landscape monotype-print-with-watercolor

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Make a Monotype Print with Water Soluble Crayons from a Sheet of Drafting Film

You can use water soluble crayons and watercolors on a sheet of acrylic plexiglass to make a monotype (like this figurative monotype print).

You can also use a sheet of Mylar drafting film as your monotype printmaking plate!

a light field monotype from drafting film and water soluble crayons by Belinda Del Pesco
The beginning of the light field monotype at the top of this post.
Water soluble crayons on drafting film, pressed against printmaking paper, and then enhanced with watercolor and colored pencil

Drafting Film Sheets for Monotype Prints

This (above) was a painterly monotype landscape sketch of Indian House Mountain. The reference photo was taken during a trip to see my sweet sister in Alaska. (Hi NJDP!)

You can see in the monotype print – as I’m pulling it off the plate above – the pressure on the press was not sufficient to move the pigments. I also didn’t soak the paper long enough to re-wet the water soluble crayons, and pull them over to the printmaking paper.

I got a very faint monotype print, but that’s okay, because there are plenty of art supplies in the studio! Experiments are endless after the print and paper are dry.

watercolor monotype portrait in process by Belinda Del Pesco
Monotype Print from water soluble crayons and watercolor on a sheet of Dura-Lar, supported on the press bed with a sheet of mat board. The finished monotype print is here.
monotype print from watercolor on mylar

Landscape Monotype with Water Soluble Crayons

Mylar is the brand name (by Dupont) for a specific type of translucent plastic made from stretched polyester resin.

The word Mylar is used to refer to all sorts of other brands of polyester drafting film, the same way people in the U.S refer to bleach as ‘Clorox’, or tissues as “Kleenex’, after the popular brands.

Mylar is also called matte drafting film. It’s used in architectural drafting, colored pencil drawing, cutting stencils, painting and printmaking, etc. (You can watch a tutorial video of a drypoint engraving printed from a mylar plate, posted on my youtube channel below.)

Because Mylar is made from plastic, you can mix paint on it as a palette, roll ink out on it, or print from it. I use two brands, both in the matte finish: Dura-Lar and Denril.

This is definitely one of those drawing, printmaking and painting materials to add to your Exploring Art Supplies list!

Light Field Monotype Print by Belinda Del Pesco, created with water soluble crayons, and liquid pigments on a sheet of polyester drafting film, also known as mylar
Light Field Monotype created on a sheet of drafting film with water soluble crayons and liquid pigment inks

Still Life Monotype with Water Soluble Crayons

What is a water soluble crayon? It’s just like the traditional wax-based crayons we grew up with, except the pigments are manufactured with a water-soluble binder.

You can draw with them dry, just like a crayon, and blend them with a damp sponge or brush.

You can wet them with a watercolor brush and turn them to washes.

And you can draw with them on plexiglass or polyester drafting film, and then press them to soaked and blotted printmaking paper to make a light field monotype.

a Light Field Monotype print from a small sheet of plexiglass, made with water soluble caran d'ache crayons
Monotype drawn with watersoluble crayons on a sheet of plexiglass, and pressed to paper with a baren.
a wood printmaking baren by Ian Whyte of Highland Wizard Crafts
My favorite baren is made from the wood of a very old tree in the UK, by woodworker Ian Whyte of Highland Wizard Crafts

Experiment Small, and Go Bigger from There

Water soluble crayons come in all sorts of brands, colors and quality. I started playing with a craft version called Stabilo Woodys and a studio version called Caran D’Ache Neocolor II Watersoluble Crayons in a very tiny scale on my studio table. (You can see a short video snippet of my monotype experiments on Pinterest over here.)

a california landscape monotype print made with water soluble crayons, and liquid pigments on a sheet of dura-lar polyester drafting film
Pigment on Dura Lar sheet transferred to paper on an etching press
a California landscape monotype printed on arches 88 printmaking paper by Belinda Del Pesco
Light Field Monotype from a sheet of mylar (Dura-Lar) on Arches 88 printmaking paper – the finished monotype is here.

More Examples of Water Soluble Crayon Art

  • Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff posted a video demo featuring Karlyn Holman making a landscape painting with Caran D’ache water soluble crayons. You can watch that here.
  • Printmaker John Dawson demonstrates a monotype using a combination of water-based printmaking ink, with water soluble pencils and crayons in this figurative monotype print video.
  • Faber Castell demo’d their line of Gel Sticks (craft/kid friendly) and Gelatos (lightfast), to help buyers discern the difference between the two. If you’re wondering which to buy for your next art project, watch this demo.
Faber Castel Gelato crayons and Stabilo Woody Water Soluble crayons used for monotype printmaking
The Stabilo Woody and Faber Castell Gelato water soluble crayons I’ve been using to practice making monotype prints from drafting film and plexiglass plates.
Printmaking experiments in the art studio of Belinda Del Pesco: Faber Castell Gelato water soluble crayon monotype printed on black paper
More experiments in the art studio: Faber Castell Gelato water soluble crayon monotype printed on black paper

Monotype Prints without a Press, and Other Media Added

If you decide to make a few experimental monotypes from drafting film and water soluble crayons, I hope you’ll wear your nerd hat during the process. In other words, be experimental, and try all sorts of variations to get familiar with your supplies. Skio the Masterpiece goals, and aim for Familiarity with your Supplies.

Print on damp and dry paper.

Press your pigments against different papers in your studio to see which ones transfer most thoroughly with each printmaking pigment in your stash.

Transfer monotypes with the water soluble crayons straight up, and also with a little wet paint brush action to push them around, or thin them to a transparent wash.

Make a sample sheet with a grid of different marks, media and moisture levels to see which combinations work best on the paper you have in your stash.

And of you make something that transfers just shy of the goal, wait for the paper to dry, and pick up some watercolor or colored pencils to bring the monotype closer to how you imagined it would look the next day. Experiment. Play. Have fun.

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


P.S. Printmaker Catherine Kernan has reconfigured her usual five day group workshop on the advantages of using Akua inks, and is now offering the same five day format, but as a one-on-one intensive. Her latest newsletter stated “Very quickly the advantages of one-on-one sessions became apparent and the results were very successful. We were able to focus attention on exactly what each artist wanted to learn for their particular way of working, their aesthetic and technical needs. Each artist received the same number of hours of attention as in a workshop, but in a much more concentrated way.” If you’re interested in speeding up your acquaintanceship with Akua inks in your own work, be in touch with Catherine to inquire about a her offerings.

landscape monotype print of indian house mountain in alaska
The Monotype print near the top of this post, repaired with other media: Indian House Mountain, AK 8.5 x 6 Caran D’Ache Monotype with Watercolor and Colored Pencil (sold)
Drafting Film can also be used in printmaking to create drypoint engravings!

Art Quote

Monotype is the humblest of printmaking disciplines; you use a plate without permanent features, apply ink or paint, then print. It’s also the most variable because the marks you apply to the plate and the marks that result in printing often vary wildly. In many monotypes, the artist’s hand shows itself in the final print as both highly pronounced and curiously flattened (by the literal pressure of the printing press). Great artists of the medium rise to the improvisatory heights it inspires. In doing so, those you may know better as, say, painters often reveal—even to themselves—unexpected facets of their thought processes and visual language.

Mary Proenza

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4 thoughts on “Monotype Print from Drafting Film with Water Soluble Crayons and Watercolors”

    1. Hi there, Donna! Thank *you* for stopping by to let me know they’re helpful! I so appreciate the feedback… its the only way I know this content I’m pondering is useful. 🙂

  1. Patricia March

    Belinda, your videos are always a highpoint in my day–like a little gift I find when I open my email. I love your subject matter, your style and the simplicity of the material you use. I am not naturally gifted in being able to draw but your techniques allow me to feel like an artist anyway! Keep up the good work!

    1. Hello Patricia, Thank you for this nice note! I’m glad the simple materials and around-the-house subjects appeal to you, and I hope your urge to make more art grows over time. You *are* an artist, silly! If you like playing with art supplies, it’s official! Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

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