Friday, April 30, 2010

How I Create Monotypes (usually)

 "Nowhere to Hide"
 Plate size: 10" x 8"
 Monotype on Rives BFK

Amie Roman let me know about great idea by Carol Nunan over at Horsley Printmakers. Carol has a post on her blog, Carol's Original Prints, asking printmakers to post their techniques for creating monotypes and monoprints. Amie has a great post about how she creates monoprints, please go check it out. Also, you should take a look at the work of Bruce Waldman who creates monotypes by drawing with the edge of his brayer (among other techniques). Bruce is an incredible artist and was the first one who taught me how to do monotypes. Amie had a great post about Bruce where he describes his way of working which you can see here.

So, in the spirit of sharing, here's my humble contribution:

I create monotypes using oil-based litho and/or etching inks. Oil-based inks give me alot of "open" time (several hours) in which to work into the ink before it dries. Using a brayer, I completely cover a plexiglass plate with ink until I achieve the density of color that I am looking for. I can moderate how opaque or transparent this ink layer is at this stage by controlling how much ink I apply to the plate. It helps to hold the plate up to the light to see how much ink coverage I have before I start creating my image. This is one of the advantages to using plexiglass for your monotype plate rather than metal or other opaque material.

Next, I use any number of tools to remove the ink from the plate. This process is referred to as the "reductive" method of creating a monotype. My tools include paper towels (made of recycled paper), cotton swabs, fabrics of different textures, brushes and anything else that I can find that will leave an interesting impression in the ink. But I'd say the tool I use most is a paper towel piece wrapped around the tip of my finger.

After I finish creating the image, I hold the plate up to the light since the plate is transparent and the light that comes through gives me a more accurate "read" on how the plate will ultimately print onto the paper. I see a big difference between the way the plate looks on the glass table I work on and when I hold it up to the light.

The final step is to create my print by running it through my etching press. I use pressure that is light enough to transfer the ink to the paper without mushing and spreading the ink and heavy enough to emboss the paper with the edge of the plate as with an etching.

As I've mentioned in previous posts here and here, I find this method of working addictive. I encourage anyone with an interest to get started as soon as possible. I predict you'll never want to stop.

Happy creating!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dealing with Vivisection

 "Vivisection Victims #809,689,432 & 3"
Plate size: 18" x 24"
Aquatint Etching

Keeping with themes that define my work and that mean the most to me, I am working with an issue that invariably cuts to the heart of how misguided and immoral we can be as humans. I am specifically referring to vivisection, torture of animals in the name of science. The word "vivisection" literally means "the action of cutting into or dissecting a living body."

Non-human animals are so completely at our mercy that they become easy victims of a multi-billion dollar industry that profits from and justifies its horrific practices by using the defense that it is all done for the good of humanity. I find it ironic that one of the practices that turns humans into monsters, vivisection, is referred by some as necessary and good, proclaimed as something done in service to all.

I have nightmares after seeing hidden videos of what goes on behind closed doors in animal laboratories. It's amazing that we're into the 21st century and these barbaric practices that date back to ancient times still exist and constitute a profitable business for corporations, universities, animal dealers, cage and food manufacturers, animal breeders and transporters and scientists receiving grants.

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that "crush videos" are legal. I am compelled to make a declaration of my own. Cruelty in all its forms needs to be prohibited and not promoted in any civilized society of humans.

You may be familiar with the quote by Gandhi:
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." 
Or this quote by George Bernard Shaw:
"The Anti-Vivisector does not deny that physiologists must make experiments and even take chances with new methods. He says that they must not seek knowledge by criminal methods, just as they must not make money by criminal methods. He does not object to Galileo dropping cannon balls from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa; but he would object to shoving off two dogs or American tourists."
I just couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monotype Addiction

Plate Size: 8" x 10"

When I just want to get into my studio and work spontaneously I've been turning more and more to monotypes to get my creative juices flowing. I find the work addictive since it's such a fast and satisfying way to produce a print. It's also a way that I can quickly experiment with different ways to ink the plate and helps give me ideas for other printmaking media. 

I also find that I can be much more emotionally expressive with my monotypes. My work is based on an empathy with non-humans and I feel it's important for the personality and energy of the subject to come through. Monotypes are so much more spontaneous for me than painting and it's obviously much more in the moment than etching.

The above monotype is part of a series that I am working on about the plight of animals in zoos, circuses and laboratories.