Color Monotype Printmaking Portrait without a Press

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Color Monotype Printmaking Portrait without a Press

Making a color monotype print portrait (without a press) of my lovely cousin emerging from a swimming pool. These layered color monotype prints get more and more fun as I get familiar with what works, and what should be avoided. Have you tried to make one yet?

Pressing the first two layers of color (Akua intaglio ink) from a plexiglass plate to a sheet of good printmaking paper (BFK Rives)
Mixing ink in prim little piles on a spare sheet of plexiglass. Since Akua ink needs absorption in order to dry, the ink piles in my studio have been out on my desk for weeks. Each color gets a little massage from a palette knife before being rolled onto the printmaking plate with a rubber brayer.

Registration of a multi-Color Monotype Print

I’ve received quite a few questions about registration for this layered color style of monotype print since each color (or set of colors) are pressed to the print incrementally.

As long as you’re using a clear sheet of plexiglass or recycled plastic as your printmaking plate, you can look through the plate to align it with your print during the process. See the photo sequence on this below….

Preparing to add some shadow-shapes to the figure in rich burnt sienna hues. I’ll lay this ink-side down directly on top of the print-in-process.
The burnt sienna is laid ink-side down and aligned to the print in process by “eyeballing” the alignment.
After aligning the new ink layer to the print, the paper-plate sandwich is carefully flipped so the plate is on the table, and the paper is on top, making it easier to rub the back of the print into the ink with a baren.
My favorite baren – ever. Made by Ian Whyte at Highland Wizard Crafts on Etsy.
Using the baren to press the paper into the inked plexiglass. The burnt sienna ink will add shadows and contour to the figure.
After rubbing the paper into the inked plate with my trusty wood baren, I’m pulling the print, and enjoying the mottled, airy ink transfer that still allows the cream color of the paper to show roughly in the ink.
  • The nomenclature of printmaking is rich with new words, nicknames for various methods, and mysterious print process labels that get used interchangeably, which often leads to flustered debates in the comment sections on social media. Pour yourself a cuppa and peruse this printmaking glossary.
  • My favorite printmaking magazine (by far) is Pressing Matters, assembled and designed by the amazing John Coe.
Pulling the final layer of blue ink on this monotype print.
Salire – 8×10 Color Monotype Print – available in my Etsy Shop

Mentoring Other Artists and Printmakers

I’ve been enjoying my mentorship group over at immensely. It’s very satisfying to demo different art-making techniques, and then review the work each group member has done using that method to create their own art. Read about Small Groups here.

My group and I have been working on the method of color monotypes featured in this post (and this one and this one and this one too). I love teaching this process because you don’t need a press, and each layer of additional color is transferred simply and quickly with a baren.

Plus, the process is pretty fast, so you can make a lot of monotypes, and we all improve with repetition and practice.

I have a special sale code for you if you’re interested in joining my small group. You can have 20% off for the first three months with me ($62/month instead of $78/month) if you use this code during check-out when you sign up: join309_3mo80. Let me know if you have any questions.

What are you learning about in your creative life these days?

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


P.S. If you’re on Facebook, feel free to join my Monotype group. We have a thriving community of global printmakers, all making and discussing monotypes and monoprints.

Art Quote

Instruction does much, but encouragement, everything.

 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe​
My Etsy Shop (free shipping on all Art)

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6 thoughts on “Color Monotype Printmaking Portrait without a Press”

  1. I really like your work and thank you for sharing kit with all of us. I’m also a fan of Pressing Matters digital magazine. I believe I was introduced to it by you.

    1. Hi Gabriele – Thank you for your compliments. Yes, Pressing Matters is such a great magazine. The design, the variety of printmaking, and the writing are all marvelous! I’m so glad you like it too.

    1. Hi Vlasta, If you check the previous posts on this process, you’ll see more details on the supplies. I’m using a grease pencil to draw the image on the plate. Happy printing!

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