a monotype of a sleeping figure in bed

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My First Monotype Print

I think this might be the first or second monotype I ever did – in 2005. Hard to believe my love affair with this versatile method of painterly printmaking has continued for this long.

I think I love it more now than I did before. Each additional year I experiment with monotype prints leaves me more thrilled to have discovered it. Monotypes are endlessly inventive and fun.

After inking my beveled zinc plate, I laid a sheet of paper over the plate and did a sketch of the image I wanted, which left a subtle map in the ink when I pulled the paper away. I’ve got the drawing close by for reference here. I’m removing ink in this photo (this is a Dark Field Monotype) in a subtractive method of ink removal – sort of “carving light” into the dark field of ink, with a pastel stomp
The monotype plate on the press, ready for paper, and some pressure
After a trip through the press, I’m pulling the paper (BFK Rives) off the plate to reveal the monotype print.
 Here is the monotype, and the plate above it, which had enough ink remaining on the surface to pull a second print, which is called a ghost, because it’s a very faint suggestion of the monotype. The image below was the ghost print, painted with watercolor after the ink dried.
dark field monotype ghost
Five More Minutes 4.5 x 6 Monotype Ghost with Watercolor

Your First Monotype Might Get You Hooked

I hope you’ll give monotype printmaking a go. It’s so painterly and accessible with very few supplies. Press your paper into the ink with the back of a soup spoon, and you’re good to go.

Here is a video demo of a dark field monotype print transferred with a smooth wooden baren. Gather your supplies, and give it a twirl.

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


Art Quote

Until I started doing monotypes, I had never made an image without looking at something directly, but really – what’s the difference between doing this (making a monotype) – I mean really, when we’re out there drawing, or making our painting [on site, or from life], we have to turn away from nature. You know, we look, and then we look to our drawing, so there’s a little time that’s elapsed, so that – really – when we’re out there making our drawing, we are in fact working from memory, because when we turn away from nature, we look to our invention, so one is always working from memory, but with notes. The things that we think about in our heads, in painting and drawing, are parts of long, extended, evolving conversations that happen just as much when we’re not painting and drawing. You know, driving around, or walking around, or riding a bike through neighborhoods, and looking at buildings and considering the quality of a pink wall next to a piece of yellow trim. All this stuff informs us, because as long as we’re awake, we’re processing everything. That process never stops. I mean, if we’re really involved with our visual life, we’re working all the time. So, what I’ve found is there’s something about this whole process of the monotype that lends itself to a certain kind of consideration that’s more like drawing than painting, yet is also very similar to painting.

Painter and Printmaker Stuart Shills (watch him make a monotype here)

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