Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monoprint Madness!

The day after Christmas, there was no way in hell I was going anywhere near a retail establishment. As far as my domestic chores, I had decided the dust bunnies weren’t going anywhere and I needed to have some art time.

First, I finished off my volunteer sign-painting project (I put the free in freelance). Whew. What a relief to put that behind me. Then, I was free to unleash the dam of creativity that had been held back by obligation and holiday festivities (not complaining—just sayin') for what had felt like forever.

While in my self-imposed art deprivation period, I’d been thinking on what to do next. At first, I was craving the sensual pushing around of paint that acrylic affords. I had purchased some new brushes just before Christmas that were aching to be used and I was dying to try out. New brushes are a big deal for me. I have some—now that I think of it—that date back to brick-sized cell phones and the dark days before the internet (gasp). 

Despite the call of the brushes, deep down I really wanted to go back to experimenting with monoprints and monotypes. And so I did. 

Remember the boot? Well, it was time to put that drawing to use. I came across a technique where the paper is taped to one side of the plate. This maintains a static position so you can transfer multiple layers of registered color to the paper. From there, it’s FM (freaking magic), as you attempt find the perfect balance between paint, paper, and their respective moisture levels.

It's hard to tell, but my drawing is sitting under a plate of glass.

I started with a piece of glass as my plate. I painted the plate with watercolor, flopped the paper onto the plate and rubbed the back of the sheet vigorously. My first efforts were less than stellar. 

The paper wasn’t taking the paint. Instead of flowing onto the paper (like the book where I got the idea), it was mooshing it around on the surface of the plate and leaving weird sucked up pools of color.

Oh crap. This isn't working very well.

It was time to break out a more viscous paint. Unfortunately I had my oil-based printing inks mixed in with my water-based inks. Oops. No wonder I couldn't wash the color out of that brush. Yet this material faux pas became a happy accident as I discovered the oil-based paint was adhering better to the paper. Another oops—in my enthusiastic rubbing of the paper, I managed to crack my glass plate in half.

OK, you might not believe this, but now we're starting to get somewhere.

Once I’d done all the printing and plate damage I could do, I went back into the piece with Prismacolor, a waxy pencil that can fix a multitude of misprints and art accidents. I like the vibrant color and dramatic values.

10ish" X 12ish"
The fine blue line across the pole is where the plate cracked. Yikes.
This was printed on a heavy laid-pattern watercolor paper. See how the texture shines through?

Next, using a piece of Plexiglas for my plate, I redrew the image (backwards) directly on the surface with a litho crayon (think grease pencil or China Marker). I painted the image with turpentine to melt the lines and added tone with highly diluted oil paint. 

New plate, new technique.

After several impressions to develop the form and value, I set the print aside to dry and then tinted it with watercolor.

12" X 16" - Monoprint
I love the loose drawing-like quality of this piece. I also like that it is not backwards from my original drawing.

On the final piece, I brushed oil paint onto the plate in a thick layer. I blotted, wiped, and scraped away the paint; then, added value with washes of thinned paint. The blue in the background is also diluted oil color. I refined the image slightly with a litho crayon and watercolor.
12" X 16" - Monotype
I think this one is my favorite. Remember, with monotypes, there is only one. Each time, the image was re-drawn.

 It was a delightful afternoon of experimentation. By dinnertime, I was covered with paint up to my elbows with several smears decorating my cheeks. I was akin to a pig deep in a trough, paint flying instead of slop—although that might be debated by some. Ahhh. It was good, good fun. 

Until next year,

No comments: