Monotypes: Rolling Techniques

Studio View

I had a full day in the Wellesley College print shop last week to pick up from where I left off on these monotype experiments. I’m still very much in the experimental stages of these prints. As I said earlier, it’s been a good four years since I’ve worked with monotype, so the monotype process has been feeling rusty and unfamiliar.  As a reaction to this, I naturally used the old reductive technique I remove the printing ink from a fully inked plate with a cotton rag.

I worked quickly to produce many prints and try out as many techniques throughout the day.  To allow myself to focus exclusively on technique and articulation, I entirely ignored composition, space, and depth in these monotype sketches.  The largest revelation I had was that it became immediately clear that rolling up the plate to a full black was unnecessary.  Achieving subtlety in the tonal shifts was more difficult from a black plate, and relying on the black tones produced flat images which lacked depth.

Monotype sketch

Print from a plate that was fully inked to black.

I experimented with rolling up different parts of the plate to different gradients. Ultimately, I ended up toning the area above the water to a mid-grey tone.  The area with the water was inked to a full black at the top, and then slowly gradating to a light grey towards the bottom.

Monotype sketch

Print where different areas are inked to different gradients.

My self-critique of this sketch above is that the gradation in the water has too much full black and the shift towards grey tone happens too late.  Since I was eager to figure out how to go about inking the plate, the work on the figures in these monotype sketches is fairly hasty. The next time I’m able to focus more on the figures, my intent is to make the figures more ambiguous, less defined, so they can emerge quietly from the atmosphere.  The balance I’m looking for will allow the reflection of the figure’s shadow in the water to be more concrete and articulate by comparison.

Monotype "ghost" print

“Ghost” print of the previous plate.

One approach that I had been initially excited about was potentially printing “ghost” prints from different plates onto the same sheet of paper.  A “ghost” print is a monotype that has been run through the press a second time, therefore creating significantly lighter results. I quickly eliminated this idea since the ghost prints were too unstable and unpredictable. My potential solution to this is to “fake” some ghost prints instead to see if I can get the results I’m looking for. Ultimately, I’m looking to create monotypes that involve multiple plates printed on top of each other to simulate the transparency of the drawings.

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2 thoughts on “Monotypes: Rolling Techniques

  1. Very interesting your “ghost” prints, beside the drawing’s transparency it has also a metaphysical dimension. I love the idea of the “unstable” and “unpredictable”. I think that we artists have also to be surprised by our own work!

  2. Thank your showing this. Your drawings inspire me to carry on mono printing.
    Regards, Geoff

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