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 Dry Dock Huddle 8.5 x 7 Monotype on Arches Cover paper
Available on Etsy.

Pulling the monotype from the mylar plate, supported underneath by a sheet of matboard cut to the same size as the mylar.  

My reference photo on the left is a little grainy and over-exposed, but there’s enough information to draw the basic shapes of the sailboats in dry dock. I used straight watercolor over caran d’ache crayons on this one, after treating the mylar plate with just a drop of rubbed on liquid dish soap the night before to help the pigments stick (and release). The swell of boat hulls when they’re raised out of the water has always intrigued me – like suspended whales – in for maintenance – anxiously waiting to get back to the sea.

I received an email from printmaker Carol Hetherington this week, suggesting the dish soap treatment above, and mentioning a couple of material options for monotype plates. She uses 1/16″ lightly sanded Styrene sheets – also known as Polystyrene – which is a little more flexible than Lexan (polycarbonate) – the plexiglass sheets I’ve been using for both monotypes and dry points. I have a stack of various brands and weights of polycarbonate sheets, but I’ve never tried polystyrene. Have you? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

Art Quote

Some years ago Whistler showed a visitor several heads of Italian children, each about 10 or 12, by 16 or 18 inches in size. With them was a three-quarter length of one of the children. They were all superb bits of portraiture, and akin to the Little Rose of Lyme Regis – in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The visitor was eager to get one or more of the pictures. After considerable pressure, he said :
“I think they ought to be worth six hundred guineas each; don’t you?”
“And the large one?” said the visitor.
“Oh, the same. That is no more important than the small.”
“Very well. May I have all four?”
“Dear me ! You don’t want them all?”
“If you will let me have them.”
” But…. ” and then the struggle began, “I must look them over; they are not quite finished.”
“But, surely, these two are finished.”
“Yes, I might let those go by-and-bye, but not now.”
“Will you send them to me ?”
“Yes, certainly, after I have gone over them again.”
“I will leave a check.”
“God bless me, no! You must not do that. It will be time enough to send a check after you receive the little pictures.”
Needless to say, the pictures were never received. They had just been finished, and he could not bring himself to part with them. It was not a matter of money at all — likely as not he sold them later for less — but it was always next to impossible to get him to part with recent work. If he happened to have on hand a picture five or ten years old, possibly, that could be bought and taken away, but anything in which he was interested at the time he would not let go. 

~Recollections and impressions of James A. McNeill Whistler by Jerome Eddy 1903

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5 thoughts on “Monotype: Dry Dock Huddle”

  1. Try Gum Arebic as a release agent on your plates…It is the ingredient in water color that makes the paint flow…I get it in bulk dried powder from Daniel Smith or in liquid….paint it on the plate let dry and you are ready…the printing plate comes out almost clean and the prints are vibrant… I use plexiglass plates that I lightly sand to create a tooth to hold pigment..

    Good luck cheers

  2. Love the monotype and as always your generous descriptions of what you do. You write so well. They do look like whales eager to get back to sea. Plus the shapes are so perfect.

    I also enjoyed the quote so much.


  3. I’m fascinated by this process and I love the painting.
    The Whistler quote makes me chuckle. Long ago at my Open Studios a visitor asked me the price of a small painting (which would’ve been about $50 at the time) and I said, “that’s not for sale.” At the same time I could see my husband and my mother over this woman’s shoulder as the looks of shock came over their faces!! I could hear the voices in their heads saying, “Sell it and paint another!”
    😀 It finally sold YEARS later but it was a lesson 😉

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