View Full Version : Dabbling in Printing #1 Monotypes

02-02-2010, 05:35 AM
William Merritt Chase

This month we are starting a new series called DABBLING IN PRINTING, a sort of workshop for beginning printmakers.Our opening dabble will be MONOTYPES.

I am quite new at this myself, but I'll start us off. I have two wonderful books "Monotype" by Julia Ayres and "The Complete Printmaker" by John Ross, Claire Romano and Tim Ross. I also have a book gelatin plate printing, but I've never tried it. All I could imagine was jello running down the table. These books are all in the library.

Here is a daunting list of materials from "The Complete Printmaker":




Hope you can read the list...it weems to have come in different sizes.

02-02-2010, 06:15 AM
Working from a Dark Field.

Cover a plate with medium and then manipulate or remove paint to create an image.

Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzvGgM39lug&feature=PlayList&p=7C285C9CC0075E01&index=0&playnext=1

Edgar Degas

Here are two articles on HOW TO and a little history:



I love monos...You can do almost anything with them. I had a youTube demo of a watercolor done on a plate and then paper was soaked and blotted and then hand rubbed, but I couldn't find it again.

I have a cheapo student press that makes everything go sideways, but I may give it a try.

Please give working from a dark field a try, or paint a picture and then print it..or just go wild. It seems you can use almost any medium. I have some of the awful water based Speed Ball inks which I guess I'll use to experiment.

If you have any questions post them here and I'll try to get them answered and if there are any experienced printmakers out there...we could use help with some of the other techniques, and advice on inks and papers.

I'll be back in a couple of days with more info...Janet:heart:

02-02-2010, 05:09 PM
This is a wonderful intro for us Janet. Gets the ball rolling. I like the list of surfaces to use...never thought of trying sealed cardboard but sounds good. And I am so impressed with the black & white works you showed. I'd really love to give it a try.

I suppose we can start with something fairly simple and experiment and advance!!

02-04-2010, 08:43 AM
I found the youtube demo that I mentioned before. I liked this one a lot, as it seemed to be the kind of set up we probably have.

Monoprinting with water color: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-c8zLx_9uI

I'm not sure about the paper used...I wish she would have mentioned it. I took a class years ago in mono and we used Rives BFK. Paper that can be soaked? I'll try one this weekend with paper I have around here and let you know what happens.:eek: .

02-05-2010, 11:08 AM
I'm gonna try this soon. I noticed in the list of supplies cardboard coated with acrylic or gesso. I have alot of cardboard I've saved from cereal boxes.
May fool around with that some.

02-08-2010, 08:32 PM
I haven't gotten very far due to a small bout with the gout (much agony, til I took a little green pill)

I beveled the edges and sanded the surfaces of two small plexiglass panels. I want to try some wipe aways and then a watercolor, as in the demo. In this one you are supposed to cover your plexiglass surface with deluted dish detergeant ...hmmm, we will see. I'm just going to use the stuff I have around here, some old watercolor paper that I think I can soak and anything else that will make a print. I'll experiment and show the messes as well as, hopefully, something that works. :rolleyes:

02-10-2010, 06:28 AM
Hope you're feeling better Janet. I hope to explore monotypes soon. Still trying to get an expressionist painting finished at the moment.

PS. I saw a demo on youtube where the guy doing monotypes used an old pc scanner as his 'printing press'...what a neat idea. I like it...especially since I have an old scanner and I might try that.

The glass screen acted as his paint/ink surface, he put his printing paper on that, then closed the scanner lid and pressed down. Opened lid and voila...:D

Obviously, it was a non-working, non plugged-in scanner he used!! Thought I'd better say that as water and electric would not be a good idea!!:p

02-10-2010, 12:25 PM

Here's my first BABY STEP with monoprinting.

I used a glass plate and interactive acrylics. I used brushes to apply the paint and then dry cartridge paper for the print. The resulting textures are interesting. I like the boldness of the approach.

But lots went 'wrong'...the brush seemed to delete the paint (I'll need to take that into consideration next time). Also, this is a rather babyish image. And perhaps I should have soaked the paper first.

Anyway, at least its a start.;)

02-10-2010, 02:25 PM
Janet - I have those speedball block printing inks too. They were horrid on the lino prints. Ouch, but you just gout ta get betta..........

Nice go June.....it is a tough medium to get used to after all the immediate spontaniety of brushes, eh!

I did some today. they are drying. I did brush the plexiglass with detergent ( but it was not diluted) - did that when monotyping with tube watercolors. I soaked 3 pieces of plain ole cardstock - spraying between and toping with saran and a book. Then came the fun. I will post them tommorrow with a play by play.

02-10-2010, 03:27 PM
Boy...you guys are really making a start. I'm hoping to have a day tomorrow all alone, with foot propped up, working on some prints.

That is interesting about the scanner/printer...See, we don't need a lot of fancy devises...we can use book weights scanners or just walk on top of a print. :lol:

I like your print Robin. It's very cheerful and I like the roughness of it. Good start! I've been trying to find out more about the dish detergeant. No one seems to explain how they actually use it. It probably helps to lift watercolors.

I think monotypes are a great way to use almost anything, to make a print. :heart:

02-10-2010, 04:02 PM
Haven't posted my mono's yet Janet cause they are still wet.

The dish detergent yes - it helps lift the paint. I paint a not too thick layer on the plastic and let it dry before spreading the paint on.

I got a question about the cardboard with gesso . Is that prepared surface to put the paint on and print from of or is it to print on to from the plastic...(uggh - I can't remember what you call the plastic like glass but plastic) . ?????

02-11-2010, 10:47 AM
Hi, T & All.

We printmakers welcome you (if I can speak for my fellow printmakers). I have just a few quick notes then I have to go for the moment.

The type of inks or paints you use is very important to your transfer of the image. Best types depend upon the technique. Most printmakers like oil based inks for most things except gelatin printmaking where oils get more viscous and don't work as well.

The type of paper you use is also important. Without a press, thinner flatter (less textured) papers work better.

You can and should try overprinting - that is the beauty of printmaking, you can layer and add depth.

The examples you showed were a subtractive method - the plate was covered and then areas wiped off.

You can use things other than a brush for applying paint. Brayers, sticks, rubber sculpting tools, fingers all work too.

You can also try using paint sticks. I found that some colors transfer better than others though, all is not equal!

If using water based paints/inks a drying retarder is useful as is an undercoat of a release agent.

Gelatin monoprints are very easy for transfer of ink as little pressure is needed. The gelatin is double thickness and lasts about 3 days if you keep it refridgerated when not using it.

Enjoy experimenting, this is a wonderful idea.

02-11-2010, 11:37 AM
Thanks H20 Baby for the support and info. Gelatin prints always seemed a little scarey to me but here's a demo


There is also more on gelatin plates and printing from lgcreate in youtube.

02-11-2010, 09:25 PM
Gelatin is very easy.

You just mix twice the amount of unflavored gelatin in water.

you can gel it in a baking pan but then you have to use paper smaller than the pan.

if you want to use bigger paper or to shape the gelatin you can use regular modeling clay (the kind kids use that never dries) and shape a dam for the gelatin. This works well on plexiglass. Be sure to test it with water and seal any holes. Remove the clay after the gelatin gels. Keep the gelatin stuck to the plexi so that it doesn't move or stick to your paper.

Then you roll or paint ink onto it.
You can put ink on then place an object down to make an impression (don't have to press, water will pool just like with watercolors).
You can use stencils.
you can cut grooves into the gelatin to make "white" areas with no ink. This does hasten the demise of the gelatin though.

Speedball inexpensive water based inks work the best of those I have tried, but you can try other inks or paints too.

You have to work fast if your ink or paint dries quickly (as with speedball). It helps to use a retarder to slow drying time.

Place paper on top and use the palm of your hand to press.
Dry paper meant for silk screen printing works well but you do have to work fast. Thin Japanese papers also work well. I have used flat not textured watercolor cardstock to make cards too.

You can reuse the gelatin over and over for days, just put in the fridge after using. You will know when enough is enough, it dries out in the fridge.

You can print over and over on the same piece of paper even with water based inks.

You can make borders for the gelatin by using a brayer or brush with a dark color and going around the edge.

The following is not the best piece of artwork, but demonstrates a few techniques. I have rolled a background and the border with brayers, and made impressions with various items. The gelatin plate is made with a clay dam, and you can see that the shape is left imperfect (you can cut if you want clean edges, or just don't roll ink to the edge).


02-12-2010, 04:42 AM
You are a sweetheart H20...Thanks so much for all the info.

02-12-2010, 08:16 PM
You are welcome. As you can see I am not at present working and I should be on the press more. In the meantime:

Here's a fabulous abstract artist, Carol Odell, who among other media does monotypes:


Robin, you can use cardboard or other backing and make a textured plate out of gesso. For example, you can run a comb through gesso and it leaves ridges and valleys. You can also embed other pieces of cardboard in the gesso and the gesso acts as a sealing agent.

Generally this is inked as an intaglio, that is, ink is wiped into crevases in the plate. you can ink other ways if you like though, use a brayer etc. This type of plate requires a wet paper and more pressure to print than a flat piece of plexglass.

The background of the following monoprint is a gessoed piece of cardboard with a comb drawn through it. It was printed on a press with damp Rives BFK paper and Graphic Chemical oil based ink. Then it was printed again with the figure and shield (leaf).


Of course there is nothing that says you can't print from a flat plexiglass plate onto a not yet dry gessoed piece of paper. You might get an interesting stucco effect.

02-13-2010, 08:04 AM
Fooled around yesterday doing wipe aways. Had some nice images, which turned into black blobs when I tried damp paper on them. Should have known that if I rubbed water all over the plate I was going to get a mess. This one is with dry paper on wet waterbased ink.


02-14-2010, 10:40 AM
Wow, lots of cool stuff to look into - but first will post what I got done. Like you Janet I learned that wet paper vs. dry paper makes alot of difference.

I used way too much ink on the plexiglass and with a damp paper had nothing but a solid mess.
Here are three decpheriable images. Hope to pursure this muse more this week.
I found that letting the inked image dry alot workeed well with the damp paper. Wet inked plate - use dry paper.....

The gelatin thing sounds like fun. Using stuff that is around common place lends a feeling of confidence.

with the turtles you can see the ink on the upper turtle was almost dry and made a good image. I had to cheat and draw in some lines with ink on the lower turtles.
I'm going over to get some turtle photos to study today.

02-14-2010, 01:07 PM
Love your monos Robin, with or without the ink added. I'm still experimenting, and trying not to be too careful and just let 'er rip.

Besides H20, who has been a great help I posted in printmaking and they have been very supportive also.

Here is a minidoodle I did this morning. Just paper on paper in the sketch book with caran d'ache crayons brushed over with water. I like to do these when I don't know what to do with myself.



02-14-2010, 01:10 PM
Want to discuss how you did your prints further...but my PC is acting up, so I'll have to check in later. Couldn't even get my picures up....oh boo-hoo with it all for today...I'm going to go watch a movie.:lol:

02-16-2010, 06:22 AM
administration is telling me my previous attachments are invalid...so I'm trying again.





02-17-2010, 12:20 PM

'Lady with crouching cat'.

Here's my monotype effort today. Dry paper printed off remnants of ink on glass. ...that gave the wierd no-picture 'ghost' that ended up being quite good for inspiring whimsical imagery. Oh yes, its around 5 by 8 ins on cartridge paper with some pen lines and some orange soft pastels.

I am finding that wet paper doesn't work for me. I get the black mess only. So I'm using dry paper. I forgot to use the soap for this one. Gee its a messy business.

02-17-2010, 07:16 PM
Janet - that is an interesting dabble.

June - wow that is powerful imagery

02-18-2010, 04:50 AM
Janet, I like the textures in your monotype girl. That's interesting, I never thought of monotyping wet crayons!

Robin, I like your turtles. Is that red printing ink?

Barbara, I love that little figure printed off the ridged gesso. Its very 'ethnic' or similar to aboriginal spirit figures. Must give it a go.:thumbsup:

02-19-2010, 08:51 PM
Thanks June. The little "wordman" is a paper cut out that is inked up, and printed over the gesso combed background.

Textured wallpaper samples and other thin textured surfaces can be cut into shapes that can be inked in the same manner. You don't have to use plexiglass to make a monoprint image, you can use any surface that holds ink. Oh this is a monopint as opposed to a monotype because parts of the image are repeatable.

As you can tell I have not yet cleaned out my artroom so I am on the computer rather than playing with my inks. I am sooo bad.

02-19-2010, 11:47 PM
I like the idea of using textured surfaces especially if they are repeatable.

02-22-2010, 02:16 PM
June, like your big cat, little person print. Reminds me of that painting by Leonor Fini with all the cats and their people.

Well today I tried some stuff...only partially successful.

The first one was to draw a picture...put it under the plexiglass...spread paint on the plexi...remove the drawing...put print paper on top of paint and drawing paper on top of that and then trace the drawing. Here's my result :lol:


Then I tried a paperdoll dress stencil...a little better.


Here is another stencil and its ghost (I think I like the ghost better)



I was very impatient and ran around looking for stuff while I was printing. Will try the draw into and stencil again tomorrow...and prepare a little bit better. I really want to continue with this until I can do and get what I want. :heart:

02-23-2010, 02:13 AM
Good to see the progress Janet. It takes time and patience to experiment. I like to experiment too.

I'm going to try drawing over the paper pressed into piant later on.

The top one reminds me of a butterfly or spring flowers.

The stencil idea seems good. Love the background colours.

I like the 2 heads. Reminds me of Punch and Judy (the seaside show puppets).

02-23-2010, 03:34 PM
looks like some good progress there Janet.

I hope to get something more done soon.

02-26-2010, 09:50 PM
Good Images guys. Lynn from the printmaking forum had a monotype discussion going a while back, here's the link:


There is a discussion going on now in printmaking as well on the same issue, monotypes using watercolors.

03-02-2010, 10:29 AM
Here are a couple I did today. The sheepdog from the WDE and a bassett hound from RIL. I think I am getting used to the monotype method and I am enjoying experimenting...but long way to go yet. Still I am pleased with these results so far!



I could work on these when they dry with Ops or other media.

03-03-2010, 01:04 AM
June these have such good volume and personality. Good color schemes too.
Nice, real nice.

03-03-2010, 05:49 AM
Thanks Robin. I rather like doing monotypes!!

03-03-2010, 10:55 AM
June, I like the doggies....reminds me almost of a silk screen print. What kind of paint did you use?

03-03-2010, 03:12 PM
Oh sorry forgot to say, I used oil paint (alkyds) mixed with a printing medium which turns ordinary oil paint into a printing ink. Good because you can use all the colours you have already in your oil paint box!

I am addicted. I did a couple more of the bassett hound in a larger size and am waiting for them to dry. I have prints and ghosts of prints hanging up all over the place!!

I expect I am not doing it by the 'book', but hopefully I will find my own way. I like the fun of trying it out any which way rather than following a text...but when I've made my mistakes, maybe then I'll consult the books.

On the other hand, I had a look at the posts in printing on using watercolour paints and there were good tips...using gum arabic to coat the glass before painting, and so on. I will try the watercolour monotype soon.:wave:

03-04-2010, 07:30 AM
I agree with you June about the books. I'm much better off experimenting on my own until I find a type of monotype I like doing...and then consult the books later...though I do like the help from the printmakers forum.

Hope I can do some more monos today...at least a few paper to paper ones. :heart:

03-08-2010, 12:21 PM
yeah - this is gonna take some experimentation but that is a GOOD thing.
I had no success with the wiping out method. May try that again later but these two are painting on the plexiglass with printing ink (speedball) - it seemed to be better as the ink dried some and got sticky.....I printed onto soaked card stock. I'm starting to get warmed up to the process. It is more immediate than the lino cutting.

03-08-2010, 02:31 PM
These are very successful, Robin.

03-09-2010, 06:04 AM
Really nice Robin, but please tell me all. Did you use water base or oil base ink, and how long did you soak the card stock...did you blot? Guess I need to know your every move :lol: I think you got very good results.

03-10-2010, 02:59 PM
Good thread in the printmaking forum


See what you think....:heart:

03-12-2010, 12:24 AM
Janet - that last link to a thread on monoprinting is really good. He had good success with the subtractive method. I have some of that Daniel Smith oilbase printing ink - I may try subtractive one more time. I love Brian's work. He is very practical. He does alot of work with children classes too- he is a good communicator.

The steps I took with these turtle prints was
#1------ coating the plexiglass (which I roughed up with sand paper last year when I got them) with thin layer of dish detergent. I have gum arabic but hord it for other things cause it is expensive.
Anyway. I let the soap dry.
#2 ------ meanwhile I spray water on the counter and lay a piece of cardstock on the spray, spray the paper and lay another sheet of paper , doing three sheets spraying the top sheet and covering the stack with plastic wrap and laying a couple of encyclopedia's on top to keep flat.
#3 ------- Then I squeezed out a couple colors of speedball waterbase printing ink onto a piece of cardboard (disposable pallete). I painted the image onto the plexiglass and then I let the paint dry - I even set it by the heater ....for about 10 minutes
#4----------then I took out a sheet of damp paper and laid on the plexiglass and laid another piece of dry paper over the damp sheet and rubbed it with a spoon. The dry paper keeps me from taring the damp paper. I noticed some of the printers rubbed the mylar side but I think mylar is alot thinner than plexiglass
I thought the images were rather indistinct so
#5 ---------- I touched them up with chinese brush and chinese ink after the printing was dry.
If you print when the ink is still wet it seems to work best if the paper is dry.. Another suggestion I've read is to let the paint dry on the plexiglass and when you are ready to print mist it (the painted plate) lightly and print it onto dry paper.

03-12-2010, 10:22 AM
Thanks Robin...your procedure is a great help. Will try it this weekend and see what happens.

Yes everyone at Printmaking are always helpful. They were the first forum I followed here...when they didn't have that many people posting. Now I see they have a lot of printmakers participating. I still read the weekly brayer, as i've become interested in what they are up to. :heart:

03-24-2010, 11:58 AM
I came across this artist just recently and thought I'd share. You may know her work already, though she is new to me. Frances Gearhart...not a monotype artist, but a block printmaker. I really like her work.


03-24-2010, 12:55 PM
Hi Robin and Janet. I hope to practise some more with monotypes and wet paper/dry paint. I like the wet paint/dry paper combo but haven't got the hang of the other way as yet.

BTW, I am at the site mentioned above and I love those works...a nice lead in to our lino cuts next month I think.:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

03-25-2010, 10:36 AM

'Ginger Tom'

Tried out the wet paper over dry watercolours today.

I burnished by hand first then went over with the roller pressing really hard as I didn't believe the watercolour would transfer to the wet paper. Result was, the roller left lines on the image...but I am pleased with this cat nevertheless.

Next time, I will just do the circular hand movements on the back of the paper.:thumbsup: No roller.

Forgot to say, I went over the eyes and nose with some watercolour paint to strengthen them a bit ...after pulling the print.

03-26-2010, 06:47 AM
Really neat, June. I'm clearing off the dining room table this weekend and devoting myself to monotypes. I'll try all the methods you and Robin posted and see wht happens.

You should keep on doing animal monotypes, until you get a whole group of them. They are really nice. :heart:

03-27-2010, 09:40 AM
I'm thinking of trying a monotype from an oil pastel. Have you tried that yet? I think you'd have to do your OP drawing and then use an iron to press on your paper to get the print. Should work.

03-28-2010, 12:32 PM
Lovely Ginger Tom, June.

Janet - hope you have lots of fun printing this weekend.

I have some cheap oil pastels and an iron - that sounds like an adventure I'm interested in.

04-01-2010, 06:19 AM
Here is a quickie...the ghost and the print (sounds like a movie title)


I read somewhere about the iron on transfer..but can't remember where. I think it was for a children's project. :heart: