Return to the figurative: Limited edition screen prints

Over the last couple of weeks I've been hunkered down in the studio working on the first of a series of two colour screen prints, developed from original pen and ink drawings. It's been a learning curve getting to grips with the limitations of my studio set-up and there have been set-backs as well as some pleasing results. I've been documenting the process as I find the best ways forward.

The artwork begins as a pencil drawing on paper and I've been playing with new ideas and developing motifs from some of my paintings. I like to use tracing paper in the early stages so I can get an idea how I'm going to compose the piece and separate it into its constituent parts when it gets to the print process. The finished drawing is then inked and scanned into Photoshop where it is cleaned up, separated into layers and turned into positives to be burned onto my screens.

After printing my artwork onto transparencies and transferring  them onto my screens under the UV exposure unit, I soon discovered that the larger screens weren't getting enough of the UV light to expose properly, resulting in some of the fine detail of the artwork being washed away. With this in mind, I scaled down the artwork and concentrated on three separate two-colour designs on small screens. I added a counterweight system to the print table to hold the screens upright between prints and was happy to discover that the vacuum table provided enough suction to hold the heavier weights of paper against the pull of the ink.

I wanted to see what results I could get printing onto a range of different paper stocks and so I took a trip out to Fred Aldous and bought in a number of sample paper types of varying colour and density. I've been keeping the print runs to a minimum, so I can see what the most (and least) successful outcomes are and correct any mistakes in the process. Initially, the fine lines and halftones were printing successfully but they blocked with ink in the screen very early into the run and needed to be bolder, requiring some correction in the artwork.

By and large, I'm pleased with the results of these first set of prints. With some small modifications to a couple of the positives, I'll be adding the first of these limited print runs to my shop. In the meantime, the original artwork can be viewed under 'Print' in the 'Portfolio' section of the website.