Geli-Plate Fun

Experimenting with my Gelli-Plate, I discovered two new ways (well, at least to me) to use this monoprinting technique. As a collage artist, I always need interesting papers, in every color or texture I can imagine.

Mono_StencilOne of my favorite techniques is to cut out shapes (heavy paper or overhead projector film) and use them as masks (to block paint printing) or as a stencil (to create a pattern with the paint.

The resulting pieces pick up paint and become quite interesting in themselves. After they have served as masks or stencils several times, they can be used as collage elements.

Another technique is to prepare the plate with a background, lay the elements on the plate, and photograph the plate before you print.

Mono_HouseThis gives you an image to print that looks quite different from the print itself, but can also give you more detail and color. You can then choose to create the collage by gluing the elements down over the printed piece or add color with a brush.

This also works for fabric–chose a fabric background, then attach the paper pieces on top of the background using fusible webbing.

Mono_PlantThe final experiment was to enhance a ghost print. Once the first print is lifted, remove all the masks from the plate. Then lay another piece of paper (in this case a piece of multi-media paper) over the plate and use a brayer to roll over the monoprint plate to pick up a ghost image of the paint the masks had protected. The plant and sun are clear, but the background picked up only partially.

I used Tombow Dual Brush markers to enhance some of the color. These markers are watercolors, so let the paper dry first. After the color is put down, I used a brush dipped in water to blend colors and create an abstract landscape.

On Tuesday, April 1, I’ll be demoing these techniques at the monthly meeting of the Scottsdale Art League. We’re going to have a busy night because I’m going to do an Inner Hero exercise, and everyone will leave with a hand-made Inner Hero Postcard. And two lucky people will win the prizes: a copy of the Inner Hero Art Journal and a Gelli plate donated by Arizona Art Supply.

Upcoming classes using Gelli-Plate techniques: I’ll also be teaching Gelli-Plate techniques on April 26-27 at the Minneapolis Center for Book Arts and the week of June 2 at the Madeline Island School of Arts, where you will make a whole book of different art and writing techniques. Come join me in exploring!

-Quinn McDonald is typing this with paint-colored fingers, and an ink-stained heart.




Saving Discards

Running my brayer on a big drawing pad to clean off the paint brought a mumble from class members. I raised an eyebrow, “Question?”

“You shouldn’t be using good drawing paper to clean off the brayer,” said one person.

“That’s what a phone book is for,” said another, helpfully.

“Or a stack of newspaper,” added a third.

Background1They were all right, of course, except that a brayer is not just a tool for spreading paint. It’s the creator of accidental art—backgrounds, layers, textures.

When I’m applying paint on Gelli Plates, the extra color on the brayer needs to go someplace–but often, it creates a great background of its own. On a newspaper or phone book, it mixes with the cheaper soy inks and makes a pile of discard papers.

On the other hand, if I brayer off on a good piece of paper, it becomes a background, or a piece that can be torn up for a collage.

Here’s a nice accidentally textured background:


And this background became a good place for a stencil, making an instant page that can be used as is, for a card, or for a journal page:

background3Discards don’t have to be thrown out. They have something of their own to offer. Accidents can become fresh new starts. And that’s as true of art as in other parts of life. Don’t be so quick to bury your past, it brought you to where you are today.

–Quinn McDonald makes use of the layers of her life.

Good News Round Up

During all that travel I’ve been doing, good news has been rolling in. While I’ve tried to keep up, I thought I’d share it all in one post.

Ghost print, "Three houses in another city," acrylic monoprint on mixed media paper.

Ghost print, “Three houses in another city,” acrylic monoprint on mixed media paper.

1. Inner Hero Art Journal is coming out on December 13. It was printed in the U.S., at some expense to my publisher, who thought it was worth it to print it locally to get it out earlier. You can now look inside the book on amazon. The book launch will be at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, in January, to combine a new year with a new way of handling your inner critic!

2. I’ve been invited to go to CHA–the Craft and Hobby Association, January 10-14 in Anaheim. I’ll be doing signings and maybe a demo from the book! If you are in the area, please come visit the North Light booth!

"Old Moon, New Sky,' Monoprint, acrylic paint on scapbooking paper.

“Old Moon, New Sky,’ Monoprint, acrylic paint on scapbooking paper.

3. Madeline Island School of the Arts has officially invited me back for 2014–this coming summer. I’ll be at MISA the week of June 2 through 6. We are going to experiment and explore writing, poetry, monoprinting and journaling. Then, we’ll pick the pages we like the most and create a book of memories for the week. Last year, I started marketing this way too late. It’s time to start saving your pennies, ask for a holiday gift, and checking out the air fares for deals. Help fill up this class with YOU!

4. I’ll be at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts April 25-27 for a class. The class description will be up in about 10 days, but this is another opportunity to start asking for a class for a holiday gift or to save your change to travel to Minneapolis. We’ll be doing magical things with Gelli plates and gathering our pages and binding them into a cool book. And for fun, I’ll be giving away a Gelli plate in class!

It will be a busy year, and with the new book, I’d love to come visit some places where you are and teach in your city!

–Quinn McDonald is looking ahead to a busy year!


Gelli Plate Round

The round Gelli plate showed up a few days ago, and I happily started using it for prints. A friend wryly remarked that it looked like a breast implant after the mammogram. Yes, yes, it does.


The first print, round like the world, made me want to create biospheres and gardens in the round.

Gelli4This one, with the turquoise and gold,  looks like a design on ancient jewelry, or a vase.


And after a while, I thought how much fun it would be to do a series on the seven days of creation.


This piece, a work in progress, would make a great base for a collage with plants and animals. It has the making of a wild prairie.

Gelli2And OK, round isn’t the only shape. This one is a bird at dawn. The tree, on the right, still needs some work, probably with oil pastels to show up on the acrylics.

What I love about these Gelli plates is not that they can make journal page backgrounds, but that they can do monoprints, blending new techniques with old techniques of printing.

I’ll be teaching Gelli plate 101 on this coming Saturday, November 2, at Arizona Art Supply in Phoenix. You can read details and register, on my website.

–Quinn McDonald has turquoise paint under her fingernails. She hopes it wears off in time to teach Business Writing tomorrow.


Gelli Plate Love

Monoprints are so much fun, done on a Gelli plate. I’ve been having fun with masks and layers:

FlowerPrintThe first print was a flower on a fall-colored background. Co-Mo Sketch paper was the substrate, and it’s not really designed for the heavier work.

LeafPrintI stayed with the same color family do start this branch of leaves print. The batik-y look is appealing to me.

BranchesPrintThis layer of color for the branches covered with a lighter layer on top is the reverse of what is expected. The contrast is fun, a combination of fall and the winter to come.

HousesPrintThis group of houses on a windy hill with woods was fun to make. I”m working on adding some recognizable elements into abstract designs. It’s a wonderful challenge that allows for a lot of experimentation. And experimentation is what creativity is about.

Have a creative week!

Quinn McDonald should have been making samples for upcoming classes, but the Gelli plate sang to her and she digressed.

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.