My first Monotype

September 12, 2007 : I was quite determined to experiment last night and was eventually up till 3 am! Monotypes have been on my mind ever since I first came across them on Belinda del Pesco’s blog. I have a couple of large glass palettes ( 11″ X 14″ ) for my oil / acrylic paints. I pulled one out, wiped it down and then started painting on the surface with poster colors. The photo reference is one of me taken at my wedding. I did not feel the need to look for likeness for this experiment but boy was i much much thinner then! 😛

Monotype experiment step 1

Knowing that the print would get reversed I flipped the glass plate over and took a photograph. You can see all the poster colour bottles and the small ceramic mixing bowls that I used.

Monotype experiment step 2

Managed to locate some textured ( hatched, 11″ X 15″ ) paper which didn’t seem too thick but couldn’t find a big tray to soak it in. Ran it under the tap for a couple of minutes wiped off the excess water by pressing it between newspaper sheets. Placed it on top of the glass plate, added a newspaper over it to absorb any excess water and then pressed it down with a barren. Kept lifting it to see what was happening and began to realise quickly that the paper was too thick and textured to take the print.

I found out from a comment left for me on flickr that I need to use different paper and also needed to soak it for 10-15 minutes prior to blotting. My first print looks like the ghost (second) print. I’m planning on trying to add a few washes over this one but worried about whether the poster colours which are water soluble will allow me to do so.

Monotype experiment step 3

I did have some block printing paper ( bleached mulberry 9″ X 12″ 45 g/m2 ) which I did not use at first because it was much smaller in size plus probably something to do with my hoarding tendency – I only have 25 sheets and no easy place to source more from 😀 I ran this under water and it soaked immediately so much so that I was worried it would tear. Mopped up the excess water, placed it on the glass plate and tried to take a print. I spent much more time pushing down with the barren as with each peep I saw that it was accepting ink much better.

Monotype experiment step 4

I was a bit disappointed even with this print as it was soooo much lighter when compared with the original on the glass plate. Also it didnt have a buttery feel like the lithograph print did. I’m planning to put it on a toned surface to see if it brings out the colours better.

There’s still some paint left on the glass plate though not as much as it seems to look here. I’ve put it on a white background before taking the photo. But there’s enough left to make me feel sad about washing it off! I’m wondering if there are ways to revive it for another print!!
Monotype experiment step 5

I’ve read about painting on frosted glass a couple of years ago and this experiment has made me want to try that out too. I’ve learnt that I should use the right kind of paper and soak the paper for the right amount of time. I really did enjoy the experiment and am planning on more as soon as I get the paper.

Update: September 14, 2007 : I wrote to Belinda del Pesco asking her for help. I got a prompt reply and I’ve put excerpts below.

On my question about recycling the leftover image.

“You can absolutely add more pigment to the plate, and print again. And again. It’s never ending, and each one will be a new surprise.”

And so I did… but just one more 😀
Monotype experiment - revamped Monotype experiment

the spontaneity of the first attempt did not come through in this second one and so I’m not feeling bad at all about erasing what is left over. the print did take much better this time. I used the block printing paper again.

some more tips from Belinda

  • Try soaking your paper for 5-7 minutes, instead of running water over the surface.
  • Blot with clean, lint-free bath towels 2-3 minutes before you print.
  • I use BFK Rives Paper and Somerset – both are available online.
  • If the paper starts to mar from rubbing, lay a piece of wax paper over it before using the baren.
  • Since your pigments are water based, to help them release, you can dust the plate with a super *fine* mist of water before you print (rinsed & re-used hair pray bottles work well)
  • Even if the print comes out as light and ghost-like as your first one, it’ll just be begging for more pigments; pastels, paint, colored pencil, charcoal, ink, etc.
  • There’s a great book about monotypes by Julia Ayers, and you can find it used on Ebay frequently.
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7 thoughts on “My first Monotype

  1. What a great experiment, Ujwala! And I love this portrait. I agree that the print was much lighter than the wonderfully dramatic original, but it also has a beauty in that it is soft and gentle, has a romance to it And practice makes perfect, so I’m sure your next will be more to what you’re going after…I’m looking forward to seeing it!
    Ronell

  2. Excellent post. I have experimented with monoprinting in the past and there does seem to be a LARGE element of luck involved. I know you are disappointed with the prints but they are really very lovely in their own ways. You look gorgeous!

  3. Pingback: Win some. Lose some. « draw the line

  4. Hi Ujjwala. Greetings from Puttaparti. I feel fortunate to have come across your blog. I used to paint /draw ages ago; Now trying to start again. I have been very much out of touch all these years. So much so, I discovered watercolor paper recently! I am writing this so you will understand how uninformed I am :-)). I loved your monotype – I wanted to know what kind of paper to use – is watercolor paper ok? Or handmade paper etc;.? Please advice. i also gave my e-mail.
    Thank you very much.
    Sujata

  5. Hi Sujata, unfortunately I’m not too clued in on the usage either. I have used thin japanese block print paper for one of the prints above. I think watercolour paper would be good too as would handmade paper. You would of course need to soak the paper and then blot out the excess water before using for a darker print. You could also use cartridge paper. The method of taking the print also makes a huge difference. If you have access to a printing press it would be ideal. recently i took a print of a lincut in a press the result was so much better than the one I’d taken at home. Do check out Belinda del Pesco’s blog (link in the post above) where she has a lot of details about printing monotypes and beautiful pieces on display. If you learn from your experiments do drop me a line. all the best!

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