A monotype is a hand-pulled, unique original print made by developing an image on a plate, often, but not necessarily, a flat piece of plastic. The image is created by adding and subtracting ink. The artist uses rollers, called brayers, and any number of other tools to lay color on the plate, remove or interfere with it. The color must be added in very thin layers because the pressure of the press will push it and smear it if the ink is too thick.
After the image is ready, the plate is covered with a piece of paper, damp or dry, and run through an etching press. This process is called pulling the print, and why monotypes are referred to as hand-pulled prints. As with all prints, the monotype is a mirror of the image on the plate: something never seen before!
How are monotypes different from other prints?
Monotypes are not intaglio (carved). Because monotypes are made on an uncarved surface, they are unique. Unlike etchings, in which the image is carved into the plate and the ink is sunk into the grooves of the carving, and unlike wood or linoleum prints, in which the ink lies on the surface of the plate and the lines are white, in monotype the image is removed almost entirely by the press. Sometimes enough ink remains after the first pull to make a second, or even a third, "ghost" of the original image. But the images are never exactly the same. They are unique - mono. They are not numbered like most print editions. Afterwards, reproductions can be made using a photographic process.
Why make monotypes instead of intaglio editions?
The pleasure of the monotype comes from the element of surprise. There is something that happens between the paper and the plate and the press that could never be achieved by direct application of paint to paper. This leaves room for accidents, for forgiveness and sometimes even for loss. The image is always a revelation and often completely different from the original concept.
In my monotypes I feel I am channeling the life that is all around me. In every season the colors and clarity, the emotional intensity of the landscape thrill and inspire me to express what I see. By day, by night, my eyes and heart reach out, desire to touch and participate in the story. Because of this I am never completely without hope, never bored, never alone.
The monotypes emerge quite naturally from the drama of the energy of ink, appearing, disappearing, expanding, flowing into and out of one plane after another.
Why print instead of painting?
The reason I print rather than paint is that it frees me both from the desire to control and the fear of making a “mistake.” Printing has a certain unpredictability. There is something wild in it that suits and excites me. I can play long or short on the plate, adding or subtracting color, texture and design, before committing the image to paper. In my prints I work from a feeling, a movement, a sense of rhythm and dance, sometimes starting with an idea, but most often with a gesture and an emotion.