Further Monoprints from life using oils

Feeling I hadn’t quite got to grips with oil-based inks I wanted to have another go before moving on.

I wanted to improve my use of colour and also produce a better transfer.

After my initial experiments I received some useful advice from the OCA printmaking forum on facebook. The consensus was either to use thinner paper or to slightly dampen it and for burnishing use a range of tools. I also had written to the Caligo ink support and they gave me advice to mix extender with the ink for monotype work as it changed the ink to a slightly looser consistency, making it easier to apply with a brush.

For the first little experiment I chose to keep things simple, just using a single apple. I carefully burnished the paper using a roller, wooden spoon, heavy glass paperweight, and jam jar.

This resulted in a much better transfer and even the ghost came out quite well.

Next I went back to the brief in the handbook this time paying attention to the fact that I needed to use complimentary colours. I used the initial glasses with a piece of lemon for colour variation and then used a violet grey background for contrast. The result was much more successful than the first attempt. I realise that this process also frees up my brushwork and allows me to create a looser representation of the subject, which I think is a positive. I am starting to realise that colour is an important aspect to making a print work.

After these prints I decided I was ready to move on.

Painted monoprint from life: Watersoluble crayons and inks

Caran D’ache neocolor ii

I wanted to draw something from life using these sticks and see if they printed successfully.

A student-led facebook sketch club that I belong to had a topic of reflections to use as a starting point so I chose a glass of water. I knew it would be hard but thought I won’t improve unless I practice. After some quick sketches in my sketchbook I produced a drawing using a indigo blue w/s crayon on mylar plate. After soaking a sheet of HP w/c paper in water I printed. I should have perhaps blotted the paper more thoroughly because the paint did run a little.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThis provided a reasonable result and is a very quick and easy way of printing drawings that I will come back to in the future. Perhaps I could use this method as a starting point and then overprint with other types of ink to create a varied layering effect.

Watersoluble inks on Gelli Plate

I masked off part of my round gelli plate using a paper-frame for these prints. I just wanted to play with the materials so didn’t consider too much what I painted.Firstly I continued with the glass theme.

Next I just looked for simple, humble objects that were in the house: waste paper bin, bowl and spoon, and toilet roll. They are not the accurate of drawings but I do like the effect of the ink on the plate.

Using a gelatin plate seems to be a good way of using watersoluble paints and inks and I am frustrated that I bought a round one instead of square – because of this it makes registering the plate, and frame and paper a logistical nightmare to build up layers.

I have read that you can make your own plate from household gelatin and glycerine. I need to look into costs but hopefully this is something I can do as this technique lends itself for easily and quickly building up layers of texture.

Monoprint from life: Oil-based inks

Portrait of Mum

The first attempt of working from life using oil-based ink was a quick sketch of mum in oil inks. This was an impromptu exercise, so I didn’t really consider the composition. She was sat at the opposite end of the room and her feet were hidden behind the table, so they are cut off – which weakens the final print. That aside I quite liked the result – particularly the colours.
The paper I used for this was Fabriano Accademia 120gsm cartridge and I had burnished it with a soup spoon.

Still Life

When I got home I decided to have a go at a monochrome still life with the oil inks. I set up two objects on a table in my front room: a pair of glasses and a bird skull. After producing some quick thumbnails of the composition I decided the skull wasn’t working so then swapped that with an empty pill packet.

I quite liked the effect of the glasses shadow on the surface. I initially used the ink thinly in areas to create a range of tonal values, unfortunately these tonal changes didn’t transfer. I was very disappointed with the first print. I then mixed some greys and added thee for tonal variation. The print pulled better but not as clean as I had liked.
This was a different experience to being at mum’s as the print had transferred quite well there. I was using different paper so thought that was be the problem, which I would need to resolve next session.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI wanted to produce a monoprint of the bird skull and so decided to use a reductive technique. I rolled a thin layer of paint over the plate and used various implements: rag, brushes, and cotton buds; to remove the ink. This time I used a sheet of Fabriano Accademia 120gsm and burnished like mad with various implements: brayer, wooden spoon, bottom of a jam jar, and heavy glass candle holder. The result was pretty woolly and not as clean as I would have liked. The ghost didn’t come out at all.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThe next print I used an additive process for a self portrait. This time I chose to print onto 80gsm Japanese Simili paper. Again the results were disappointing.

I could not understand why I was not able to replicate the results that I had achieved at Mum’s house. There were a number of factors that I needed to consider:

• Perhaps I used extender mixed with the ink.
• Perhaps the ink was applied more thickly.
• Her house isn’t as drafty as mine.
• I am set up sat down in the sitting room, whereas I was stood over her dining room table to burnish – perhaps this gave me extra force and pressure as I could lean down onto the paper.

Looking forward:
• I plan to set myself up with a higher work table in the spare room and this will give me the ability to lean into the burnishing, it is also less drafty in there.
• I also want to be more focussed and scientific in my approach – take note of how much ink I am using and what mediums I am mixing it with.
• On the facebook forum they mentioned that if I wanted a crisper print, it is a good idea to dampen the paper – this is something I hadn’t really considered through this whole process (other than when working with watercolour / gouache) so that is also something I need to try.
• Other people recommended trying thinner or proper Japanese papers for monoprinting by hand as they tend to absorb more ink. This is something I need to seriously consider.

Painted monoprint from life: Watercolour

I was staying at Mum’s and was looking for a source to draw and print. She had some colourful flowers that I thought would be a useful starting point. I decided to produce this first still life print in watercolour.

• Firstly I produced some quick drawing in sketchbook – trying to focus on composition. Design is such an important part of the process and is an area that I am weak on.
• I traced the larger drawing and used that as a guide underneath my mylar plate. Then followed the process: use fairy liquid as a base, let that dry; apply watercolours; let them dry; print onto soaked hp w/c paper.
• This technique produced some interesting textures and again I was surprised by the strength of the colours.watercolour
• The final print was not really successful though – it was a bit flat. Perhaps if I had paid closer attention to shadows that would have helped. Also the subject matter and colour are a bit twee and not really me. But a useful first attempt.