Monoprint Watercolor

From Sea Turtle to Swan

Monoprint 4 -w/Watercolor

Monotype 2: Swan. Ink & watercolor on Arches 88 printmaking paper
(To enlarge, click images, select “All Sizes”)

Monoprint 4 - B&W

Monotype 2: Sea Turtle, Ink on Arches 88
(Same monotype as above but in original orientation and scanned before painting)

Monotype 3

Monotype 1 – Massage Dream. Ink & watercolor on Arches 88
(Click to enlarge)

I was working without too much of a plan for these monotypes. I started with the image directly above (Monotype 1) with an idea from a dream I had about a massage. I rolled the ink onto a plexiglass plate, removed it in places, and then printed onto paper. Then I started over with Monotype 2 with no image in mind, just making marks, until a swimming sea turtle appeared, which soon had long flowing hair. (No I wasn’t high, just being playful, not attached to the outcome. It was sort of like watching clouds float by, seeing shapes appear in the clouds.)

Today the prints were dry so I added watercolor, using the same playful, “see what happens” attitude. I’d never painted on Arches 88 printing paper before and it was really interesting. The smooth, unsized paper immediately absorbs the paint — there’s no moving it, blotting it or changing it, except to add more color. I painted #1 (the massage picture) first and was thrilled with the colors that appeared and how it seemed to turn into an underwater scene. When I prepared to paint #2, I turned the paper around a few times to see which direction worked best. Turned 180 degrees I saw a swan-like creature so that’s what I painted.

A note on printing ink. I’ve been testing printing inks to determine which I like best for “reductive” monotypes. I used Graphic Chemicals Bone Black Etching Ink for these, and liked it a lot. It’s easy to apply and wipe off, and prints a rich, dark black. I also experimented with Daniel Smith oil-based relief ink and a sample that Gamblin sent me of their Portland Black oil-based ink. The prints I made with those inks are still wet so I can’t scan them yet. The Daniel Smith was the stickiest and hardest to wipe (though it can be thinned with burnt plate oil to make it easier to work with) and the Gamblin ink was somewhere inbetween the GC and DS. So far I like the Graphic Chemical ink best.

10 replies on “From Sea Turtle to Swan”

I have to tell you, Jana, that I love the spontaneous and graphic feel of your monotypes. I really hope you spend more time with this medium. It really brings out a fresher, more spontaneous side of you.

(BTW I loved your comment on my Zappa post. Thanks!)


Your monotypes are turning out wonderfully. The line and the color are both so dymanic and everything works together so well. Just beautiful.


These are truly beautiful, Jana. I always enjoy your work, and these are fun and different. I especially like the wonderful analogous colors in Number 1, and all that great contrast that happens with the black in the Swan piece. Thanks for sharing them with us. Wonderful.


Jana I want you to know I am enjoying reading about your experience with monotypes and letting us know what kind of inks you like.
They are very expressive and have a wonderful abstract feel. Thanks again


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