Monotype Portraits Continued…

Moving on from the previous exercise An Introduction to Monotypes this exercise called for five more monotypes. In order to experiment in other ways I chose one image to recreate 5 times (as previously directed). In this exercise I was prompted to remove different areas of paint with cotton buds, cotton wool, smooth rags, rough rags and tissue paper. As well as experimenting with the removal of paint I also decided to experiment with different colour combinations across the backgrounds of the paintings. I found it much harder to produce the prints using the ink studies so decided to revert to using a photograph for this exercise, this selfie taken at a park in Tokyo, below.

Below Is the entire series of portraits for this exercise. I purposefully decided to experiment with different backgrounds to see how this would impact the outcome of the monotype, choosing plain white, bright orange, deep purple , pastel lilac and black. Looking at the collection as a whole I prefer the black and white backgrounds, as these form the most striking monotypes portraits. Across the portraits I can see similarities in the vacant eyes, which I have really struggled to depict, they remind me a little of the eyes found in the works of Yuko Nasu The photograph was taken on a bright sunny day and I’m squinting at the camera, but this is completely lost in the portraits.

My first attempt was using the plain white background, I much preferred working from the photograph as there was more information to transpose from the image onto the acetate, however I still feel very inept in using this process. I attempted to remove some of the paint from the acetate to create definition but overall very little paint was transferred onto the paper, so I was apprehensive towards removing any paint. As the print didn’t come out very well I repainted the acetate and attempted a second print on the same piece of paper. Again this was still quite unsuccessful so I painted over the print with some additional paint and turpentine to complete the image. The detail does’t look right to me and I really struggled to get to grips with the thick gloopy nature of using oil.

Here is the second print, across all of the portraits I can see inconsistencies in the colour palette. Previously when using acrylic I’ve felt quite at home in mixing colour but oil I find especially difficult. I attempted to use a palette knife to mix colours as my brushes were becoming clogged but I still couldn’t get this right. In this portrait I like how the green dress interacts with the bright orange background, it reminds me of camouflage jackets with fluorescent orange linings. Besides this though I’m not entirely happy with the portrait itself, it’s clumsy and not very skilled.

When I first revealed this print I realised how important it would be to load the acetate with light pigmented paint in order for it to register onto a particularly dark background. As the image was barely there, but by adding some additional paint and turpentine though I could fill in the space which it didn’t pick up.

This is my least favourite of the collection it’s very flat and the pastel lilac background doesn’t give anything to the portrait itself. Although as I’m looking at the portrait now I realise that I initially learnt that with monotype printing less is more, and with this painting in particular – that previously learned information clearly was lost because this feels like more is more and actually there is far too much paint on the page!

This last image along with the first is my favourite, I learned from the monotype using the deep purple background the importance of loading the acetate with light pigmented paint, and I felt I had the ratio of paint to turpentine better with this attempt, I gained in confidence too and attempted to remove some of the paint to produce definition but this was still unsuccessful. This painting doesn’t necessarily represent the original photo very well as I think the first portrait on white background does, but I do like how the paint interacts with the background to create shadow.

I decided to practice some more with monotypes as this exercise so far felt quite unsuccessful, so this time I decided to use the same photograph and simplify matters by practicing using black and white only. I’d also forgotten to photograph the initial prints of the above images so its hard to really reflect on the printing technique itself as I rushed ahead to add in more paint or move around paint the page using turpentine. Ultimately I think I was becoming too focused on colour palettes and mixing paint, trying to create a true likeness and generally being frustrated with using oils that I lost the point of the entire exercise altogether – to experiment with monotypes! So in the below series using just plain white paper and black oil paints I set about trying to capture the image in print, and using different techniques to remove or alter the paint on the acetate to create different effects. In order to aid in this process I used some digital software to manipulate the photograph, which helped tremendously, although felt a little bit like cheating.

Here is the selection of five monotype prints I created, which have been untouched (unlike the previous selection) so that I can analyse what worked well and what didn’t and analyse how I might carry this forward into the assignment.

I enjoyed this process much more than the previous rounds, simplifying the monotype to pick out the facial features and working in just one colour using oil. I could play around and explore the oil paint and monotype technique and the process – before I was too focused on the end outcome, mastering use of oils and controlling colour.

This was the first print using the simplified technique and moving away from the heavy handed paint. I particularly like how the eyes and mouth have come out with this print, you can feel the smile. Although the hair doesn’t appear defined, as I used too much turpentine I do like this blobbed and messy outcome.

The eyes were quite subtle in the previous print so I purposefully loaded the pupils with blobs of paint and as you can see they are very prominent. I used a little more oil and turpentine on this second print to see if I could achieve more definition, and did also try to remove some paint on the hair although this wasn’t consistent so there are pockets where there is quite a lot of oil/turpentine and then lighter sections where I pulled some of the paint back using a rough paint brush.

This time I used a different paint brush to apply the oil paint, an angled flat brush, which felt like it really glided along the acetate for the hair strands. I made a bit of an error as I applied the paper to the acetate, but this has resulted in some nice movement on the page and haphazard blotches which I quite like.

In this print I tried to revisit removing the paint using a dry brush and I think it was far more successful in achieving a good result on the hair of this portrait. Although the eyes have lost their definition and become a little confused.

Here is the last print, I was too heavy handed on the nostrils of the nose so they have merged a little, the rest of the print is quite faint so this appears quite prominent although I like how the rest of the print is quite faint, and sort of barely there, it reminds me of a very over exposed photograph.

Overall with a little more practice and experimentation I’m happy with the outcome of the black and white monotypes and have gained some more experience and confidence in this process. It’s given me a lot to think about when I come to tackle the assignment of this section.

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