Michael Parkes Stone Lithographs
Michael Parkes’ ability to draw a firm line around his ideas is one of his greatest gifts – and absolutely essential for the demanding discipline of the stone lithography. Parkes began in the early 1980s making hand-pulled original stone lithographs, drawing them in the traditional manner directly onto the stone. He has always been attracted to the immediacy of stone lithography, a process invented by Senefelder in 1798. The medium is very intolerant of mistakes. The artist needs to know exactly what he wants to do and exactly how to do it. Parkes’ stone lithographs can use as many as 14 colors and traditionally that would mean 14 different stones, but over the years Parkes created a technique where he used two or three stones to produce the same results. The image for each new color is drawn on the stone and in doing so, the previous color-image is completely erased and irretrievable. You cannot backtrack for correcting or adding to a previous color already printed. It makes the process much faster but the safety net is gone. To many artists this is terrifying and they refer to it as the suicide run. To Parkes, it is a stimulating challenge that he loves to meet – one of the reasons for his 40 year love affair with stone lithography. Parkes is a rare living master of this art form.