Positive, Negative

Yes, I know, I’m on a bit of a printing riff – please indulge me! 🙂

For a while I’ve been wanting to play with the image of a crow or jackdaw, and it occurred to me that the slightly gritty feel of monotype printing might work. I inked up the glass, laid on the thin copier paper, and hoped for the best as I sketched. Once again, I was trying to get some variation between the thinner pencil lines and the shading, which was done with a combination of the pencil and my fingertip.

I’m actually quite pleased with how these turned out, as it seems that the accidental marks on the paper give a feeling of airiness and depth.

Not wishing to waste the ink left on the plate, I tried a couple of ghost prints too, both rubbed with the back of a wooden spoon. The resulting scribbles are a bit brutal, but give an interesting texture to the black, and I was surprised by how much of the image still transferred in the ghost prints.

If I hadn’t used water-based printing ink I would have liked to have added some watercolour or coloured ink as an experiment. (I did try using oil pastels one time, and didn’t like the result I achieved). I guess I’ll just have to bite the bullet and invest in some oil-based ink; I seriously think I’m going to have to get round to selling some of my pictures, just to pay for making them!

One of a Kind

Recently I’ve been taken by the idea of printing, and most specifically ‘Monotype’ printing, where every print made is unique.

It’s a very spontaneous technique, and the method imparts a deliciously unpredictable but fascinating quality to the prints. As with most of these methods, sometimes it works better than others, and the trick is to get to know what will push the hand of fate in your favour. That’s the journey I’m embarking on.

Androgynous Monotype

There are two ways of monotype printing: one where you paint your image directly on  glass and print from it; and the one I used here, where the method is to ink up a glass plate (the smooth reverse of a glass chopping board) with printing ink and a roller. Water-based ink  is very convenient as it takes hardly any cleaning up afterwards. However, in the longer term I expect I’ll need to explore other options, especially if I want to add other media onto the base prints. But I digress.

Once the plate has been inked, carefully lay a sheet of plain paper (copier paper seems to work pretty well) over the inked area. Don’t press down anywhere! Next, draw an image on that paper with a pencil or ballpoint pen, making sure that your hand doesn’t ever touch the paper. Unless you’ve a super-steady hand, this will almost certainly give you some unusual lines, and maybe a bit of wonkiness, but that’s all part of the fun and the uniqueness of this method. You can’t rub out once you’ve made a mark, so either take it very carefully, or throw caution to the winds – your choice! If you want to shade areas, your finger will do a great job, just press on the paper in the darker areas, or shade with the pencil – both will give a different effect. A rather simple drawing with a minimum of shading tends to work very well, I’ve found.

When you think you’ve finished your image, it’s time for the big reveal. Peel off the paper, and TA-DA! Your monotype print in all its gritty, grainy glory.

Girl 1 Monotype

You can see that in the second image, I had too much ink on the glass, but I think I got it just about right with the first girl. Also, my roller is a bit eccentric, so the ink wasn’t as evenly rolled as I’d hoped, but I honestly think it all adds to the charm.

I finished off the session with a snoozing cat, because I like cats.

Cat cushion Monotype

I’m addicted now.

Decalcomania, at last

I’ve been wanting to get down to trying the Decalcomania technique as seen on Dave Whatt’s blog for some time (well, at least a year). Yesterday was finally the day! For the original (and funny) instructions, see Dave’s post.

I dolloped my cheap black acrylic paint straight from the tube onto the smooth reverse side of a glass chopping board. A sheet of thin acrylic served as my initial ink squasher – this was gently smoothed over the paint and pulled off to leave textured paint on both surfaces. Then I laid a sheet of copier paper onto the paint, gently smoothed again, and peeled off. I was able to repeat this about six times, occasionally adding a little more paint here or there to change the look. I did a sneaky print from the acrylic too – waste not, want not.

The prints were of variable interest- here’s two which I rather liked for their interesting paint textures. One just begged to be converted into something a little less abstract, and with a small amount of fineliner a silverback emerged. I know I couldn’t have painted him this satisfyingly!

This was a lot of quick fun, and I suspect that as I start to explore printing there will be more of these… thanks, Dave, for the inspiration!