Adding Watercolor to Monotype Ghost Prints
In this monotype group on facebook, there was discussion about what to do with very faint monotype ghost prints.
Many folks new to printmaking aren’t aware that adding watercolor or colored pencil to monotype ghost prints is an option.
The only caveat is noting the paper you’ve printed your monotype on, and the inks you used to print with. Wet media like watercolor, or a dry media like pastels or colored pencils will be affected by the inks and the paper you use to create your monotypes. Read on…
Printmaking Inks You Can Paint On
Many water-wash-up printmaking inks do not dry permanently. They are still great printmaking inks, and you can always use dry media to enhance them or add color after printing with them. But you can’t paint these inks with wet media without re-wetting and bleeding the pigments.
Speedball Relief and Intaglio inks will re-wet after they dry (see the FAQ from their block printing inks below). You’ll have better results with dry pigments like colored pencil and pastel added to your prints after the ink dries.
But both of those inks require paper that’s porous enough to absorb the ink in order to dry. You’ll have best results with these inks on printmaking papers with some internal sizing. Otherwise, you may have to wait weeks for your prints to dry with printmaking papers that have internal and external sizing. See more below…
Adding Watercolor and Colored Pencil to Ghost Prints
One of the most effective ways to enhance – or even “correct” a monotype is colored pencil.
The pigments are opaque enough to cover most printmaking inks, so you have the option to highlight or brighten an area that got too dark.
You can see in some of the example monotypes in this post that colored pencil can also amend shapes, add details, or edit them out.
And colored pencils (or pastels) work on all printmaking inks and almost all papers, so you don’t have to be selective with regard to printmaking paper sizing, or selecting a permanent-ink that won’t re-wet on your prints. More on that below…
The Relationship between Printmaking Paper and Pigments
Pay attention to the paper you make monotypes on if you want the option of adding wet media.
There are many printmaking papers to choose from: BFK Rives and Arches Cover (two of my favorites for adding watercolor), Arches 88 and Arnhem 1812 (both excellent for adding colored pencil), Kozo, and Somerset, etc.
Some printmaking papers are made from cotton, others from mulberry, or wood pulp, or sulphite, etc. Have you done experiments with different papers to see which ones suit your style and materials best?
You can purchase printmaking paper sample packs from Legion Paper here, and from McClain’s here. If you purchase some of the samples, test different papers with the inks you already use to make prints, and then add media like colored pencils, watercolor and pastels to see which paper’s work best with your supplies.
Sizing in Printmaking Paper
Sizing in printmaking papers works the same way it does in watercolor paper. The gelatin or starch mixed with the pulp during manufacturing holds the fibers together, and acts as a barrier to pigment.
Sizing hinders pigments from bleeding into the fibers and spreading willy nilly, as though you were painting on a paper towel.
Sizing also gives you more control in printmaking, and keeps your ink colors rich and bright, sitting on top of the paper, rather than sinking into it.
Some papers have sizing mixed with the pulp, and then sprayed in a fine mist on the surface. That’s referred to as internal and external sizing. My favorite watercolor papers use both internal and external sizing, but this can cause drying trouble with some printmaking inks.
Too much sizing in the paper under printmaking inks that require absorption to dry, like Akua, will slow your ink drying time considerably. The sizing blocks absorption.
No sizing in your paper at all will prohibit adding watercolor to your print, because watercolors will bleed and sink into the fibers of the paper.
One of the reasons I like printing on Arches Cover and BFK Rives is that they each have *some* internal sizing, so you can paint watercolors on your prints, but not so much sizing that Akua inks won’t absorb and dry.
I haven’t experimented with wet media on Strathmore’s printmaking line – Riverpoint yet, but it’s on my list. If you’ve experimented with watercolor on your prints using this paper, or any others, please share your observations in the comments.
Pause for a Refresh
This will be the last blog post for the year. I’ll be back in 2020 with more watercolors and printmaking. I’ll miss you over those weeks, and I hope you’ll be busy making art here, there, and everywhere. You’ll do that, right?
My website needs an overhaul, so I’m going to focus on that for a few weeks to re-build it. I need time to learn the specs of a new Theme on WordPress (think of WordPress as the chassis of the car, and the new Theme as the skin, or the layout, color, and design of the web site).
I’ve been researching Themes, and sketching designs for the main page. It won’t be too different from the way the site looks now. But some of the plugins (the parts that make the website function) are out of date, or no longer supported, or causing glitches. It’s time to fix that.
If you’re new around here, and you want to be notified when the new web site is up and running, sign up to subscribe here.
If you’re already subscribed, I thank you for hanging around the studio with me. Good company is precious, and I am incredibly grateful for your camaraderie in this amazing, networked art world.
Your company balances and enriches the time spent alone in the studio while making art. 💙
Happy wishes to you, for more art, more color, more creative adventuring in 2020.
See you soon,
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.George Bernard Shaw