Research Point: Monoprints by Degas

14/03/16

Research Point: Monoprints by Degas

Take a look at monoprints by Degas. How have these  been achieved? How successful are they? What can you learn from his prints?

I have been collecting a few examples of Degas’ monoprints on Pinterest and have a pin board dedicated to them: https://uk.pinterest.com/ginaemmett/mono-prints-by-degas/

Quite a few of Degas’ monoprints appear to have been made by inking the entire plate and removing ink to indicate the subject matter, whether that is a figure, an object or light. He seems to have used a variety of tools to do this, although many marks are soft as if he has used a cloth or rag. Occasionally, scratch marks can be seen to help denote tone and texture. He quite clearly also uses his fingers to press into the ink and smudge away to soften the image. A lot of the time he worked very tonally and, in the examples I’ve seen, there is minimal line drawing. Some of the images appear to be second or third ghost pressings that he has worked into with pastel, chalks and washes.

I think these have worked beautifully and have great mood and atmosphere. There seems to be an added intimacy compared with his paintings.

I can learn many things from Degas’ prints, not least to be free and expressive. Although, many colours can be used within the monoprinting process itself, the use of tone is still key to producing atmospheric images. Almost anything may be used to make a mark, and those marks can be incredibly subtle or strongly dominant. Even as each print is unique, the inked plate itself can be re-used and modified many times producing different effects yet underpinned by the original. The ghost prints used as under-paintings for pastel work is something I would like to try out, as well as washes and maybe, when I use oil based inks, there maybe an element of resist that can also be explored.

Links to articles in relation to my research:

http://uk.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1285649/a-brief-history-of-monoprints-and-monotypes-from-edgar-degas

http://www.artcafe.net/artcafe/ah/degas/

http://www.monoprints.com/history.php

http://www.akuainks.com/newsletters/newsletterhist.html

Degas Monoprint - girl brushing her hair

Degas Monoprint – girl brushing her hair

 

I really liked this print – it’s low on detail but high on impact. My observations are noted along side with this and the other print I’ve chosen. Both will be added to my sketchbook as a constant reminder of what may be achieved.

 

 

 

Degas Monoprint - The Fireside

Degas Monoprint – The Fireside

 

 

This is beautifully depicted and is packed full of atmosphere and mood. Annotated with observations and inserted into my sketchbook.

 

 

 

 

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