Further Painted Prints


Further Painted Prints

Explore a variety of themes to include still-life, figures, landscapes and so on. Enjoy the spontaneous results you can achieve and the freedom of working directly onto the printing plate provides.

Having attended my first life class on Saturday for some time, I was keen to use some of my drawings from then for monoprinting. I reproduced a couple of the poses in my sketchbook to help me make sense of tones and shapes, plus used a second seated pose from the original drawing.

Seated Pose 1

Further painted prints of figure - sketchbook prep

Further painted prints of figure – sketchbook prep


Sketch plus initial and subsequent notes to inform my painting on the plate.







Using A2 heavy weight cartridge paper, water-based inks and acrylic paints mixed with printing medium (supplies have arrived!) I was able to used more colour. Interestingly, the actual printing inks are less likely to grip the glass printing plate than the acrylic/medium mix, this in turn makes the print less solid. Of course, the upside is that this gives more texture to the printed finish – although the downside is that this may not be wanted!

This time, my favourite result and the most successful print coincide in print 3. It’s captured the pose, tones, the highlights and the texture of the hair.

Further painted prints of figure -Figure A Print 3

Further painted prints of figure – Figure A Print 3

Seated Pose 2


I had a look back at Degas’ monoprints and decided to roller the plate with black ink – this, incidentally, worked much better with my ink that using a brush. I then wiped and scratched out highlights and texture as I had noted in Degas’ work. I was really pleased with the first print using this method, until I realised I’d omitted the second leg! For Print 2, I misted water over the plate from standing height to create a fine spray and then working into to resultant plate with brown and black ink using a brush – with gold as the highlight. A little more fine texture was scratched into the fabric and hair using the brush handle. This was quite nice too as the background was subtle in contrast to the figure itself. Print 2 was re-established in Print 3 with brushwork and texture – the more I look at this one, the more I like it – it has an ambiguous quality that I find attractive. The final print is misted ghost of Print 3 which has eliminated much of the texture and has given an ethereal feel to the image.

Lying Pose

Further painted prints of figure - sketchbook prep

Further painted prints of figure – sketchbook prep

This pose was reproduced in my sketchbook from the original drawing, however, as it was quite complex, I found I was distorting the proportions without the model in front of me. As I had originally used an approximately A2 sized piece of paper for the drawing, I thought I could place it beneath the glass printing plate and paint over the top.  This work well for the plate, however, I ran across a couple of problems with the actual printing.



In Print 1, initially it appeared successful until I noticed that I had not given any attention to the outstretched leg. This occurred because I had used a charcoal drawing beneath the glass plate and it appeared that it had been painted, when it hadn’t. I also note that the placing of the paper has been too high and there is no border on the top edge of the print, in fact, this has occurred on each of the prints. All of the prints have pros and cons with their results, however, I am pleased that such a complex pose has been more or less achieved in them all. Mostly, I think it is due to lack of experience and skill that there isn’t an overall success in this selection, however, lessons are being learnt all the time!

Exploring landscape and/or natural forms for painted monoprints:

Apple Tree

This motif is something I revisit often, the apple tree grows outside my window and has a gnarled, twisted trunk and branches. I thought this would be a good starting point before leaping straight into a full-blown landscape.

Further painted prints - Tree and Landscape sketchbook prep

Further painted prints – Tree and Landscape sketchbook prep


I made a couple of sketches of the tree and a scene from a photograph taken on a recent holiday of a green lagoon set amongst volcanic mountains and black sand.






Using a simple image of the apple tree with blue sky and green grass, I pulled a few prints in a more painterly fashion.


Each print is on A3 white cartridge paper – unfortunately the photograph of the first print has a blue hue in its background. The sky in Print 1 is more patchy than I intended although I like the texture of the tree trunk and grass. Print 2 has a stronger sky, however, I feel that the subject ie the tree itself has suffered through its lack of presence as with Print 3 which is a misted over ghost of 2. In print 4 I used a fine spray of water on existing ink for the sky and reworked the tree and grass. This, I think worked well, in that the subject of the image, the tree, has been given more focus.

Further painted prints - Tree Print 4

Further painted prints – Tree Print 4


Moving on from this to the landscape, I decided to use the full-sized sheets of A2. The scene is a black, volcanic beach with a green lagoon, surrounded by volcanic cliffs.


Print 1 in retrospect, has worked quite well, however, the painted plate had denser pigment on the cliffs with more texture worked into it. This has not reproduced as I had hoped – probably due to my old friend the black ink. Print 2 has more depth in the cliffs due to a more dilute black ink, the image has a more desolate feeling yet doesn’t convey the actual scene. Print 3 has worked the best as an image and as the scene – looking at it now I am actually quite pleased with it. Print 4 as the ghost print of number 3 describes the scene well, however, there is no texture evident, although this would make a good under painting for working into.

Further painted prints - Landscape Tree Print 3

Further painted prints – Landscape Tree Print 3


All in all, this has been a very interesting, experimental and sometimes surprising exercise to perform. I came across a few repeat issues and learnt lessons.

Issues and Lessons Learnt:

  • The cartridge paper was a robust support for printing and the bright white set off the prints clearly
  • I was surprised that the acrylic paint mixed with printing medium was more successful in reproduction than the specific printing ink
  • The black printing ink kept catching me out as it needed to be diluted more that the other inks and paint/medium mixes
  • The registration of the paper onto the plate (hopefully the correct term) was  tricky to place, particularly with the larger prints and paper
  • I tend to get carried away and keep working on the same plate without taking my workspace into consideration, I have to be careful not to dirty my printing paper with used rags and hands (even with gloves on)
  • Am keen to try the oil based inks I have purchased, however, my drying “washing” line is being installed as I type this, so hanging prints to dry will be easier when this is done
  • With a large image, I struggled to keep the paint wet enough by the time the entire plate was complete – maybe the oil based inks will negate this
  • I have to keep an eye on the time I spend on this as I am definitely becoming addicted!!!

The freedom given by using a brush is the least confining of the of the monoprint methods and gives a full range of marks and expressive forms to include in your final print. How have you translated your subject using this freedom? Have you been able to express your ideas fully using the monoprint?

Without really thinking about it, I began exploring what else I could use and what experiments I could perform to make things work for my ideas. Using the brush was great for drawing and for using more receptive inks, I found it limiting for laying down a solid colour and used a roller for this effect. So inadvertently, I may have rushed ahead but I have learnt many lessons and am very keen to see what else can be done.

Painted Monoprint from Life


Painted Monoprints from Life

…Explore a subject as your would in a painting. A painted image on the printing plate can be transferred to your printing paper and produces an exciting and creative response to your subject.

I chose two objects as instructed with different textures and made some sketches in my sketchbook to find the composition I was happy with.

Compositional planning in A4 sketchbook with notes

Compositional planning in A4 sketchbook with notes


I was attracted to the spool of string for its textures and pattern of wound thread which was a contrast to the smooth ceramic of the milk jug.






From the selected sketch I made several prints, mostly reworking the original plate with a variety of marks, tones and ink consistencies.  Understanding the nature of the inks and how they print is a vast learning curve. Allowing the result to reveal itself without too much of a preconceived idea is a lesson in itself.

Again I have used black, brown, orange and gold inks – still awaiting delivery of my supplies but these have worked pretty well regardless.


This was interesting and quite surprising in its results. I was disappointed with the black ink, which was quite different in consistency, direct from the tube, to the other inks although they were all water-soluble and the same brand. Generally, I think that Print 3 was probably the most successful:

Print 3 Jug is much more defined - string less so

Print 3 Jug is much more defined – string less so

… although I actually like the last print the best of them all – shame about the orange blob on the string though:

Print 7 Reworked plate from print 6 , misted with water, textured marks and wiping out

Print 7 Reworked plate from print 6 , misted with water, textured marks and wiping out

Lessons learnt:

  • It may well be beneficial to test the inks before using on the image to understand how each behaves with different levels of concentration to water/solvent – even when using the same brands
  • Take care with random drips and blobs that will spoil the overall effect
  • Don’t let preconceived ideas of the end result take root!

Exercise: Experiments in Mark Making and Painted Plates


Exercise: Experiments in Mark Making and Painted Plates

With your printing plate in front of you begin to make patterns of colour using your ink and brushes.

Although I had attended a day’s workshop on monoprinting from a life model a couple of years ago, I found myself very apprehensive about starting putting the ink on the plate.  I am currently waiting on some equipment being delivered but did have some black, orange, brown and gold water based inks and a small budget roller to use, along with a sheet of glass from an old camper van, a small piece of perspex and a shallow plastic tray. This was a good start whilst waiting for the other supplies to arrive. Using some paper from an old, inexpensive sketchbook to start and then some thin card I found lurking at the back of some shelves, I was in a position to have a go.

My attempts are below:


Completely unsure of what I was doing. I was too tentative with the first print and completely forgot to leave a border! I preferred the ghost print of Print 2, it gives an impression of shapes with tails and is more pleasing being more faint.

Using black ink in a random pattern and filling in with the orange.

Print 3
Using black ink in a random pattern and filling in with the orange.


Remembered to leave a border this time but was struggling to see where to place it. Thought I was being clever by masking an area with tape. I merrily continued and didn’t worry about inking over the tape and then completely forgot to remove it from the plate before placing the paper down and making the print. Not overly successful, so many things to remember!







Here the  lessons learnt related to the amount of ink added to the plate. Thickness of ink is a major factor of success or failure. If too thin, the print won’t be strong enough, too thick and any subtleties that had been added would be obliterated, plus the ink may bleed over the edges. The ghost print shows more variations of printed ink.

Further Experiments


As previous attempts had too thick ink, I tried diluting it with water but overdid it. It blended wet in wet in the print, which, although wasn’t the intention, may be an interesting effect if it was. Plus, the ink again bled over the edges. The ghost print was more interesting and I liked the way the different colours printed over each other with less ink on the plate.


I was going for the Mr Kipling Fondant Fancies icing effect here, totally did not work as I thought.  The ghost print was nondescript. I need to be more inventive.


In Print 10, the random scratched marks disappeared apart from the strongest of them. In the ghost print, more marks were scratched out with the twig before taking the second impression. This made me think about using an already used plate as just the basis for another design.


Following on from Print 10, I surmised that the inconsistent inking with a brush must have been responsible for obliterating the scratched out marks, so this time I used a roller to apply the base layer of ink. Again, I scratched into the ink with random marks, however, it made no difference as these marks were lost in the printing too.  It must therefore, be purely down to using too much ink on the plate. As the ghost prints always seemed to be more successful, I thought I’d keep reusing the same plate, building up the design using whatever I was left with after each print. This made me less precious about the results, more experimental and adventurous. The ink application is key and I liked the use of the roller – sometimes just re-using the ink that was left on it from before.

Example of one plate re print 6

Example of one plate re print 6


This is an example of the inked plate for Print 6 – it is surprising how much the print was unlike the plate.







After all the experimentation, the final print was the one I liked best. It had brown, orange and gold ink, which was rollered, brushed on and scratched out. The only reason I stopped here was because I ran out of paper!

Print 18 Rollered with existing ink on previous plate, making overlapping squares in opposite corners, random scratch marks

Print 18
Rollered with existing ink on previous plate, making overlapping squares in opposite corners, random scratch marks

Lessons Learnt

  • Amount of ink is crucial to maintaining any mark making in the print
  • Keep a border around the design
  • Concentrate at every step to avoid unintentional transference of ink
  • Keep area clean
  • Keep hands clean
  • Expect the unexpected and work with it