Staying with A5 format, I covered my plate with an even film of burnt umber oil paint and liquin, placed it over a portrait of my great grandmother on the iPad, and started to remove paint from the plate with buds, rags, cotton wool and silicone paint movers. The paint on the plate was transparent, so I could see the image beneath.
When I’d finished I took a print on to textured cartridge paper. The face and skirt were too dark, I hadn’t removed enough paint from the plate. The background was too patchy – I’d removed paint unevenly. On this scale, with some detail needed to convey anything of the story, it might be better to remove paint in large areas, concentrating on getting the overall tonal design how I want it, then go into the plate with paint and a brush to add back any finer detail before pulling the print.
Another thought is to hold the plate up to the light before printing to see how it looks without the image underneath.
I wanted a better basis to go forward on so had another go, this time removing oil paint in large areas (the whole face, dress etc), holding the plate up to the light to see how it looked, removing more paint, and finally adding paint with a fine brush to suggest features and hands. After pulling a print I added a tIndy bit more definition in a couple of places; it was too late for the chicken however – he’s too dark to identify, and to add white paint might look clumsy.
I like the background because there’s a feeling of depth and light and shadow. I did it by careful dabbing with kitchen paper towel, and it’s given an idea of a leafy hedge. If I want to suggest the flat wooden door that was actually behind her I’d need to think of a different tool for removing the paint.
My next attempt is in imaginary colour, from a black and white photo of my cousins, which I flipped before painting so it printed in the original orientation.
I removed colour from the background to lighten it. The faces were wiped, then features added back. The stripes on the man’s shirt were made by pushing ink away with a silicone paint mover.
It’s a fun photo, and the print has captured that moment of infectious laughter. I find the background shapes unbalance the composition and are distracting. If I were to work on the print I’d mute those shapes down, and add a hint of the door on the right to restore the balance.
I painted this portrait of my great grandfather in Part 2, and I wanted to explore it further using monotype. I used a dark mix of burnt umber and black with Liquin covering the whole plate, then wiped away with various tools, trying to make sure I was removing go so as not to end up with too dark a print.
I love the unpredictability of monotype; the unexpected textures, marks, the way things are suggested, left out. I do want some basic control though, particularly –
- getting tones light enough – the face is still too dark overall. It seems to get the lightest tones I need to not be afraid to virtually remove all of the ink.
- getting tones right relative to each other. I need to keep holding the plate up to the light and looking carefully before printing.
I like the character of this print however, and I think I’ve done better with my mark-making – the bold marks on the jacket and the chin add to the interest, and I must build on this in the next one.
I wanted to try a portrait of two people in the landscape. The A5 scale is rather small for doing this in monoprint, maybe I need to get some images printed at A4 and a larger glass plate, but for now I decided to have a go with what I’d got, painting in the larger blocks of colour and tone and then wiping them to carve out the light. I took a print on damp, very rough cotton rag watercolour paper, and a ghost print on my standard sketchbook cartridge paper.
The two figures are so small on this scale that I could only try to suggest their general shape and stance. The rough texture of the watercolour paper made edges fuzzy and shapes even more blurred. But both the print and the ghost could be good candidates for working on further in the next exercise.