Exercises 3.3 & 3.4 (combined)


Exercise 3.3
Make five more portrait monotype prints, this time
removing different areas of paint with cotton buds,
cotton wool, smooth rags, rough rags or tissue paper.
Exercise 3.4
Choose three of the prints you made in Exercises 3.2 and 3.3. Work into these prints with
extra paint to change the image. You could choose to pursue greater definition, a closer
likeness or a more dramatic contrast. Think about how you could apply the paint to achieve
these effects.
Make notes as you work through the exercises, noting down the different effects you’ve
been able to achieve by removing more/less paint, adding extra paint, etc.

I have done several tests using my gel plate, incorporating both reductive and additive techniques – often these overlapped whilst I was making the print.    I’ve used baby wipes, cotton buds, bubble wrap, kitchen towel, brushes and stencils to manipulate the surface of the plate, as well as isopropyl alcohol, which apparently helps stop ‘blooms’ or ‘blobs’ occurring on the resultant print – this is not an exact science and doesn’t always work.   I think I have quite fallen for monotype/monoprinting because of the spontaneous nature of the results and how nothing can be exactly duplicated, it’s this randomness in the creation of the art that I really enjoy. 

I learnt a technique where the gel plate is folded in half or wherever you want the horizon line to be (after you’ve applied paint to the surface) and the resultant print is quite exciting – the fold in the plate opens up and creates negative space.  The print is an abstract landscape and It can then be worked into with additional paint or stencils/pencils or whatever you want I suppose.  I have only tried this on a couple of prints, using soft pastel pencils and already I can see the creative potential.  I am trying not to get too hung up with monotypes / monoprinting but it’s hard, this is addictive (using the gel plate or any plate to create images). 


I have practised using various other images from glossy magazines (Vogue images were the most successful). I used various papers, the pre-wetted D-R heavyweight finegrain watercolour paper gave the most exciting results. I was able to drag the print slightly and create streams.  I also used cold wax painted onto the surface of the gel plate (with the image beneath the plate). When the paint was then applied to the plate it created interesting relief effects, although the printed version wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be.

Detail of study using cold wax and Golden Open acrylics on copy paper.

I decided to try pigment resin ink onto the gel plate (with the image placed beneath it), although I was nervous using the ink as I thought it may indelibly stamp onto the plate and I’d never get it off.  However, whilst it created a ghost image on one of the prints I did, I was able to get the ink off quite successfully.   Due to the fact that I work in front of a window, I had a lot of reflection on the plate and because the resin ink dries so quickly, I found it difficult to see where I had painted onto the plate, hence the ‘blob’ at the top of the head of the subject in this print (which I absolutely love by the way). 

Pigment resin ink on gel plate, pulled off onto D-R pre-wetted watercolour paper

This print reminds me of the work of Annie Kevans and also Patrick Procktor, I love how the brush strokes have come through, as well as the simply stated fluid line in the composition.  Working with the ink on the gel plate forces you to paint quickly, I used a very fine brush. I am going to practise this technique some more.  I haven’t seen this technique used by others but I’m sure it has been – anyway, for now I’m claiming it!

These are further studies done using my grand-daughter’s image as a model. In some cases I created a background design using stencils and Golden Open acrylics, then after wiping the plate clean, I painted on the image of my model using different resin pigment inks. The final prints were all made using pre-wetted Daler-Rowney Heavyweight finegrain watercolour paper. On some of them I worked into the final image with soft pastel pencils.

I did some more experiments using a pre-printed background (made with Golden Open acrylics and stencils) and a different source image – again my granddaughter.

I found the work of Mark Francis Williams really inspiring with regards monotype portraits, I love the ethereal, ghostly effect he creates in his work.

Mark Francis WIlliams (Title unknown at time of writing)

In keeping with the briefs for both exercises, I decided to do a series of prints using the same subject image. I used Golden Open Acrylics, painted onto the gel plate. 1st print has not been worked into. 2nd print, I painted over the ghost in sections and added hand cut stencils. 3rd print, I added more stencils – working the paint on top with a brush and kitchen towel, before pulling the print. 4th print, I painted over the image with a mixture of Golden Open red and yellow with the brayer, then I wiped off some of the paint with a cotton bud before pulling the print. 5th print I painted over the ghost image and left it to dry (takes a while, ‘cos of the nature of Golden Open paints), then I applied a ‘top’ coat of other acrylic paints I have on hand, rolled it all out so the top layer was very thin and then pulled the print, which removes all traces of the previous images.

For these exercises, we were supposed to do a total of 8 ‘manipulated’ monotypes, I have done a few more than that but these are the ones I will choose as best examples for purposes of the learning log notes.

I have decided to stop here, as I am really becoming obsessed with this process!


Mark Francis Williams – I could not find a working domain for this artist. The image I feature herein is from: http://www.bleaq.com/2013/mark-francis-williams

His work is also on Saatchi.com https://www.saatchiart.com/MarkFrancisWilliams

(Websites all accessed during last week of March and up until today’s date)

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