Category Archives: Your first monoprints

Project 1: Research

 Your First Monoprints

Research into Contemporary Printmakers


For this exercise I visited the Glasgow Print Studio in order to observe first-hand the work of some local printmakers.
The first print which I was drawn to was a monoprint by the artist Calum McClure, entitled “Untitled “ In Blue, Pollock Park”, 2015. I was drawn to this work as it represents a landscape I know very well, where I have sketched in the past and I was interested to look closely at how someone else had interpreted the landscape.

The artist is known for his work depicting landscape, often featuring country estates and national parks.


The artist has used portrait format for this print. He has divided the picture plane horizontally at the very lower part of the print using dark brown and orange horizontal brushstrokes. The subdivision of the picture plane in this manner creates the impression of a very big sky and places the viewer’s eyeline low. Initially, for me it is unclear whether the viewer is looking at sea or sky. I like this aspect of the print which adds interest to the work.It suggests the idea of being “lost in a sea of blue”, of “diving into the landscape and becoming submerged”.
There are 3 strong verticals created by the trees placed each side of the picture plane. These overlap a horizontally placed tree branch stretching across the upper tired of the print. The artist may have been interested in creating the potential for both portrait and landscape interest for the print.


The work is quite heavily textured. I think that artist may have created the blue background colour by printing a smooth first layer of print. Initially, I wondered whether elements of collage had been used to produce the print. However, I think that texture has been achieved by the application of a wide range of brushstrokes and the selection of different brush sizes during the painting process. It is also possible that impressed techniques have been used to create the tree trunks (using twigs) and to create the rough area at the lower edge of the print, perhaps using bubble wrap.
In the upper 1/3 of the picture plane the artist has removed areas of paint to create the impression of clouds.The treatment of the sky is less textured than the rough brushwork used on the tree foliage, providing interest across the picture plane.

The colours selected are naturalistic and help to keep the print more representational than abstract. The use of orange at the horizon line, contrasting with its complementary orange helps draw attention to this area. The painting has a relaxed feel to it and one can imagine this being planned on a lovely summer day- interesting for me as I have spent many days here waiting on the clouds to clear to sketch these trees for a previous OCA project!
Overall, I enjoyed looking at this print, particularly seeing an alternative interpretation of a very familiar scene.
In Blue, Pollock Park, Monotype, 2015. Calum McClure



OCA Printmaking 1: Research


Monoprints of Edgar Degas


Degas was a member of the Impressionist group of painters who rejected the formality of the Salon and the painting establishment of the day, preferring instead to create work in the open air, with the emphasis on representing light as it is experienced in the open air. The handling of paint was often loose, with obvious brush-strokes. Frequently, complementary colours were used to depict areas of shadow. This approach sought to represent light as it is actually experienced in the landscape. Unlike may of his fellow-impressionists, Degas often drew indoor subjects such as bathers, ballet dancers and ordinary people socialising.

His compositions mirrored his interest in Japanese prints and the ever-developing discipline of photography, with elongated portrait views, and subjects often cut off at the edge of the picture plane as in photography. An example of this elongation is in the painting Mary Cassat in the paintings Gallery of the Louvre.
(Harris, Constance:Portraiture in Prints, Macfarland & company inc, Publisher. Jefferson,North Carolina and London).

However, he is also known for his pastels of racehorses. A literature search of the Bridgeman Library identified using the search terms Edgar Degas and then Monoprint identified a number of works in which a painting has been completed over a monotype. There were very few pure monotypes represented on the site.
The monoprint I have selected to review is of a landscape. A link to the site is set out below. The work is entitled Moonrise, c.1880 (monotype on laid paper) by Degas, Edgar (1834-1917) It is a monotype laid on paper on laid paper. It is small in scale, measuring 15.4×24.6 cms.

Moonrise, c.1880 (monotype on laid paper), Degas, Edgar (1834-1917) / Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA / Bridgeman Images


The format of the monotype is landscape, with the horizon dividing the painting roughly into thirds, with the upper third representing the sky.

The brushwork is very loose, creating a windswept feel to the work. On close inspection the print appears quite textured, with short brush strokes placed vertically depicting the dune grasses, and long, sweeping strokes used to paint the sand in the foreground.
The monotype seems to have been prepared using a paintbrush and wiping cloth.
The brushstrokes are an important feature of the print, adding atmosphere to the scene. The artist may have wiped the surface of the work to remove paint to allow for distinction between the light foreground and the beach grasses in the mid ground.
The moon is placed off centre to the left of the picture plane. It appears to have been created by the removal of paint from this area.

Project 4 :Variations using masks and multi-colours

Further experimentation adding colour and using masks to develop prints: 

I used the additional prints carried out earlier as the base for printing successive layers using a variety of techniques, including: impressed texture, backdrawing and masking. Using a small sketch of the view from the studio window, I attempted to recreate the image using print.

I used tracing paper, I created a number of masks to add additional colour to emphasise the house gable end and the trees. I dropped water on the printing plate to vary the texture in the foreground, which added interest by was difficult for me to control.

I then covered all areas except the sky to allow me to balance the colour composition of the prints as some areas were too pale.

On some prints, I used backdrawing and imprinting with corrugated cardboard to build up the form of the houses.

Landscapes produced from layered colour ask and impressed techniques 


I really enjoyed using these techniques. However I did find it difficult to create fine detail. However, the effects created by the printing process really added to the visual interest of the prints. For this reason, it was even more important to thoroughly plan the pieces as well as possible before starting printing.

Wome of the prints are quite well registered, but the addition of masks seemed to make this more difficult to achieve due to slippage of the sides of the masks. I tried taping these down with masking tape but ther was still some dragging across the print.

Project 1 Simple monoprints



First attempt at painting directly onto the glass plate using acrylic with added printing medium . A bit chaotic adding in the medium to the inks without everything drying out. Needed to add more paint and a bit of water to the mix. Liked the strong colours obtained in the first print but the shadows looked strange. Think more planning is needed to make the image more credible but like the nice loose feel of the print and the colours.
Set up a second plate and added a flower to the still life for this print and more colours. Applied the background colour with a flat palette knife and blended with a brush to shorten the time to apply the paint. This worked well and I managed to take a ghost print from the same plate

OCA Coursework : Project 1: Monoprints: experiments using brushes and 3 colours

This is my first effort at Monoprints using paintbrushes and limited to 3 colours.
The first print on newsprint was too faint as not enough ink had been used. Better results using more printing inks. I was able to take a ghost print using this approach. There was good reproduction but I forgot to add inks to the edges. For the 3rd print, I added ink again over the ghost print. The edges ŵere well defined but the centre was too pale.

Mark making experiments print 1
Mark making experiments print 1
Print series 1
Print series 1