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Painterly Printmaking with Monotype

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This is a post from Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.

Painterly printmaking with monotype is a very accessible art project. You don’t need a press, or sharp tools, as there is no carving involved. Monotypes are simply pigments on a smooth plate, manipulated with tools into an image that is transferred to paper while the ink is still wet. Pressing a sheet of printmaking paper to the plate where the ink is arranged can be done with a cereal spoon, a baren, a wooden drawer pull, or even a fat marble.

A monotype in process, on a sheet of plexiglass. The ink is rolled onto the plate with a brayer, leaving a light, even cover of pigment. The artist drags cotton swabs and toothpicks through the ink to create an image. The white, waffle-ish non-skid keeps the plate from wiggling around while working in the ink.

Painterly Printmaking Monotype Supplies

I’ve been making painterly monotypes of one sort or another for 15 years, and they are still full of surprises. The fact that you can pull out a plate, roll some ink on it, and start carving light into the image with a pencil eraser always delights me. Monotype printmaking is quick and satisfying. And Magic too.

It’s not a fussy form of printmaking. There aren’t any harsh chemicals or solvents. You don’t need fancy tools. Monotypes can be printed in one color, or twenty. You can use printmaking ink, open (slow drying) acrylics, watercolors or water-soluble crayons and graphite.

If you don’t have a sheet of plexiglass, you can use a sheet of drafting film, or a report cover, or the underside of a melamine tray. You can pull a dozen prints in a day. And if you can’t draw, roll your ink in a sheer layer on something see-through so you can trace a photo slid underneath the plate.

A sheet of printmaking paper is pressed against the plate to pick up the ink. Pulling the paper away from the plate reveals the monotype print.

Parts of the detail on this print were lost in the transfer process (common in monotypes), so colored pencil was added after the ink dried.

Thought Provoking Essays

  • Busy is the word we lean on a lot. When folks ask us how we’re doing, or what we’ve been up to, busy is grouted between the details. We use that word to explain why we can’t get to art-making. Being Busy is a foundational mindset, when we let it run the show. Read this article about the BS of Busy, and tell me what you think in the comments.
  • Many of us are wondering how this Sheltering-In will be viewed by analysts in years to come. When the world is healthy again, and we’re each re-assembling our post-COVID19 mobility, what will we change after this Pause to Reflect? Has the time at home gifted us a chance at new perspective on what we really need in order to flourish and feel satisfied? This article has been making the rounds on the subject, and some of the points are excellent fodder for dinner table discussion.
  • Time to #StayHome has also encouraged new routines. Lots of our friends are walking or doing yoga every day. Some are returning to art supplies after years of creative hiatus. This excellent essay by Crystal Moody tells the story of her commitment to make one little piece of art each day for a year, and how it grew into a four year practice that changed her life.

Evening time on the couch: colored pencil layers added to the monotype

What is Your New Normal?

After weeks of staying home, and an uncertain timeline for What Comes Next, many folks are pondering the new normal we’re marinating in. Aside from the uncertainty, this is also a time to reflect. What have we lived without that we don’t really miss? Who feels the most important to stay connected with? What new habits have we started?

There are people walking in my neighborhood that I’ve never seen before. When we walk each day, every person coming down the opposite side of the street – whether they are in cars, or on foot/bicycle – keeps the advised distance, smiles, waves and says hello! That’s a first.

We’re cooking, eating and drinking more. Experimental recipes with recommended beverages have satisfied creative urges in the kitchen, and made use of pantry goods we wanted to consume. They’ve also provided delicious meals.

I’ve heard about yeast and flour shortages, since everyone is baking bread. (Our stores have no flour or yeast.) Folks are sharing sourdough starter and bread-baking tips. We were gifted a fresh loaf that we consumed in a day. So, we may begin summer a little snug under the belt, but I bet we’ve all enjoyed some tasty, pleasant evenings around the dinner table, no?

Every Tuesday night, we have a happy hour chat on Zoom (a free video conferencing app) with our family. Despite time changes and wobbly schedules, we’ve enjoyed adult beverages among a grid of familiar faces on the computer monitor, catching up, and laughing together. Are you using video conferencing with your friends and family too?

If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and adore…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finished with colored pencil, and ready to scan and be added to my Etsy art inventory.

Evolution Towards Better

This situation reminds us of a very important truth: We are incredibly adaptable. Our skills at adjusting radiate in an increasing arc – as an individual, in a family, within a community, as part of a state, inside a nation, and beyond. We always find our way. (Remind yourself of that, over and over again.) The first week is hard, and the next is a little easier. We build up towards this new stride. (Read this article about our adaptability.)

I hope your hard days are bookended by homemade desserts. With time, I hope we all succeed in rearranging the blocks on our schedules to suit our most sought after endeavors.

Thanks for your visit, and I’ll see you in the next post!


The Price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

Henry David Thoreau

Chivas 5.75×5 monotype with colored pencil

Monotype Examples

Here are a few more examples (above) of monotypes with watercolor and/or colored pencil added. You can also see a list of supplies and more details on how to make a monotype below.

Art Quote

I love William Blake…. William Blake said, “If he who is organized by the divine for spiritual communion, refuse and bury his talent in the earth, even though he should want natural bread, shame and confusion of face will pursue him throughout life to eternity.” He’s telling you that you’ll be miserable if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.

Kris Kristofferson

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The post Painterly Printmaking with Monotype appeared first on Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.


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