dark-field-monotype of the mission bell at San Juan Capistrano

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Getting Ready to Make a Monotype

This (below) is a 4 x 6 zinc plate, with beveled edges – since I’ll be printing this on a press. After rolling a smooth, thin layer of black printmaking ink on the plate, I’ll use cotton swabs, rolled paper towel pointers, blending stomps and a rubber gloved fingertip to pull ink from the plate in a subtractive process to create an image of the San Juan Capistrano Bell Tower in Southern California. Have you made one of these yet?

preparing for a dark field monotype print
Ready to make a dark field monotype; ink on a zinc plate, and then carving light into the wet ink
dark field monotype plate
Mark-making in the ink on a zinc plate

A Press or a Spoon – Your Choice

The plate has a painterly mish-mosh of marks in the still wet ink (above), and it’s ready to be pressed against a soaked and blotted sheet of printmaking paper.

I printed this plate on an etching press, but it would have worked just as well – except for taking longer – to print the monotype by hand using a spoon to transfer the ink onto the paper.

So, you got that, right? You don’t need a press to make a monotype. A cereal spoon works like magic. Trust me. That’s how I made prints for a few decades. Try it.

dark field monotype print
After a trip through the press – the monotype print

Adding Watercolor and Colored Pencil to a Dark Field Monotype

This dark field monotype was printed on Arches Cover printmaking paper, which is my favorite for use with watercolor after the ink is dry. There is sizing in Arches Cover paper, so the watercolor pigments float beautifully without sinking into the pulp, which suspecnds layered watercolor glazes beautifully, and allows for lifting if you choose to lighten a passage.

After the ink was dry on this monotype, I used watercolor and colored pencil to finish the art. There are more examples of monotype prints made from the same little zinc plate – with watercolor and/or colored pencil added below. Don’t you want to make one?

dark-field-monotype with watercolor and colored pencil
San Juan Capistrano Bell, 4 x 6 dark field monotype with watercolor and colored pencil (sold)
monotype ghost print with watercolor
Five More Minutes – 4 x 6 Monotype Ghost Print with Watercolor (sold)

Would you Like to make a Monotype?

If you’re curious about making a monotype without a press, I’ve assembled a video tutorial playlist for you on my youtube channel. You probably already have many of the art supplies necessary to make a monotype if you’ve ever done any printmaking.

There’s a detailed list of supplies you’ll need with links to where you can find them on this page. It’s a very painterly form of printmaking, and it’s easy to make one after another all afternoon. Have a look at the playlist of tutorials here.

Window Seat 4 x 6 inch monotype ghost print with watercolor (sold)

Great Links for You

  • Legion Paper has released their first 100% cotton Black (!) Watercolor paper: Stonehenge Aqua Black. You can probably imagine how cool gouache looks on good black watercolor paper, (see some examples on instagram here and here). Legion is offering a free 5×7 sheet sample to play with, and I am watching my mailbox for it’s arrival. Sign up to get yours here. You can also order it on Amazon.
  • Textile Artist has done it again with a beautifully provocative feature on Gregory Wilkins, who does embroidered collage. His faces in particular are so compelling, and as you zoom into the needlework on each section, the detail is mind boggling. All hail to the patient ones in the artworld!
  • Click this link to get a 24% discount on my online course How to Title Your Art. If you’d like to expand the way you name your art beyond subject-based titles (example: calling a painting of a red barn ‘The Red Barn’), this is the course for you. It’s fast, straight-forward, and you have three different options for generating titles. Give it a go.
Mulching Spring Beds – 3.5 x 6.75 inch Dark Field Monotype with watercolor (sold)

Online Course Coming Soon

I’m starting a new still life watercolor painting and I’m using the grid method for accuracy. This time, I’m filming every last second of the process, from buying the flowers, to arranging and photographing them, gridding the reference photo and the drawing, and then painting it with watercolors. Start to Finish. 

Send me a message or comment under this post if you want to be notified when the course launches.

You can also sign up to be notified here: http://bit.ly/Gridit

I promise it will be thorough. I’m going over all the details – as though I’m helping someone who has *just begun* their artistic journey. Let’s Make Something. 🙂

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


P.S. Speaking of painting on black paper, British Youtuber Minnie Small has a nice painting of a hand done on black paper with gouache here.

P.P.S. The Santa Paula Art Museum is hosting an exhibit titled Face of California. I’ve got a watercolor (this one) in the exhibit, and I’ll be at the opening this Saturday, May 18th. If you’re in the area stop by (admission $15).

Click the flower to check out this mini course you can take in your jammies….

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5 thoughts on “Adding Watercolor and Colored Pencil to a Dark Field Monotype – San Juan Capistrano Bell”

  1. is there another type of plate that you could use instead of a zinc plate? what about an acrylic plate?

  2. Mickey Nolan

    If you want to have fun with watercolor on black paper, try using mica based Pearlescent watercolors by Fine Tek. They are stunning!

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