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Printmaking - Monotype / Monoprint


As a visual person, and an experiential learner, I have always found I need to first watch a process and have a play with the materials before I feel I can develop my ideas for making.  


I am often drawn to botanical concepts in my art, with the use of plants and trees, it reminds me of home.  The earthy colours and the forgiving nature of their imperfections make them an attractive medium to draw from.  I also felt that my first venture into the craft of Monoprints (or Monotypes) needed a somewhat simplistic approach to allow me to first have an understanding of what is possible.

Monoprint Ideas

Inspirational Artists

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My initial prints were largely experimental and inspired by a love of botanical works and by watching classroom demonstrations.  There are many artists creating beautiful works and providing a myriad of inspirational ideas.  These are just two artists that I am drawn to and have found inspiration in.

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Pressing Leaves

I chose a selection of printed images of trees and grass to cut into stencils as well as a selection of leaves and plants that I first pressed to ensure they were flat enough to print from. 



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Paper Choices

Having adequate paper prepared prior to printing is critical.  I chose Somerset 300 gsm rough as well as some Fabriano paper I had.  It should be a rag paper that can stand being soaked in water, albeit cartridge paper for doing the initial ghost print is an option.  Prepare the paper by folding, scoring and tearing the paper into the size you want using a bone folder.    


A commercial offset lithography relief ink that is oil based and requires a solvent for cleaning is used.  It is a very thick gluggy substance and a little will go a long way.  


Inking the Matrix

After the inks are mixed they were rolled out in a thin layer on glass using a brayer.  The brayer is then used to ink up the matrix.  In this case the matrix is a perspex sheet that was larger than the paper.   


Rather than using primary colours, it is better to mix the colours to achieve more subtle tones and hues.  With my botanical theme I chose earthy colours with brown and yellow ochre and a lot of variations in green.  To compliment this further I switched to yellows, burnt orange and brown.

Colour Mixing


Designing the Image

The next step is to design and arrange the stencils and relief objects onto the matrix ready for printing.  My focus was primarily trees and plants to capture a garden feel. I overlapped them to try and create depth and interest. I would be keen to try some potential effects like sprinkling talk power and using solvents   

Setting the Press

The press needs to have been set up and ready prior to preparing the matrix.  The next step of printing is of course the fun part where the matrix is placed on the print bed ready to go.  




Paper Soak

Prior to printing, the paper should be soaked in water.  Rag papers are quite robust so can be left to soak for longer periods and can be resoaked so as to add additional print layers. After wetting the paper the excess water must be drained and the paper blotted dry using butcher's paper. 



The wet paper is carefully layed across the matrix ensuring it is aligned with the image and straight.  Any areas of ink that are exposed should be covered with butcher's paper to ensure ink does not get on the blankets.  Time to print! 


Silhouette Prints

The first print created when monoprinting will be a ghost print, in that silhouettes will be prominent as it is a relief print, therefore it is often printed on simple cartridge paper or acetate.  Alternately it can be printed over or added to, to create more interest.  

Layering & Resoaking

The beauty of oil based inks and rag paper is that it can be resoaked and printed over and over.  Here you see our lecturer Jazmina's work where she has resoaked and reprinted image layers many times.


First print from the matrix creates a silhouette

First layer on the paper - third print from from the matrix


Two layers on the paper both being the third print from the matrix

Two layers on the paper, both silhouette prints, but together they provided enough colour, contrast and interest.    


Two layers on the paper, again both silhouette prints    

Third print from the matrix


Two layers - first was a fourth print from the matrix, the second layer a first print from a new rolled matrix


Two layers - second print from a new matrix


Butchers Paper

It is the second print using the stencils and objects ink side up that are used to create the strongest visual image.  But you never know until reveal what you have created. Even the the edges of the butchers paper which was used to ensure the ink around the edge was covered, can be quite beautiful


The prints need to be touch dry prior to resoaking and printing a second layer.


I have been really pleased with several of my images and will be keen to experiment some more.

Click on the link to see some of my finished monoprints 

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