about prints I anita klein ©2000/2023

What is a print?
A print is an image which has been transferred from one surface to another. Many pictures that are sold as “prints” or even “limited edition signed prints” are actually photographic reproductions, actually just good quality posters. These are made by photographing an original work of art, usually a painting or drawing and reproducing the image photographically, often these days with a digital technology called giclee (say jee-clay). All of Anita Klein’s prints are original prints. She does not allow her work to be made into posters.

What is an original Print?
Real artists’ original prints are different from these reproductions in that they are original works of art in their own right. There is no original painting or drawing. Instead the image is conceived by the artist as a print from the outset.
An original print is an image produced from a surface on which the artist has worked, such as a stone or wood block or a copper plate. This surface is intended by the artist to be a stage in the creation of the artwork. Thus the original work of art in this case is the print itself rather than the block or plate, from which it is printed.

Left: Anita Klein printing a woodcut
The image is drawn or cut on a block, plate, silkscreen or stone depending on the technique used then printed from that, usually onto paper. The artist may build up the image by drawing other colours onto separate blocks or plates which are printed on top of each other, and may modify the print by returning to these blocks, plates, screens or stones and adding or erasing marks.

Left: Sanju Mathew inking one of Anita’s linocuts
When satisfied with the final effect, a proof is signed by the artist and a limited number of identical prints are then printed by the artist him or herself or by a master printer. These are signed and numbered by the artist; eg. 2/25 is the second print produced in a limited edition of 25. Other numberings are A/P meaning artist’s proof, which are extra copies normally kept by the artist (no more than 10% of the whole edition), T/P meaning trial proof; a print taken during the initial proofing stage that is different from the final edition, and P/P; a copy for the printer if he or she is not the artist.
Many original print editions are limited because of the technique used, eg: some soft metals used as etching plates wear down slightly with each printing, so eventually the image will not print well. Usually however the artist decides on the size of the edition and after the full edition is printed the original block, plate or stone is defaced in some way so that no more prints can be taken.

Left: Maia and Leila Give me Flowers - drypoint

Printmaking Techniques: There are several different methods of printmaking. Amongst the most common are the following:

Intaglio prints
These are prints where the image is cut into a surface or plate (from the Italian intagliare, to cut into). When the plate is inked, the incised lines hold the ink and the image is transferred to a second surface, usually paper. The inked lines on the finished surface are often slightly raised and there is generally a visible line around the image where the plate has been pressed into the paper, called the platemark. Examples of intaglio printmaking are:

Right: Lady Playing Cards - etching

The plate is covered in an acid-resistant layer of wax called an etching ground. The image is then drawn into this surface with an etching needle. When covered with printing ink the lines hold the ink whilst the rest of the plate repels it.

Left: Angel in Spring - etching

The artist draws the image directly onto the plate with a sharp tool. The residue metal is left on the side of the scratched lines, which then collect the ink, creating a furry effect called burr.

Left: Butterfly at Breakfast - drypoint

The whole plate is covered with grains of resin called an aquatint ground, allowing acid to bite into the entire area, creating an overall grainy, tonal effect. This technique is often combined with etching.

Left: November – etching and aquatint

These are printed in the same way as intaglio prints but the plate is made by sticking various materials onto a shiny surface such as Perspex. Anita usually uses carborundum: The image is drawn onto Perspex with wood glue (pva). Then carborundum powder is sprinkled over the glue and varnished when the glue is dry. This holds the ink in the same way that an engraved line does, but the carborundum line is much thicker and more embossed. Anita often hand colours these prints with watercolour so each one is really a unique painting.

Left: Undressing - hand coloured collograph

Relief prints.
These are prints where the areas around the image to be printed are cut away, leaving the image on the block in relief. These raised areas are then inked and transferred onto a second surface, usually paper. The most common relief prints include


Left: Dreaming of Swooping Birds - woodcut


Left: Windy Day - linocut

From the Greek lithos, stone and graphe, writing. This printing process is unlike both intaglio and relief processes, both of which involve cutting into the plate. Lithography relies on the principle that grease and water will repel each other. The image is drawn in a greasy substance onto a lithographic stone. The stone is then dampened with water and the greasy printing ink adheres only to the drawing.

Left: Autumn – lithograph

(published by Editions Vulfovitch: )

Screenprint or Silkscreen.
A form of stencil printing, in which ink is pressed through a fine-mesh screen, traditionally silk, onto a sheet of paper. A design can be applied to the screen in various ways to produce an image. Screenprints are often produced in colour, using different screens for each colour.

Left: Will’s Wee Bird – screenprint with woodblock (published by Advanced Graphics London: )

These are unique works which are either hand-coloured versions of an editioned print, or made using an editioned print and using different colours from those in the final edition.

Left: Family Tree

These pictures are made by painting with printing inks onto a sheet of metal or plastic, then pressing onto a piece of paper. This means that there is only one unique copy of each. Sometimes a fainter second print can be taken which can be painted over to create a painting on paper.

Left: Wine & Tulips