“Monotype: Mediums and Methods for Painterly Printmaking,” Julia Ayres (Watson-Guptill, 2001). Buy the book here.
The book that I’m recommending this week is a practical guide to monotype/monoprint (purists say that they are two different kinds of prints, though I tend to say ‘monoprint’ to mean both). A monotype is a print that: starts with an application of ink on a surface, either rolled or painted; is further manipulated by adding to it or wiping parts away; results in a one-off print. This differs from intaglio or relief printmaking because you can make an image very quickly by just painting with pigment, laying paper over it, and applying some pressure.
Julia Ayres provides a useful introduction to the history of the monotype, and follows that with chapters containing specific instructions on the different ways of making these prints: additive monotype, subtractive monotype, contact monotype; working with watercolours, oil based inks, and lithographic inks; using different surfaces as the substrate, such as mylar, plexiglass, paper, and metal plates; combining the basic ‘paint on a surface’ technique with collage, chine colle, masks and stencils; how to print using a printing press, or just with the pressure of your hand. It’s beautifully illustrated at every turn, and while it’s not strictly a step-by-step handbook, it contains enough information to get one started on exploring this easy and versatile medium.
'Santa Fe Tiger Lily', Julia Ayres, monotype, 24" x 18"
I bought this book myself some four years ago, and a lot of what I learned from Julia Ayres I now use in monotype/monoprint classes that I have taught. But you don’t have to be a teacher, or even own a printing press, to get a lot from it. All you need are some watercolour tubes and brushes, a piece of plexiglass, some Japanese paper, and a wooden spoon, and you can start creating painterly prints on your kitchen table.