My Monoprinting Techniques

Monoprinting is a form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where there are multiple originals and it is often talked of as the most ‘painterly’ of prints.  There are a myriad ways of making a monoprint from handprints made by children (bearing in mind, you can repeat them but you will never get exactly the same set of marks) to much more sophisticated methods.  To my mind, one of the best things about monoprinting is that you do not necessarily require a press.

The method I most often use to work is a little unorthodox as I was making it up as I went along…

I work on sheets of transparent acetate – which makes registering the layers of colour really straightforward.

(When I was at college I used to draw on True Grain film which you can buy from Lawrence Art Materials, which is an amazing material but prohibitively expensive [Truegrain Film – 150 microns – 61x 80cm £13.30]. )

I draw an outline on the acetate with a felt tip, then, working from light to dark, I will paint a colour on, turn it over and press it down onto my paper. Clean off the acetate roughly with a piece of kitchen roll between applications. I use waterbased glass paints because they adhere better to the acetate, and retain some of the brush marks. Depending on how wet you make the paint, you can achieve some really interesting textures.  Let it dry a little, before you apply the next shade and build up your picture in layers. I generally use Fabriano artistico paper – it absorbs the paint well and doesn’t cockle too much. However i have also worked on watercolour papers which give a different effect as the inks sit on the surface instead of being absorbed. 

If you try this method out, be prepared for quite a few failures, but don’t ever throw anything away immediately; sometimes you come back to it the following day and with a fresh eye you can make something of it. One of the great pleasures of working in this way are the unexpected accidental marks which you must adapt to and build into your image, which I find keeps it fresh and spontaneous.

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