Lithography is a printmaking technique invented by Alois Senefelder in 1796. Lithography is a printmaking technique where you can mix a lot of different expressions and styles. You can print in black and white or a range of different colours. Lithography has always been used as a fine art medium but it was also used for printing labels and cheques. Many printing techniques that we use today such as offset printing (used for printing books for example), originate from lithography.
How does it work?
Traditional lithography is printed from lithography stones, a special kind of lime stone. Lithography functions on the fact that grease and water repel each other. It is a printing technique where the areas for printing are on the same level as those that will not be printed. This is unlike wood cuts where you carve, into the wood, the areas you want to leave white.
After the images have been drawn on the lithography stone with a greasy crayon, the images will be etched with gum arabic and nitric acid. The images are now established into the stone and the stone is no longer sensitive to grease. For the printing to work, the stone needs to be wet down with a moist sponge. Using a roller, you can now roll greasy printmaking ink over the stone. You then place a paper onto the stone, run it through the press and then you will have your lithography print.
Lithography is a printmaking technique with many possibilities. It gives the artist the chance to explore different kinds of mark making and therefore suits a broad varieties of disciplines. Artist that normally draw, paint and also photographers often use lithography to create limited edition prints. Lithography is a fun printing technique that creates amazing textures. It is a slow process that is different from our, now digitised world where everything is produced quickly. It is a process that makes you step back, think, enjoy and embrace your time and your art.
Untitled, Collaboration with Ingemar Johansson, 2015. One colour lithograph.
El Morro III, Nora Hammenberg, 2015. Four colour lithograph.