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Monotype Print Still Life – adding Colored Pencil to your Art

I spent a foggy afternoon transferring printmaking inks from leaky containers to new ones, sent gratis by the manufacturer. Good customer service!

While pouring and scraping ink into shiny new containers, I rolled out a bit of leftover ink on a sheet of plexiglass for a speedy, small, dark field monotype print session. They are so fast! It’s one of my favorite things about this printmaking method.

A sheer plexiglass plate with an inky monotype on the left, and pulling the print after rubbing paper to the inked plate with a wooden baren on the right
The finished monotype print, drying in the studio.
The next morning: a freshly dry monotype print and a new tin of Amazon colored pencils to test!
While testing the Amazon Premium Colored Pencils, I compared the core size to Prismacolor, and in most (but not all) of the colors, the Amazon core was larger.
The key characteristic for using colored pencils on monotype prints is that the pigment in the pencil lead has to stick to – and cover – the printmaking ink. If the colored pencil is too waxy and slick, or the pigment load is very light and transparent, the dry pencil media won’t adhere and cover your ink. The Amazon Premium Colored Pencils did a good job of adhering to the Akua ink in my print, but the coverage wasn’t *quite* as opaque as Prismacolor. Still, they are a good, inexpensive colored pencil set, and I’ll continue to use them. (Check them out on Amazon over here.)

Resources for the Artist In You

My new $10 set of 24 colors of Amazon Premium Colored Pencils
The finished monotype print – Ten Bearss. The print is listed over here in my Etsy Shop.

Use What You Have

I like searching through the house for items that lend themselves to creative work, even if they were meant for uses elsewhere.

In the last post, I demo’d an intaglio print of a cat from a carton of frozen fruit pops (see that here). It was great fun, and full of surprises!

In the next post, I’m working on something similar. I want to test another paper carton intaglio print (this time from a box of Kleenex), made without a press, using a rolling pin instead.

I have no idea if it’ll work, but I’m creating the plate this afternoon, and I’m excited and hopeful that it’ll work. What’s your prediction? Do you think I’ll get enough pressure from the rolling pin to push the paper into the recessed line work to pick up the ink? Let me know your predictions in the comments. Pass or fail, I’ll share the results.

Have you seen all the fabulous printmaking projects artist are sharing on instagram, using recycled tetrapak packaging?

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


P.S. Speaking of Instagram collagraphs, take a look at the beautiful work in printmaker Jenny McCabe’s feed here.

Words to live by….

Art Quote

There’s a question I like to ask myself, and it comes from Dr. Carol Dweck’s fabulous book, Mindset. Dweck writes about the difference between having a growth mindset, where you see your basic qualities as something you can nurture and grow, and having a fixed mindset, where you see your basic qualities as set in stone. When you have a fixed mindset, you always feel like you have something to prove. So when I’m feeling a lot of pressure to do incredible work, I’ll ask myself, “Therese, are you in the learning room or the proving room?” I always, always want to be in the learning room, and asking myself that question takes the pressure off. I’m here to learn and grow, and whatever the experience is, even if it’s standing up and giving a talk to 1500 people, I can learn from it. I believe that all too often, we put pressure on ourselves to do our “best work.” I strive to always be doing better work. I can always do a little better, and that’s where I try to live.

Therese Huston, in an interview with Gretchen Rubin
Scraping ink and modifiers out of puckering, leaky jars, and transferring it into brand new, shiny containers!

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8 thoughts on “Monotype Print Still Life Art – adding Colored Pencil to your Print”

  1. Hi Belinda,
    I worked in an art supply store for a while and learned some things I wish I didn’t know about the world of art supplies. One was that Prisma was sold some years ago. It also changed it’s formula when it ramped up production to go into WalMart, Michaels and the big stores. The lead broken inside the wood shaft, crumbly texture, etc are the result. Although your pencil suggestion is a good budget option I am transitioning over to Faber-Castel polychromos. The quality difference is worth it. Just a fan of these.

    1. Hi Chris, Thanks so much for your note. I knew about the Eagle-Berol-Stanford-Newel transitions that seem inevitable with all smaller company acquisitions, but I haven’t experienced the broken leads and crumbly tips you describe. To be fair, my prismacolors are mixed generation – from the Berol days all the way to earlier this year. I’d be very curious to hear your review of the Faber Castel, as I’ve never tried them.
      The most frequent comment from readers of this blog, and viewers of my youtube channel on the subject of trying colored pencils is about the expense. For that, I felt it would be a good thing to test the $9.99 24-pencil set from Amazon. ( ) For a first-time colored pencil user, or a hobbyist who practices sketching in a pad or book, they are perfectly useable.🤓. Please do write again with your thoughts on the Faber Castels… I’d love to know what you think.

  2. Steinunn Einarsdottir

    Thank you Belinda, I always love 💕 watching the way you are showing us the progress of your work.

    1. Hello, my friend,
      Thank you so much for the encouraging feedback. I hope you are painting often, and sharing the results with friends who are also artists so you can keep each other’s inspiration fueled and firing brightly.

  3. I so appreciate you showing all the different ways to print without a press and the use of Akua inks. I can’t wait to see how the next intaglio on carton plate turns out. It is impressive how your mono print turned out using a wooden spoon! I am going to try that again. Thanks.

  4. Beautiful! I would be interested in learning how you did your monotype. More detail than just on a plexiglass plate. Is the plate sanded? Ink painted on?

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