I came home from Paris with a lot of detailed watercolors, and I'd like to do something a little looser, more saturated, and bigger with some of them. I saw an exhibition this week of oil monotypes, and it made me want to do monotypes again. I seem to do them in spurts every few years or so.
Monotypes are prints that don't have a carved plate, so you only get one (hence the "mono"). Many people work directly on plexiglass and then run that through the press, wipe it clean, and do another one. I've done ones where I roll out ink and then draw into and wipe away highlights from that solid dark. For this series, though, I'd like to do some where I paint (additive instead of subtractive, in the official lingo). That seems to require a different sort of ink, however. I did a few tests with my Daniel Smith water soluble relief ink, which I use for block prints.
It wasn't really transferring well, though. It was both too stiff to paint with, and it dried too quickly. I tried just a couple, but only half the image came through. I did have fun painting on top of what I got with more of the ink.
Today I did some research in both old class notes and (most helpfully) Julia Ayres book Monotype. It's a comprehensive and step by step book that I've used over the years.
I decided to try acrylic paint, since I could get it locally right now while I'm thinking about the project. My first attempt was too watery -- I don't think I blotted the paper sufficiently. I kind of like some of the effect, though, and I may play with painting on top of this one.
The second one came out better, though still pretty ambiguous in the figure. This is from a sketch of Rodin's Eve. Again I'm thinking it would be nice to do a little more definition on top of the monotype. Maybe pencil or charcoal. I'm going to have to do some more experiments.
My last one came out best. I'd still love a little more definition, but I really like the spontaneity and the color saturation. I'm going to get a couple of bigger sheets of plexiglass so I can have a real contrast between the size of the watercolors and the size of the prints for my December show.
I keep information on each print (paper size, edition number, etc.), but I don't often write up a report on a day's work. Today, however, I wanted to remember what I'd tried and what had worked, so I wrote out a page in my printmaking notebook to remind me. I'm really enjoying the brain fizz of trying something new. It's a great feeling.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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