Mixed Media Gelli Print Monotype: Blending into the Circus

Blending into the Circus 6x6 Gelli Print Monotype with watercolor & colored pencil
The last time I posted about using gelli monotypes as a background for mixed media, I had an idea in mind when I started the portrait. This time, I let the patterns and shapes in the print suggest the subject, and the monotype turned into a cautious girl, at a circus near a pot of red flowers. Random, I know, but it was fun. The process shots begin below, and the art is listed in my Etsy shop here. If you're unfamiliar with gelli printing (no press!), see the video by the makers of the little plate I used below too. Happy art-making!

Adding the last layers of colored pencil
Finished with the figure, and penciling in the shape of circus tents
Looking for suggestions in the monotype, I found a little face
The gelli print I started with
If you've never heard of/played with gelli plates, here is a 2 minute video on youtube, showing some of the textures and layering you can get without a press:  (If you can't see the video window below, you can watch it here.)

Art Quote
Seriously, I think it is a grave fault in life that so much time is wasted in social matters, because it not only takes up time when you might be doing individual private things, but it prevents you storing up the psychic energy that can then be released to create art or whatever it is. It's terrible the way we scotch silence & solitude at every turn, quite suicidal. I can't see how to avoid it, without being very rich or very unpopular, & it does worry me, for time is slipping by , and nothing is done. It isn't as if anything was gained by this social frivolity, it isn't: it's just a waste.
~Philip Larkin


Drypoint: Bowman (new video: printing drypoint without a press)

Bowman  10.75 x 8 Drypoint with watercolor
Available in my Etsy Shop
I took my first printmaking class in 1983. I bought my first press in 2012. For the three decades in between, I borrowed time on friends' presses, audited printmaking classes to get to presses, scoured ads for used presses, and tried every method suggested to make prints without a press. It's no surprise then, that so many subscribers to this blog and my youtube channel have asked for tutorials on printmaking without a press.

I used this drypoint engraving (above) to demonstrate how to print an intaglio style plate without a press. If you'd like to see a video of that process, click here.  But here's the thing: there's no secret sauce, no dragon-guarded, confidential method to printing without a press; it just takes time & pressure.

With an etching press, after inking and wiping the plate, I can print this engraving in about 45 seconds... as much time as it takes to run the press bed through the rollers. With my hands, some newsprint and a cereal spoon, I can print the same drypoint, but it might take 45 minutes, and the line work might not be quite as sharp, but it *can* be done. What do you think? Have you printed without a press?

Painting the drypoint with watercolor

Pulling the print in my studio

Engraving the plate on a long flight over the Pacific,
inspired by a late 1940's photograph taken by my great-uncle Antonio
You can watch a video demonstrating inking and printing this drypoint without a press on my YouTube Channel. (If you don't see the video window below, you can watch it here.)

Art Quote
If we have plain old ordinary fear, then we are within reach of a solution. Fear has been with humankind for millennia and we do know what to do about it -- pray about it, talk about it, feel the fear, and do it anyway. "Artistic" fear, on the other hand, sounds somehow nastier and more virulent, like it just might not yield to ordinary solutions -- and yet it does, the moment we become humble enough to try ordinary solutions.
Julia Cameron


Trace Monotype with Watercolor: Doe-eyed Greyhound Dog

Hey, Wanna Split a Sandwich? 5x7 Trace monotype with Watercolor (sold)
In the last post, I documented the process on a trace monotype made with more tone and less line. This trace monotype (above) was made with more line & less tone, which leaves plenty of paper exposed for watercolor or other media. (I'm working on a video to demonstrate this process, and I'll post it here on my blog when I finish it.)
In the meantime, speaking of line, to satisfy your eyes with a little snippet of threaded loveliness, here is a 7 minute video about the illustrator Sally Mavor. All of her book illustrations are made with thread (line) and fabric (color/tone). She doesn't use a sewing machine, and her intricacies, characters and color details are mesmerizing and 100% hand made. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and treat your eyes to this little introduction to her world of stitched, embroidered and assembled characters. (If you can't see the video window below, you can watch it directly on Vimeo here.)
Have a creative,  hands-on week.
RABBITAT from Daniel Cojanu on Vimeo.

Art Quote
To me, all creativity is magic. Ideas start out in the empty void of your head - and they end up as a material thing, like a book you can hold in your hand. That is the magical process. It's an alchemical thing. Yes, we do get the gold out of it but that's not the most important thing. It's the work itself.


Trace Monotype: Portrait of an adolescent boy

Burgeoning Boy 8.25x6.75 Trace Monotype with watercolor washes
on Thai Kozo paper   -   Available in my Etsy Shop
Yesterday, I printed an edition from a mat board collagraph with a taupe gray mixed from leftover akua inks used on previous projects. I had a dollop of ink left at the close of the day (see first photo below). This inspired a random decision (#distractedartist) to make a trace monotype. My work table is covered with a sheet of plexiglass, so I rolled the leftover ink out with a brayer. The process shots below (hopefully) explain the sequence for this type of print. Would you be interested in a video tutorial on trace monotypes?

You can see really beautiful versions of early trace monotypes (also known as transfer drawings) by the artist Paul Gauguin here (this one can be enlarged to see detail & line) and here.
Small amount of ink left after printing an edition
Rolling the ink out on plexiglass covering my table
Scrap paper from tearing printmaking sheets to size
Covering edges of the ink for a cleaner frame
Taping the "frame" of scrap paper to the desk
laying a thin sheet of thai kozo paper on the wet ink
drawing a figure
pressing the background with a spoon for solid coverage & texture
pulling the monotype from the wet ink
trace monotype made from leftover ink = new art & less ink to clean up. :)
Art Quote
In the art of literature there are two contending parties. Those who aim to tell stories that are more or less well thought out, and those who aim at beautiful language, beauty of form. This contest may last a very long time; each side has a fifty-fifty chance. Only the poet can rightfully demand that verse be beautiful and nothing but.
Paul Gauguin 1848-1903


Monotype: Mixed Media Printmaking Portrait of an Elderly Dog (with a monotype demo video)

Tesseye 4x6 dark field monotype with watercolor & colored pencil (Private Collection)
If you've had furry family members - cats, dogs, birds, horses, etc. - you know the most difficult chapter of that lovely bond sneaks in when they are aged and infirm, and difficult decisions are pondered. We've experienced the loss of our dogs and cats to old age and disease, and my heart breaks every time I hear about another family grieving for a pet.  This dark field monotype is a portrait of a friend's dearly loved and departed dog, as a remembrance of her gentle and tentative face. It was a pleasure to study her features while making this art, and I felt like I got to know her with each movement of ink, and every stroke of pigment. Have you made memorial portraits of your pets - or your friend's pets?

Just finished in the studio

Ink on paper, drying in the studio

After a trip through the press, pulling the monotype

scraping doggy features into wet ink on a zinc plate, with reference photo close by

This dark field monotype was videotaped while in process, and it's posted on my youtube channel. (If you don't see the video screen below, you can watch it directly on youtube here.)

Art Quote

The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.

We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.

Steven Pressfield