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 4

31. Museum of Fine Arts Boston

With the recent Art of the Americas Wing expansion, the allure of MFA Boston has grown exponentially. These four floors showcase artworks from the entire continent – North, South, and Central America with artworks that span over 3000 years. Some of our particular favorites include works by Paul Revere, Thomas Sully, John Singer Sargent, and John Singleton Copley. The art at MFA Boston is not limited to that of the Americas. With an eclectic  collection of nearly half a million objects the museum allows you to explore many other world cultures and time periods. Located in Boston’s Back Bay area along the city’s “Avenue of the Arts” this is a museum you won’t want to miss.

Agnes Pelton "Prelude"

“Prelude” by Agnes Pelton at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

32. Peabody Essex Museum

Originally established in 1799 to house a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities” collected from around the world by Salem, Massachusetts sea captains of the East India Marine Society. Today’s collection has grown to include 1.8 million works including Yin Yu Tang, the only complete Qing Dynasty house outside of China. Additionally the museum owns twenty-four historic homes, buildings, and gardens in and around  eastern Massachusetts. Within the museum are spectacular collections of marine and oceanic art, American decorative art, as well as works from around the world. Their photography collection has close to a million works, including many rare images by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. Continue reading