Friday, September 21, 2012

Monoprint process: monotype + etching

Fine-art printmaking is kind of a mysterious process; especially for people only familiar with paintings and mass-produced prints such as giclĂ©es.  So I'm in the process of creating some prints that show the separation of the process I'm using to better educate people.

First, I use the back of an old solarplate as a plate for my monoprint and paint on the Akua ink with brushes. I actually use a piece of plexiglass as a palette and lay out colors like an oil painter would, mixing as I go, adding transparent base and blending oil as I go to change the viscosity. It's a fast and spontaneous painting.
The painterly monotype plate, printed on Somerset paper.
Of course, before this is printed, everything is backwards! I look at the etched plate that will be printed on top of this one and roughly guess where I want blocks of color and detail, such as the big circular shape in the center or the triangular pyramid shape. Once this painterly image printed, it looks interesting but unfinished- like the print above.

Next, it's time for the etched plate that has the details of the image. I usually ink it in a dark color, often a modified black. It's printed directly over the previous painted image as soon as possible; while the paper is still damp.
Then I end up with something like this:
The second etched plate is printed over the previous image.
You can probably tell this image isn't exactly like the first painterly image- it's not. But the colors are the same and the overall feeling of the print is the same. In this way, I can use a similar color palette and create prints that are similar but not an edition.

This finished print is called Fig. 16, 13-Baktun Cycle, Blue-Grey Sky and was inked in a warm black and printed over a similar painterly print. It's considered a monoprint since it is one of a kind. The  image features the I Ching hexagram 2, referring to "the field" or "receptivity" or a modern interpretation is being open to possibilities and "going with the flow". The title refers directly to the long-count cycle calendar; currently we are in the 13th baktun. After the 13th baktun, the 14th baktun will start but some believe the 13th is the end of an age or signals some type of doomsday event that will wipe out most of life on earth! The "going with the flow" means knowing December 21, 2012, the end of the 13th baktun, is the beginning of a new cycle not the end of the world. The alternative is depressing if you believe that kind of thing.

Here are a couple of other prints I created last week; The Winged Twin was done in the same way as the first print: two inked plates and nothing else. However, The Dark Vortex is a hybrid print (Printmaking plus another art process added) with added oil pastels to enhance some of the shapes and has a layer of toned cyanotype as well.

Fig. 17, The Dark Twin, A Winged Twin

Fig. 13, The 13th Sign, The Dark Vortex
Enjoy your weekend!

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