Cape Shore Feb, 1996
you try
design team

Development of "Summer of the Karmann Ghia"

The idea for Summer of the Karmann Ghia (1998) actually came to Pratt in the early 1970s. Initial studies were made for it, but were then put aside. After a fire burned down his new studio in 1992, Pratt revisited some of these old studies, one of which was Summer of the Karmann Ghia.In reviewing these, Pratt decided that lithography would be the most appropriate medium for the image.

Like any of his works, the first step in completing Summer of the Karmann Ghia was the study process, which in this case spanned a period of time, off and on from 1973 to 1998!

Summer of the Karmann Ghia is a colour lithograph. Making a polychromatic lithograph is more complicated than a monochromatic one, which uses only one colour of ink. Each colour to be used in the final work requires a separate plate and the artist must be conscious of how colours will overlap to create new colours. The artist must also be able to envision how the individual shapes and colours of each plate will fit together in the final image. This is one part of the process where studies may be extremely helpful.

Summer of the Karmen Ghia - Plate 1

The first plate printed was the yellow. Grease in pencil form was applied to the plate in the areas where Pratt wanted to print yellow pigment. The plate was then treated to lock the pencilled areas in place and a yellow, oil-based ink rolled on. The ink adhered only to the greasy areas, and was transferred to the paper by the pressure of a press. Registration marks were placed on the paper and on the plate to ensure that each plate would be correctly lined up with the image as other colours were added.
Summer of the Karmen Ghia - Plate 2

The process was then repeated with a second plate drawn to print the red pigments. Where the red and the yellow colour overlapped on the paper, the image appeared orange. The combination of the red and yellow plates was used to print much of the figure's skin tone and the colour of her hair. This two-colour stage is called a 'state proof'.
Summer of the Karmen Ghia - Plate 3

The third plate was rolled with a blue ink. It was then lined up with the registration marks on the papers and the plate pressed to add the blue pigment to the prints already printed with yellow and red. The image now contains red, yellow and blue pigments. Where the blue colour and the yellow overlap, the image appears green (the trees in the background, for example). The blue colour fills in much of the car's interior and forms the basis of the shadows in the picture. It is, of course, also responsible for the colour of the ocean in the background.
Summer of the Karman Ghia - Final

Finally, the black plate is printed. This plate adds definition and detail to the print and is responsible for the darkest areas of the print. Because of the relative opacity of the ink used, if black overlaps a colour previously printed, the colour underneath may not be seen. However, in the areas of any plate left open (that is, with no or very little grease), the previous colours will show through, creating interesting effects of colour and texture.For example, vertical lines were left open - with no grease - in the seat area on the black plate. When printed over the blue plate, it appears that the sun is highlighting shiny blue areas of the vinyl seat of the car.

The combination of all these separate plates resulted in the finished print. They also create the particular chroma, or colour scheme, that Pratt intended. In other works, such as Above Gander Lake (1998), the colour purple is used instead of black to capture the look the trees would have at dusk.

return to lithography
return to process/media



Labrador, 1970