Monoprinting Experiments

imagesA few weeks ago, I was given two Gelli Arts Plates. My creative life hasn’t been the same since. Gelli Plates are gelatin-like consistency printing surface  that you can use to make gelatin prints without the hassle of making gelatin. I have a big weakness for monoprints. But the monoprints I learned to make are very exacting and precise, and we all know by now, I admire those characteristics–in others. Wabi-sabi and rustic echoes out of my soul.

Gelli plates are used most often in creating backgrounds for multi-media uses. And they are fun to use for that purpose. You put acrylic paint on them then roll out the paint with a brayer. To put designs in the paint, use stencils, homemade tools, or just your fingers. Then put a piece of paper on the paint, smooth the surface with your hands, then pull the print off the plate.

©Quinn McDonald, 2013

©Quinn McDonald, 2013

Quinadricone Azo Gold and Quin. Burnt Orange are desert colors that blend well with Payne’s Gray and metallic gold. I used a small tile to make the imprint.

© Quinn McDonald, 2013

© Quinn McDonald, 2013

You can layer the prints, which is super popular in the layer-on-layer art journaling pages. This was fun. But I wanted a little more experimentation. So I made a custom rubber stamp out of foam sheets. That’s a separate tutorial, but it is well worth the time. No carving. You cut out foam and put it on a piece of foam as big as the plate.


© Quinn McDonald, 2013

Here’s a foam stamp, showing both positive and negative use. This is fun. There will be more of this experimenting. But I wanted to make real monoprints. Not for backgrounds, for a print. So I started with a simple one.

© Quinn McDonanld 2013

© Quinn McDonanld 2013

Three squares, layered, but translucent colors. The middle one is stamped with a gold antique clock. The piece represents past, present and future, each affecting the next. Interesting, but not quite what I wanted–something more graphic and still abstract.

After the Fire, © Quinn McDonald, 2013. Acrylic monoprint.

After the Fire, © Quinn McDonald, 2013. Acrylic monoprint.

Much more of what I was trying to get. Landscape feel, contrasting color, and some interesting detail on the lower right corner. (Above) And then I figured out how to draw on the plate and use the accidental arc of Azo Gold. (Below)

Night Pines © Quinn McDonald 2013, acrylic monoprint

Night Pines © Quinn McDonald 2013, acrylic monoprint

I worked the dried monoprint with Pitt Pens to add more detail and to make it look a little more like a woodblock. Then I added Derwent Inktense details to create the final piece. This is what I’d like to do more of. My original intent was to write over it. Now I’m rethinking that, at least for this piece.

And now, it’s the week of Patti Digh’s Design Your Life camp, and I’ll be prepping for that as well as teaching my new Persuasive Writing course. But it was a creatively satisfying weekend.

Quinn McDonald loves experimenting with monoprints.

10 thoughts on “Monoprinting Experiments

  1. I like your prints and esp the idea of making art, not simply a tall pile of quickly created backgrounds altho that does happen too. I am still experimenting with a variety of paints and papers and using masks and homemade stencils and learning something new everytime I play. Most interested in the idea of drawing on the plate now and would love to know more!

    • Use a brush, Q-tip or one of those rubber-tipped styluses used instead of a palette knife (don’t use anything sharp) and draw. Various items lift the paint in various ways. I brayered the paint on, But you can also use a brush.

  2. Thanks for sharing your Gelli experience! Linda Penny will be giving a Gelli arts class to Paperworks members next year in Tucson – come on down & join the fun!

    • Penny introduced me to Gelli plates and I was blown away by what she accomplished. It’s not always easy for me to make the Paper Works meetings, but i do love them. I’ll have to check on the calendar and see when she’s doing her demo. Thanks for telling me!

  3. I played around with monoprints and screen printing when I trained as a teacher and then did it with kids. I loved it but haven’t done any for years despite loving the technical side of it and the results. I love your experiments, particularly the respesentation of the past, present and future.

    I think I need to put gelatine on the shopping list so I can make a plate . . . the original Gelli Plate just doesn’t seem to be available locally. Maybe that’s another thing for the growing USA shopping list.

    • Try the gelatin first. if you like the technique, spring for the Gelli plate. Turns out that you can print on fabric, too. It’s one of those things that has legs for me–it keeps my interest fresh in several areas.

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