Brackenwood Gallery

A gallery on Whidbey Island, WA representing the very best in fine arts and crafts from the pacific northwest.

The Art of the Print

We are readying the gallery for our Annual Print Show! Eight local Print Artists have brought in new work to grace Brackenwood’s walls. Each original print has had hours of attention from conception through the printing process. Creating a print requires the transfer of ink from a specially prepared surface onto paper. But the printing process varies immensely for these artists: from a small hand built press to a steam roller trundling across a huge piece of paper!Join us at the Artists' Reception on Sat. Sept. 8, from 5-7 PM and meet this exceptional group of artists!

This is an example of prints that can be made from a steamroller from: San Francisco Center for the Book's annual Steamroller Festival on Rhode Island Street between 16th & 17th. Shown: the creation of a 3'x3' print by Nora Aoyagi.

Several of the prints for this show are relief prints. Linoleum is a great medium to do reduction prints with. The artist draws a design on the soft side of linoleum, then with special tools carves out the design “reducing” the surface. Then the artist applies ink to the surface and the portion of the design that is dug into the linoleum usually comes out white, and the flat portion that is left is colored.



Buffy Cribbs makes her own beautiful wooden press that she used to make some of the prints in this show.





Etching is part of the intaglio family of printmaking. In an etching the plate is covered with a waxy or acrylic ground. The artist draws through the ground with a pointed etching needle.

The exposed metal lines are then etched by dipping the plate in a bath of nitric acid or ferric chloride, which bites into the exposed metal, leaving behind lines or grooves in the plate. Ink is applied, which seeps into the etched lines. The surface of the plate is then wiped off and the plate is then put through a printing press with a piece of paper. The paper picks up the ink in the groves that were etched onto the plate. Sometimes the artist hand colors the etching or print.


A variation of engraving is Drypoint. Done with a sharp pointed instrument on an acrylic or metal plate, the lines are engraved but the process leaves a rough burr at the edge of each line. This gives the print a soft and sometimes blurry look. Artists can only print a few prints with this process because the burr is quickly destroyed.



Monotypes are made by drawing or painting onto a plate. This plate can be made from copper, zinc, glass or acrylic. The image that is on the plate is then transferred to the paper via a printing press. Sometimes the artist will ink an entire plate and then subtract the ink with brushes, rags or other imaginative tools to create lighter areas that look white once printed.


This relief print by Diane Divelbess was created with a gigantic steam roller! The artist brought several wooden forms she had cut out to a location, inked them up, placed them on this huge roll of paper, the steam roller trundled over them acting as a press and viola! a beautiful print was created.


When you come to the show, see if you can pick out which printing technique the artist used to create their art.


Brackenwood Gallery   |   302 First Street   |   Langley, WA   |   98260   |   360-221-2978   |


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