[All pictures in this post can be clicked to show a double size image, so you can see the monoprint line quality better.]

Monoprints are a type of print in which you usually only create a few copies (sometimes only one), and they are all different. The method we used is known as direct trace drawing, and is supposed to have been invented by Paul Gauguin. First, create an original drawing, and tape it to the back of a sheet of printing paper. Here is my drawing – yes, physalis fruits again!

Next, ink a perspex sheet with water-based inks which are waterproof when dry, which makes it possible to do more work on the print later if wanted. [It is possible to use oil-based printing inks too, or watercolours, gouache or other mediums.] Lay the printing paper gently over the sheet with the original drawing on top. Trace over the original drawing using a pencil, pen or other instrument.

The printing paper will pick up ink along the drawn lines, but in a soft, smudgy way. Anywhere you touch the paper will also produce a smudge, so you need to avoid touching the paper as much as possible, but you can also create shading with deliberate touching.

Judging the correct amount of ink to use on the sheet requires experience (and trial and error), but you can re-roll the sheet without adding more, so each successive print will have less ink. You can also remove excess ink before trying again by laying absorbent paper like newsprint over the sheet and smoothing gently. The print on the left above was done first, then the one on the right was done without adding fresh ink, just re-rolling.

You don’t have to print onto plain paper. We collaged tissue paper onto the printing paper before making some of the prints. You can also do further work on the image after printing, but we didn’t have time to do that at the class. There also wasn’t time for me to experiment with deliberate pressure to produce shaded areas.

We have signed up for a printmaking class with Karen Carter (the tutor for this class) at the same venue in August, and I am greatly looking forward to it. I am hoping to experiment with more monoprinting at home before then, and perhaps try some collagraphs too.


Sally Baker on 25 November, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

I first began doing these after watching some YouTube videos by Belinda Delpesco. The type of paper used can also make a difference in the outcome, and it is worth trying more or less absorbent paper. The amount of ink left on the plate takes practice too. I like to do contour drawings this way; and also the use of black ink with watercolor for the finished image..

jennyk on 25 November, 2016 at 11:39 pm #

Thanks for the suggestions, Sally, and for telling me about Belinda’s YouTube channel, which looks very interesting. Life got in the way so I’ve not got back to doing these monoprints, but I’m hoping by next spring or summer I’ll be in a position to get back to printmaking, including this technique.

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