Marcia Cohen: Silk Screening, Process and Practice

Marcia Cohen

I have been a watercolor painter for many years, but recently I started doing silkscreen. The most common question I receive is “What is silkscreen?” Many people are familiar with silkscreen t-shirts and posters and perhaps Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, but have not idea about the process itself, so in order to understand what I do, one needs to understand the process.

Silk screen: How it works

For a great introduction to silk screening, I recommend these two sources in addition to my text below:

This is a picture of one of my screens being made. The “silk” (which is now a synthetic fabric) has been stretched and stapled over the frame.

Tape is placed arouncohen1d the screen and then the screen is coated with photo emulsion.
An image is placed between the screen and a light table in order to “burn” an image into the screen. The image blocks the light from the emulsion so that when the screen is washed the emulsion only remains around the image.

cohen2 In this example a diamond shape was used. The diamond was then painted with more screen coating material in order to block more areas:



Printing the diamond:


Ink is placed at the end of the screen and is squeezed through the screen via a squeegee:


The blue ink on this screen printed this image:


The same image can be printing many times as seen above.

How I use silk screen in my art

For T-shirts and posters, where the goal is to reproduce the exact same image over and over, the only variation might be to change the ink color or change the background color. In contrast, my goal is to create unique final images by printing layers of images so that each layer sits on the previous layer in a different way. I might print the same image all over the page in one color and then go back and print the same image in a different color. Like watercolor painting color mixing, if I print an image in blue and then print over part of it in yellow, I will create areas of green.

I use a variety of images: photographs, cut paper stencil shapes, drawn shapes, blocks of color. Through Photoshop I collage images to create a unique image to “burn” into the screen. I also reuse “unsuccessful” prints by cutting them apart and printing over them.

For this Communitcohen6y Supported Art project I intend to print a single image over previously made prints, creating 50 unique prints. At the moment, I am thinking about using a distorted image of this photograph of the fort walls a George’s Island. I won’t know if this works, until I try it.

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