Monoprints and Painting for the New Year

Well it’s time to celebrate the New Year, like Christmas, it has arrived faster than a bolt of lightning.  I am so amazed at all of the different adventures that I have been on this past year.  If I wrote a story, it would seem like an endless novel.  So I decided to ring in the New Year with a fun art project that can celebrate in a small way all of the good that will come of 2011. 

Like Christmas, we gave all that we could whether large or small to the ones that we love.  Now it’s time to take a look at ourselves and begin to think about how we can become better in the coming year.  If you could take a moment of silence and really reflect on all the good and bad, it’s time to ask how can we grow and be better. 

I for one have had the blessings and resources to make this blog possible and hope to continue to make it a success.  For the New Year I decided to be better at planning my projects so that I can get information out in a more timely manner. 

I am going to begin with a project that was a college favorite, monoprints with acrylic paint (except in college we used printers ink).  Its easy, simple, you don’t need too many supplies and you can share your final results with your friends as gifts, or memoirs for your own personal use. 

Making a monoprint is simply creating a unique print by applying paint or printers ink to glass, and then applying it to an absorbent piece of paper.  When I say unique, I mean that the lines or images cannot be replicated.  Therefore, when you are in the process of creating the imagery your results are different every time.  You can freehand an image, or you can use a guide, it’s up to the creator of the image to decide on the approach to the art.  The process can be very liberating, and images are always very interesting.

Although, when I was in school we didn’t use glass, we used plexiglass.  After applying the ink, we ran the plexiglass through a press.  The press added the pressure necessary to applying the ink to the paper, without breaking the plexiglass.  But for this project, we wont use a press, we will simply use a bone folder tool to add the necessary pressure for adhering the paint to the paper, by hand.

For my project, I decided to use the monoprint technique to create different backgrounds, and then for the final steps I decided to paint the foregrounds. 

The supplies I used for this project were a piece of glass, any kind of tape ( I used scotch tape), Arches 88 paper, a variety of acrylic paint, foam core, a utility knife, Mod Podge, gold glitter, a jar for water, paper towels, several different types of paint brushes, a plain sheet of paper (8.5″ x 11″), and a pencil. 

I found as I started the project, that I kept thinking of other things I could do to enhance what I was doing.  By the end I had several new elements.  One of the things that I love the most about art, is that everything comes together as you work, and when you’re finished you feel very happy with the process and the results.

The first step was to plan whether or not I wanted to freehand my designs or to draw them in advance.  Of course, there’s always the option of doing both.  For this project I decided to freehand. 

I took my sheet of paper (8.5″ x 11″), and my ruler and outlined a rectangle that measured 4″ x 6″.  My reasoning for the size choice is that it’s standard, and easy to frame.  Next, I taped my paper to the glass so that the rectangle showed through.  The rectangle would serve as my guide through out the process. 

My surface for applying paint was ready to be used, so my next step was to cut down the paper I would be applying paint to.  I took my large sheet of Arches 88, and from that I cut down about six small sheets measuring  4″ x 6″.  I wanted to be sure to have plenty to use in case I messed up or felt that I wanted to start over.  I also wanted to be sure that the sheets matched up to the rectangle that was drawn on the sheet of paper.

They matched up really well and I was ready to get started. 

The first step was to create interesting backgrounds for the images.  Since this is a printmaking process, it was important for me to work the colors from lightest to darkest.  So my first color choice was yellow.  I typically love to work with bright yellows, I find that they are very bold.  For my theme, I thought it was quite appropriate.

With my paintbrush I applied some paint to the glass.  I tried to stay within or close to the edges of the rectangle. 

Once I was satisfied with the amount of paint that I applied to the glass, it was time to place the sheet of Arches over the paint.  Now, there are a couple of different ways to apply the paint, the first is to add a thick coat with little water.  Or you can add paint with a lot of water to carefully create thicker color layers as you go along.  The thicker the paint the sooner you can fill your paper with color, however you run the risk of smearing the paint around the paper.

After placing the sheet on the paint, making sure that the paper lined up with the rectangle guide, I took my bone folder tool and rubbed the entire back side of the piece of paper.  By doing this, I am making sure that the paper absorbs the paint on the glass.  It is in this step, that if you have a thick coat of paint, it can smear while being pressed.  The paper will only absorb so much paint at a time before the paint has to move to another location.  So I had to be careful.  After rubbing, I was ready to remove the paper from the glass.  As you can see, the paint absorbed quite well, and my background was beginning to take shape.

I took a wet paper towel and cleaned the surface of the glass, to continue layering the paint on the background.  I made sure that my paint was dry before adding more paint.  The reason for this, is to keep the paint from mixing together too much.  If not, my colors could eventually blend altogether.  That wasn’t the look I desired.

After working different colors and shapes into the background, I was ready to move to the foreground images.  For this I wanted to use a darker color that stood out, and images that represented the new year.  Prussian Blue was my color of choice, and for my brush I used a liner.  I chose the liner so that I could paint very defined clean lines.

After my images were done I set them down to dry and got started on the next step of the project.  For one of my images I wanted to create a card that I would give away as a gift. 

I measured out another piece of Arches paper large enough to create a card.  For the front of the card I decided to paint the edges all around in my Prussian Blue again.  This color for the background, in my mind, was like the midnight sky of the New Year. 

Next I took my piece of foam core and cut it down to a small rectangle that would fit into the center of the card.  Then with double-sided tape I taped it down. 

Then I brushed some Mod Podge modestly around the edges over my Prussian Blue border and gently sprinkled some gold glitter around the edge.

Once the glitter was added I shook off the excess onto a paper plate.  Then returned it to the original container. 

The last step was to decide which image I wanted to add to the front of the card.  After I decided which was the best one, I took a few pieces of double sided tape and placed them along the top and bottom of the foam core. 

I centered my image over the top and then gently pressed the image onto the tape.

The last and final step was to add my message to the inside of the card.  I kept it simple, but you get the point.  My card is beautiful and ready to go!!!

To everyone I wish you a New Year full of blessings, happiness, joy, and growth.  Thank you for sticking with me up to this point!!!!  Keep an eye out for more great articles…..coming soon.

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