In the 1980’s, Desktop Publishing was inflicted upon the printing industry. Its hard to imagine now how such an involved process, as publishing and printing, could have been possible without modern computers. Of course there were computers in many of the larger printing houses but they were for doing the accounts, stock control and wages. Steve Jobs (R.I.P.) changed all that. The Macintosh, with a white screen that looked like a sheet of paper, could do in a few seconds what a graphic designer and illustrator took hours to complete. When Laser technology was introduced the Macintosh could now output to film from which the printing plates were produced. Now the Mac(intosh) outputs directly to the printing machine and all the personnel and their skills who would have brought a print job to this stage are lost to history. That’s why I used the expression ‘inflicted’, because the illustrators, typesetters, layout artists, camera operators, film processors, plate makers, etc, etc were replaced by a single operator with a Mac. Now there’s digital printing.
I painted a few pictures recently specifically for printing as Christmas Cards. Check out ‘Prints from your artwork‘,’Going home for Christmas‘, ‘Christmas Morning‘. Digital printing allows small quantities of particular designs to be printed economically. I have printed 2 card designs which have details on the back of each card, of where the recipient can watch the YouTube video of the painting of that card. I’ve also included a QR Code for mobile devices. This sort of individual customisation of printed items, produced in small quantities, is only possible by digital printing.
Although the intention was to produce a few cards for my personal use, I include a link from this blog to an online shop where readers of this blog can purchase these cards and other items (calendars, etc when available) relating to the content of this blog.
For those interested, I’ve included a short video of the card making process.
When you view the video you will see 2 interesting procedures that are indirectly connected.
The first is the painting of the canvas with a flood of colour diluted with white spirits. This is allowed to stand as long as possible for the white spirits to evaporate. But sometimes the process has to be helped with a hair dryer and the excess wiped with a dry tissue. Because different coloured paint is applied relative to the final content of the painting, this is called underpainting by some painters, as opposed to staining of the canvas. Underpainting usually refers to layers built up, before the final skin is applied as in the multi-stage painting process of letting the initial paint layers dry before proceeding with the next. ‘Alla prima’ (as this painting is), or one session, wet on wet painting can’t really have an underpainting, because its all wet, and mixes together into a single homogenous layer. So its not, strictly speaking, underpainting.
The purpose of this layer of dilute paint is to modify the subsequent colours applied. As there was going to be a lot of white colour applied, for the snow, the paint underneath interacted with the white and produced a range of hues and tones impossible to produce by mixing on the palette and applying individually. Another incidental advantage is that the final paint can be applied without trying to completely cover the canvas. If there are ‘gaps’, the under layer eliminates the stark white of the blank canvas. This brings us to the second procedure – scratching or scraping the wet paint to reveal whats underneath. As mentioned in the previous post, painting the fine lines of the trees, on the left, into the thick wet layer of sky colour was going to cause problems. By scratching the fine lines and filling them with the dark colour of the trees was fine for the thicker branches, but some scratch marks were not painted into. These were OK as the under-layer of the dark colour was uncovered. There were also a few scratches made here and there to help integrate the ‘scratch’ texture across the entire surface.
Hopefully the following video will explain the process a little better.