What’s Left on the Plate

mono1

 

 

Monoprinting is offset printing. You apply paint to a substrate (in this case, a gel plate) then lay some paper on top of the substrate, apply a little pressure, and transfer the paint to the paper. Repeat this step many times and you have a layered, multi-colored original print.

Some residual paint is almost always left behind on the plate after printing a layer of color. And I like to use that residual paint to my advantage. What’s left on the plate becomes a guide for subsequent color layers. I’ve broken out some of the steps for this 3″ x 5″ print (above) to show you how I can start, with just one overall color and no plan for a final image, and allow some of the residual paint to guide my design.
stepA

 

The image above shows what’s left after I printed a layer of Quinacridone Magenta. By the way, I use Golden Open Acrylics, both for my monoprints and my acrylic paintings. The paints are slow drying – so they won’t dry on the surface while I’m slowly thinking of what the next step should be.  The paints also give me the freedom to mix colors directly on the plate (and often on the paper as well). I try to use lighter, brighter, transparent colors for the first layer.step1

 

The photo above shows the sky left on the plate after printing. I brush mixed a few colors to make the sky and those colors mixed with the magenta on the plate to create a violet cast to the sky.
step2

With a small, flat brush and some Transparent Red Oxide I created the mid ground – and this is what was left after printing.  With the remnants of the sky paint still on the plate, I could see where to place the Oxide to let some of the magenta show through at the top of the mid ground.

step3

 

With an old bristle brush and a little Sap Green, I added the foreground. The image above is what’s left after printing the first layer of the foreground. I used this color to register subsequent foreground color layers without having to guess about placement.

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Mixed Media and a Print

Mixed mono

When I create a monoprint on a Gelli Plate I mat the finished print leaving a 3/4 inch border around all four edges. However, with this print, I trimmed the paper right to the edge of the image and therefore couldn't mat the print without losing a good deal of the image area.

Instead, I chose to glue the print to a cradle board and build from there. I gessoed the cradle board (8" x 8"), then adhered the print using Golden's Soft Gel Gloss. I spread the gel thinly over the entire board, placed the image on top, then, wth a piece of waxed paper on top of the image to protect it, I worked a brayer back and forth gently to ensure good adhesion.

I then put low tack painters tape over the entire image to protect it and then smoothly applied Golden's Light Molding Paste to create a raised border. (Remove tape before paste dries.).

Once the paste dried I washed Golden's new QOR Watercolors over the border to tone the color. I used a couple of different yellows and a soft blue. The watercolor tended to soak into the paste. Next, I taped some vertical lines and used a sponge to dab on strips of blue acrylic in the upper right and green acrylic in the lower left of the border.

Finally, I used a 2B pencil to create a tree line and some shapes on the horizon. I dabbed some acrylic highlight colors into the tree foliage and the horizon shapes…and I considered it a day!

I haven't varnished this, but you could. Just carefully apply a thin layer of gel medium over the entire surface (working gently so you don't disturb the graphite), then, when the gel is dry, varnish.

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Layers and Layers

Hot Trees

I started by creating a monoprint using a 6″ x 6″ Gelli Plate and Golden Open Acrylics. You can see the print in the image. Search in the middle for the two rough vertical white lines and the horizontal white line. The sky is a combination of yellow, green, blue and white. The trees are red and orange and blue with some scratched trunks. The land was the same color as the sky…but clearly I changed it!

I then wanted to develop the idea a little further. I applied Golden Crackle Paste to a 10 x 10 cradle board. I use these wooden supports instead of strectched canvas when I want a firm support. And the crackle paste needs a firm support.

After drying the crackle paste overnight I washed it with a green acrylic mix, and, after the green dried, I sanded a little off the paste to create a smoother surface.

Then I brushed Golden Soft Gel gloss over the entire surface and laid a French script from The Graphics Fairy on top. I let this dry overnight then removed the paper by misting then rubbing with a nylon scrubby until all paper was removed and only the black type was left behind.

After tearing the edges of the monoprint to create a rough white outline, I applied soft gel gloss to the entire surface again then laid on the print. I place a piece of waxed paper over the entire surface and gently rolled with a brayer to make sure no air bubbles were left behind, and the print was nice and flat.

I let this dry overnight then I added some paint, extending the tree line and creating a new foreground color. Another coat of gel medium, this time regular gel gloss and, after the gel dried, a  topcoat of varnish and it’s done.

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I’m Ready

Winter

Finished prepping for my booth at the Warkworth Art in the Park next weekend. It's be a whole booth of 6" x 6" landscape monoprints along with a few 12" x 12" acrylic landscape paintings. It's my first time exhibiting at this show and, as long as the weather cooperates, it should be fun. There are 30 artists, admission is free and best of all, for me, it's close by so I can sleep in my own bed!

Drop by if you have a chance. Warkworth is located just east of Toronto.

Lots of prints
Warkworth poster

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Stepping Out the Process

Mono print process - finished

Another 6″ x 6″ monoprint and this time I have a few stepouts to hopefully help explain my process.

These are the colors I used for this monoprint.

Mono print process colours

I almost always start with large shapes and work down to the smallest shapes. So, to get started, I roll a thin layer of paint over the entire plate. I use a registration board to keep each printed layer in line so I cover the edges of the board with tape while I apply paint. That keeps paint off the registration board and, when I remove the tape prior to printing, no paint will transfer to the print paper.

This image shows a single, transparent, layer of Indian Yellow Hue applied to the plate prior to printing.

Mono print process 2

Next, I usually work on the sky adding layers of different colors until I get the soft random value changes that I like. I work back and forth between colors until I’m satisified. I have a dry, clean brush nearby so after I print, if there are too many harsh edges on the printed layer, I’ll gently sweep some of those hard edges to soften them. And if the print starts to get too gummy, I let it dry overnight.

Here are a couple of shots of the first sky layer of soft green followed by a blue layer (shown on the print).

Mono print process 3

Mono print process 4

At some point, I’ll add an overall color to the land then start building layers of color letting some of the original yellow show through.

Mono print process 5

With the larger shapes filled in, I then start adding smaller shapes using a smaller brush. The green in the image above was applied with a three inch bristle brush; the highlights in the final print were painted on the plate with a #4 flat.

I use a lot of brushes – one brush for every color, and I don’t rinse or wash the brushes until I’m finished with the print. The only other tools I use are shishkabob skewers to create caligraphic marks (and to scratch back into shape an over-sized blob of color), and old credit cards for fine lines.

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Blurred Lines

Valentines

I was so proud of myself. I took a photo of every step in creating this monoprint. Then I went to load them into my computer, pushed some random button, and now I can't find the photos anywhere. So we'll make do with just this one picture of the completed design.

This is "Blurred Lines" a 6" x 6" monoprint created using a Gelli plate and Golden Open Acrylics. This is my Valentines card to my wife. To me, the landscape is the perfect subject for a painting. Whether I envision that landscape large or micro, the subject always carries significant meaning to me. And I painted that meaning bolder this time by wrapping the landscape in a large heart.

Even though I don't have the stepped photos, here are the colors I used – Quinacridone Magenta; Cadmium Red Medium; Sap Green; Titanium White; Teal; Bronze Irridescent. 

And these are the applicators – a roller, a stiff-bristled brush, a small flat, a credit card and a bamboo stick. While most applicators are obvious, I used the edge of the credit card to create the smaller, horizontal shapes. The bamboo stick I used to create some vertical texture both by scraping off paint from the printed image and by adding paint either to the gel plate or the printed image. 

I started with red rolled over the entire plate then built values of red using additions of white and/or sap green. A little bit of pure white and pure teal finished the piece. I then rolled the gel plate with sap plus red; placed a heart cut from paper over the plate then pulled a last print.

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The Village: A Print

The Village“The Village” 6″ x 6″ monoprint on paper. Again I used Golden Open Acrylics. I like the slow drying time of the paint…it allows me to manipulate the color on the paper after printing…and I can work slowly on the plate before printing to develop my image. This image has about 10 layers of color. And except for the initial background layer of Indian Yellow, all the colors were added to the plate using a small, half-inch flat brush.

 

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