A note on monoprinting (and faces…)

I thought I’d write about different aspects of my studio practice, to share a little of how I work and the various materials and methods I use.

So, to begin, let me tell you a little about my love of monoprinting. As an artist who has drawing at the heart of her work (in even in the most abstract of painting) I use monoprinting as a  key part of my practice and have continually returned to it since my art school days.

The technique of monoprint drawing, through the back of a piece of paper, either with a pencil or my finger allows the accidental and unexpected to happen in  way that direct-drawing does not.

Unlike other forms of printmaking, a monoprint is an edition of one. I tend to work in short runs, producing groups of images in a printing session. They share similarities, maybe even a narrative, but importantly each print in unique.

When working, you don’t know what the image will really look like until you peel back the paper. I tend to work quickly and each image is unplanned, beyond having a general overview of a theme. I just begin to draw and go with it. I think this method relies on trusting your own ability and having confidence in what you are doing- just draw and allow yourself the freedom of going wrong.

I often draw heads, sometimes distilling the image to just three or four lines, often just using black ink. It is an eternally fascinating image to use as a starting point, recognisable in just a few marks. Expressing emotion and feeling with the tilt of a line. From birth our brains are hard-wired to recognise and ‘read’ faces, it is arguably the most powerful of images

If you’d like to see more, a selection of monoprints are available from my online shop…or have a go at creating your own.

Have a go yourself…

  1. Using a printers roller, roll out a very thin layer of black printing ink on a sheet of safety glass. Cover an area roughly the same size as the paper you are going to use.
  2. Lay a piece of light weight cartridge paper on top…at this point, if the paper sticks to the ink then you know the ink is too thick. In which case, dab some off and re-roll it thinner.
  3. Draw on the paper…wherever you apply pressure ink will adhere to the paper underneath. You can use a pen or pencil for lines, your thumb for areas of shade. Experiment on a few pices of paper to develop your mark-making and then just start drawing.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, try using different colours or printing on different types of paper or fabric.