For as long as I can remember, I have been curious about the printmaking process. I have always thought that there is something mysterious and magical about being able to go from an idea or a sketch to producing hundreds, if not thousands of copies of the same work. So, I was naturally excited when I found out that, as an employee of the Centers for the Arts, I was invited to a special test-run of the new one night event called “MonoPRINTmania,” in which people will get the opportunity to explore making monotype prints. Berry van Boekel is the instructor, and the first MonoPRINTmania one night event will be this coming Thursday, November 17, 2016.
During the ‘test run’ I learned that Monotype printing is a process in which each print is unique, but the process lends itself to making a number of similar prints. Five of us went through the test run with Berry, and each of us produced a set of four related prints based on the (very different) images we each wanted to explore. Two of us made landscapes. Another person worked from a geometric pattern. One of us worked from a photograph of a stand of cypress. I worked on a portrait, and Barry, in his demonstration of the process, made an abstract print. I was glad to see the variety of “genres” in the session, because I learned more than I would have if we had all been working on portraits.
In a nutshell, here is what we did. We each started by using a Sharpie to sketch an image onto a plate of plexiglass. The sketch could be as rough or as detailed as we wanted, (and was there only to serve as a guide), because the next step in the process was to flip the glass over and paint the other side. We discussed and used several different tools/techniques for laying out the paint that would ultimately get transferred to the printmaking paper via the press.
The fact that paint “handles differently” on glass than it does on paper or canvas is a big part of what distinguishes it from more traditional painting techniques in which we apply paint directly to the surface of the painting. Much like driving on ice, glass is less forgiving than paper and canvas, in that it doesn’t grip the paint the way the other surfaces do. This, in itself, makes for interesting results, accentuating the texture of each brush stroke and allowing the artist to remove paint from the plate with just a swipe.
Making the print itself was easy-peasy once your plate was decorated. The painted glass plate and a piece of printmaking paper were placed in the press, which ran over the images, mashing one onto the other. Thirty seconds later, a monotype print had been born! We were then set loose to decorate the plate again, with the options of trying different colors, textures and tools.
If you think you might be interested in trying your hand at making monotype prints, Mr. van Boekel will be offering his one night event, “MonoPRINTmania” from 5:30pm – 8:30pm on the following dates:
November 17, 2016
January 19, 2017
February 23, 2017
March 23, 2017
April 13, 2017
May 11, 2017
These one night events cost only $55 per person, and include all of the materials necessary for making the prints. The setting is comfortably informal, and wine, soft drinks and a light meal will be served.