5.1 Balance – Coloured prints

For exercise 1 on the theme of balance I tried out an other idea. I was thinking of towers we used to build with building blocks challenging gravity by trying out precarious constructions.

I cut out paper blocks and inked them by pressing them into an inked plate.

For the first composition I chose two background colours – black and white and then added the inked blocks and a ball to it. I expected them to get a white line around them where the paper would not reach the inked plate.

Balance 6
Relief ink on buff drawing paper

Having used both black and white as background colours I was left with the problem of the paper colour. I used a beige drawing paper but the white does not show properly. This paper also has a tooth which I don’t like. The colours are less vivid than I had anticipated. I do like the composition, though. A good start.

Next I used smooth white drawing paper and a black background. I stacked the blocks in a similar way but added more circles at the bottom. I felt they were needed.

Balance 7
Relief ink on white drawing paper

The background in this is better (except for the white spots – I think the wind has brought in debris. I was working in the garden). The colours are more distinct and show the quality of the prints made by moving the paper bits in the ink on the plate. They are interesting marks but not what I wanted for this. I am pleased with the three additional circles as a counterweight.

For my third attempt I made the background as before but inked the paper blocks with the roller. This resulted in more saturated and even colours. I like that as it also makes the white lines around them more prominent. They suddenly remind me of Mondrian, probably due to the shapes and colours.

Balance 8
Relief ink on drawing paper

When cleaning the plate after the previous print I noticed a nice pattern and thought I might use that as a somewhat chaotic frame around this very square composition. It did not transfer so well and looks more like a mistake than anything deliberate. Like this it does not work. Otherwise I am pleased.



I think this image answers to the exercise brief to make an abstract picture on the theme of balance. Maybe it is not as abstract as it could be? There is balance as a theme in the stacked blocks but also in the composition which is balanced up by the circles.

The strong colours underline the shapes of the blocks which is good. But it makes the whole thing rather stiff. It is strange, I like the implementation of the exercise, the way I thought it through and modified it – but I do not particularly like the images. They are too static, stiff, square. With regard to movement and interest I like my first versions better – although I am less convinced they make good pictures.


5.2 and 5.3 Coloured prints

My coloured inks having arrived I gave the monoprint exercises an other go. I wanted to try and combine different colours.

The traced print turned out very nice. I rolled the colours on the plate roughly where the head and hand (umber), the torso (magenta) and the background (phtalo blue) would be. Having watched the videos on printing technique on the OCA student site I was careful to achieve a thin layer of ink.

Traced multicol
Traced monoprint, relief ink on drawing paper

I have managed to get the colours almost in the right place. Where they miss the drawing – in the hand, the hair and a cheek – it does not feel wrong. I think it adds interest and gives the drawing character.

As before I wanted to use the marks on the plate for a reductive print so I was careful not to remove too much ink where I wanted dark colours in the reductive print. This gave the traced print the character of a partial negative. However, this time round the drawing is not as good as the first one and the features of the face become harder to read.

I also wish I had made the background pick up more colour.

I think this technique works very well with traced monoprints.

The reductive print from this plate did not work out quite as well. With this technique more of the colour fields transfer to the print. Where they do not match the drawing they are stronger than the line and disturb the shapes. The shoulder on the left side seems to be too high up due to the red colour field ending there. The brown around the head has not as strong an impact. Also I do not like the roller marks being as visible as they are. They make lines where there shouldn’t be any, especially in the face.

reduct multicol
Reductive print, relief ink on wetted watercolour paper

The traced print had taken off too much ink to allow for dark darks in this second print so I tried to fill them in by adding undiluted ink. The contrast turned out too strong, especially in the eyes.

To pick up as much ink as possible I wetted the paper as described in the printmaking video. This worked well. The marks on the wetted paper become softer than on dry, thin paper. I used smooth watercolour paper but it still shows quite a strong tooth in this print. I like the more evenly inked fields on the jutepaper better.

Printing technique – UCA video

(Videos can be found in the Resources section on the OCA student website)

Monoprint >< Monotype disambiguation

According to Jonathan Jarvis, technician tutor printmaking at Farnham, a Monoprint is a one-off as opposed to a monotype which is a series of prints. Permanently marking the plate does not at all come into it. According to Drawing Magazine it is the Monoprint that produces the series (see blog post Research into Monotype)

Preparing the plate:

  • work the ink with a pallet knife. Cold ink is stiff, working it makes it softer.
  • Draw the ink out with the roller – the rolling movement has a flip (ensures even spreading)
  • fast rolling picks up ink – slow rolling puts ink down -> control amount of ink on the plate
  • Amount of ink on the plate:
    • thick layer of ink: saturated marks but hard to control (esp. for traced monoprints)
    • thin layer of ink: less saturated but results in clear and controlled marks
    • -> use not more ink than necessary. Listen! it should sound velvety
    • Traced monotypes need a thin film of ink for controlled marks
    • Reductive monotypes need more ink


Direct printing (not put through a press) is very sensitive to the paper used. The surface of the paper remains much more visible and influences the outcome very much. There are special printing papers that are not sized and soft.

  • Thick, soft papers result in soft marks >< thin, hard papers allow sharp, crisp marks
  • Absorbent papers draw the ink in >< non-absorbent papers keep the ink on the surface (can become glossy). Jonathan Jarvis also mentions that the ink can be put behind the paper. I wonder what he means??

Wetting the paper:

Different types of paper need different wetting techniques.

  • Wet thin papers with a sponge on both sides
  • Thick papers can be soaked. Soaking time varies greatly between papers!
    • Soak
    • Let excess water run off
    • Sponge off excess water on both sides with a natural sponge to not harm the paper.
    • Roll between two sheets of blotting paper
  • Sync the wetting with the plate, both should be ready at the same time!

Modification of the ink:

By adding printing bases the ink can be modified. Translucent base makes the ink more translucent so it will combine with the paper or colour(s) underneath it. An opaque white will make the colour of the ink chalkier and less translucent. -> Check out what there is and what it does!

Overprinting colours:

  • Where colours are overprinted they become darker and lose some of their hue. Can be compensated for by adding an opaque base or white
  • Colour A on top of colour B does give a different result than B on A
  • Remember: The colour that is on top on the printingplate will be at the bottom on the paper, everything is reversed!
  • By overprinting colours a sense of pictorial space and depth can be achieved
  • Explore this! 



Reeves, T. (Project Leader): Printmaking – Monoprinting, UCA Open Educational Resources. (parts 1-5) http://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/video/printmaking-pt1-introduction-uca-video

5.2. and 5.3 Monotype: Transfer and Reductive

  • Use the selfportrait from unit 1 to make a transfer monoprint
  • Then make a print drawing directly onto the inked plate with different tools (reductive method)

As I wanted to make the reductive print of my self portrait I decided to use the transfer method to make a “sketch” onto the plate from which to make the reductive print. I chose one of the ink portraits as they are simpler with less detail than my pencil drawing.

The first try failed. I had used relief ink. The paper for the transfer print instantly stuck to the plate and subsequently pulled off a lot of ink in random patches. The traces are almost invisible and the reductive print I made from this turned out blotchy and has no dark darks.

Note added later: The mistake here was that I used too much ink. With a thin layer rolled out on the plate relief ink works fine.


I painted some of the darks around the eyes but as the paint is very stiff and I have no thinner they turned out wobbly. I do like the eyes in this one, though. Also I realised that I did not really have any strategy to make midtones to vary the background and shadows.

For my next try I used etching ink, which is stiffer and had produced a very nice traced print of the mortar and pestle in my initial tests. Already when inking the plate I was careful to ink the darker side really well and ink the lighter side only lightly. After tracing I also pressed on the areas where I wanted a midtone in the reductive print. This would remove enough ink from the plate to make a difference I hoped. Consequently, the traced picture got characteristics of a negative, e.g. the dark eyes and light eyebrows.

transfer 2
Etching ink on newsprint

I like this one. It has nice textures and the variations in tone make it interesting, maybe because they are unexpected. As I wanted clear lines on the plate I pressed quite strongly when tracing and did not vary the lines. I wonder to what extent it is possible to do so. This needs investigating.

Etching ink clearly works better for traced prints. Removing it from the plate in a controlled manner, on the other hand, is harder than with relief ink. It does want to remain on the plate. The detail in the face took a long time. I had tops and rubber utensils that are used in oil painting I believe, rags, toiletpaper and bamboo skewers. Still the midtones are missing although I achieved a lighter background behind the shadow side of the head and some tonal variation in the sleeve. My attempt to make the main shadows of the face lighter than the eyebrows and the pupils did not work. I should have dabbed away more ink like I did with the shirt. By the same mistake the eyes became too dark.

portrait 2
Etching ink on smooth jute paper, 100gms

The smooth jute paper is perfect to print on. It readily takes the ink and allows for fine detail.

I am happy with this print. I like the composition and the balance between light and dark. It has nice textures and character. I am especially pleased with the mouth, the hair and the sleeve. I also like the white outlines in the dark parts.

It is hard to wipe away the picture on the plate after just one print. So I made a ghost, trying to remedy the dark eyes in the process. I wetted the paper this time to make it take more ink. It crinkled a bit but worked fine otherwise. Apart from the fact that I made the wrong part of the eyes lighter. It really became a ghost with its dark whites and light irises… This gives the portrait a very different expression. Interesting.

portrait 2 - ghost



The self portrait was a challenge. I realised I had to make a number of decisions at the beginning and plan my way ahead. To draw lights rather than darks still feels odd. This might be one of the reasons why my tonal range is narrow. An other is tools and experience. This whole process is still very much trial and error. For this to work better I think I need to find better tools and learn to produce different tones.

As with paints on a palette I like to use up left over printing ink in a spontaneous print. Today this is the product of that – clearly influenced by the Karl Mårtens exhibition yesterday.

Karl Mårtens

Lithographic Prints 2007 – 2017 and Newer Paintings. Exhibition at Edsvik Konsthall, Sollentuna, Sweden, June 2017

Karl Mårtens paints birds in watercolour and for lithographic prints, although never the same image. His prints are originals made in editions, he says. For his watercolours he uses large papers, Chinese and Japanese brushes and lots of water. This gives the work a life of its own with surprising effects and “mistakes”. He paints large and quickly, beginning with sweeping moves and concluding with the fine detail around the face of the bird. He says, the bird tells him when it’s finished.

Intuition and an “empty state of mind” are central to his working process which includes zen meditation prior to painting. Being separated from the intellect, and thus from doubt, fear or expectations, brings him in contact with intuition, he explains. There is always the element of chance and the need to incorporate mistakes, adapting the image as it was imagined to how it turns out. Life long experience from drawing and painting birds and mastery of his medium makes this possible, I imagine. A short documentary about Karl Mårtens and his way of painting can be found here.

I am impressed by the movement in his paintings and his unerring sense for balance – in the shape of the bird, the composition as a whole and in the use of colour. Placing a bird on the paper he turns its shape into a work of art. Colour, texture and empty space are working together to form a whole.

This magpie – reduced to black and white in order to make the lithographic plate – shows how much of the images expression lies in the composition:

Karl Mårtens, lithographic film

He uses different levels of detail in his paintings. This gives them an overall looseness and freedom while still giving the impression of minute detail. It also enhances the tension and interest in the pictures.

The birds’ faces are always very detailed while the brushstrokes in the body, wings and tails are loser. The roughness of the paper, interactions between colours and additions of salt give interesting textures and effects that cannot be wholly controlled.

eagle hela
Karl Mårtens, Eagle. Watercolour

In the following painting he uses a bright orange in one of the wings. The same colour occurs in the bird’s eyes and in a very faint tone also in the lower wing. This very beautifully reflects the overall composition and balance.

Karl Mårtens, lithographic print

My favorite in the exhibition was a gull. Among all these fantastic birds this one got under my skin more than the others. It was as if I felt the wind under my wings which I don’t have, I almost felt what it means to fly. She is the queen of the storm.

Karl Mårtens, watercolour

I suspect it is the size of the painting, approx. A 1, and the volume in the bird’s left wing that initiated these feelings. There also is the detail of a few drops of paint behind the bird. To me they convey the speed with which the bird is sailing on the wind. A fantastic painting!


Without aspiring to paint like this there are a few things I would like to take with me into my own work:

  • Emptiness – I do not meditate to empty my mind but I know that when I reach a state of immersed concentration when drawing/painting the images become much better. My thinking often gets in the way, wanting to control too much, not daring to rely on my creativity, expecting too defined an outcome. Maybe I should learn to meditate.
  • Balance – The composition of an image plays a huge role in its expression and interest. Pay more attention to this and try out different ones before committing. Unusual angles or distributions can underline aspects of the subject.
  • Detail – Work out a focal point in detail but keep areas of looseness and empty space. This gives the image freedom and space to breath.
  • Size – Dare to paint large! I know it feels wonderful.



Mårtens, Karl: Letting Intuition Rule – Lithographic Prints 2007-2017, Edition Vulfovitch, Stockholms Lito Grafiska AB, Stockholm 2017


5.1. Balance

  • Make an abstract print on the theme of balance
  • Use found objects to mask parts of the printing plate to make marks
  • Use what you have learned so far in the course


I began this exercise by testing different objects as masks:

  • sewing thread
  • torn sack cloth
  • a piece of tatted lace
  • torn rice paper
  • thin metal rings for tying flowers
  • pencil shavings (wooden part)
  • a copper stencil from the sewing kit of my great-grand-mother

All of these, apart from the stencil and the rice paper, turned out to be too thick and turned into blobs.

The right hand picture contains the actual print on its left side, its ghost (after removal of the objects) to the right of it and marks I stamped with the inked side of the sackcloth in that. In combination they became quite interesting, it looks a bit like some kind of steam punk face with goggles.

I tried to go thinner with my objects:

  • dog hair
  • flour
  • pencil shavings (graphite part)
  • plant parts

The leaves and petals worked best, but are not very original. They felt very school project. The other ones were more promising.

The dog hairs turned out to be the thinnest lines so far and the pencil shavings marked the paper a bit which I found interesting. The flour made a nice cloudy pattern. The third picture shows the actual print and its ghost after removal of the thread (not the flour for obvious reasons). With this picture I had begun to think about balance and what I wanted to do with that.


I was thinking of the golden ratio, or more precisely the golden spiral I had come across in my assignment for the Introduction to HE (hence the spiral above). Into this came the idea of scales and a “riddle” we used to ask each other as children: “What is heavier, one kilo of iron or one kilo of feathers?” How to turn this into something visual? This is the page from my sketchbook:

Balance thumbnails

I wanted part of the spiral to be the scales weighing up something simple and “heavy”, a white block, against something diffuse and “light”. I also wanted the dark area to be more complex with accidental edges, maybe reflecting the two sides of the scale. The first couple of prints turned out quite simple and a bit boring.

In the first I like the circular shape of the cloud and and the edges of the ink. The second discouraged me from the idea of different hights in the background according to heaviness. Almost from the start I put some cloudy elements in the lower right corner – for compositional balance.

I had used shavings from watercolour pencils and hoped they would colour the cloud, as had the graphite. They didn’t, or only very very weakly. Further testing and thinking solved the problem and resulted in two prints I like. During the testing I also noticed that I moved away from the spiral more and more, interpreting it more freely. A good thing I think.

Balance 3

The colours turned out clear and strong here, but there is no cloud instead. And I was not satisfied with the composition yet.

Balance 4

Here the cloud turned out very nice, but the coloured bits became blackened. Why? Maybe due to the blotting of the paper with a wet cloth?

Note added later: What happened was that the shavings are on top of the plate with ink beneath them. As everything is reversed when printed the end up at the bottom with ink on top of them. For them to remain clear they must adhere to the plate and only mark the paper. Less pressure and a wetted paper might work?

I like the scales (the sewing thread mark) being out of equilibrium, but still in balance. I also made the square larger.

The last print on this theme I like best:

Balance 5

I exaggerated the disequilibrium and with that left the idea of the golden spiral. It felt right. I like very much that I let the coloured bits go off the inked background. The roller marks turning into dots at the top left go very well with this I think. The image is dissolving. The cloud turned out the way I wanted it, it looks a bit like fireflies. What I am not really satisfied with is how the black turned out. It has horizontal marks the one before did not have and I rolled a bit obliquely.


Questions asked by the brief

The brief asks if the Prunella Clough image in the course material jogs ideas with me. It did not especially. It makes me think of horizon lines or city skylines one behind the other. For the balance theme I did not really get any help from it.

I think the lower part of her image could be made by the technique in this exercise. The object(s) would have to be something very thin that allows some ink through (like my ricepaper did) but that also blocks the ink out completely in lines. Maybe silk pieces cut up and sown into with a very fine thread? The white bits at the top I think are done by collage.

My working process

I had difficulties with this exercise in the beginning. I was not really pleased with my marks from the testing and I always feel a bit self-conscious when I try to express something explicitly, as “Balance” in this case. I don’t want to be too obvious. From this starting point I am really pleased about the outcome. I sat down and thought about the task, about what I had by way of materials and what I wanted my picture to show. The initial thumbnails were helpful to order my thoughts. But I did not come very far. The actual printing and analysing of the outcomes took me further and I think the prints show a progression, in the composition as well as in my handling of the materials. I very much enjoyed working with my ideas once I had found my stride. I think with this I have used something I learned on this course: to keep working, try out ideas, do things several times. Often the exercises I found demanding at first were the ones that let me push my boundaries. I am not really sure if my final print is any good as a print. But the process that got me there was a good and instructive one.

5.0 Monotype: Getting to Know my Materials


Before my printing inks arrived I had tried to use acrylics. It is possible to pull prints from them but they make strong patterns instead of evenly coloured areas. These can be fun of course, but not what I am after. One turned out interesting though:

Acrylic print pulled from a dirty plate

I have no idea how I achieved the stripes, it only happened once. It looks like tree trunks in a forest, leaving it to the viewer to decide which are the trees. I also like the residue from earlier prints, yellow and red. Acrylics seem to stay layered when rolled so that colours applied first turn up on top mottling the main colour. Oil based printing inks do not do this.

Oil based printing inks (Etching and Relief ink)

To begin with I used different tools to see what marks I could make in an inked plate, printed on newspaper paper. The marks looked fine on the plate but did not print very well – not enough paint. The paint was much thicker than I had expected.

Marks 1
Marks in etching ink

Mark making at random is not so easy, I wanted a subject to work on. Second print with more paint and a picture using marks from above:

Marks 2

For my third print I tried a landscape with mountains and used damp paper. I had learned that this enhances the transfer of ink onto the paper. I probably made it too damp as the print became very soft and details as well as nuances in tone disappeared.

Berg 1
Etching ink on damp newsprint

At this point the “Mono” in monotype sank in: there is no using that picture again. A new print wants a new plate. I was not really pleased with the etching ink (although it was said that it lends itself well to reductive monotyping techniques). So I changed to relief ink which is a bit softer. I soon found out that it is harder to remove, it smudges more easily than the etching ink (not wanting to come off), but the prints become more saturated:

Berg 2
“Night fall in the mountains”, raw umbra relief ink on drawing paper

I like this one very much. The mountains look very mountainy and the inked areas have the beautiful texture I connect with prints. I like that some of the roller marks show at the edges.

When drawing this I found out a lot of things about the mark making, what tools work for what effect, what not to do and what to do. I decided to try and turn one of my earlier drawings into a print. All my favorite sketchbooks are with my tutor at the moment so I chose the mortar and pestle from the part about tone. I know this subject well and could concentrate on achieving the marks I wanted.

Mörser monotype
Relief ink on drawing paper, reductive monotype

I am pleased with this, too, although the shading is not quite right. It felt a bit wasteful removing all that ink in the background and half way through I regretted it. The picture would have been more dramatic in a dark setting with strong highlights. Too late. But I have a photo of the printing plate (a mirror) earlier in the process:

inking plate

In order to quickly draw the shape of the mortar on the plate I made a traced print first as this leaves a faint mark on the plate. That print is quite nice, too. I was careful not to touch the paper with my hand as I wanted to keep as much ink on the plate as possible. Still the paper picked up quite a lot from just lying there.

Mörser traced monotype
Traced monotype, relief ink over an acrylic print, drawing paper

I like the halo effect around the lines, it is all dotty.

The second time I tried this the transfer was much stronger and blotchier. Maybe I had used more ink? Or the yellow ink is softer? Also the traced lines are the colour of the paper rather than printed. Strange.

Hand traced monotype
Yello relief ink on black paper, traced monotype

From this plate I made a reductive monoprint where my marks make darks, not lights, as the ink is a lighter colour than the paper.

Hand monotype
Reductive monoprint, relief ink

Not a very good drawing but the printing part of it is nice. However, the black paper makes the yellow greenish and reduces its brightness. I think it would be better to use the yellow on white paper in combination with black or umbra.

From this I pulled a ghost, after re-inking the plate. I had noticed in an earlier experiment that did not lead to anything, that the difference in hight between single and dubbely inked parts of the plate can show on the print. Worth a try. It produced a very faint image of the hand. It could be used as background to a drawing or for an other print on top of it. Testing it on my son it became clear that the hand is not recognisable without having seen the other print first, though. So to use this technique the shape has to be simple or abstract.

Hand reinked ghost
Ghost from the re-inked plate after the print above

With the rest of what I had on the roller plate I inked a last plate with a hasty drawing. The ink was not enough so the print is pale and there were bits of dust or similar somewhere that made white blotches. But I like the combination of two different colours for the same print.

Rosebush. Relief ink on drawing paper


I had a really good time playing around with this. I learned a lot of things and have started to see what techniques can be used to achieve certain effects. I have also learned that monotype is more difficult than it first looks. But I think, from my research and my own experience from today, that it is a wonderful way of drawing with endless possibilities. I have only scratched at the surface.

Research into Monotype

For monotype printing the design is made with  ink on the printing plate leaving the printing plate unmarked. This can be achieved by inking a plate and making marks by removing paint to achieve lights (unless when printing with a light colour on dark paper of course). Depending on tool and pressure variations the marks become more or less light and more or less sharp (subtractive or “dark field” process). The opposite of this is the “light field” process where ink is added to a clean plate with a brush, cloth etc. Other techniques involve drawing on the back of a paper (verso) lying on an inked plate, where the pressure produces marks on the front (recto) side of the paper as the print (traced monotype), or by blocking out parts of the inked plate with objects or stencils. These techniques can of course be combined with each other or with other drawing techniques, either prior to or after printing. Common to all is the fact that there are no permanent marks on the plate and each print therefore is unique. Ghosts can be drawn – second or even third prints from the same plate – but they tend to have a very different character compared to the first draw. Hence the mono in the name.

This kind of print making can seem like an unnecessary detour. Why not make a drawing if there only will be one print anyway? Sherry Camhy from Drawing puts it like this:

Because prints have an aesthetic quality all their own and because there is something quite special that results from the process of printmaking itself. There is a balance between control and accident that inspires new techniques, new visual ideas and the courage to pursue them. Printmaking is freeing. (Camhy, S. 2017)

Monoprint, sometimes used for monotype, refers to a print making technique where parts of the design are permanent marks in the printing plate. The design is then varied by also marking the ink on the plate. This results in a series of related but distinct works. Rembrandt (1606-1669) for instance has used this to add areas of tone to his etchings.

I suspect monotyping to be deceptively simple, one of those techniques that only become more and more intricate the closer one studies them. Image googling produced a wide range of printing styles from coarse, expressive pictures with a sombre quality to finely detailed, drawing like prints with playing light, some monochrome, some multicoloured.




Giovanni Benedetto Castilglione (1609-1664) was the first to use monotype. He invented the dark field process where he inked a copper plate in a dark tone and then removed paint to achieve lights.

Compared to his etchings, the monoprints have a softer quality, they seem like paintings. David with the Head of Goliath (ca. 1655, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) is very detailed with a wide range of tones. The darkest darks in Goliath’s head seem to be painted with a brush. I wonder if he did this onto the printing plate or afterwards onto the the print.

Noah’s animals has a more expressive quality with only a few tones that make the lights more marked.  The hard contrast between the sharp lights and the soft shadows very much stresses the thunderstorm in this scene. I like this very much! Castiglione has captured the animals with only a few lines. I especially like the horse shaking his head in the rain.

Noah and the Animals Entering the Ark, 1650-55. The Met, public domain


Paul Gaugin (1848-1903)  made traced monotypes which he referred to as “printed drawings”, producing a drawing on the verso and a print on the recto side of the paper. The lines of the print seem to be quite uniform showing only little variation in thickness and tone. On the other hand the paper touching the printing plate picks up pigment in unexpected places, more where the drawing hand has touched the paper, less where only the weight of the paper transferred the ink. This gives these prints an accidental quality the drawing is lacking.

Gaugin - Causeries
Causeries sans paroles, 1903, Europeana, public domain


Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was introduced to monotype in the 1870ies and was captivated by its possibilities. It was a new medium/technique very well suited to expressing a new time. Degas could develop a much more gestural and experimental style to render movement (landscapes seen from a train, faces passing in the street) and new phenomenons like factory smoke or electrical light. He worked in dark field, light field and a combination of the two, often drawing ghosts and enhancing them with pastel. In his later prints he used oil paint rather than printing ink which allowed for colour. These works, especially the landscapes are very experimental, abstract and radical for his time. The freedom of monotyping had a strong influence on his other works, especially concerning the mark making.

Factory Smoke, 1877-79, the Met, public domain
Landscape, 1892, the Met, public domain



For a selection of contemporary artists I used the not very scientific method of image googling and picking works that struck a chord. So this selection is neither representative nor exhaustive. Rather it tries to narrow down an open field of possibilities to what I like and to give an idea about where I would like to go with my own work.

Janet Mary Robinson is a British artist and natural history illustrator. Although I am especially taken by her mixed media pieces and watercolour landscapes I also like this carp.

It is a simple monotype but shows a range of different marks, crisp ones and soft ones, that give volume and interest to the fish. Also it shows clearly that this technique is sensitive to precedence of line. I think the artist used this to great effect. I also like the velvety quality of the background.

Kathrine Hagstrum is an American artist specialising in monotype. She makes coloured prints in atmospheric tones by using inks of different viscosity. Runnier ones will stick to dryer ones, she says. I would like to learn more about this technique. Does it involve several printings on top of each other or are the pictures achieved by one pull, like from a “Gelli-Plate”?

David Maddrell, a British artist, makes fantastic prints of forests and water with intricate detail in black and white. Although many of his prints contain a lot of black, it is the bright light that catches my eye. They make me think of cool shadow on a hot summer’s day rather than sombre darkness like in many of the other prints I saw on google. In some of the prints he made splashes of some sort. It looks as if he splashed on something that repels the ink on the plate. I would like to know how this is done!

In P.C. Lawson‘s prints I like the way she uses colour in the background, both the colour as such and as an abstract contrast to the more realistic depiction of the animals. It mimics the colour of the surroundings, but is in itself not representative. I can also relate to what she says about monotyping – it sounds exciting!

I use this printmaking technique because everything about it is dynamic and breathes life into an image. The painting tools are unlimited: rollers, fingers, rags, brushes, Q-tips etc., each with a unique gestural quality. They can add paint, or lift it, create subtle light or brilliant whites. The process is fluid, moving back and forth between application and removal of color, adding to the liveliness of the image. (P.C Lawson)



(where not linked to in the text)


  1. Camhy, S. (2017, Winter) Painterly Prints: Monotype and Monoprint. Drawing 14(52), 20-25
  2. https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1613


  1. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!?offset=0&perPage=20&sortBy=Relevance&sortOrder=asc&pageSize=0
  2. http://www.europeana.eu/portal/sv/collections/art?f%5BREUSABILITY%5D%5B%5D=open&q=&view=grid