Thursday, 13 August 2015


I've signed up to a class with the Open College of the Arts called Introduction to Printmaking.

I have wanted to take my creative ideas a bit further for a while so have chosen this course. I have used linocut before and really enjoyed the process. I hope to follow it with further courses in textiles. 

The first unit is on monoprints. The unit starts with painterly monotypes, created by painting an image onto a printing plate and taking a print from it, I found this process quite difficult, especially regarding judging the right thickness of ink to use and keeping it even.

Here is a fantastic example by Toni Martina, Cross Roads:

 I have looked at this image really closely and it looks like a really thin layer of ink has been used, the brush strokes are visible and the ink has been scraped away in places too. The smudging is really effective in creating movement. The bright colours are very effective. There is little detail in this image, its impact is all about the movement. There is very strong contrast in values, the centre of the image is made up of intense colours, bright whites and strong blacks. I think monoprint is an effective
medium to create this contrast because scraping away inks gives bright whites. The technique also lends itself to these large areas of flat colour, too much detail is not easy to achieve. This also gives strong contrast to the smudged moving vehicles.

The most popular use of monoprinting seems to be creating an image through removing ink from a plate rather than painting it on. This image by Degas is a beautiful example of this style:

Here the image also contains movement created by some smudging of the ink. The dancers are composed with great energy. Again, strong contrasts of value are use to great effect.
Degas produced many monoprints and also worked over some with pastel creating interesting textures. This is a good example where the strong value contrast of the monoprint is enhanced with mid tones in pastel:

I found it hard to get all the materials I needed to get started, as I live in Saudi Arabia and mail order is very slow. I started with poor quality ink that was of inconsistent thickness and very hard to work with.

In these prints I tried to create effects by removing ink as well as applying it in different thickness's

These earlier experiments with poor inks taught me that the thickness of the ink needs to be well controlled. I bought better inks from Amazon. These water soluble oil based inks are very thick and my first detailed image was much drier by the time I took the print in the image on the left, in the image on the right I got a better result by wetting the paper. In the print on the right I was painting a white ceramic jug, it was challenging to paint in white paint and still use the exposure of the paper effectively.

I continued wetting the paper for these prints and was able to take 2 prints from one image. My five year old daughter helped me here reminding me to add shadows, very observant, I see artists eyes developing in her! I was quite preoccupied with creating highlights by scraping away paint and despite her reminders did not quite get the shadows right here, but I am pleased with the highlights.

In this test print I practised painting and removing ink for the fish image I was planing from a coloured pencil drawing from my sketch book:

I wet the paper before taking the print. This could have been more subtle in the texture of the background

My original drawing

The above inks came in very small quantities. The following images are made with different water based inks. I found these inks wetter, easier to work with. The first print I ruined by wetting the paper and it smudged badly. This test was done to test the colours with dry paper

I made a sketch with white pastel pencil to practice drawing in the light values as done by many monoprint artists

This is the print. Some areas dried too quickly and did not print well distorting the value, the table should have been darker but overall fairly effective

While I am pleased with my progress with this technique I have found it challenging. I am not a painter so perhaps did not have the background skills other course participants may have started with. This course can be taken as part of a BA in painting. 

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