Equal amounts intentional and spontaneous, the works chosen for our International Monoprint & Monotype Invitational celebrate the flexibility of these mediums and the freedom of expression it allows. Read on to hear from the artists about their process, techniques, and inspirations.
Blake Blanco, Smoke Will Rise and Juggernaut. "Venturing into the oblivion that is texture I have set normality aside, and forced a new wave of visual possibilities within my portraiture. Although distorted and deformed these figures represent an otherworldly spectacle of opulent decadence, forcing a simultaneous state of abstraction and a cohesion of the collective formations."
Taiko Chandler, Daybreak #4. "Since I was introduced by a friend to the idea of using sintra board for printmaking, I have been exploring the range of techniques and possibilities this material provides to expand my portfolio of tools for printmaking. The current work was made using two sintra boards, adding layered adhesive sheets and sandpaper cuts to make a collagraph that is enhanced by adding lines with a sharp tool as drypoint. After running the plate through the press two times, I added inked stencils to complete the composition (running it through the press an additional two times). The more often the plate is run through the press, the more it deteriorates – an effect that causes the plate tone to become uneven. As the plate evolves, I sometimes cut out part of the adhesive sheet shapes and sometimes add more shapes to change the pattern. I like that the plate never stays the same. The evolution creates ambiguity and potential, stretching the material and the techniques needed to tame it, in a way that is endlessly exciting."
Susan Denniston, Return to the Fields. "This print is from my Black Ink series of prints, created using fragments of vintage quilts. Carefully breaking the stitches of old quilts and opening them up, I created prints by laying a section of the tattered and torn inside of the quilt on an inked plate.
I had not anticipated the prints would evoke a sense of ravaged fields, water, and sky: a sense of our land in flux.
Return to the Fields was printed from a fragment of an old “postage stamp” quilt. It had such tiny stitching it was hard to get to the inside. But once I did, I used a section of the inside of the fragile quilt top to share its story, a story of dividing the land.
This land — their land, your land, my land, our land — that is and has been a source of such strife and sustenance."
Opal DeRuvo, Bathtub. "This monotype was made as a 3 color reduction, where each color was rolled on one at a time and the image was wiped away sequentially from each layer. Lastly a hint of charcoal was transferred to the print from the original preparatory drawing."
Beth Dorsey, Reused Grids III and Reused Grids XII. "The work explores the tension between structure/intentionality and randomness/ spontaneity. I am attracted to everyday objects with repeatable elements/patterns: venetian blinds, textured fabric scraps, grates, building facades, windows, and corrugated card board. These repurposed objects and patterns form the foundation of the images. Layers are added which obscure and enhance the structure.
Structure, routine, and patterns form the underpinnings of modern life, they are always present but rarely noticed. The images start with these ‘unseen’ but ubiquitous patterns. Making visible the unseen highlights their importance and utility just as the patterns and routines of our daily life provide freedom and productivity. The patterned foundation allows the spontaneity and individuality of the subsequent layers. Each new layer obscures and enhances the one underneath.
The interplay of these contradictions stimulates the mind and eye. Meaning occurs when they intersect and fuels the creative process."
Christina Fedyk, Union and Land Key. "These prints explore the interplay between our physical and emotional selves and our quest to find balance. I wanted to create the feeling of something solid and tangible whilst also suggesting fleeting, emotional complexities and nuances. Transforming these ideas through printmaking reveals a journey in to bold statement, mark making and texture."
Kevin Fletcher, The Unintended Consequences of Inherited Falsehoods and Falmouth Harbor Remembered, In Late Summer. "I've always liked the possible spontaneous approach to monotype. I'd not found that in other print media. I'd been working in etching and relief printmaking but sought a more painterly resolve, as I was doing oil painting then. Later, I settled on this reductive manner, which encouraged a departure from the known or observed subject and, instead, seemed to conjure up the imagined or unknowable. I draw upon memory of travels, but the work leads into other areas, resolving in ways I cannot predict or expect at the inception of making. Only when a print appears resolved, with a consistent rhythm and cadence of execution, coming into equilibrium -- can I assess its meaning or approximate its references, which arise out of the subconscious halfway through. My titles follow an interpretation of my reading if that subject. Of course a viewer, having references of their own, may recognize something else."
Paul Furneaux, Sea Notes. "My main studio process is Mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing) which allows me to print the woodblock with watercolour. However on occasion I will combine other elements with the mokuhanga. Here i have combined two elements of mokuhanga which I have chine colled on to a heavier paper. Through the process of pasting these elements together I have over printed with three etching plates. This has merged painterly marks along with a delicate etched line. At the bottom I have also chine colled (pasted) a page from an old japanese lined notebook. This has introduced the strong blue line underpining the print. Throughout the work I have added small nuances with a graphite or coloured pencil. The monoprint is from a small series of works related to observing the sea."
Jane Goldman, Clean Air Act and Howard's Universe.
"On the Global Warming Series: Buster Keaton of silent films represents man experiencing an ongoing existential crisis.
On the Universe Series: I am fascinated by technologies that extend human vision, and how the discoveries they make possible advance human understanding. Through telescopes’ ability to register different kinds of light we probe the mysteries of the cosmos: dark matter, dark energy, black holes, remote galaxies. We even transcend time and space, viewing images of the early universe and the birth and death of stars.
On technique: I paint in watercolor for its translucent qualities, which translate into depicting colored light. Working on a press expands my visual range: watercolor monotype merges the interactions of water, color, and gravity. Combined with multiple layering possibilities, this medium has its own unique characteristics. I can create work that appears to arrest the motion of water and make gravity tangible; to make seen what’s unseen."
Keiko Hara, Verse Ma and KI-Memory 7-3. "Instead of an edition of identical images, I often create a series of one-of-a-kind images. Each print is a variation created by changing the registration, inking and overlaying during the image-making process, each time a new print is pulled.
My technique allows me to leave a clear record of my process by altering colors and their location and by making different marks and shapes for each new print. The layers of marks become fluid, there is a heightened potential for a new dimension of meaning.
Changing light and reflection from the environment add yet another layer of printed imagery to my hand-printed work."
Hannah Hunter, Green Wind and Calypso's Breeze. "Using simple printmaking techniques and collage, I explore the intersection of botanical art and quilt making, key sources of inspiration and tradition. I work intuitively, using leaves gathered from my surroundings, to create prints which I then cut and piece together. These pieced papers create a visual journal, each print a moment of time and a remembrance of place."
Eva Isaksen, Wish You Were Here and Looking for Light #1. "I work with large scale collage on canvas, as well as with monotypes. I love the endless possibilities that monotypes allows for. In this exhibition I have one piece (Wish You Were Here) with some collage elements from monotypes on this papers. These thin papers were cut up and adhered to the piece. The other piece (Looking for Light) is a monotype made by using cut out stencils that I have printed onto the paper. Both pieces are inspired from shapes and light in nature."
Michael Kareken, Backyard at Night, Tree Near Second Beach, and Branches, Humphrey Head. "The prints were made by painting with black watercolor on a thin polyester plate, which was then printed on a press. Unlike oil monotypes, the image must be completely dry before being printed. This means that it can be developed over many hours, even days. I use additive and subtractive processes to make the images, putting down washes and marks that are allowed to dry before being lifted and revised by re-wetting the plate.
Backyard at Night is part of the series Night Shadows, inspired by late night walks through my Minneapolis neighborhood. The work addresses feelings of isolation brought on by the pandemic.
Branches, Humphrey Head and Tree Near Second Beach are from a series exploring the landscape where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. These images take a subjective view of the landscape – looking up – to suggest a “child’s eye” sense of scale or perspective."
Karen Kunc, Terra Incognita. "Terra Incognita is part of my Blue Moment series and alludes to the refraction of light off snow and ice crystals, and the light transitioning in winter twilight, a perennial inspiration that examines such immersions and illusions of the color blue.
This monoprint is made with the “pressure printing” process, in which various cut out cardstock forms are placed on the backside of the paper, as it goes thru the press on an inked-up plexi plate. The pressure is set “just so”, so that a full impression reveals the cut shapes, and other areas are without full pressure leaving lighter, ghost-y areas and halos. The residue impressions on the plexi are also used again, so a generative process enables reversals, layers, ghost prints. I further worked the prints in this Blue Moment series by hand coloring with brush and gouache paint, applied through stencils or directly, and further transferred layers of ink in an evolutionary process."
Kathryn Lesh, Rural Route and Nude. "My monotype process includes rolling and painting inks onto a plate and creating images, textures and marks in a primarily subtractive method. Depending on the piece, it will be sent through the press once or multiple times. I work from reference images and sketches, altering elements as I make my way through the process. It is a private journey usually involving moments, people or places that figure prominently with me on an emotional level."
Betty Merken, Illumination, Scarlett #09-21-01. "My Illumination Series of monotypes explores the effect of color and its illumination.
Inspired by observations of the manner in which light affects color with its passing movement and changes, I am fascinated by the power of color to evoke emotion and to encourage contemplation, allowing the viewer to become the subject of the work.
Elements of both structure and fragility appear in my work - a balancing act which I hope speaks to our own very human condition and characteristics.
I believe that color is material and I use it as such. The edges of rectangular forms become indistinct, making these works appear seamless, as if they are colored air, the color appearing to be lit from within. Color, form, and space articulate the materiality of the oil based printmaking ink, very similar to that of oil paint.
I build these works up architecturally, giving them an innate sense of order and an enduring sense of clarity, utilizing a minimum number of elements for a maximum effect.
Color then becomes a place to be; it encourages the viewer’s response to become central to the content of the work, creating a sense of inevitability which reveals a sense of oneness with each viewer."
Bill Murphy, Leena. "Before beginning the monoprint Leena, I made a charcoal drawing the same size as I planned to make the print. I worked on these in late 2014 and early 2015. When I was happy with the charcoal “study”, I began the monoprint using soy based Akua intaglio inks, which are quite different from the oil based etching inks I used previously. The biggest difference is the drying time of each; the Akua ink basically doesn’t dry on a non-porous surface, which means there is no pressure to rush to get it done and printed in the same day. Using the Akua ink, which has no toxic driers, I could safely manipulate the image for days or weeks.
I use a number of tools to make my monoprints, including bristle brushes, brayers, soft rags, parts of hair combs, my thumb, squeegees, and just about anything that can make a mark or roll on a bit of ink.
This ability to shift and modify the image, to wipe out large sections and then add back again are the reasons why I choose to use the monoprint medium. In my opinion it is actually more forgiving than a charcoal drawing, allowing for much manipulation.
Leena was a student of mine at Wagner college a number of years ago; she took a few of my studio classes. She also worked as a monitor in the printmaking studio. What was it about Leena that made me want to draw her? The answer will read like a list of platitudes, but they are all true. Hardworking, bright, reliable. Her face fascinated me; it was the image of youth, though not quite naïve – there was a degree of emotional intelligence I didn’t usually encounter in my students."
Sue Oehme, Peek On The Other Side 3 and Plus Minus #7. "The two earlier works from 2017 (Plus Minus 3 and 7) were directly related to my very first prints (for myself) in a very long time. As such, I was filled with energy and these drawings really represent that. Using watercolor, I drew directly from the tube of paint onto the surface of the plate, then printed in one or two layers onto Arches 88 paper. The later print from 2020 (Peek on the Other Side 3) was a response to the pandemic and my overwhelming need to find order in the chaos of life at the time. I used multiple different types of plates including copper and solar plates, which were all inked in a quiet palette (at least for me!). The arrangement of the composition was dictated by a set image size which I filled with plates a varying sizes. This print has both oil ink and watercolor elements."
Wendy Orville, Union Bay No. 3 and Three Trees, Union Bay. "Both monotypes in this exhibit are inspired by my experience kayaking on Union Bay Wetlands in Seattle. I was trying to capture the feeling of floating in this quiet, luminous world of marsh grasses, blue herons and shifting reflections, not knowing what would come into view next."
Jenny Robinson, After Piranesi and Bay Bridge 12. After Piranesi was printed during the artists fellowship residency in Vermont in 2016. Underneath the arches on the south bank of the Thames in London, Robinson's hometown, there is an oversized tile mural which reproduces the original etching of Piranesi’s depiction of the construction of Blackfriars bridge 1766. Interested in how scale can change and distort one's visual relationship to an object or place, (the original etching is 16 x 24 inches), Robinson focused on a section of the enlarged image as a starting point to create an abstracted homage to one of her heroes in print, Piranesi. The resulting print, created in a small varied edition of 4 unique images, is a combination of drypoint and monotype printed on gampi tissue, a material that references both the strength of the subject matter and its fragility. The gampi is then seamed together and backed with sekishu paper for added strength.
Lee and Dan Ross, Timeline 2. "Timeline 2 is part of a series of monoprints we created exploring untying time. With the disruption of events that marked our calendar we found new ways to measure time. On our daily hikes along the Brule River and Lake Superior in northeast Minnesota we were fascinated by how time has changed the course of the river and reshaped rocks and boulders. The trail ends where the river meets the lake and the lake meets the sky."
Ron Rumford, Columns Blue. "My prints grow out of the process of their making. Each print is built as a sequence of choices about color and technique as one step leads to the next. Faith and intuition guide the journey to a stopping point, a place where something unexpected comes into being bearing a richness and clarity that is more than the ingredients."
Sarah Smelser, Morning Walk XI, The Great Divide I, and The Great Divide II. "Hard-edges, grids, and flawed forms of our fabricated world inform a conversation between the living, synthetic, uncontrollable, and controlled. I enjoy this conversation and participate in it - using memory and impression - to assemble a non-traditional landscape. On a morning walk, I study how people organize their lives and property; I consider how plots of land look from above, how they fit together. Transitions, such as gravel-to-rock, curb-to-road, and public-to-private, can be felt and heard; they dictate one’s mood, movement, and attire. I imagine a map and wander inside it, looking for what is native, imported, predator, or prey."
Roger Sutcliffe, Born to Run and One More Chance. "This work is a monoprint from a series entitled The Plate and Beyond reflecting my interest in the interaction of lines, shapes, colours and pattern.
My monoprints are made through an intuitive process using collagraph plates, stencils, and masks made from found materials. A multi-layered printing process is used. My process of working allows me to respond to the developing image as each plate is added. Further materials are impressed onto the printed surface, including inked or non-inked materials. Pressing of “ghosts” or “cognates,” may also be incorporated. This results in the development of prints with complex relationships between shapes, colour and surface texture. From the pressure applied in the printing process and the resulting embossment of the materials used, the images can even reflect the history of collagraph plates and processes."
John Willis, Red Facing Fear #3. "The motif in Red Facing Fear #3 is based on my sense of the fragility and precariousness of contemporary life. The structure suggests a sense of power, where one addition or change–such as adding a red line down the middle of the composition–can reinforce or destabilize the picture plane. This resembles how daily routines and a sense of normalcy can be derailed by a slight or sometimes violent event, which in turns creates instability and ambiguity. In creating Red Facing Fear #3 I used a combination of relief and monotype blocks. The relief block provided stability and replication. The monotype block allowed for endless variations, which I created through multiple monotype techniques including layering subtle colors. This process of making monoprints parallels the dynamics of the world and its complicated ever-changing nature."