The Invitation Project

"The Invitation" is a 3x4 foot oil painting that evolved into a massive, Reduction Method Screen Print Project. Both the Painting and the Screen Print each took about a year to complete.


Ever since I began reduction method screen printing, I’ve wondered where the limitations of the process were. Many of the old masters of the craft would produce 20, 30, 40-color pieces, separating the images by hand, layering the art by hand, creating the stencils and ultimately printing each color, by hand. 

Of course, today we have the benefit of computers and design software which eliminates much of the guesswork in separating an image into printable layers. Since the reduction method basically stacks the layers of ink, one atop the other, there seemingly should be no limit in how many colors could be applied.  

It only took two years to find out what’s possible. One year to paint the painting and another year to print it. “The Invitation” was finally finished after 57 stencils which took over 300 hours to paint by hand. Each stencil was used multiple times for various effects totaling 86 colors or impressions, all in one single silkscreen which stayed in-place, on the press table for about a year. 

“The Invitation” is a garden scene from my imagination. Each plant in the garden is symbolic and special to me. The great, mossy water oak is the one I played under at my Papa’s house in Foxworth, Mississippi. My Mamaw had a grove of mimosa trees that I used to love to climb. The red clover flower around the tree grows wild along the highways in Mississippi and whenever these bloomed, I knew winter was finally over. 

This garden represents my life. The statuary figures are of myself and my wife. When we married we were very poor. I recall a conversation about her taking my name or not and saying, “My good name and a promise for the future is really the only thing I have to offer you.” Thus, “The Invitation.” The moment I offered her my future, my name, joining it with my past, represented as a life garden. **

IN THE NEWS: Read about The Invitation, as featured on LaunchEngine…

Insight into The Invitation Project...

Thanks to my son, Thom “Thorny” Thornhill for editing over a year’s worth of video down to ten minutes. 

"The Invitation"

Reduction Method Screen Print, using one, single silkscreen which stayed in-place on the print table for nearly a year.

23×30 inches

Printed Full-Bleed on Arches 300 Series with a Deckle Edge.

12 Editions were printed. Edition 10 was rejected due to a mis-register on the 48th color.  🙁 

It took over 300 hours to paint the 57 stencils by hand. 

86 colors or impressions were layered one atop the other over the course of a year. 

I hope to teach Reduction Screen Printing so this art form and discipline is not lost to history. 

** Plot twist: After this project was completed, my wife (pictured right) filed for divorce. Afterwards, this work came very close to being set on fire. Thank you to good friends who stepped-in and stopped me in my weak moment. “The invitation” is still precious to me because it celebrates a moment of immense vulnerability and that’s what really matters; regardless if it was accepted, remembered or honored by anyone else.  

The Invitation Printing Process, Color-by-Color...