Color Landscape Light Field Monotype Print

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Color Landscape Light Field Monotype Print

Here is a quick video demo (below) to show you the steps to make a full color landscape light field monotype print without a press.

There is also a list of all the supplies (below) I used in the demo, with links if you’re looking to source some of them for your next monotype project.

Light Field Monotype Print without a Press

Most of my friends don’t have a printing press. I didn’t have one either for a few decades, so any tutorial I could find with tips for printmaking projects without a press were valuable to me. That’s why I’m posting this demo, and I hope you find it helpful.

This monotype print demo uses pretty basic materials – all listed below. Part of what makes this project basic is the printmaking method. Are you familiar with monotypes?

What’s So Great About a Monotype Print?

To make a monotype print, you don’t need carving tools, or a sharp scribe to gouge into a block. There’s no cutting, and no caustic solvents like the ones you’d use to make an etching.

With monotype printing, you don’t need a press, and you can make one with acrylic paint or watercolor if you don’t have inks (with a few caveats).

Your printmaking plate can be a sheet of plexiglass, or polyester drafting film – like Mylar – which is used in this demo.

Barring that, you can use a plastic report cover, a sheet of glass (only if you’re not using a press), a piece of aluminum foil or a sheet of tin, etc. As long as the plate is smooth, un-scratched, and slick enough to release ink when paper is pressed against it, you’re good to go.

Painterly Printmaking with Monotypes

The basic premise is that you paint an image on a smooth, un-etched plate, like a sheet of plexiglass. And while the ink is still wet, you press a sheet of printmaking paper against your inky image to transfer the wonder from the plate to the paper.

Now, you might be scratching your head and wondering – ‘Why don’t you just paint on the paper and call it a day?’. The reason you press it rather than painting directly, my grasshopper, is because the pressure of pushing good paper into ink arranged artfully on a smooth plate creates MAGIC.

The squish of your hand pressing paper into the pigments makes new marks, entirely new colors, and a brand new image you didn’t even know you were making.

When you pull the paper from the inked plate, its a mark-making menagerie surprise every single time. It will take your breath away.

A still-wet monotype print, fresh from the plate, and full of mark-making surprises.

Light Field vs Dark Field Monotypes

When you roll ink onto the entirety of your plate, and cover the whole surface with pigment, you’re starting with a dark field. The plate is covered, so it’s “dark”. Then, with finger tips, cotton swabs, rags and such, you wipe ink away, like you’re carving light. See this post with a dark field monotype demo.

When you begin with a clear, clean plate, and you add pigment, just like you would with a blank canvas while creating a painting, you’re starting a light field monotype, because there is nothing on the plate; its a light field.

The landscape demo in this post is a light field monotype. Here’s another light field monotype print in a larger format. Capiche?

The finished monotype, with colored pencil, available in my Etsy Shop here.

Adding Other Media to Your Monotype Prints

I’ve waxed on and on over the years about adding colored pencil and watercolor to monotypes. Degas did that with pastels on his dark field monotypes, so it’s not new, but it sure is fun.

Another reason monotype printing is so great is that you can repair your prints with other media. There’s permission to mess up in that approach, so for artists who are struggling to “loosen up”, you have a double layer of Go With the Flow.

First, there is the surprise image after the squish of paper into your pigment, so no matter how tight and controlled you get in the making of the image on the plate, the pressure will have it’s way with the art. That’s the first Loosen Up Permission.

And second, as soon as the pigment is dry, you have the option to re-work that finished print with other media. You can use watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, pastels, oil paint, etc. That’s two reasons to Let Go, and just play with your art supplies in monotype printmaking.

Do you know about lower cost Mastrius memberships that give you access to recorded demos, panels and events? Have a look at the subscription ($9/month) here.
Preparing for a live zoom demo to share my process for creating a multi-color monotype print from a sheet of mylar without a press for my Mastrius Group this Sunday.

Monotype Printmaking Demos on Mastrius

My group in Mastrius is playing with monotypes right now (see above), so I’m doing a few demos on zoom with them to show various methods of making full color monotypes without a press. (There is still room in the group for you if you’d like to join us. [its about $79 American/$107 Canadian dollars a month]

If you have tips for making monotype prints, or favorite artists, or books, please share them in the comments. Monotypes are one of my favorite forms of printmaking due to their accessibility and simplicity. Have you ever made one before? What did you think?

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post –


P.S. You’re invited to join my Monotype Print Group on Facebook over here.

P.P.S. You are also invited to subscribe to this blog to get each new post via email (free) over here.

Making a monotype print on plastic sheets with Akuakolor inks. This monotype print is a *perfect* example of Repairs Needed after I pulled it. Read the story here.

Supply List for this Monotype Print Adventure

Color Monotype Print Supply List

This monotype print supply list includes everything you'll need to follow along with the corresponding demo video (here) and the blog post (here).

Here is a quick demo to show you the steps and give you some tips on making a full color landscape light field monotype print without a press

Art Quote

It does seem that it is often in those years between 8 and 13 that a tiny spark is lit by a teacher telling you or showing you something, and that if you’re lucky, that spark keeps alight and gradually becomes the glowing fire of your lifelong passion and career.

Ysenda Maxtone Graham
visit my Etsy Shop to pursue framed and unframed watercolors and printmaking

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14 thoughts on “Color Landscape Light Field Monotype Print”

  1. I’m back. Scaling down looking for process help again. Happy you are still sharing thank you. XOA

  2. Such a clear explanation and beautiful work, Belinda! Really appreciate the supply list and all the nuances you reference- I am fairly new to Akua (worked with oil based inks my whole art life!) so the little tips you give are very helpful.
    I am the founder and retired director of The Creative Center, a non-profit based in NYC that supports people with cancer and their caregivers through the arts- our tagline: “medicine cures the body, but art heals the spirit…”. After 28 years, finally getting back to my own art practice- painting, drawing and printmaking. Love the Facebook group you moderate- I have learned so much and connected with people around the world. Many, many thanks!

    1. Hi Robin, Thanks so much for your feedback and your encouragement. And welcome to your very own art-life! I hope you find a great deal of respite in your process, and the fruits of your creative adventures keep you coming back for more. Your good work to heal the spirit with art must be incredibly satisfying. You’ve got three decades of changing lives to rest upon. I hope there’s all kinds of time for you now.

  3. Belinda,
    You continue to inspire and amaze me with your beautiful work! Thank you so much for sharing your work, your process, your experiments, and what you learn! It is truly inspiring and I look forward to your posts and emails so much! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    1. Hi Julie, Thanks for your very kind note. I’m so glad the process details resonate with you, and I hope your experiments with monotype are so fun, they lead to compulsively repeatable printmaking sessions. Put your experimental lab coat on, and sally forth with all due haste towards the inky wonder!
      Happy printing!

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