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Colored pencil art Drawing Monoprint Still Life

Monoprint experiment

Monoprint Lantern

Black water-based printing ink & colored pencils on Stonehenge paper, 7×9 inches
(To enlarge, click image, select “all sizes”)

Today I experimented with making monoprints, having been inspired by Belinda del Pesco‘s amazing monoprints, and Kris Shank’s woodcuts. This is the same candle lantern I drew and posted a couple days ago. I’ve drawn it so many times now — for each monoprint you have to do the drawing again. I think some of the others were better drawn but this one was dry and I could add color, so its the one that gets posted.

I’d never made monoprints before and didn’t know anything about how to make them so I read a few articles on the internet and then went to the art store. I bought both water-based and oil-based printing ink and a brayer to roll it out with and some print-making paper. I tried lots of different approaches and had a good time learning what works and what doesn’t. My usual way of learning things is quite different: read lots of books, research all the details, make sure I have all the right equipment and supplies and know what I’m doing before I do it. This time I just experimented, letting it be an adventure, saying “let’s see what happens if…” I made many interesting mistakes and a bit of a mess but since I wasn’t too attached to the outcome it was a great day.

There’s several approaches to doing monoprints and the one I liked best was to apply the ink on a sheet of acrylic and then sort of carve away and push around the ink using various implements, none designed for that purpose (stumps, rubber clay tool, coffee stirrer, paintbrush handle). Once I had the drawing done, I put a sheet of paper on top of the plastic and used my rolling pin to press the paper and ink together. The water-based ink dried fairly quickly on the paper so I was able to add colored pencil to it this evening. I tried applying watercolor but it melted the ink. I think I’ll be able to add watercolor to the oil-based prints once they’re dry. I made half a dozen prints. Two were complete flops and the rest were not bad for a first try.

I also bought a couple of linoleum blocks and carving tools so I’m going to try that next. Then it’s back to watercolor — I have several paintings just begging to be painted.

17 replies on “Monoprint experiment”

I was so excited to see this image come up on the screen. (I’m something of a printmaking freak!) The lines are so alive in this pieces and I like the color addition. I think you will really enjoy carving and printing with the linoblocks.

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This is lovely Jana! Also thank you for linking to Belinda’s site – I love printmaking (have done some monoprinting and screenprinting, and am learning colography now) so it was really inspiring – as is your lantern!

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Jana – I LOVE this. I did monoprinting with preschooler’s this summer – so I’ve worked with it on a simplistic level, and we had fun inking other textured items and layering them onto the base plate. But, I love the way you’ve gotten an outline/drawing into the inked area and then added color later. Really beautiful.

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Your latern is wonderful and the shape reminds me of the ones which were used when we were kids. Those used kerosene as fuel and were a little taller. I think they were called hurricane lamps. In this process is it just one print per drawing or can you take at least get a few prints off drawing on the acrylic sheet before it gets to light?

and you beat me to it. 😀 I was still toying with the idea and you’ve been there done that already 😛 I’m hoping to make it to an art supply store soon for lino as that’s more likely to be available here than the printing ink and roller.

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Thanks everyone for your nice comments. I realized this morning (next day) that it would have been much improved had I done a value study first and determined where the darks and lights should be so that will be my task for today.
Ujwala: Yes, Theoretically it’s just one print, but sometimes you can get a second “ghost image” they call it. I found that with the water-based ink a second image was pretty decent. The printing ink was made by Speedball. I noticed Speedball even had a monotype printing kit with several jars of colored inks and a brayer and I don’t know what else at Blick so I think it’s pretty mainstream and might be available there. It’s the same ink you use for block printing and you don’t need a brayer to apply, you could use a stiff brush (but the brayer really helps because the ink, which comes in a tube, is rather sticky).

Amy, It is really fun and I did feel a bit like a pre-schooler myself.

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Oh Jana what fun! Two sundays ago i did the same thing in my studio. I experiemnted and palyed with monotypes. Only I used what I had on hand then read up on what to do. Now i am going to get the proper inks and plates. fun fun fun!

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great print Jana! Makes me want to do some monoprinting too. There’s a lot of variation in water based printmaking inks. Speedball is commonly available, but they’re terrible inks – partly because as you found out they’re re-wettable in water. Daniel smith or Akua color make some nice waterbased inks that won’t smear once they’re dry. But I love oil-based inks, being an oily medium kind of person.

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a day of playing and experimenting with new materials sounds like such fun, something I haven’t done in a long time, thanks for the reminder! I love the textures this created and am looking forward to seeing where else you’ll go

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This is indeed full of energy and fun – I love monoprinting and linocutting – I think those mediums can turn a very ordinary sketch into something much more expressive – and it’s so exciting peeling back the first impression

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[…] There’s several approaches to doing monoprints and the one I liked best was to apply the ink on a sheet of acrylic and then sort of carve away and push around the ink using various implements, none designed for that purpose (stumps, rubber clay tool, coffee stirrer, paintbrush handle). Once I had the drawing done, I pu … Impressive article i thinkLink to original article […]

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Jana, this is wonderful! I love the little touches of color, and the festive quality of the line work. And yes, you are a quick study: I find a value sketch is very helpful beforehand, since the mark-making in wet ink is rather mesmerizing, and I get all swept up in it/forget when to stop without a “plan”. Also, oil based inks, or as Kris pointed out, Daniel Smith water based inks allow watercolor on top of the print without re-wetting it. The other great part about oil based inks is the way they “hold” colored pencil – like chalk on a blackboard. It’s all *very* fun. Nicely done – Make more! Make more!

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