves’ Monotype Print by Rob Newton, 48 x 46 cm (5 Layers)
‘Embleton Terrace’ Monotype Print, 48 x 46 cm (4 Layers)
Above, one I made a few days previous. Now the prints will take a week or two to dry properly, before being mounted and framed for exhibition or sale.
Follow this link to buy Monotype Prints by Rob Newton Prices start at £100 for these original, affordable prints. More work can be seen here www.robnewton.co.uk.
This week we were delighted to sell an original drawing by Pastel Society member, Janine Baldwin, as a wedding gift. Knowing they liked art, the groom’s parents offered to buy the happy couple an original piece. Following research online, they chose “Soft Snow” (pictured above) in pastel, charcoal and graphite.
On the same day we delivered another painting, Midnight Flowers, an original painting, by Jane Askey, bought as an anniversary gift from husband to wife. And a week previously, a signed, limited edition, giclee print “Persephone”, by Jane Ray, as a present for a new Goddaughter.
It is great for us to see an increasing trend in discerning gift buyers looking to buy quality art online. Special occasions do indeed require a thoughtful gift and with the increase in the number of galleries now selling online there’s certainly plenty to choose from that won’t necessarily break the bank.
Original artworks, particularly those on paper; watercolours, prints, drawings and photographs offer a great investment at a genuinely affordable price. Here at Watermark Gallery limited edition prints start at around £100 and original watercolours and drawings for less than £500. With the average UK guest now spending £432 on a wedding, of which £85 is spent on a gift*, it doesn’t take many people to club together to buy an artwork that is truly memorable and worthwhile.
The big question is, how do you know what to buy. How do you avoid falling in to the trap of buying something the recipient just can’t stand, but then feels they have to display every time you visit?
Here are eight top tips to buying art as a present online
Look for the style clues. Always consider the recipient’s style and taste. Are they traditional people, vintage or retro enthusiasts or do they prefer clean, modern living.
Consider the connections. Art that has a personal link with a particular memory, place of interest or pastime is always a thoughtful choice.
Colour is one of the most important factors when choosing art. One of our most popular artworks is an 11-colour screen print called Golden II by Lisa Stubbs, featuring bright yellow daffodils. Generally speaking, people choose artworks that will fit a particular colour scheme at home. Those who dress in colourful clothes tend to like bold and colourful artworks too. And without a doubt paintings featuring strong hues of blue are always a safe bet.
Never buy an artwork that is too big. Large artworks tend to be statement pieces and can be difficult to accommodate whereas smaller pieces are easier to fit in.
Consider an unframed work. Buying a work of art that is glazed and framed is not only cheaper and easier to transport, but it allows the recipient to make their own choice of frame.
Don’t forget children’s book illustration. Buying an original work of art or limited edition print by a children’s illustrator is a great present for children or expectant parents. Works are quite often accompanied by a free, signed copy of the book. Many artists retain the rights to their illustrations and are only too pleased to sell the original works, which are often highly visual, colourful, amusing as well as a great investment.
Ask for help. If you’re buying art for the first time don’t be afraid to ask for expert advice. Gallery owners can give you full information on each artist, the type of customers who like their work and any new works coming up. They will be only too pleased to help source the right gift and may steer you away from an expensive mistake.
If in doubt, buy a voucher. Most galleries will be happy to produce an attractive voucher giving the most flexible option for the recipient to choose an artist and work of their choice.
For more help buying art as a special gift please contact Watermark Gallery on 01765 676600.
* source: Financial Times, May 2017.
Buying original prints is a great way to enjoy affordable works of art by favourite artists. The rich variety of tones and textures that can be achieved with printmaking techniques ranging from etchings and linocuts to silk screen prints and lithographs also provides plenty of interest for the keen collector. Moreover, the value of rarer, sought-after prints has been rising and can represent a canny investment.
It makes sense, therefore, to take into consideration some ways of caring for your prints. Museums rarely display more than a small proportion of their print collections at any one time, since the best way to preserve works of art on paper is by keeping them in the dark, in archival boxes, within an environment where relative humidity and temperature can be controlled. A collector may also want to protect their prints by keeping them away from the potentially damaging effects of light. For most of us though, we want to enjoy the print and display it. The following steps can help to give it the best possible protection.
Handling – Try to handle the print as little as possible and, when you do, always make sure your hands are clean and that you support the print fully, as the paper can pick up dirt or crease easily. I am always astonished when collectors proudly show me their valuable map or print before casually picking it up in one hand from the corner, risking putting permanent creases in the paper. If it is not going in a frame immediately then wrapping it with some acid-free tissue will help keep dust off it. Although large prints are often sent rolled, try to avoid leaving them rolled for any length of time.
Choosing a framer – If you want to display your print then use a framer who is Fine Art Trade Guild (FATG) Commended or Certified. They will usually have a sticker with this information in their window. If it is a valuable print then a paper conservator will be able to advise on a framer who has taken the FATG Advanced Conservation Framing certificate or undertake the work themselves.
Mounting – Any mount board used, both in front of and behind the print, should be acid-free and not contain any un-purified wood-pulp. Mounts that have a brown core are usually cheap, acidic, wood-pulp which can cause staining of the paper in a short space of time. Conservation board refers to chemically-purified wood-pulp which is acid-free. A better board still is Museum board which is made from 100% cotton fibre.
Hinging – Paper will undergo slight, natural dimensional changes so should never be stuck down completely to a support but attached with small tabs of tape or ‘hinges’. A good framer will use white, acid-free, gummed tape to hinge prints into their mounts. Don’t be afraid to check with the framer that they will not use Sellotape, masking tape or other non-archival pressure-sensitive tapes. Their adhesives rapidly stain paper and will eventually fail. No adhesive should be used that is not easily reversed. Paper conservators make ‘hinges’ from high-quality Japanese paper and apply them with traditional wheat starch paste.
Glass – There is now a wide range of glazing options that can both protect and enhance the appearance of the picture. Filtering out ultraviolet does not stop fading of light sensitive colours altogether but it does cut out the most harmful wavelengths. Digital prints can be more susceptible to fading than traditional printing inks, with laser prints more fugitive than inkjet, Giclée prints. Tru-Vue®, Conservation Clear® glass is an affordable option that most framers should be able to supply. More expensive but worth the investment for some artworks are glazing products that are Water-White® and Low-Reflect® making the glazing incredibly discreet.
Acrylic – Acrylic can be the safer option for glazing large frames, with dimensions larger than one metre or for making stylish, contemporary box frames. VA Grade Perspex® will also filter out ultraviolet. Whether using glass or acrylic, always ensure that a mount or spacer will provide sufficient air-gap between the inside of the glazing and the print. Not only does this ensure inks do not adhere to the glazing, it also reduces the risk of moisture damage which can lead to mildew staining or brown spots, known as ‘foxing’, developing in the paper.
Backing a frame – Frame backboards can be hardboard, MDF, corrugated acid-free boards or fluted polypropylene such as Correx. These are all suitable but a conservation framer will also add a sheet of clear polyester, called Melinex®, or aluminium foil that serves as a moisture barrier between the mount and the backboard. A good, simple trick is to get the framer to add felt pads (I use slices from corks) to the lower corners on the back of the frame. This holds the frame a little off the wall and creates an air-gap which can help prevent damage from damp or mould.
Hanging – Finally hang and enjoy your print. Try to avoid hanging valuable artworks above radiators or on a chimney breast where there will be extremes of temperature or on walls where they may be subjected to direct sunlight during the day. If you do not feel confident hanging a heavy or large frame there are local services who will undertake this for you such as Hang My Art or JPA Art Services.
Richard Hawkes is one of the UK’s leading paper conservators and has over 25 years’ experience of conserving and framing prints for museums, galleries and the public. If you would like further advice on restoring, storage, mounting or framing of your prints, drawings and watercolours then you can contact Richard at Artworks Conservation in Harrogate on 01765 676600 or email [email protected]
This blog was originally written for The Hepworth Wakefield during it’s annual Print Fair , which Watermark Gallery regularly exhibits at in March each year.