The Mystery of Monotype
Many, many people have been asking "What is a monotype?" and "How do you do it?"
Known as the most painterly method among the printmaking techniques, a monotype is essentially a hand-printed painting. The appeal of the monotype lies in its unique translucency that creates a quality of light very different from a painting. The spontaneity of mark-making and layering of printing inks creates a surface that is unlike any other art.
I roll or dab oil-based inks onto a smooth plastic surface (perspex or plexiglas) with no permanent marks or indentations. The inks stay wet for a long time and can be manipulated in many different ways. I use cloths, cotton buds, sticks and pieces of card to lift ink away.
The ink is transferred onto damp cotton rag paper through an etching press. Some artists produce their monotypes all in one go but mine are built up in several layers working from light to dark. I create patterned areas by cutting and tearing textured papers and fabrics, applying ink and printing them. The large trees are created using a series of paper masks and stencils. The small trees are made by pressing with a hard pencil on the back of the paper with the print face down on an inky surface.
Since the colours are applied in layers there are powerful interactions between colours especially in the foreground where the colour and mark-making is at its most intense. Sometimes the colours seem to vibrate with intensity as they play off against one another. The slide show below will give you an idea of the materials and working process I use. This is by no means typical of monotype but is unique to my artistic practice.
Monoprints and monotypes Although these two terms are used interchangeably, there is a big difference between them: A monotype is essentially ONE of a kind: mono is a Latin word which means one and type means kind. Therefore, a monotype is one printed image which does not have any form of matrix. On the other hand, a monoprint has some form of basic matrix such as an etching plate that is repeated in different variations. Each one is unique but there are some repeated elements.