Positive and Negative Masked Mono Prints

Following on from my First Mono Prints, I moved on to experimenting with masked prints. Instead of painting directly on to the plate to create the image, in this method, the plate is covered evenly with ink using a roller, and then masks are applied to reveal resulting positive/negative prints. Prior to starting work on this next mini project I looked at the work of Henri Matisse, and given the direction and advice in the OCA materials I decided to return again to the body shapes I created using photographs of myself form “Depicting your environment“. In hindsight I think I should have actually continued working with the still life images in producing the masked prints but was distracted by the body shapes which I often find myself returning to in my personal art practice outside of my OCA studies.

I continued to experiment with some different types of paper to explore the effect this has on the printing method, both the paper I printed on as well as the paper I used to produce the masks.

For this first example I used the acrylic paper with 250g/m2, I thought that this would be good to use for the stencil as the paper was sturdy so it would be easy to keep it’s shape. I used this type of paper for the stencil mask and then used the lighter 150 g/m2 sketch paper to actually print upon. I thought the combination would work well however as the stencil was too thick it meant that the resulting positive and negative prints (middle top and bottom) were not completely clear, and I didn’t manage to print right to the very edges. As you can see on the far right the residual ghost prints clearly have the build up of paint creating an outline of the body where it was not picked up previously. To the far left are the original masks themselves. A positive of this print however is that the ink appears to have been rolled onto the printing plate quite evenly.

For the above experiment I decided to use thin cartridge paper to produce the masks which I think was definitely the right choice. For the first print (top left) I decided to use a hot pressed water colour paper with 300g/m2 to see how this would print, and inevitably it wasn’t very successful, thinner is definitely better! Just like in the previous experiment the edges of the silhouette just didn’t quite print clearly so the body appears particularly thin. I returned to the acrylic paper 250 g/m2 to print the residual ghost print which I think has come out quite well and appears quite even. Lastly I used a combination of cartridge paper for both the mask and the print paper which seemed to yield the most successful print, (top right) the fingers on the body are more defined and the overall print looks quite even too.

For this series I used cartridge paper for both the masks and the print paper which I think has resulted in the most crisp print. I made a slight mistake on the print in the bottom left corner as I just marked the ink on the plate before I took the print, and the arm has a slight blemish as a result. At the opposite end, the print on the right also looks well defined, there are some slight blemishes on the background ink and I think this may be where I cleaned the roller and there was some residual water which leaked onto the plate. As you can see from the ghost print, in contrast to previous prints taken there is very little residual ink at the edges of the mask so the body here can only be seen very faintly.

Lastly, here is the final collection of masked prints. I used the 150 g/m2 paper throughout this experimentation for both the masks and the prints, (accidentally not realising I printed on some paper which already had some graphite sketches on). As you can see with this thicker paper the resulting positive and negative prints of the body have resulted in a rather slender version and a rather podgy version, which I think is quite funny in a sense that this little person has been transformed into different people altogether, although I understand completely unsuccessful as prints themselves there is merit in the resulting outcome. Moreover the ghost prints have come out quite clearly due to the residual ink left on the plate. Working with masks was a really interesting exercise and has helped me to understand how inks work and react to different paper and masks, as well as the importance of evenly applying the ink with a roller and being careful not to make mistakes.

2 thoughts on “Positive and Negative Masked Mono Prints

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