Exploring Printmaking with Alfredo Arreguin
Prints are created by transferring ink from a matrix—such as a metal etching plate, a lithography stone, a block of wood, or a sheet of linoleum—to a sheet of paper or other material, by a variety of techniques. Today we look at two different methods of printmaking.
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Rio Salado by Alfredo Arreguín
Alfredo Arreguín, Rio Salado, 1986, lithograph, 96/100. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of MARS Artspace. 2003.13.4. Currently on view in the exhibition Noble, Proud, Wise, Lordly: Art of the Jaguar.
This artwork is a lithograph—a print made using a process called lithography. It is the process of printing from a plane surface, such as a smooth stone or metal plate, rather than a carved or raised surface like a woodcut or linocut.
A chemical process creates the image. The positive part of an image is drawn with a water-repelling (hydrophobic) substance, while the negative space is water-retaining (hydrophilic). When the plate is introduced to a compatible printing ink and water mixture, the oil-based ink will adhere to the positive image and the water will clean the negative image. A separate stone or place is used for each color in the image.
The use of this type of flat print plate allows for much longer and more detailed print runs than the older physical methods of printing (e.g., intaglio printing, letterpress printing). See a demonstration of the lithography process in this video from National Museums Liverpool.
Arreguín is known primarily as a painter. Rio Salado was created in 1986 during an artist-in-residence program at Movimiento Artístico de Rio Salado (M.A.R.S), an art space in Phoenix, Arizona. Prominent Chicano artists came to M.A.R.S. to participate in the program, which included a solo exhibition and a one-week residency with a master printer.
At first glance Rio Salado appears to contain large areas of solid color, but on close examination the viewer sees that it is full of small, repeated patterns. This is characteristic of Arreguín’s painting style. It began when the artist was studying at the University of Washington. He noticed patterns on a tile floor and saw them as art in themselves, worthy of further exploration.
Arreguín developed a unique style of “pattern paintings” that is heavily influenced by Mexican and Latino icons, jungle rainforest experiences from his youth, and the Pacific Northwest where he has lived for decades. His complex compositions are filled with bold colors. He frequently incorporates concealed iconic or religious imagery behind an overlay of intricate design.
From a distance this print seems to contain large areas of solid color, but close inspection reveals pattern and visual texture. Alfredo Arreguín, Rio Salado (detail), 1986, lithograph, 96/100. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of MARS Artspace. 2003.13.4
About the Artist
Alfredo Arreguín was born in 1935 in Morelia, Mexico. He lived for 11 years in Mexico City before coming to the United States in 1959. Arreguín is currently a resident of Seattle, where he earned B.A. and M.F.A. degrees from the University of Washington. He has received numerous awards, including a Humanitarian Award by the Washington State Legislature, a Governor’s Arts Award from the State of Washington, and a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Grant.
Monoprinting is a form of printmaking that produces a single image rather than multiple copies. The name does not refer to a specific technique or medium, but to a single impression of an image. Monoprints are known as the most painterly method of printmaking; it is essentially a printed painting.
- A flat, preferably non-porous, surface
- Q-tips or craft swabs
- A paintbrush, foam brush or brayer to cover the surface with an even layer paint