Thursday, 8 October 2015

technique: monoprinting

A few months back Claire did a post about monoprinting with leaves and experimenting with using natural forms as resist. I've always loved monoprinting but for some reason my learners have never seemed to of engaged with the technique. For the past 6 weeks I have been teaching my AS Fine Art students a series of creative techniques before they take the plunge into their first project and the following technique captured their imaginations and enabled them to build and draw upon exciting layers!

Over the Summer myself and Claire were super lucky to find this idea on the NSEAD Online Facebook group. If you aren't a member then join - the wealth of resources shared with all levels of art educators is amazing. After a bit of a play with the technique I thought about how I could make it more advance for my students and this is where I experimented with masking tape layers and washes to build up the texture and tone within the print. This technique would work well for any initial responses or as a quick method of recording to change the direction of a project and more importantly all my students relished in getting messy, testing alternative drawing methods and combining medias!

Follow the below steps to give it a go with your classes this month...

What you need:

• Block Printing ink (water or oil based)
• Print rollers
• Acrylic paint
• Masking tape
• Newspaper / Magazines
• Cardboard or any mixed-media base
• Relevant imagery to monoprint / draw on top of


1) Take your base (cardboard works great as it enables your students to work on top of a new exciting media) and choose a light colour of acrylic paint to work on top of. It is important it is light so that the print and layers you are about to build up stay clear. I told my students to ensure the colour reflected the mood of the image they were studying or you could link it to colour theory. Dry with a hairdryer before proceeding to step 2.

2) Start to build up layers with masking tape - thinking about the direction and scale of strips applied. I taught my students a technique called 'masking tape transfer' to add more depth to their base. To create this technique, simply apply masking tape directly onto any printed image (magazines, newspapers, train tickets, etc work great due to the quality of the ink!). Once stuck firmly down to the image/text - simply peel straight off! You will be left with the ink on the tape and what's great is that the masking tape is still sticky and can be applied straight on top of your base.

3) Apply a thin wash of white acrylic paint on top of the masking tape layer to ensure your print will stand out.

4) Roll your ink on to the back of a printed image (make sure your image is mirrored so it comes out the right way!) and rub off the excess ink with spare newspaper. I used black ink so it made a real contrast to the yellow background layer but you could experiment with single/multiple colour ways! Once you have rubbed the excess ink off, place the inked image face down on top of your masking tape base and start tracing on top of your image with a biro or sharp pencil. Once you have completed your drawing remove the printed image and ta-dah! You have been left with a unique and experimental printed drawing like below.

Tip: Less ink is more and the sharper your drawing implement the better! Biro's are great. My students responded to a variety of mark making techniques and extended their learning by using creative drawing methods such as continuous line and adding tea/coffee into their prints for further use of layers/tone.

As always we'd love to see visual examples if you give this technique a try with your students and if you know any other creative printing techniques then contact us to make a guest blog appearance.

- Kirsty 

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