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What is pochoir?

Published on 21/03/2018

  • What is pochoir?
Delicious Crab MICK MANNING 65 x 65 cm pochoir


WE HAVE SOME superb new prints in the gallery this spring. They are pochoirs by Mick Manning who is showing with us for the first time. So what is pochoir?

‘Pochoir’ is French for ‘stencil’. Stencilling is one of the oldest art techniques and dates back to the stone age. Cave dwellers made hand images by blowing or spraying paint around hands pressed against rock surfaces.


Indonesian Cave painting

Indonesian cave painting approximately 40,000 years old


In the 20th century pochoir printmaking was made famous in France by Picasso and Matisse. The French term Pochoir now defines this specific artists’ technique.

Later, post-war Russian illustrators such as ‘Rojan’, the Canadian Inuit printmaker community at Baker Lake, and graphic artists such as Colin Fulcher (aka Barney Bubbles) developed styles that in many ways resemble stone lithographs.


Le Cirque by Matisse

Le Cirque from Jazz by Henri Matisse 1947


No printing press is used in pochoir. The hand-made aspect has been one of its most valuable attributes as each print can really be termed a one-off. Made by the artist’s hand, using hand cut stencils and stippled brush and sponge application, pochoir builds up layers of both colour and texture and the artist has total control.

The paint sits on the surface rather than soaks in as in the case of ink and all pochoirs are unique, rather than uniform. Some are one-offs, others are known as ‘variable editions’. This variation from print to print is, of course, deliberate, intrinsic to the work and made according to the artist’s fancy.


Bankside Mackerel pochoir by Mick Manning

Bankside Mackerel MICK MANNING 76 x 58 cm pochoir and block print


In pochoir prints the edition number refers to the number of unique prints made before the fragile stencil is destroyed, during the wear and tear of the printing process.

Mick Manning has become a master of pochoir. He uses the technique to create strikingly characterful pieces which make a real impact. His prints are created in his studio using complex hand-cut stencils and then stipple-painted by hand in very small variable editions. So they have never seen a press and are not reproductions in any mechanical form — they can really be termed paintings as much as prints.


Merle Lurcher Pup pochoir by Mick Manning
Merle Lurcher Pup MICK MANNING 69 x 48 cm pochoir and block print


Mick was born in 1959, grew up in Yorkshire and studied Art and Design at Bradford and then Newcastle before an MA at the Royal College of Art. In 1990 he became Course Leader in Illustration at The Glasgow School of Art where his alumni included Mark Hearld, Helen Stephens and Ross Collins. He gave up teaching in 1998 to concentrate on his own work as an artist and illustrator. He has since published over 90 children’s books with his partner Brita Granström.


Dazzled pochoir by Mick Manning
Dazzled MICK MANNING 46 x 52 cm pochoir


Mick’s work is informed by wildlife encounters, fishing trips and chance finds in both the Scottish Borders and Sweden where they have a summer house and studio.

He is currently working on a limited edition book of his pochoir works with ‘Design For Today’.


Blog by Joan Ross



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