Sheltering in Place with Art Alone-Together, and Printing a Monotype without a Press

dark field monotype print of a couple from a vintage photograph

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We are sheltering in Place with Art Alone-Together

Amidst the steady stream of sad news over the Covid 19 pandemic, there are creative, generous, kind people – broadcasting good things to all of us. Here are some wonderful examples of the best parts of humanity.

pulling a monotype print of a couple from a sheet of plexiglass
Pulling a little monotype print from a sheet of plastic, using Akua ink, Arnhem 1618 paper and a wooden baren.

Resources Online to Feel More Connected

  • The always amazing Gretchen Rubin wrote this brief, clarifying post asking if it’s selfish to worry about your own state of mind in the midst of a global crisis. The answer is both simple and more complex than you might think.
  • Good news is a brightly colored air mattress – with cupholders – when the mind is treading dark seas. A few kind souls wanted to tip the scales in favor of good news:
a vintage family photo of a couple from the 1920's next to the monotype print it inspired
The photo that inspired this fast little monotype, next to the resulting print.

Being #alonetogether with Online Art Projects

  • Shari Blaukopf’s post about using the Zoom video conference app for life drawing, and her resulting ink sketches, was so inspiring! Read it here. An artist’s model is holding scheduled poses on Zoom for real time sketch sessions.
  • The good folks over at are hosting a Stitch Challenge. Read about it here. Every Monday, a different stitch artist will post a directive via video. You complete the project at home, with materials on hand, and you can jump in at any time. After you’ve created a bit of stitched beauty, post a photo in the Facebook Group. Each of the stitch artists directing the challenges have been answering questions, and singing praises in the group.
a tuxedo cat sheltering in place during the covid19 pandemic
Scout, Grumpy, but Sheltering in Place

Self Improvement with Online Courses, and Music

  • The online learning platform Teachable is making several popular video courses available for free. Take a look here. With time on our hands, this might be an incredible opportunity to learn something new. (My courses are also on Teachable, and two of them are free.)
  • There’s a new study about potent mood conversions, accomplished by simply listening to music. You can alter feelings of sadness with just 13 minutes of good tunes. (But I bet you knew that already, right?) Read about it here.
a dark field monotype with colored pencil next to the vintage photo of a couple that inspired it
Using colored pencil to anhance and refine the figures in this dark field monotype print

How Tendencies Affect Our Coping Skills

I’ve never been more aware that my introverted, artist-loner tendencies are a gift. While sheltering-in, and staying still is blissful to me, there’s a huge swath of the globe who’d like to punch these circumstances in the face.

The extroverts, and the always-moving, always-talking, never home folks are struggling right now. You know those friends and family members who prefer to eat out, frequently gather in numbers, and only hold still when they’re sleeping? They might appreciate a check-in phone call this week.

And for those who revel in alone-time, and work best during still, quiet days in the studio – if you are ricocheting against a house-full of kids, and tripping over a confined, frustrated spouse, I’m thinking about you. Your world must feel upside down and shook hard. I’m holding your hand, breathing deep.

One hour at a time, my friends. We’ll get through this #alonetogether.

See you in the next post –


P.S. There are more online resources to occupy a staying-home mind listed in this post and this one.

P.P.S. Did you know that you have access to a ton of free stuff with your Amazon Prime Account? For example, if you’ve got kids or grandkids, check out all the family-friendly comics available for free here.

Hiding in closets and bathrooms to escape the Sheltering-in crowd of your own family members during the Covid19 Pandemic.
Hiding in bathrooms and closets from your own family for a little quiet time doesn’t always work…

Basic supplies to make a monotype print without a press
The basic supplies to make a monotype at home with no need of a press. Ink, a plate, paper, a brayer, rubber gloves, paper towels, mark-making tools, and a ruler for tearing paper to size. (See a comprehensive list below)
Paired Husks 5.75 x 6.25 Dark Field Monotype with Colored Pencil (Available here.)

Art Quote

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

Annie Dillard
a dark field monotype with colored pencil of a vintage couple huddled together in the woods in coats and hats
For a sense of scale – art in my hand
dark field monotype printmaking

How to Make a Monotype Print

Yield: Beautiful Monotype Prints
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $35

If you've ever wondered how to make a dark field monotype print, you've come to the right place! Here are step by step monotype process photos, videos, and a supply list with links to the items you'll need to get started.

You don't need a press, or any fancy printmaking equipment.

And if you learn best by watching a demonstration, here is a list of monotyping tutorial videos that cover dark field and light field monotype, as well as trace monotype printmaking demos.

With a little space cleared on a kitchen table, a few supplies, and some reference photos, you'll be making monotype prints in no time at all! Happy Printing!


  1. Prepare a flat, clear surface to work on by covering it with newspapers. Gather all supplies close at hand, and put on your apron and rubber gloves. rubber-gloves-for-printmaking
  2. Tape down your ink slab.
  3. Stir your printmaking ink until it's smooth and mixed well. Put a dollop of ink on the slab about the size of a cashew nut. stir your printmaking ink
  4. Use your brayer to roll the ink out on the slab until it's evenly covering the brayer, and the slab, and you hear the ink "hiss" as you roll back and forth roll-out-printmaking-ink
  5. Put a piece of non skid under your plexiglass printmaking plate (not necessary if you're printing from a gelli plate) and begin coating your plexiglass with a smooth, even coat of ink non-skid-for-printmaking
  6. When the plate is completely covered, if the ink appears loose, shiny or thick, lay a piece of newsprint on the plate, and very gently, with light pressure, smooth it with your hand as though you were smoothing a wrinkle from a bed sheet blot-the-printmaking-ink
  7. Peel the newsprint from the inked plate and discard it. Now that your ink has been blotted, it should be less shiny, and a bit thinner on the plate. blotted-ink-on-printmaking-plate
  8. Pull out a reference photo, and without touching the inked plate with your hand, begin drawing into the ink with your rubber tipped tool, and cotton swabs. beginning-a-dark-field-monotype
  9. If you need to rest your wrist while drawing, slide your drawing bridge over your ink plate so you can rest your hand on it above the ink. drawing-bridge-for-monotype-printmaking
  10. Use your brushes or your gloved finger tip, or rolled paper towel, or cotton swabs to feather halftones in your design. You can also use them to add more ink by dipping in the ink slab and adding darks to your design. a dark field monotype of a puppy in process
  11. When your design is ready to print, pull a sheet of printmaking paper from the package or pad, and with your spray bottle, lightly spritz the side you'll be printing on. Blot with a paper towel, and lay the damp side down on your inked and designed monotype. lay printmaking aper on your monotype plate
  12. Hold the paper steady with one hand, while rubbing the back of the paper with either the baren or a metal spoon. using a spoon to transfer a print to paper
  13. Keep the paper in place with a firm hand, and peel up a corner to see how your ink is transferring to the paper. If it looks too light, or mottled, apply more pressure with the spoon in circular motions. peek at your monotype print before pulling from the ink
  14. When you feel like you've transferred enough ink from the plate to the paper, pull your print, and take delight in your beautiful monotype. pulling a monotype print
  15. After the ink is dry, feel free to add color to the print with colored pencil, pastels, or watercolor (provided you didn't use re-wetting ink, like Speedball). add other media to your monotype print


If you make a mistake on a portion of your plate while you're designing and clearing ink, re-roll your ink, and re-blot if necessary. The inks (if you're using akua) stay wet for a very long time, until they are pressed to paper, so take your time, and get the hang of this painterly printmaking process.

Have you made one of these?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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11 thoughts on “Sheltering in Place with Art Alone-Together, and Printing a Monotype without a Press”

  1. Betty Hearne

    this was great- I have seen some work that was done in this method but had no idea how to do it. I can’t wait until my lilies and holyhocks bloom again so I can draw them this way! excellent, clear instruction

  2. Nat Charlesworth

    Hello Belinda, Thank you for your posts. Can you use the akua inks on a geli plate? Is the cleanup with water?

  3. Is this using an oil based ink? If I don’t have printmaking ink, could I use oil paint instead?

  4. Hey neighbor! Thanks for the encouraging “cookies”! Spending my days studying the Bible, walking with my hubs, trying new recipes, writing a bit and… learning to paint with water colors! I’m grateful for the time to do each of these. I’m definitely going to be checking out your instruction on Teachable! #alonetogether💕

    1. Hello there, my sweet friend! I was just thinking about you while climbing a hill on a walk in my hood. Thanks for the hello and the update. Painting with watercolors, eh? That’s excellent! Are you using any books or youtube videos? Hello to your hubby. XOXO

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