Colored Pencils to the Rescue
Have you ever added colored pencil to your monotype prints? (If you’ve never made a monotype, read on…) Whether your subject is portraits, abstract, still life or landscape, adding colored pencil will transform a mediocre print into a monotype jubilee.
I’m not kidding. If you have a stash of old monotypes you were less than thrilled with, pull one out, and abracadabra your oh-well into that’s-what-I’m-talking-about Glorious. Just add colored pencils.
The reference for this monotype was a tiny, mid 1940’s photo of my mother on a new bike. Her name isn’t Betty, but in cycling lingo, the term is used to refer to a girl who is a novice biker.
For the record, I’m a Betty too. My bike is hanging, dusty and neglected, on a wall in the garage, while I play with art supplies in the studio.
Read More About Monotype Prints
- This monotype print tutorial will introduce you to the basics of making a dark field monotype print without the need for a press.
- When you create a monotype print, you often have enough ink left on the plate to pull a second, faint version of the first monotype. These soft, transparent siblings of the original image are perfect candidates for colored pencil or watercolor enhancements, and they’re called monotype ghost prints.
- If you’re on Facebook, be sure to join the Monotype Printmaking Group, as there are lots of helpful posts, inspiring images and shared How-To’s.
What to Use as a Monotype Plate
I used a scrap of copper discarded by another printmaker for this print, but you can use a monotype plate made from lots of different materials:
- a sheet of plexiglass (also called perspex, acrylite, lexan or acrylic in other parts of the world)
- a pane of glass, like one borrowed from a picture frame, a glass shelf or a mirror. (But only if you’re printing by hand, and not on a press. It’s also a wise to attach duck tape [this zebra print duct tape is my fave] around the edges of the glass to avoid cutting yourself.)
- a piece of Yupo paper – this is watercolor paper made from 100% polypropylene. The surface is white, waterproof, strong and slick.
- a sheet of Dura-Lar drafting film – this surface is a mix of Acetate and mylar, made from polyester. The clear sheets make flexible, very durable printmaking plates.
Adding Colored Pencil to Your Monotype Print
Once the ink is dry on your monotype portrait print, you can have so much fun adding colored pencil!
The pigments in most colored pencils are wax based, mixed with differing ratios of powdered color and binding agents. A good pencil’s core color will adhere to intaglio printmaking ink like chalk on a black board. The higher the pigment load in the core, the more color you’ll see on the ink.
For the past two decades, I’ve used a mix of Prismacolor Pencils, and Caran D’Ache Luminescent Pencils. I still have pencils from the original set I bought in 1999, and they adhere beautifully and brightly to most printmaking inks. They are one of my favorite art supplies for enhancing monotypes and watercolors. (Here is a post about using colored pencils to repair watercolors.)
Monotype and Colored Pencil
I hope you’ll try mixing your printmaking with other media. Especially if some of the prints in your stash need a little Color Bling.
During this time of staying in, and staying safe from Covidi19, an evening spent immersed in art adventures is a salve. Applying bold strokes of color on an old print could be just the thing to make you smile. And it might even be habit-forming!
If you have any questions about this process, leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you.
Thanks for your visit, and I’ll see you in the next post.
P.S. The How to Make a Monotype Print instructions below might be helpful.
P.P.S. I’m building an online monotype course, so you can get an email when it’s posted by signing up right here.
I devoted free moments, particularly evenings, to etchings, both reproductions of paintings and directly from life. I attached little importance to this pursuit, but was entertained by the surprises inherent in this game of chance, that lines that I incised with a steel needle on a treated black copper plate became light red against a dark background, and when printed would be black on a white field, and reverse to boot; it was like playing blind-man’s bluff, a game which delighted me then, and still delights me now. ~Anders Zorn (1860-1920)Anders Zorn (1860-1920)