1.4 Combination monoprints

The purpose of this exercise was to combine techniques to produce interesting and creative prints from several different subjects.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Create prints from your own subjects and imagination which combine two or more of the techniques
  • Try to find four contrasting subjects
  • Make several versions of the subject so that you have a selection to choose from
  • Make preparatory sketches and drawings to work out compositions and ideas
  • Print on a range of different papers to achieve different effects
  • Keep your textures simple and be bold with your masks
  • Try different colour schemes for similar subjects

Still life, painted monoprint with texture

The first combination monoprint was a development of the still life I created in Your first monoprints.

The preparatory drawing was made with charcoal and Conte Crayons and takes inspiration from my visits to the Matisse in the studio exhibition in the Royal Academy.

Flowers and puppets 03
Charcoal and Conte Crayon – A2 sized

The print was made at Kew Print Studio using the large press. The monoprint was painted on a single plate and uses texture scratched into the ink and painting and splashing with white spirits.

Teapots & mask 03
Teapot and vase, monoprint – A2 sized

Reportage monoprint with layers, masks and backdrawing

The second combination print was created by combining several commuter sketches into a single images. I drew the original sketches on my daily commute into Waterloo and then scanned and arranged these in Photoshop.

The printing was done in Kew Print Studios in a single 4-hour session. The print was built up using layers of masked monoprints and two layers of different coloured backdrawing.

I’m quite pleased with the final print. I was very careful to get the registration as accurate as possible whilst keeping the paper clear and fingerprint free.

Commuter print
The 7:10 to Waterloo – Masked monoprint and backdrawing. A2 sized.

Self portrait, painted and textured layered monoprint

I was interested in exploring making a self portrait using monoprinting. I did several sketches as a starting point.

I created two painted monoprints and added texture and a second overlay. I wanted to achieve a dark black mood in the prints that matched the way I was feeling.

These prints were made at home and the additional texture created by an ‘unclean’ print adds to  the effect. It also meant I had to really layer on a thick layer of ink to get dense colour. The drip effect (which I quite like), was created using white spirit.

Portrait 01
Self portrait 01 – two colour monoprint
Portrait 02
Self portrait 02 – two colour monoprint


Urban landscape mixed media with two colour backdrawing

My last combination monoprint was inspired by the work of Lucy Jones and is a view of Chiswell Street which is where I’m currently working.

I experimented in my sketchbook and thumbnailed different compositions with different amounts of distortion.

I created two different collages using the pencil drawing as a template. The collage papers were anything that came to hand that was the right colour, and included newspaper, tissue paper and coloured cartridge paper. I used spray mount to stick the layers of collage to the images.

The first image uses two different coloured backdrawing layers; one black and one opaque white. It’s the first time I’d used the Intaglio opaque white, and was far too faint to use for backdrawing. You can only really see it on the black rectangle of paper.

I liked the effect of the backdrawing on the tissue paper which created a softer line with a kind of smudge. I added a final layer of white highlights using a white acrylic pen.

I deliberately worked right up to the border on both of these images.

Chiswell monoprint 01
Chiswell Street 01 – Collage, back drawing, and acrylic pen

The second collage used similar techniques but I didn’t use a white backdrawing layer and added some liquid watercolor retouching.

Chiswell monoprint 02
Chiswell Street 02 – Collage, backdrawing, liquid watercolour and acrylic pen

Research point – contemporary printmakers who rely heavily on texture in the prints

Find some contemporary printmakers who rely heavily on texture in the prints. What sort of textures have they used to create effects? How well has it worked?

I’ve selected Jim Anderson as the printmaker who uses alot of texture in some of his prints. I’ve chosen him because I can relate strongly to the narrative and visually engaging pictures; these are highly inventive combination prints that tell a story.

Typically he will use four or five different print techniques in a single image. He makes his own paper and experiments with many different ‘ingredients’, which means that the home made paper already has alot of texture and colour before any printing is applied; this is a key part of the visual ‘feel’.

The different print techniques (e.g. collagraph, linocut, stencil), all have their own qualities and strengths. In an interview he says, “My aim is not to produce identical images but to achieve surprisingly painterly effects”.

I think the texture in the prints works well by adding to the strength of the images. It serves a number of purposes:

  • The prints have a very specific feel – a kind of tone of voice
  • The heavy texture in the background combined with colour reinforces the content hierarchy, with focus usually centred on a figure in the act of doing something
  • The texture gives depth and another level of interest to the images


What went well

  • Drawing the teapot still life using charcoal and pastel, which are quite loose and expressive mediums gave me a strong feel for how I should use the ink on the monoprint plate, which is equally free and expressive.
  • I really like the teapot still life print. The strength and depth of colour and strong use of texture, particularly the use of white spirit to dissolve away some of the ink and create a ‘splatter’ effect work really well.
  • The visual distortion and use of colour provide a cohesive composition and content hierarchy.
  • I was please with the multi layering of stencils and backdrawing on the commuter print. The colour and texture work nicely to provide a sense of depth. I used the backdrawing to add tone as well as line, and this also worked well.
  • The mixed media approach to the Chiswell Street prints have potential; I like the way the ink takes to the tissue paper, and the misalignment between the collage and line creates and interesting effect.

What would I do differently/better

  • I don’t think the Chiswell Street images work as a whole, but I can see a lot of potential in the technique; this is something for me to explore in the future.
  • The opaque white Intaglio ink didn’t work for backdrawing at all – not to be repeated.






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