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Vladimir Kush

Michael Parkes - Lithographs


The Art of Stone Lithography


Michael Parkes is a living master of the stone lithograph process, which is an increasingly rare art form. In fact, a dying art. Michael’s ability to draw a firm line around his ideas is one of his greatest gifts – and absolutely essential for the demanding discipline of stone lithography. Parkes began in the early 1980’s 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. 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. One 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 more than 30 year love affair with stone lithography.


All of Michael Parkes stone lithographs are done with his direct participation – he draws on the stones, hand checks each print, and signs only those that meet his very exacting standards. Because the printing process involves so much hand-work, each stone lithograph in an edition has slight differences from each other, and so they are individually numbered and one of a kind. Many experts consider hand-drawn limited edition stone lithograph prints to be original works of fine art.

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