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Dark Field Monotype Printmaking

I love the pre-raphaelite painters Millais, Hunt, Rosetti and Waterhouse. Their incredibly imaginative visual interpretations of Arthurian & Greek legends inspire scrutiny of narrative in paintings.

Compositions are arranged like theatrical stage sets, with carefully placed evidence of the storyline rendered here and there, so you’re invited to lean close and look at details. What must it be like as a writer to see your words transformed by talented artists into faces, carriage and gestures on canvas?

This monotype (above) from Hamlet’s Ophelia was pulled from the ink quickly, so it has a sketchy, painterly feel to it. I’ve added a light wash of watercolor, and I’m looking forward to playing with other media on the two ghost prints (below).

The monotype with two ghost prints

Monotype Print Tutorial Videos

If you’ve never seen the printmaking process for monotypes, I have a few tutorials on my youtube channel. You can watch a dark field monotype here, and a series of three trace monotype demos here, here and here.

Adding watercolor to the monotype

Matching Monotypes with Other Media

The beauty of dark field monotype ghost prints (like the two in the photo above this one) is that they’re a perfect under-painting for adding other media.

One of the ghost prints was printed on Arches88, a smooth, bright white printmaking paper with no sizing in it. Using watercolor on this paper blooms in all directions, like painting on a paper towel, so dry pigments are a better choice.

I’m leaning towards colored pencil on that one. What do you think?

Using a brayer to roll ink on a plate for a dark field monotype

Survey of Linocut Printmaking Inks

A fellow printmaker – Rich Fowler from the web site Boarding All Rows – has posted a very useful series of tests on Printmaking inks, with his conclusions about the best option for printing linocut. Check it out here.

Encouraging Art Video

Have you ever seen this video featuring Bob Burridge sharing basic art studio worktable arrangment tips? Here’s ten minutes of good advise on tearing your paper, and arranging your supplies:

Post Holiday Revving

Thanksgiving is over, and turkey soup is simmering on the stove downstairs on this blustery, rainy day. We’re entering wintertime productivity in the studio, when the weather encourages us to stay indoors, and hunker down at a table with a good audiobook (I’m listening to this one , and loving it).

It’s time to make something with our hands. What are you going to make?

See you in the next post,


P.S You can sign up to receive these posts in your email as soon as they’re published. You can also subscribe to my studio newsletter, and follow along on Facebook.

Ophelia – 8 x 6 Monotype with watercolor (sold)

Art Quote

The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.

W. H. Auden

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8 thoughts on “Dark Field Monotype Print- with a survey of Linocut Printmaking inks”

    1. Hi Rich, Thank YOU for taking the time to test them, and posting/sharing your results. You’ve saved many printmakers a lot of time, and you enticed me to purchase Caligo ink for the first time. I’m waiting for it’s arrival now. 🙂

  1. Mickey Nolan

    Belinda, I did a dark field monotype on Arches88 and finished it with Sennelier oil pastel. It came out great. The paper absorbed the oil pastel very nicely, but the colors were still vibrant. Another similar one was finished with Neocolor wax pastels, but I preferred the oil pastel. Just a thought.

    1. Hi Mickey, COngrats on your successful adventures with the dark field monotype! I’ve used the oil pastel and the neocolor water soluble caran d’ache crayons, and they’re both loads of fun. Great to hear you’re experiments are rolling out so fun, and with measurable preferences too. 🙂

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