Tag Archives: monotypes

One From The Archives :4 The Name Game

11 Sep

The Towel

Drawing is the basis of everything I do. Sometimes it can be the finished product itself but more often it is the starting point for work in many different media.

towel small

Once I decide that a rough sketch is worth developing, I like to see how many different ways I can expand the idea.

This is a very small scribble I made in a life drawing session a couple of years ago in a sketchbook size A5. I drew the reflection of the model in a mirror.

yellow towel small


I developed this into a painting (size A3). I don’t often paint but I wanted to do some technical exercises with oils. This allowed me to play with colour and pattern to create a mood around the form, which led to the title, Curlicue. Finding names for pieces is always hard, in my experience.

yellow towel final small

Yellow Towel

I then scaled up the drawing and used it as the basis for a full colour monotype, along with it’s ‘ghost’ below. I concentrated on developing a denser background and the complexities of skin tones.

yellow towel ghost small

The Pale Yellow Towel

The richness and subtlety of the colours in this technique give a very detailed surface that is endlessly fascinating. These two, Yellow Towel and The Pale Yellow Towel are larger again, A2 size. See the problems I have with naming?

When you have the basic drawing, you can also change things around and have some fun; make it darker and more brooding by using a wider variety of drawing materials or even viewpoints.  You can let your imagination and the lines run riot, like this one I’ve called Black And Yellow. I wonder if there’s a ‘Naming Art Tutorial’ somewhere on the Internet?

Black and Yellow

Black And Yellow

And finally, back to A5 and a photopolymer plate etching (below). Here I can go back to basics with the human form but transform the background into a luxurious tapestry. I called this The Towel. I know. I know.

24 towel

The Towel

I wonder where I’ll go next with it? The possibilities are as endless as the techniques available.

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One From The Archives :2

9 Sep

The Carpet

The inspiration for a piece of work can often be the slightest of things. Drawing is all about looking and the closer you look, the more you see. At first glance you see a solid figure. Look again and the texture and pattern of the background can draw you in.



The Carpet

That’s certainly what happened with this print. The technique is known as direct line monotype, it produces a unique artwork in the style of a line drawing. Here I have used archival-quality oil-based litho ink onto Zerkall paper.

The technique is similar to using a piece of old fashioned carbon paper but with much better ink and paper.

It allows me to be very free with my pencil, to follow the patterns and shapes in front of me with a spontaneity that more technology dependent printmaking methods might stifle.  I like to roam with my pencil so the fantastic, almost fractal markings on the carpet let me explore to my heart’s content.

You can see more about the techniques in an earlier blog here.

If you would like to own this drawing is it available from Artfinder.

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To see more work on Artfinder please follow the link below.


Ghost. Cake.

29 Oct

blue ghost

Yesterday I posted about the new monotype I made, based on a drawing from my travel sketchbook. The monotype process produces an unique piece in full colour, but it’s possible to put a second piece of paper (BFK Rives 250 gsm) through the press and take a secondary ‘ghost’ print which is much paler and more ethereal. The prints are taken in sequence, first the Process Yellow, then the Process Magenta and finally the Process Cyan. Some of the Impressionists, notably Degas and Monet, used to use ghost monotypes as the basis for some of their pastel drawings.

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I had visitors this afternoon. So I made cake. A classic Victoria Sandwich with my homemade loganberry jam. I grow the loganberries in my garden and on our allotment, I’ve never seen them for sale. Husb is piling into what’s left. He takes no prisoners!

Victoria Sandwich



Ethereal Ghosts

21 Oct

DSC08042 small

This is the last of the four monotypes I made on one day last week. The effort nearly killed me! I’m not young anymore. Anyway, this is the one I’m least happy with. I think it’s because I thought too much about it and tried to do too much detail. I was much freer with the other 3 monotypes and I think they worked better. It’s useful to know.

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The process starts with printing the yellow plate, then overprinting that with the magenta, then finally the cyan, which gives a full colour range because the inks are translucent. The plate and paper are put through the press a second time at each stage to give a second, ‘ghost’, monotype. Some of the Impressionists used to work over their ghost monotypes with oil pastels, notably Degas and Monet, although I generally leave them, I like their ethereal quality.

More Of The Same

17 Oct

DSC08048 small

I had a marathon monotype session at Swansea Print Workshop yesterday and produced 4 full colour monotypes and 4 ‘ghost’ monotypes which is a record for me. I was corpsed at the end of it though. I drew the yellow and red plates in broad strokes with cotton rags and scrim (tarlatan). On the final, blue, plate I worked with tiny strokes and stabs with the scrim, covering the surface of the ink with tiny, tiny marks. When this was printed over the other two colours, it gave a soft twilight effect.


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The slides show the prints taken from, firstly, the yellow plate, then the red overprinted onto the yellow, then the blue printed over the yellow/red. Finally, the ghost is produced by putting the plate through the press a second time to pick up the faint remaining ink, resulting in a ghostly image. I used Caligo ‘Safewash’ oil-based litho/relief inks, which give lovely intense colours with the added advantage of being easily cleaned in warm soapy water. Takes ages off the cleaning process. You can read more about the process here.

Quality Counts

15 Oct

pink mountain

I spent a couple of hours at Swansea Print Workshop yesterday and carried on with the series of small monotypes based on impressionistic drawings of the Punjabi landscape I travelled through earlier this year. The originals were drawn with Daler Rowney artist quality soft oil pastels into a Khadi handmade paper sketchbook. It’s important to use the best quality materials otherwise the artwork won’t last.

Someone asked me for advice a while ago; she’d bought a large pastel drawing and had it framed with archival quality materials. It was hung on a dry interior wall out of direct light and nowhere near a radiator but it had faded almost to nothing over the five years she’d had it. It was obvious that the artist had used inferior, probably student quality, pastels and hadn’t used top quality, acid-free paper.

In the interim, the artist had died so there was nothing she could do about it. This monotype is printed onto BFK Rives handmade paper, 250gsm with Caligo litho/relief oil-based inks. It should last a few centuries.

Deckle Edge Ghost

2 Oct


Here’s the ‘ghost’ of the monotype I completed yesterday. It’s made by putting a second piece of paper on the plate and putting it through the press again to pick up what’s left of the ink. The ethereal image is very impressionistic, almost pointillist as the pigment fragments on the second pressing. I used Caligo oil based washable litho / relief inks in Process Yellow, Magenta and Cyan plus Extender onto BFK Rives 250gsm paper. It’s a gorgeous one with a deckle edge, very fine, smooth surface. It’s the best for this technique.

Thunder And Rodents

30 Sep


Just back from an evening Open Access session at Swansea Print Workshop where I did the third in a series of impressionistic monotype landscapes based on the residency I did in Pakistan earlier this year. This is one of a sequence I drew in a thunderstorm.

Had a tough day. Sparta Puss the evil-kitty-from-hell, terrorised me by bringing a live rodent into the house. It was a relief to get away to do some printmaking. And now I’m tired.


23 Sep

full colour

Spent a happy few hours at Swansea Print Workshop this evening, making another small monotype based on one of my pastel landscape drawings from the residency I did in Pakistan earlier this year. I did a series of 49 small drawings very quickly, so they are very impressionistic. This is based on one of the drawings done during a thunderstorm. This monotype technique is called stacking or reduction monotype and it produces a full-colour unique print. It’s where painting and printmaking cross over.

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Working from a black and white copy of the original drawing underneath a perspex plate, it’s first inked up in process yellow and drawn into with all sorts of equipment; cotton buds, scrim, cocktail sticks, kebab skewers, stiff paint brushes; then a print is taken. This is repeated with the plate inked up in process red and placed on top of the yellow print and put through the press. Finally, the same is done with the perspex inked up with process blue and the last print taken – the three are stacked on top of each other. You can read more about it in the technical section of my website here.

I’m moderately pleased with this one, but I need to practice my brush techniques because the colours are a bit too bright for my liking. I intend to carry on doing these for quite a while, so I’m hoping I’ll improve.

Atmospheric Monotypes

16 Sep


I spent the evening at Swansea Print Workshop, doing some monotypes. This technique stacks three coloured plates on top of each other – in yellow, red and blue. You can read more about it on my technical web page here. The technique gives one full-colour piece and one ‘ghost’ monotype, taken from a second pressing. Unlike most printmaking processes, you can’t make an edition of these. They are unique.


I developed the image from one of a series of drawings I did on my artist residency in Pakistan during April. We were travelling through the Punjab and I did almost 50 sequential pastel drawings, impressions of the landscape, atmosphere and weather surrounding us. I wasn’t sure how to develop these drawings. I edited them into a short film , ‘Drawn Punjab’ and now I’m going to make a series of monotypes.


I usually do monotypes of the human form, not landscapes or atmospherics, but I’m reasonably pleased with this first one. I can see what I want to modify so I might do it again and use stiff brushes to soften it and maybe use more blue. We’ll see.

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