I don’t teach in a school and I don’t teach regular classes either, but I do teach groups of people, young and old to use mono-printmaking as a fun and easy way to produce art work.
This week I have been running a mono-printmaking class as part of the St. Catherine’s Hospice, elevating their profile in Surrey and Sussex in order to raise funds to build new facilities to help people at the end of their lives.
It is exhausting but so fulfilling. Teaching young children is particularly rewarding as they have no inhibitions; they just do what feels right to them. They are so proud of the work they have produced and rightly so. Some of them do need to be encouraged and the older children stood by and watched their younger siblings producing work, but they didn’t want to try. Basically they had learned to be frightened of trying to make art.
I was also recently asked to teach in an old people’s home. A lovely home, newly built, with amazing facilities. Unfortunately, only one of the eight residents who attended was prepared to roll up her sleeves and have a go and she produced some wonderful pieces. The rest of them didn’t try, they were frightened to. A couple of them said ‘I was never any good at art’ and so they sat back and watched what I was doing, without making eye contact. They were simply frightened to try. It was so sad.
I am hopeful that next time I go I will be able to show them how quickly and easily they can produce something of which they can feel proud.
Using mono-printing as an artistic outlet removes people from having to draw or paint a picture and allows freedom to play and express themselves, it is such a rewarding art form which gives great results.
Teaching other artistic people is the most fun for me. I get to show people how to produce something with real ease, often something they haven’t tried before, but once they understand what to do, watching them gives me ideas to teach to other classes. Also, listening to them squeal with delight when they produce something they love, is the highest praise I could ever receive.
So how easy is it to get going with mono-printing?
Without laying out tons of cash you can teach your kids, family and friends to produce great artworks for themselves.
First, get a cardboard box; one of those Amazon ones with the corrugated centres works well. Cut it out to about A5 in size (i.e. 148 x 210 mm or 5.8 x 8.25 inches), cover it with kitchen foil and tape this in place at the back. You have just made a basic printing plate.
Now get your acrylic paint. Any acrylic paint works, you don’t need fancy, expensive brands. You can simply paint your colours onto the plate, working fairly quickly as acrylic paint does dry fast, then when you have painted your picture, place a sheet of white paper over the plate and rub all over with the palm of your hand. Carefully peel back the paper and there you have your first monoprint.
If you have a roller you can roll colours onto your plate and print that.
Once those first sheets are dry you can go over them. You can use stencils, you can paint leaves (always use the back side as there are more veins there to give more definition) you can run the wheels of toy cars through the paint, you can use a cotton bud to remove paint from the plate. If you are not happy with the result, just go over them with another layer of printing. Very often the more layers on a print, the more interesting it becomes. Once dry you can also draw over the print using felt pens, gold and silver pens and you could even try embossing. The options are endless.
If you are in the Crawley area on Wednesday this week, you can join the drop-in session I am running using Gel Plates and stencils, details below. It is such good fun.
If you would like to come along and try your hand at mono-printing using Gel Plates, St. Catherine’s Hospice has a shop unit on the first floor of the County Mall in Crawley, next door to Primark. We will be open from 10am – 3pm, for more info on this coming weeks events, please go to https://www.stch.org.uk/whats-heart-heart-trail/
All the photos illustrating this blog are of work produced by the children who came to my last two sessions.