Monday, August 18, 2008
Here is another monotype from Saturday. I have talked about monotypes before, but I wonder if there are newcomers to my blog who may not know what a monotype is. For those of you who know, you can skip the next three paragraphs. A monotype is a cross between painting and printmaking. The artist (me, in this case) applies paint or ink directly onto a plexi glass plate. I use etching inks. Most often, I use a tool called a brayer to apply the ink. I will take a photo of one tomorrow and post it. You can also use a paintbrush or palette knife to apply the ink, if you wish. I usually draw right into the ink using various tools (my favorite being a McDonald's stir stick!). Once I have the background color the way I want, I like to put things on top of the background ink colors. Leaves, feathers, wire, and things I have cut out of cardboard or styrofoam. I save lots of cardboard from food boxes. My favorite kind of cardboard is cardboard with texture, like the insulating sleeves they give you with a cup of hot coffee at the coffee shop. Since I don't drink coffee, you will sometimes find me digging in trash cans, hopefully when no one is looking.
Once I have the plate looking the way I think I want it, I dampen a sheet of printmaking paper. I place the plexi glass plate on the bed of the printing press, place the damp paper over the top of it, and crank the wheel of the press. The press does just what you might think: it PRESSES the paper and the plate together with lots and lots of pressure. Basically, I am pressing the painting onto the paper. The press provides really wonderful textures that would be impossible to achieve with a brush on canvas. (I have tried to duplicate it, so I am confident in writing that.) The most exciting part of the process is when I lift the edge of the paper to see how it looks. Even though I have a good idea how most of it will turn out, there is always something unexpected that happens with the print when it goes through the press. It is so much fun! The pressure from the press will also create an impression in the paper of the edges of the objects I placed on top of the plate. This gives the print a really nice dimensional quality that I love.
The plate does not get carved into or permanently altered, so each print is one of a kind. Even if I were to print the same plate again without wiping it clean first, the second pressing is completely different from the first. So each print is unique. "Mono" means "one". A Monotype is an original, one-of-a-kind piece of art. I love creating them! Hopefully, if you didn't know what a monotype was before, I have helped shed some light on the subject for you.
With this particular print, I went back in after it was dry and added some pastel. I just wanted to bring the bird out a little more, and the "bird food" underneath it. I could have also used paint or ink to rework the monotype. This one is called "Pecking 2", and it measures 10 x 8 inches. The paper is larger than the print. I have given dimensions of the print only.