Master Ian McNicol helps the day go smoothly

On Saturday 25th June 2011, the Glasgow Print Studio (GPS) held an event called a MONOTHON to promote the unsung technique of making monotypes and monoprints. They split the day into two 2 1/2 hour sessions with four experienced printmakers in each of the etching and screenprinting areas. I was part of the afternoon group and worked in the etching area, even though we were using blank perspex plates.

So what is the difference between a Monoprint and Monotype? The word mono or course means one, so both types of prints are designed to be one off creations with no two completely alike. Monoprints use a plate or screen that has some kind of repeatable element created on it which is then inked up in different ways to creat new images. Monotype means using a blank plate or screen, where the image is created directly on the plate. Other printed and drawn elements can be added to both types of print afterwards and sometimes collage can be an element in the work. I used oil based relief inks, there were also watersoluable oils being used and a watercolour print was also taken.

I started by using a charcoal drawing I made earlier of Vendetta Vain modelling as a geisha in a red PVC kimono at Dr Sketchy’s Anti- Art School in Glasgow, as the basis for the print.

Vendetta Vain modelling at Dr Sketchy’s Glasgow
colour layer only

drawing to print over colour layer

I made a quick ‘registration’ sketch the size of the plate then rolled bright colours onto the perspex as a base layer. I added texture by ‘printing’ cut out elements onto the wet ink (which lifts the ink up and leaves a feint impression) and used sequins as decorative elements on the kimono. Two prints were taken of this colour only layer, the second being called a ‘ghost’ print. I cleaned off the plate and drew the geisha figure in a mix of black and prussian blue ink. I also decided to print onto the plate, some of the cut outs from before, to add texture to the drawing. The result of the two plates is the red print below right.

print number 5

monotype plate with two prints, first print on right

The plate was then reworked with a new drawing, but with some of the colour residue from the last prints. I intended to print this drawing plate over the ghost colour background but I decided at the last minute to print it alone, and I was glad I did, as I was very pleased with the results. The print above right is actually a fifth print from a third alteration of the plate. On the right picture you can see how pale the ink is on the perspex plate, yet master printer, Ian McNicol, managed to get a last print off that by using wet rather than dry paper.

I had not made any monotype prints for some years and getting back in under extreme pressure was a great learning experience. I do like the print that I planned in my head, but the experiemntal prints that followed had much more subtelty of colour and texture. Bascially, I am itching to get back into the GPS and do some more!

the series of monotype prints produced from a geisha drawing
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