What is a Monotype/Monoprint?
I am a retired public school art teacher and taught art for 20 years, but during that time I always continued to enrich my life by being creative with my own art. Over the years I have painted pictures with watercolor and acrylics, but more recently, I became involved with printmaking. I worked summers for additional credits in the printmaking studios at Bloomsburg University until I retired and got my own Takach printing press.
Massachusetts College of Art & Design offered a printmaking course in monotypes & monoprints in a week long summer workshop, called Art in New England, which I have been attending for 4 years. I now work with Akua water based inks that are “non-toxic”and are safe for you and the environment. Some of the great artists like Albert Durer, Toulouse-Lautrec, worked in the traditional way of printmaking but later on Matisse, Picasso, Paul Gauguin and Jasper Johns were experimenting with inks to create Monotypes.
After I learned about monotypes and monoprints, I enjoyed the relationship between painting and printmaking, and being able to use water based media to create a one of a kind print. Most often painters have a fairly clear idea of what they are painting but with printmaking I don’t know where I am going with my idea and often the final result is the unique nature of the process of building up the original idea in multiple printings using transparent ink, overlapping images, viscosity, resist, trace transfers, additive and subtractive methods.
Monotypes/ monoprints begin with a plate. I work sometimes with plexi-glass cut to size at the hardware store and then the edges beveled to prevent the plate from cutting the paper or the press blanket. I often use PetG or Lexan polycarbonate which is thinner and more flexible. A simple monotype is done by painting directly on to a piece of plexiglass that has been first coated with gum arabic and left to dry. The paper is soaked for a few minutes and then the painted plexiglass is positioned onto the blotted paper and rolled through the press.
The quality of the mark is different from a watercolor painted on dry paper. Another one of my favorite processes is the subtractive print which is a selective removal of ink with various tools and cloths. The next section explains the process.
Subtractive Print Multi-Plate Color Separations:
STEP 1. I cut 4 Pet-G plates the same size and tear my paper to the proper size. I use Arches 88 printing paper.
STEP 2. I make a drawing and place it in a registration set-up and glue stick the corners.
STEP 3. Then I roll out yellow ink on plate #1 and begin to wipe away the ink. You must think ahead as to what you might want white or if you want something blue, you wipe away yellow. If you want something green, you leave the yellow, etc. When the image is where I want it to be, I roll it through the press . Then I roll a release coat on the plate and print a second called a “Ghost Print”.
STEP 4. I then ink up the second plate with red ink and wipe away everything that I want yellow and leave the yellow if I want orange on the image or if I want green. I must always be thinking ahead as to what colors will develop in the overlapping layers. Now I print the second image in red on top of the yellow plate and then put release coat on the plate and print the “ghost print”.
STEP 5. Now I roll up the third plate with blue ink and subtract the ink that I need to further develop the final image. Print this image on top of the yellow and red image and then put release coat on the plate and print the “ghost print”.
Step 6. The last plate will be rolled in black. I remove more ink, thinking about shading and shadows. After printing this plate on top of the yellow, red, and blue print, I print the final “ghost print”. I find this subtractive method to be an exciting way to work. I never know definitely how the colors will intermix, so the resulting print is most often a surprise.
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