Lately I've been taking more time away from the keyboard and stylus, diving instead into some old-school art-making techniques. I'm in my second semester of monoprinting at San Francisco City College, taking a six-week screenprinting class at ARC Studios, and I just tacked on another round of painting lessons via Get Your Paint On. Maybe too many classes to really get the most out of any one of them, but I am loving having ink and paint under my fingernails and just swimming in the whole, glorious explosion of possibility.
fish school, monoprint (subtractive + stencil)
Monoprinting is a traditional print-making technique that, by default, results in unique prints rather than editions. The image is created by applying ink to a smooth plexiglass plate. The plate is then run through the press to transfer the image to paper. The image isn't part of the plate itself (via etching or some other means), so once the ink is transferred to the paper, you can't go back and print the exact same image again. There's a whole lot of chance involved... you can never be entirely sure what's going to come out on the other side of the roller and you can't simply adjust your inking or your pressure on the next round in order to get the image looking more like you want it to.
fish scales, monoprint (subtractive + transparent color + stencil)
After spending so much time creating images at the computer—where I can tweak and obsess and control to my heart's content—I find monoprinting both frustrating and liberating. It can take hours to build up an image on the plate... and a few seconds to run it through the press and find something completely unexpected on the other side. Sometimes the surprises are wonderful. Sometimes they're truly disappointing. But all in all, I'm loving the experience of getting lost in the creative moment... letting go of my expectations for how it's all "supposed to" turn out.
These images show a few of the different methods I've learned so far for creating monoprints. One of the most common techniques is "subtractive"—the plate is first entirely covered with ink, then the image is wiped away from that ink. The image can be refined with color and detail through subsequent plates and other techniques like stencils or chine-collé (where bits of colored paper or other elements are fused to the printing paper along with your ink).
fish puzzle, monoprint (subtractive + chine-collé)