Experimental Monotype Step by Step

Monotypes are odd birds, strange fruit.  It’s not a painting, yet not reproducible.  It can’t clone, but emits ghosts, flickering between positive and negative images. Since it’s almost purely process, and resists planned end results,  it’s an artist’s playground.  Here’s my process to make one print, step by step.


These are Akua intaglio Inks, made with soy oil for easy clean up. My glass worktop is an old shower door recycled by my husband.  The plate you see above is 18″ x 26″,  thin plastic from TAPP.  I’ve inked it up with warm colors and a few dark marks to get me started.  I used an etching press for the prints.DSCN0728


Above, the first run from the plate.  Below, another run, with magenta added for depth.




Now I press on a goose I carved with a Dremel engraver and etching needles on a plastic plate.

DSCN0734On the right you can see “brayer geese” from running the brayer over the plate and transfering it. Ghost geese! Then, the strange point where Chance takes her hand to the process happened.  I wanted to add a dark layer in my next transfer.  I spread random lines of dark ink and picked it up with a large roller. The rounded pattern ended up looking like bird and egg forms!  I had just seen a Motherwell at the DeYoung and was reminded of his use of dark form over light.



Here you can see the plexiglass plate set over the paper so I could get an idea of what it might look like.  Strange, but I found it compelling, so I rolled it through the press.

Suzanne Edminster, monotype, Goose Game
Suzanne Edminster, monotype, Goose Game

Finished!  At the same time, I had been working on another.  Both of these were done with the same plate.  I just kept wiping the plate and applying more colors in different variations.  Here is the second monotype in the series.



It’s exhilarating to be aligned for a moment to the unpredictable processes of making.

8 thoughts on “Experimental Monotype Step by Step

  1. I’m delighted to see the press is rolling! And that you are embracing the exhilaration of the happy accidents! One very freeing thought is if you don’t like it at first, you can’t hurt it by throwing more layers on top, and you usually end up improving it for its complexity and depth.
    Of the two I like the second one better, for the horizontal instead of up-the-middle division with the dark. Composition becomes much more of a challenge when you have to work in reverse. If you have any pre-conceived ideas ( it is possible) about what is going to happen you can draw some sharpie lines on the back of the plex to guide you in composition–even just a mark on the “sweet spot”, or a gesture…
    Great to see you approaching with openess to the medium, Suzanne, have fun on your playground!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s all play! Prototypes only… and you are right, composition is a Moebius strip kind of challenge. It is so fascinating to turn the clear surface back and forth. Thanks for your comment! I find the composition more difficult on this 18 by 26 inch surface. In a painting I could just put a mark directly to adjust composition. With printmaking, as you point out, every mark is filtered and re-filtered through reverse and negative and chancy space.


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