Mono-printing at home during the covid 19 lock down.
If you have never tried printmaking before this is a great project to do yourself and this is a really easy fun project to do with your children or your grandchildren. And what’s more, you don’t need any specialist equipment at all.
Mono-printing is a form of printmaking which, as its name suggests, can only be made once. Other methods allow for multiple prints such as when using lino, silk screen printing, collatype or collagraph, woodcut and etchings.
There are many ways to produce mono-prints but since we are all on lockdown and cash may be tight right now, I decided a DIY at home method with family or on your own might be fun.
Historically no one is certain who invented the process but the Italian Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, born in 1609, is often credited as the first artist to use mono-printing as an art form. His style is called the subtractive method, using just black ink and created by removing or moving ink around the printing plate with brushes to great effect, as you can see below.
I will cover this method another time but here we are going to use a layer method which allows for a more colourful results.
You will need the following:
White plastic bag;
Piece of stiff card;
Anything you like for mark making;
You can use any kind of paper. If you only have printer paper that’s OK but if you have thicker art paper that will likely give you better results, depending on how much water you use.
Cover the stiff card with cling film and tape it in place.
Next, wet some kitchen paper and place on top of the card. You now have the foundation of your printing plate. Using the white plastic bag, wrap the printing plate up and secure it at the back with sellotape.
You now get to play. There are so many different ways to get started so here I am showing you two versions.
Put out your paints on a separate plate or tray and using a brush, old credit card or anything you can use to apply paint without damaging the plastic, do so. You can paint a picture, or you can do as I have and just make a first abstract layer on the plate.
Next, using paper place it over the paint-covered printing plate and with the side of your hand rub over the paper to let the paint transfer onto the paper.
Don’t panic if it doesn’t look great. You can go over it again as you will see here. The beauty of mono-printing is that you can keep adding layers until you get something you like.
But first –
Blob paint straight onto the printing plate and spread it around until you have something you like. I used very thick paint and took multiple prints from the plate by not putting too much pressure on the paper when creating the print. I did a number of what I call ‘foundation’ or first layer pieces using this method.
Going back to Version 1, once the paint had dried I marked up the plate using a black Sharpie so that I knew where to place the paper when pulling the print and to give a guide as to where to paint the next layer.
For this demo I simply painted three flower shapes which I printed onto the initial foundation prints.
This was all produced in a very short time. It is a quick and easy process but if you spend more time and add more layers, you will obtain better results.
Keep your colours in the same group when printing to avoid getting a muddy picture. I started using reds and yellows, with a bit of orange and bronze thrown in for extra interest.
Before adding more colours it is important to let that layer fully dry before moving onto another colour group. In the second layer you can see I moved to the blue/green spectrum of colours. Because the red layers were dry, they were able to peep through, providing some extra interest, and they didn’t mix on the printing plate.
This home made plastic bag printing plate is easily cleaned with wet wipes or kitchen towel. The wet sheet of kitchen paper under the plastic helps to stop the paint drying making printing easier and clean up easier too.
I will be producing other mono-prints using different methods, in the coming weeks and I will explain these methods, too.
But you can have your little ones paint a picture onto the plate and lift that or you can try the layering method I have shown here.
If you are using cheap photocopy or printing paper, it is best to use the paint straight from the tube and not introduce water. If you feel you want to use water, keep it to a minimum as it will just crinkle the paper. If you are using quality paper you can experiment with thin layers of paint, which you can build up multiple times to create a finished piece.
I am also planning to produce a number of short videos showing how to produce different prints. Currently, I have a house full of people and finding quiet time to record is not easy, but I hope to be able to get that out to you all in the next couple of weeks.
If there is anything you would particularly like to learn about then please do get in touch. Please also let me know what level you are at so that if you are looking for advance techniques I can not only provide you with the methods I employ but I am always very happy to provide details of other artists who produce work in particular, specialist ways so that you can gain the best advice to give you the best results possible.
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Have fun and stay safe!