Exercise 3.2 – 5 monotype portrait images

The brief:

Exercise 3.2 Choose an image to work from. This can be one of the ink studies you made in Exercise 3.1, a photograph, or a magazine image of a face. Try the monotype technique described above and see how it goes. It may take you a while to get it right so don’t panic if things don’t go well first time. Don’t throw anything away! While you are working think about the following. Do you need to mix the paint with more white spirit/turps? Or less? Where would you like to remove bits to create a highlight or definition? Which bits would you like to paint onto after you’ve created the print? Carry on until you’ve made five images you are happy with.

I have been writing notes as I’m going along through this section of the course, however my experiments have kinda run away from me and I haven’t managed to notate every technique and result. I produced a short video (below YouTube link) to show the work I’ve done in my sketchbook so far with regards gel plate techniques and acrylic paint.

I initially tried the methods shown in the course notes, using a glass plate and painting the image onto the plate, then pulling off a print. I used Georgian oils thinned with white spirits (yuch, the fumes!). I used Cezanne’s image to start with but was not happy with the result, it was quite distorted due to the uneven surface of the paint on the glass plate. I then used another picture of Cezanne, again painting onto the glass with Georgian oil thinned down with lacquer but it was quite a bitty print and again, I didn’t really like it. I then tried using a photocopy of one of my self-portrait ink studies from the previous exercise – again with varying results – I used watercolours and also liquid pencil and was quite surprised with the results of that print. I used copier paper for all my experiments on the glass plate.

I have done this type of printing several times in the past (off course) and whilst I enjoy it, I wanted to play about with a gel plate and acrylics.

I obtained a Gel Press plate, a tester set of Golden Open Acrylics, a laser printer and some other pieces of equipment last week and have been rather obsessed understanding how to make interesting prints, taking a printed image and then pulling off a print from the gel plate.

I have discovered:

  • the source image being printed with the laser printer should be high contrast black and white, too much grey in the image and it doesn’t transfer very well.
  • Heavy body acrylic paint works much better than the Open Acrylic – a very thin layer is needed.
  • Printing using a source image from a magazine is possible, providing the image is on glossy paper and some magazines’ photos don’t transfer at all – i.e. Cosmopolitan. Images from Vogue magazine transfer very well (I have some very old magazines that I was using for these experiments)
  • I am very interested in layering and using stencils. I made my own stencils and also used bubble wrap to provide texture. The Golden Open Acrylics work well for developing backgrounds but they are no good for image or text transfer.
  • Ghost prints from the experiemtns using Golden Open Acrylics (the birds with stencils) are very interesting and in some cases look better than the original print.
  • Using stencils creates dazzling colour, form and line effects.

With regards to portraiture and this brief – these are a few images (portrait) that I felt were successful:

I am continuing to try out various effects using the gel plate, sometimes I encroach into the techniques required for future exercises – they seem to overlap. I understand that Yupo can also be used, with images printed on an inkjet printer (who knew?!) I may try to do that at some point.

YouTube video of sketchbook work – experiments in monoprinting with gel plate

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