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what is a monotype?

A monotype is a one-of-a-kind print made by applying paint or ink onto a smooth plate (such as plexiglass) with brushes or brayers, and transferring this image onto paper by pressing. Unlike relief, intaglio or lithographic prints, the plate is wiped clean after the print is done and cannot be replicated, as there is nothing to retain the original image for re-inking and repetition. (If some element of the original print is repeated — for instance, working over a “ghost” impression made by pulling a second print from an already-inked and pressed plate, or making a unique print over an etched image — the resulting image is called a monoprint.)

Monoprinting is often called a “painterly” form of printmaking, which can be true. In the difficult middle moments of a working on a print I sometimes wonder, why not just paint this directly? But then I remember: because the results are different, and often upredictable, which leads to things that I cannot imagine in advance. I find this artistically liberating. 


There are many techniques used in monoprinting. This photo sequence shows one method, done without a printing press. (To be updated… I have since acquired a press!)

< click on photo to start slide sequence

located on the Big Island of Hawai’i

ph. 808.896.8015


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