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California Incline 8.5×10.5 Monotype with colored pencil

Color Landscape Monotype Printmaking Tips

Here is a printmaking exercise for you. Make quick, small landscape color monotype prints from a page of Thumbnail Photos to Loosen Up. Print two sheets of thumbnails from paintable images snapped on your phone. Let’s make some light field color monotypes, but loose and fluid… no fussing allowed.

If you don’t already have a folder of compulsively harvested art reference photos on your computer, walk around the house and snap some, or go for a walk, and collect some simple, visual magic.

using thumbnail photos from your iphone to practice printmaking
Some of the “drive-by” landscape thumbnails I’ve snapped from the passenger seat, printed as inspirational reference for a monotype marathon loosen up exercise.

Artist Reference Landscape Photos for Monotype Prints

I have hundreds (okay, thousands – I admit it) of landscape images snapped from the passenger seat while driving around California when our kids played in softball and volleyball travel teams. I printed two thumbnail sheets – on plain paper… nothing fancy. Now, you go do that too.

Gather two sheets of your quickly selected and printed thumbnails, and pull out your monotype printmaking supplies. Let’s get some light field, landscape color monotype print art going. (If you’re not a printmaker, or you’d rather play with watercolor today, go here and do this.)

using drafting film to make a color monotype
Keep your landscape studies loosey juicy and simple sally – don’t noodle, or knit brow, or groan with exasperation. Just play with color, push the pigments, and press them to paper – with either a spoon or your hand or a baren.

Monotype Printmaking Supplies

(NOTE: Some links are affiliates. There’s no additional cost to you. I’ll earn a wee commission if you make a purchase. These are all products I’ve used in my studio. Thank you for supporting my blog so I can share more experiments with you.) Akua ink, rubber gloves, a stir stick, an apron, masking tape, paint brushes, a palette to mix ink (if you don’t have one, tape down several sheets of mylar, or yupo paper, or a sheet of acrylic/plexiglass, etc.), paper towels, a rinse bowl, smooth, lightweight printmaking paper, cotton swabs, rubber-tipped marking tools, a sheet of mylar or yupo or plexi to print from, and your reference thumbnails.

making a landscape color monotype
Brushes and reference photos on the left, rubber gloves and paper towels and cotton swabs next to the thumbnails, a sheet of mylar on a peice of non-skid (so it’ll stay put) to paint on and print from, assorted Akua inks mixed on a plexiglass table top on the right.

Printing Color Monotypes on a Press

Lay a sheet of mylar – or plexiglass, or a rectangle of plastic cover sheet on some non-skid, or tape the corners down, and use Akua ink (or any slow-drying ink/pigment on hand) to spontaneously, without a preconceived notion of what you’ll produce, start painting an image on the mylar. Choose a photo, grab your brushes and start painting.

monotype printmaking on a press
If you’re using a press: blue and white tape brackets on opposing corners to create separate registration stops for the monotype plate (mylar laid on the press bed with no ink, as an example), and the paper.
color-monotype and monoprint printmaking exercises
Pulling another landscape monotype from a tiny thumbnail image of a creek near the Tea House at Descanso Gardens in Southern California

Slide Into the Printmaker’s Driver Seat

Don’t get too fussy… just print it (if you don’t have a press, use your hands or the back of a spoon), and then wipe the mylar and make another one. And repeat. And repeat.  

Keep in mind that YOU are in control of the negative voices in your head, so if you hear them banging around in there out of habit, command them, firmly, to shush. ? Play music, or listen to an audiobook or a podcast, because science says those joy-robbing little boogers can’t be heard if your brain is busy listening to something more pleasant and engaging.

Loose, painterly and playful with printmaking inks.
Pulling fast little painterly prints from a sheet of mylar after a trip through the press

Feed Your Artist’s Sense of Wonder

Don’t overthink it. Lock your inner critic in the basement. Tape the mouth of your naysayer. Expel the fretful, hand-wringing Queen of Indecision voices from your mouth with a spit and rinse into the sink.

Give yourself the GIFT of making art, for just a piece of the day. Be unbridled, childlike, and open-minded, with a deliberate reveal of the long-suffocated Wonder buried under those grown up judgements.

Play with your art supplies. Keep it Simple.

how to make light field color monotypes
Big Brushes, paper towels to wipe out cloud shapes, and an audiobook in my ears to drown out that Persnickety Perfectionist. Do you have one of those too?

Process Over Perfection

If you make six or seven color landscape monotypes, you’re bound to be pleased with one of them, or maybe you’ll love ALL of them. Don’t even survey the results till a few days later.

And then, even if they’re all duds, pat yourself on the back for getting your hands on art supplies. That’s called practice. At the very least, you experimented with loosening up your creative mojo, and focusing on Making Something.

No matter the outcome, that process-part is more important than building a masterpiece. Let me know how it went when you’re finished.

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


P.S. You can subscribe to this blog (free) and get each post via email by signing up here.

make art more often
Click the clouds to see your free course….

Art Quote

I must say I like bright colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and I am genuinely sorry for the poor browns. When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject. But then I shall require a still gayer palette than I get here below. I expect orange and vermillion will be the darkest, dullest colors upon it, and beyond them, there will be a whole range of wonderful new colours which will delight the celestial eye.

Winston Churchill
a meme encouraging production over perfection
Make lots and lots of art, instead of one perfect piece.

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4 thoughts on “Printmaking Tip – Landscape Color Monotype Prints”

  1. Love your blog and videos! Very generous of you to share all your experience and your beautiful work! I have been playing around the simple monotypes and then using soft pastel over the dried print. Which paper do you think is best for that combination? Many of Degas’ ballet monotypes have a lot of pastel on them. I know he used some Japanese papers but these don’t seem substantial enough to hold that much pastel. What do you think?

    1. Hello Eden, I love using pastel over monotypes! Degas’ work mixing the two – especially in person – where you can see his mark-making in the ink under the dry pastel – are amazingly inspiring! (This book is all about his experiments with monotype: I like printmaking paper with a bit of “tooth” to catch and hold the pastel, so I use Arches Cover, and BFK Rives heavyweight papers. Can you get them where you are? Thanks for your compliments. ?

  2. Love this and love the quote. Reading Winston Churchill on painting inspired my father to paint — that and the fact that I was in art school. He never entered a show, but he painted many super paintings, most of which he gave away. Love your work.

    XOXOXOXOXO Barbara

    1. Wow, that’s so great that Churchill’s writing about art inspired your Dad. Since he was already an excellent photographer, I bet his eye was “pre-trained” to see compelling arrangements and compositions. Very fun little fact about your daddio. Thanks for the note and the compliment. XO

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