Behind the print: "Colour Combinations"

Olivia Krimpas makes bold, abstract etchings that combine line and colour to convey a sense of movement in space. She explains how she used the same two plates to produce very different results for the “Colour Combinations” series, and tells us how her experiences with painting and dance influence her energetic, gestural prints.


"Colour Combinations - Multicoloured", two-plate etching by Olivia Krimpas
"Colour Combinations - Yellow/Orange", two-plate etching by Olivia Krimpas

What inspired you to make the “Colour Combinations” series of prints?

The idea originally started as a soft ground line drawing on a small plate, which was etched and then printed with Japanese chine-collé paper and watercolour (see small picture below). The lines capture the rhythm and movement from the action of drawing, and the chine-collé and watercolour complement this sense of movement.


Olivia's first version was a smaller print using watercolour

Later I decided to make a larger version of this idea by transferring the design to two much bigger steel plates so that I could experiment with colours and create different versions, which is how “Colour Combinations – Multicoloured” and “Colour Combinations – Yellow/Orange” were made.

I separate the line and colour in most of my prints. I’ve always considered colour to be so important, but sometimes finding the right colours takes a long time.



The two large steel plates for "Colour Combinations" and the smaller plate that the idea developed from

What are some of the biggest influences on your work?

The painter John Hoyland was a big influence on me when I was at art school in the sixties, and Kandinsky, who is still an important influence on my work today. I spent many years living in Greece, and the vivid colours and the clear quality of the light there are etched in my memory. I was a freelance painter and director of a modern dance studio there in the mid-1970s. Most of my prints are about expressing movement in space, and I use colour forms to hopefully anchor this. These prints certainly reflect my history of dance.

Olivia's featured artist show in the Greenwich Printmakers gallery

How much does your work as a painter influence your prints?

I have a very intuitive way of working. After a straight printing session, I usually do a small painting using all the colours on my palette to let off steam, and this has often become the basis for my next print. I work from these ideas, but they do get transformed with the etching processes. I love having different layers by using two plates, and it helps me hold onto my ideas, which can sometimes be lost through over-painting.

"Stravinsky's Rite of Spring"

How did you get that intensity of colour?

I used a steel plate, which is the best metal to achieve true colours. For "Colour Combinations", I put a heavy aquatint on the colour plate using a printing ink lift ground, which was freely painted on, and then left it in the acid for a long time. Heavier aquatints hold more colour. I use pigments for some of the colours, so I make them up myself and I can make the colours more intense by using more pigment in relation to the oil.


What have you been working on recently?

My etchings are a celebration of colour, gesture and mark-making. I still enjoy the timeless technique, producing figurative and abstract work.

"Red and Black" links back to "Stravinsky's Rite of Spring"

The lockdown gave me the opportunity to link up some of my past work (such as "Stravinsky's Rite of Spring") with more recent prints (such as "Red and Black") and see a continuity of ideas for my featured artist show.

Olivia Krimpas has a special showcase of her work at Greenwich Printmakers as our featured artist until August 2, and her prints are available in the gallery throughout the year. See more of her work on her artist's page here.