If it’s Not a Painting is it a Print? Thirteen Types of Prints

A question we get asked frequently is, “What is the difference between a painting and a print?” It’s a great question that only requires a magnifying glass and some sunlight to answer (in most cases). We talk about about it here. The follow-up question is “What is a print?” Our gallery primarily focuses on paintings, however since this is such a frequently asked question we thought we’d give basic descriptions of thirteen various print types. Lets start off with a definition of what a print is –

Print describes three basic types of making multiple editions from a single image – relief prints, intaglio prints, and planographic prints. A print itself is a piece of paper or other surface, which holds a pressed-on drawing.

  • To make a relief print, the artist cuts away their chosen surface (usually wood) to create a drawing, and ink is spread over the raised surface. The wood is then pressed to paper and a drawing is transposed.
  • An intaglio print is created in the opposite way: the ink is spread over the surface (both the cut-out and remaining areas) and then wiped away. A piece of paper is pressed over the surface and the ink that remains in the dugout carvings transfers onto the paper.
  • For a planographic print, the artist draws on their chosen surface with a greasy crayon that resists water but holds ink. The surface is then cleaned with water, covered in ink and pressed to a piece of paper.

1. Lithograph is a form of printing whereby you use a very smooth plate usually made of stone. The plate is covered with acid and gum arabic, and drawn on with oil paints or sometimes wax. The success of lithography is based on the principle that water and oil do not mix. A piece of paper is placed on top of the treated surface and sent through a printing press. The pressure from the printing press transfers the image onto the paper. Here is an example of a lithograph by the artist Thomas Hart Benton entitled Swampland.

Thomas Hart Benton lithograph entitled Swampland Continue reading

Our Favorite 40 Museums – Part 1

As we celebrate our fortieth year in business we’d like to share with you some of the wonderful American art museums which have helped inform our understanding of American and European art. Sometimes built from personal collections, other times put together to fulfill a community need, these forty museums have allowed the public to engage with all types of art. In this four part series we would like to share with you some of our favorite US museums, with the understanding that this is just the beginning.

*Note this list of museums are not in any particular order.

1. Everson Museum of Art Located in Syracuse New York, our backyard, the Everson Museum was designed by the well-known architect I. M. Pei. Their main focus is on ceramics. and they also have a select collection of paintings, including works by Sanford Gifford, Gilbert Stuart, Edward Hicks, and Eastman Johnson.

Oliver Ingraham Lay "Two Friends"

Oliver Ingraham Lay “Two Friends” from the Everson Museum.

2. Historic Deerfield A classic 18-century New England village, wonderfully restored with period furnishings, textiles, artwork, and crafts. Historic Deerfield focuses on the culture and history of Deerfield, Massachusetts a town which was settled in 1669. The architecture and contents of the twelve original houses that line Main Street have been carefully preserved and may be viewed by guided or self-guided tours.

3. Frick Collection Both a museum and research center, the Frick Collection was initially assembled by industrialist Henry Clay Frick and is located in his former home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Featuring works by Whistler, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Gainsborough the museum is a small gem located along Manhattan’s Museum Mile. 

4. Smith College Museum of Art In our opinion one of the most impressive collections of a college of this size. The collection at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts was put together to facilitate the study and appreciation of visual arts. Established in 1879 to support the college curriculum, the museum has focused on American and European art. In the ensuing years the collection has grown to include African, Islamic and Asian art. Featured artists include Wheeler, Bellows, Copley, Bierstadt, Degas, Monet, and Cézanne.  Continue reading