Monotype - Mia Adams
By: Mia Adams
Monotype is a printmaking method that has been around for thousands of years but has no determined origin. Yet some of the oldest monotypes have been documented from the 1500s from artist Hercules Seghers who has a legacy of being one of the most influential printmakers till this day for his experimentations with ink, paper, and reworking prints. Monotype is the simple configuration of ink, a non porous surface (such as plexiglass), and miscellaneous tools. Artists can work positively or negatively or even both. Given its nature, the prime concept of monotype is the idea of only having one. Although artists can still have the freedom to challenge this. With these basic concepts, there are no rules or “traditions” with monotype. One is able to take control and manipulate their surface however they desire and how much they desire. There are no limitations yet more so a challenge of the artist's ability to utilize the flexibility of monotype. With Seghers as an example monotype is creatively flexible with Techniques, Tools, and styles.
“Mountain Valley with Fenced Fields” - Hercules Segers https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio/artists/hercules-segers/objects#/RP-P-OB-840,5
Techniques: Additive, Subtractive, and use of light
As stated above, one can create a monotype using Additive or Subtractive. Additive is where ink is added to a surface (such as plexiglass) to create the positive space of the image. Pablo Picasso’s print above is an example of additive monotype where he “painted” the surface to create this figure. Subtractive is where one coats a surface with ink and an image is created by whipping away at the negative space to create a positive space. Depending on how heavily the ink is whipped away, it can interact with the surface to create different tones as shown below. Picasso's piece above also has subtle subtractive techniques such as the thin white lines on the left of the image being scratched away with a small toothpick-like instrument.
Artists manipulate this technique to make light a main component. The use of light in monotype can create life like shapes and depth onto a 2D surface. Although extravagant sources of light can be generated with both techniques, I have seen through online examples that the subtractive method is much more successful.
"Three Ballet Dancer (Trois danseuses)" - Edgar Degas http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1285633/a-brief-history-of-monoprints-and-monotypes-from-edgar-degas
Monochromatic VS Multicolored
With the subtractive approach it seems that you are somewhat limited to one color (unless the surface is inked with multiple colors). On the other hand with additive, it is much less complicated and multiple colors can be added onto the surface or even layered.
“Mountain Study 3” - Cathrine Tuttle
Style: Tools, Ink, Paper, and Textures
Any sort of tools can be used to create various textures, characteristics, and features. Tools can vary anywhere from cheese cloth, brushes, toothpicks, Q-tips, Rags, or even liquid solutions. Images can also vary from the ink used (water or oil based) and the paper (Smooth or textured). Every tool will interact with the surface differently. The image shown above is a comparison of contrasting techniques.
From what I have seen and read, monotype is all about experimenting. What works with what? How do the tools, paper, ink, and the painterly strokes create one complete unique image? Experimenting with these can open up endless possibilities that are waiting to be discovered.
11/17/2016 01:10:15 pm
I really like the example of a multicolored additive monoprint you provided. I had no idea that printing inks could be used in such a manner.
11/17/2016 07:07:47 pm
I enjoyed your research on monotype print. I like how expressive it feels with the varying techniques. Your example "Mountain Valley with Fenced Fields" by Segers shows the depth and complexity that can be obtained through this type of printing. I would like to try some of these techniques in the future.
11/17/2016 09:10:24 pm
Its interesting to read about how unlimited additive monoprinting could be. I would imagine that doing multiple colors might become really messy, but the example looks amazing! I like the large variety of example images.
11/17/2016 10:20:19 pm
Mia! Having done Monotypes in our class, I found yours a good read. Ironic enough, When I was describing my monotype to people I wasnt sure what was implied and what was unknown by using the term monotype. I understood it was a one of a kind print but I wasnt sure if it was universally mentioned by ink on a non porous surface. Your examples were great, its cool to see artists like Picasso use this technique as well. Sweet job.
11/17/2016 10:35:31 pm
These are gorgeous; as a painter, not a printmaker, I had no idea what monotype entailed until now. It never would have occurred to me that they're just additive/subtractive ink paintings transferred, though in retrospect it's visually evident. Not to put you on the spot, but if it's a one-of-a-kind image, what drives someone to do monotype instead of just paint it? Not that printing ink would work as a primary medium for straight-up painting, so maybe the answer is right in front of me there, but to me the idea of printmaking has always been inexplicably tied to the ability to alter and make multiples, and that's what separated it in my mind from most other non-collage art on paper.
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