The following images are some monoprints I worked on this summer in North Carolina. I am a neophyte to this medium, and my goal over the several days at the Penland School of Crafts was to take as much advantage as possible of printing's particularities. While monoprinting can still include a large painting component, there's still a spontaneity and dimensionality realizable in printing that straight painting misses. Even with that however, I'm hoping for great imaginative feedback into my painting practice back in Brooklyn.
NB: The little blurbs next to the images are more process glimpses than "gallery" descriptions of the prints.
Etching oil on Arches. This was my first print and made in about half the time I'd normally use to paint a small portrait that's about 8 x 10 inches. This was created mostly reductively, i.e., a solid brayered surface, then values brought up with rag, brushes, Q-tips, fingers.
First, I rolled a transparent blend on the polycarbonate sheet, or "plate." Then I inked a mylar stencil of a tree I made. I pressed it face down on the plate and then removed the stencil so that there would only be a phantom of the ink when the plate was run through with the paper through the press. I also tapped cheesecloth on the background to create texture.
Using the same stencil of the tree as above, I brayered over the plate with a dark ink mixture and placed the stencil to "mask" the area I wanted to keep lighter. I "etched" with a 2H pencil in the areas I wanted to bring up in value as well as used rags, Q-tips, fingers, hands to work reductively. I also flicked mineral spirits on the plate, which explains the round blossoming areas in the background.
"Agitated Tree: Ghost."
I ran the plate in a second time since there was still a decent amount of paint on it. This is the "ghost."
"Look At Me: Vin."
On the fourth day, I made this. The day before I had worked on a complicated embossing which finally came off the press at 12:30am and still needs some painting and also a collage element, so I'm not posting that yet. I am not posting the rest of my embossments here in fact: the raising and indenting of the paper are so subtle none of it really came across in the scans, which is a total bummer. You have to actually see all those details in person. Which is also kind of neat.
Anyway, on the fourth day, I made this. The background is brayered and agitated in the same way as in the tree prints above. At left there is a hint of a figure of a woman crying; she shows up in my work fairly often and was inspired by a statuary in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The dominating figure is that of my friend Vin Ganapathy and it was applied in chine colle, meaning "glued paper." I printed out my photo of Vin, pasted the back, laid the image face down, and ran the plate through the press. It resulted in the very graphic image you see here.
I was sleepless much of Penland, and I made this print between 2 and 5.30am. Needless to say, I was not firing on all cylinders so I decided to give myself a break and make something "easy." I created it reductively and somewhat additively, in a similar manner as to the first piece I made, "Disappearing Vin." I made a mixture using a lot of blues and blacks-- there was a particular Payne's Grey in the print shop I was obsessed with. I don't usually use Payne's Grey in my oil painting, but this Payne's Grey was out of this world. That long kind of thin line on the bottom right hand corner? That was a hair of mine that fell onto the plate and got pressed into the print.
"Rubino: His Ghost."
This is the second run of the plate above. This time I didn't use Stonehenge or Arches or Rives, but a thin, beautiful Japanese paper. There's a horizontal line running about a third of the way up because I didn't have the correct pressure on the press the first time I ran the plate through. It took off some of the ink and when I ran the ghost, it showed where some of that ink was thinner.
A chine colle with Vin again and also a crazy red paper from India. Same day as above and again, not firing on all cylinders. Once again, the pressure on the press was not accurate, despite my checking before.
And that, my friends, means I only have to make a mistake multiple times before I get it right.