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Monoprint with Gel Plate and Ballpoint Drawing Transfer

My ballpoint gel plate monoprint drawing transfer experimentation continues. (That’s a mouthful of words, eh?) For inspiration, I borrowed a cute image of bestie dog buddies from one of our family members (Thank you, Avah!).

Using family photos as drawing references and inspiration is my habitual Reach-For when starting a new project. Do you do that too?

I photographed some of my steps on this project, and posted them below, with links to help get you started, in case you’d like to give this printmaking process a go.

Laying my ballpoint pen drawing of two dogs face-down on wet purple acrylic paint rolled out in a very thin veil on a gel plate
Peeling the drawing off the gel plate; my first attempt had some kid-grade wax crayons (in blue) in the drawing, based on Mark Yeate’s experiments with that approach, but I wasn’t satisfied with the transfer, so I started again (see note about that below), minus the crayon.
Note: I used the same drawing as in the previous attempt, but I trimmed the paper down and re-embossed all the drawing lines with another ballpoint (in a different color so I could see what I was doing). You can see on the gel plate that I got a better transfer of the drawing on my second try.
After the purple drawing transfer of the dogs had dried on the gel plate (I’m using basic acrylics – NOT open acrylics – so it only took 5-6 minutes), I rolled a thin layer of yellow ochre over the purple linework on the gel plate, and immediately laid a sheet of dry printmaking paper on the still-wet ochre paint. I smoothed it down with my hand to remove any air bubbles and set a stack of books on top to keep the paper in close, squished contact with the wet acrylic paint. After 15 minutes, I removed the stack of books and pulled the monoprint from the plate.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try and Try Again

I’ve had a handful of Do-Overs in every post I’ve written about this fun monoprint process from gel plates. If your first attempts don’t go swimmingly, make more of them. That’s how we learned as kids, and that’s how we (still) learn new things as adults.

Grownups get the willies over the notion of failure. We’re supposed to be awesome-sauce at All Things while adulting, but that’s never going to be true with arts and crafts. There are tips, hints, and lessons in every little blip, so take note of what failed, and start again.

Ready for mixed-media fun – my doggy monoprint from a Gel Plate and Ballpoint Drawing Transfer.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Two excellent aspects of this process are speed and re-use of the drawing. The acrylic dries fast, so your printing moves quickly. And if your first pull of the drawing doesn’t transfer, re-draw the same lines again on your original drawing, with a different colored ballpoint so you can emboss over the first drawing and “recycle” it for a second or third try.

Another great option for you is breaking the process into bite-sized snippets. No time? Okay then – make your ballpoint pen drawings in fits and starts till you have a pile of them. Work in the evenings after dinner. When you’re ready to print, you’ll go quick as a bunny through the transfers using your fresh pile o’ drawings, and basic acrylic paint, which dries fast.

Colored pencils will adhere beautifully to dry acrylic paint, depending on the brand you have. Right after pulling this print, we were traveling, so I packed a small sheet of gator board as a support (it’s extremely lightweight and sturdy), and a canvas pencil roll (this one) packed with 30 colored pencils – including some of my Prismacolor and Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils. I sat on the bed where we were staying with an audiobook (this one) and used a bed pillow as a lap desk to add color to this little dog portrait monoprint. F-U-N.
Double Zed Trouble – 6 x 6 Gel Plate and Ballpoint Monoprint with Colored Pencils – Available in my Etsy Shop
  • If you’re looking for books on making gel plate botanical prints, this one gets good reviews on Amazon. And this one is more general and beginner-friendly. A good art-library is a vitamin to your creative soul.
Gel plate printmaking is simple (no carving, no press, no ink), accessible and fast fun. I’ve been experimenting with layered botanical monoprints, and you can crank out a whole pile of them in one afternoon. These were made with basic acrylic, a gel plate, a brayer, and leaves gathered in my neighborhood. Have you tried making botanical gel monoprints yet?

Summertime

Amidst the gel plate monoprinting experiments with ballpoint pens, I’m making new things in the kitchen (homemade ricotta, anyone?), exploring new places in travel, listening to Penny Reid audiobooks narrated by Joy Nash, swimming in both brisk lake and ocean water, walking, practicing yoga, and germinating a plethora of seeds for Fall planting in my garden.

Basically, I’m trying to live fully. Attempting to wake my senses, and fluff my curiosity and wonder. After the past few years of Pandemic and loss, living in a state of mind that is intentionally robust, awake, active and alert seems the thing to do. Charging all my batteries to full capacity.

What about you?

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

Belinda

P.S. This homemade ricotta and grilled veggie recipe is the bee’s knees! Not art, I know – but full of awesome – and very sharable.

Art-for-sale-on-Etsy
Visit my Esty Shop for original art (framed and unframed)

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4 thoughts on “Monoprint with Gel Plate and Ballpoint Drawing Transfer”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your process. Very encouraging. Those dogs are so dang cute!
    Sally

  2. Anne Maxwell-Jackson

    Thanks, Belinda, for sharing your work, your guidance and your positive attitude. you do lovely and inspiring work. I look forward to your newsletters and have kept them all on file for reference.
    Very best wishes,
    Anne

    1. Hello Anne, Thanks for your feedback and encouragement. I’m so glad these experiments are useful to you. The internet has turned into an amazing library for creative sharing. Happy making to you!

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