An Introduction to Monotypes

For this exercise I could choose to either work with an ink portrait I painted in the previous exercise A Series of Quick Self Portraits or a photograph or image from a magazine. As I had previously worked with a photograph found online in my response to the works of Geraldine Swayne I decided to experiment further with the ink portraits. The exercise requires the use of one image but I missed this part of the instruction! I had intended to use a complete ’round’ however sadly I miscalculated and used one from the first round and four from the next, never mind! For this exercise I selected ink portrait numbers 10,11,12,13 and 14.

In order to create the monotype I placed acetate over the ink image and then painted on top using oil paint and turpentine as a thinner. I found this exercise very challenging, although I’m sure this is to be expected when learning a new technique. As I would be working with oils I had purchased some oil board to use for this exercise however I realised that actually monotypes really require paper to be printed upon. Nonetheless I thought it might be fun to experiment using the oil board and wanted to see how it turned out. The board has quite a rough texture which I think is highlighted in the mono types.

I intentionally chose a bright colour to use in creating these monotypes, taking inspiration from artists Yuko Nasu and Eleanor Moreton. I also decided to paint on imagined hair to the portraits, although I think perhaps I should have kept the portraits as face only in the ink studies, nevertheless it was good to experiment. Much like the time constraint I experienced in A Series of Quick Self Portraits I feel like working with monotypes still continues with this theme. In my haste to avoid the paint drying and not printing, my painting onto the acetate wasn’t very considered and I felt like I was still working quite quickly, which I don’t particularly enjoy, as I feel rushed. However working back over the print reassures me and I do enjoy the stages and layers to this process.

Above are the first monotype prints. They do resemble the ink studies although I think they look very messy and unfinished. There are blobs of paint which have formed where I haven’t worked the paint in to a smooth surface before pressing. I quite like this accidental addition though it reminds me of old film or photographs and the small imperfections that can be found there. I’m not sure whether to keep these in the painting and accentuate the hap hazard nature of them, or to try and work back over them to recreate a more coherent image. Out of the selection my favourite is the middle image, the eyes are quite striking, and I like how the oil and turpentine solution has mixed at the neck line and top of the head, the added turpentine has helped here so I will remember to be generous with this when I attempt subsequent monotypes. Following the initial prints I reworked the paintings in different ways.

In this first painting I used a selection of paints, the original deep red and blue, as well as white and black to add in light and shadow, and turpentine to help with the fluidity of the paint. The resulting image feels quite ghostly to me.

For this painting I decided not to add any more material, paint or turpentine and instead used a cotton bud to push the paint across the page, attempting to accentuate the features, the resulting image feels quite stark and gritty, a little bit like my response to Geraldine Swayne.

I decided to use only turpentine and a paint brush to join and smooth the collection and pools of paint on the page, trying to be quite restrictive, and I only worked on this for a couple of minutes or so.

I decided to leave my favourite print as it is, so this is the final image I reworked, I decided to introduce another colour to the palette, this contrasting burnt orange against the electric blue I think works quite well.

Ultimately, sadly I don’t really like any of these images, and this whole exercise is peppered with mistakes, but good learning points too! I’ve struggled to work with this new material of oil and turpentine, I would much prefer to be working with acrylic and water at this point, however it is good to experiment with different materials, and if anything solidifies my admiration for acrylic as a painting material. I think using the ink studies as a jumping off point has also frustrated me as I wasn’t really happy with any of the ink studies as they were created so quickly. I also think I was a little heavy handed in my use of oil paint and actually the strength in the monotype is less is more. For the next exercise I have decided to use a photograph of myself and to use this same image for each painting which I hope I will find more enjoyable and easier to work with.

2 thoughts on “An Introduction to Monotypes

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