Art Graphics by Stone Lithography

A limestone slab, usually 30”x 40”x 6”, is provided to the artist with the key image already transferred to the face of the stone as a guide to the artist in creating his art graphics. The artist works from a maquette of the subject and draws in black tusche (grease based ink) or uses a grease pencil to create a stone for each color in the subject.

The stone is then chemically treated so that all the areas that were drawn by the artist will accept ink and all the other areas of the stone will repel ink. The artist selects the color ink for each stone and when the printer (or artist) runs an ink roller over the stone, the areas that were drawn accept the ink and when paper is laid on top of the stone and drawn through a pressure roller on a proofing press, the image is transferred to the paper. This process is repeated for each color until the lithograph is completed. Some lithographs require 30 colors or more to obtain the effect that the artist desires.

When the artist decides that the proof is ready, it is marked as a BAT (Bon a Tirer, or final proof in French). Then the stones are moved one at a time to the big Marinoni-Voirin presses and the edition is printed, one color at a time, using the BAT proof as a guide every step of the way. As each color is printed, the paper (usually Arches) is hung by clothespins from ropes in the press room to dry so that by the time each color in an edition of 300 is completed, the press room is totally covered with large sheets of Arches paper hanging to dry.

If there are 30 colors in an edition, this process is repeated 30 times until the art graphic edition is completed. Sometimes an artist will use a stone for his key image and draw on zinc plates for other colors so that he can take the plates back to his studio and work on them at night thus saving time. This whole process is a close collaboration between the artist and the printer as the expertise of both is essential to a beautiful work of art, which a stone lithograph most certainly is.



RICHARD LINDNER, HEART
A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE OF A STONE LITHOGRAPH ART GRAPHIC

THIS LITHOGRAPH WAS PRINTED IN 16 COLORS 
FROM 16 STONES  

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