Friday, April 30, 2010
Monoprint: 'Sea Captain' carved wooden figure
Having a handy printmaking roller and inks around my studio, I thought I'd try a monoprint or two. I am a big fan of what they call 'flat plane'-cut woodcarvings, which are, for want of a better expression, 'crude' carvings. They are full of character and have the carver's equivalent of broad brushstrokes in that they are left with their cut marks visible, (in flat planes). This small carving sitting on my studio shelf made a good drawing subject. To briefly explain a monoprint, a thin smooth surface is rolled in ink (my printmaking glass was used, but usually a more portable/lightweight surface such as a sheet of platemaker's aluminium or suchlike is used). A sheet of (preferably smooth, not-too-thick or not-too-textured) cartridge is laid directly on the ink, without pressing on the paper, as this will cause the ink to be transferred. The pressure of any object on the top (visible) side of the paper causes the ink to be transferred onto the other, face-down side of the paper. I rest my hand on a mahl stick as I would normally rest it on the paper while drawing, otherwise a more vertical approach to holding your drawing implement is needed. This also imparts a looseness of style, which has its own charm too.
You can use anything with pressure to make a mark, not necessarily a traditional one, such as a spoon or a stick. When starting however, it's good to see the mark you're making on the 'soon-to-be' reverse of the paper, i.e top side. A very fine line can be made by a Biro (working or not), whereas a soft pencil will give you a gorgeous, fluffy line. A credit card edge will, like a piece of charcoal held on its side, impart a very broad, flat stroke. Combine various implements for some fantastic effects. The end result definitely has that special 'print' feel about it, resembling an etching or drypoint. If you're careful, the print can be lifted and checked as you progress, before finally peeling off. Other colours can be added in the same way, as long as you register the paper well. Try at least a single colour one and you'll be rueing the fact that it's called a 'monoprint' for a reason and feel it's a shame you can't get more than one print done at a time!