Multi-Layered Monoprint

Behind my studio there’s a forest. And I use that forest as inspiration for so many of my prints and paintings.

This five colour, multi-layer print started as a photograph I took one morning as the sun raked across the trees. I wanted to show the complexity of the vertical lines each tree created but I also wanted to add a path, inviting you to walk through the forest to experience nature at its calmest.

For this print, I used five colours from the DecoArt Americana Premium Acrylics line along with a 6×6” GelliArts® gel plate. I always start with the largest shapes and work towards the smallest. So, in this print, the sky was pulled first followed by increasingly smaller shapes until I was left with only graphite and a gel pen to complete the image.

Come follow along as I show you all the steps and techniques I used to create this image.

Here’s the final image. Now, lets go step by step.

This was my inspiration. It’s a photo from behind my studio taken in early spring. I wanted to create a design that had some visual warmth and one that invited the viewer to take a relaxing stroll in any season.

This is my homemade registration board and my 6×6” GelliArts® gel plate. The board keeps the gel plate in registration throughout the many layers of added colour. Here’s a link to my youtube video on how I made the board: 3

Cut your paper large enough to extend from the metal brackets on the left side of the registration board to a couple of inches beyond the gel plate on the right side. Do the same for the length of the paper.

Mix a light blue from Translucent White and Cobalt Teal Hue. Using a dry bristle brush, apply a thin layer of colour to the entire gel plate. The more “bristle-y” the brush is, the more texture you’ll get in your sky. Pull the print.

Use the same dirty brush and mix a little Dioxazine Purple with the Cobalt teal and randomly brush the colour across the gel plate.  Pull the print. Add a little more purple to the mix and brush the colour onto the bottom area of  the first purple/teal application. Pull the print. This picture shows both colour applications.

To help you with your paint positioning on the gel plate, there should be a subtle ghost image left behind on the plate after each print pull. Don’t clean the plate between colour applications.

Mix a little Primary Yellow with Translucent White to create a soft yellow. Apply this colour to the path and add a little in the sky. Pull the print.

Use straight Dioxazine Purple brushed onto the bottom of the blue land shapes to help define both the path and the land. Pull the print.

Brush a little of the sky colour onto the path. Pull the print.

Using the edge of a palette knife, pull the tree trunks. See the video for process.  Pull the print.

Repeat, adding trees to fill the landscape. Make sure your trees have a variation in thickness. Pull the print after every few trees.

After the print dries, use an HB graphite pencil to randomly fill the spaces between the trees with vertical and diagonal lines representing tiny trunks and branches.

Use a white ink gel pen to add squiggle white lines to the right edges of each of the trees. And you’re done!


Here’s what you need: DecoArt Americana Acrylics in Dioxazine Purple; Cobalt Teal Hue; Translucent White; Primary Yellow and Burnt Umber…you’ll also need a GelliArts® 6×6″ gel plate, a variety of bristle brushes, a palette knife, graphite pencil, white gel pen, painter’s tape, a registration system (see my video mentioned above) and printmaking paper – I use Stonehenge white paper for my prints or BFK Rives.

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What’s Left on the Plate




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.


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.

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.



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.Share this post:FacebooktwitterpinterestmailFacebooktwitterpinterestmail

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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