Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Making Monoprints Today

It has been a while since I've created some monoprints so I thought I should review a bit before my printmaking classes start next Monday. Monoprinting will be Project Two for the Intaglio group, and when I do the demo, I hope to convey how infinitely creative, engaging, challenging and fun monoprinting can be.

To begin, I placed a large piece of clear plexi-glass on my work table with a small cutting board centered underneath. Because the cutting board has inches indicated on it, I was able to easily define a 4" by 4" image area by running some clear tape along the outside borders. Then, I flipped the plexi over to tape (with masking tape) the back side with an outline for the paper I'll use. This is a very easy registration method.

In the picture above, you can see the image I've created in ink on the surface of the plexi-glass. I've used a brayer to roll ink all over, pulled a plastic brush through the ink to create lines and added a light green texture by stamping an erasure covered in rubberbands. Last, I cut some image shapes out of an old file folder, inked them up, and placed them on top.

When I finished the image, I pulled the clear tape defining the image area off the plexi. This left a nice, clean border.

Here, I've place the whole piece of plexi on my etching press. Next, I'll carefully lay the printing paper on top, following the outlines I can see on the back of the plexi. Then I'll cover the paper with newprint and the printing felts and run it through the press.

After rolling the assembled parts through the press, I begin to pull the printed paper off the plexi. This is always a very suspenseful moment, followed either by ecstasy or disappointment depending on whether one likes what one sees.

Voila! This was the first monoprint.

But I continued working with the residue ink left on the plexi to create "ghost" prints. The print above was created by simply pulling the added tag board shapes off and printing what was left.

Here is the third monoprint in the series, created by adding a leaf shape that had been re-inked in gray. Often, the later prints in a series are more interesting than the first one or two because the intensity of the colors has diversified and the accumulation of seemingly random ghost marks adds flavor.

I'll leave these prints to dry overnight and assess them. Sometimes monoprints are finished at this point and sometimes they seem unresolved but have potential. Sometimes they are unresolved without potential. In that case, it is wise to simply tear them up, keeping only the happy memories of the creative act, itself.

I think these are unresolved but have potential. Adding watercolor and pencil, for example, might be a good next step. After further development, I can assess again. An accurate critical eye is essential to an artist and is something that can always be honed.

This session, in which I printed these three and a different series of three, took less than two hours. I didn't photograph the other series of three because they fit into the third category: unresolved and without potential. They were the first monoprints of the day, and I've noticed over the years that it often takes a while to loosen up during a monoprinting session. At least that is true for me.

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