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Exploring Monoprints

I just discovered a new printmaking process (well new to me, coming from an etching and intaglio printmaking background). Gel printmaking has blown my mind. Not only because of gel printmaking's coolness, but because of its accessibility. You don’t need a press! I’ve gone for years without without an etching press (having donated my lovely Charles Brand etching press to Southern Virginia University) but I’ve discovered a new printmaking process which has an immediacy that appeals to me.

Gel printmaking only requires brayers, a barrens, ink/paint, a gel plate, and your imagination. A gel plate is a flexible silicone plate, which to me, is revolutionary, and relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional plates materials, and are reusable. And you can introduce simple paper shapes or stamps to create effects, in addition to laser transfer.

Having said that, it being so new, gel printing is also experimental. Laser transfers onto gel plates is particularly temperamental. So with much trial and error (much error), I’ve been able to create images with laser transfers of my drawings (laser copies) that are one of a kind, a different product with each pull, as imperfections are part of the process. I must note that transfers must be done with a laser copier, not ink jet; it is the oily laser toner which create a resist to the water based ink/paint. And my tip is to run your copies through your laser copier 4 times. Yes, you read correctly: 4x to get enough toner to get a solid transfer.

Transfers also work best with ink drawings, better than pencil drawings. Above I created drawings on my iPad using the inking setting on my brush tool in Procreate.

What I love about monoprintmaking is that each image is unique, with beautiful imperfections that are part of the process.

After printing, I went back later into each print and hand colored the images with a combination on paint, ink and colored pencil. I wasn’t necessarily interested in creating an edition of images, but making unique pieces of art originating from my drawings.

Printmaking also allows me to unleash my contemporary graphic sensibility, something that I cannot always achieve in oil painting with uninterrupted abandon.

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