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Monotype: Quick Links
What Is a Monotype in Art? (Meaning)
In Latin, mono means one and type means kind. Just think, “one-of-a-kind”.
You only get one print (one-of-a-kind) from the whole monotype printing process.
Essentially, a monotype is a painting done on a smooth surface, which is then imprinted (stamped) onto a piece of paper when it’s still wet. You can only imprint this painting on paper once.
This type of artwork is a perfect blend between a painting and a print.
How Are Monotypes Made?
Here are the basic steps on how professional artists create monotypes.
First, the artist gets a smooth, clean surface to paint on. This surface is usually a glass, plastic, or metal printing plate.
Then comes the fun part!
The artist covers the plate with 1 or more colors of oil paint, printing ink, watercolors, gouache, or whatever kind of pigment they prefer.
Then, the artist can also quickly rub and scratch parts of the paint or ink off the plate to create the artwork. They can also add texture by adding materials like leaves, stencils, fabrics, etc, on top and/or under the painting.
While the painting is still wet, and with the painted side up, the plate is now placed on the bed of a rolling printing press. It’s then covered with a sheet of damp paper and a set of printing blankets (used to soften the pressure on the printing plate).
The plate is then moved through the press, the damp paper is pressed completely agains the printing plate, and the artwork appears (in reverse) on the paper.
There’s been an increase use of gel printing plates being used to make monotypes. This type of plate let’s you make a monotype easily without needing a printing press.
What Are Ghost Prints?
While printing a monotype, most of the paint or ink is removed while going through the printing press.
However, sometimes it’s also possible to make more than one print from the same printing plate, and this is called a ghost print.
For example, let’s say you paint a printing plate with one solid color of oil paint. Then, you lay leaves on top of the paint. When you put the printing plate through the printing press (with a sheet of paper, of course), there will still be paint left underneath the leaves.
If you remove the leaves and reuse the printing plate to create another print (which will be of textured leaves), then this print is called a ghost print. It’s an easy way to make textured prints, and they look beautiful!
What Is the Difference Between a Monotype and a Monoprint?
A monotype is a painting done on a smooth surface, which is then imprinted onto a piece of paper.
A monoprint is a one-of-a-kind print that forms part of a series. Each finished print in this series differs from the other, but a common component is present in each print.
In other words, the process of creating a monoprint or a monotype is the same, but with monoprints, there’s some kind of pattern or part of an image that is continually repeated in each print.
Artists often use metal plates that have been engraved (etched) for monoprints. Or, to create a repeated texture, sometimes artists will use materials such as leaves, fabric, twine, tissue paper, and whatever else they can find.
So now that you know what monotype prints are, go ahead and buy art (my two favorite spots for finding affordable monotypes are Etsy and Saatchi Art), support independent artists, and HAVE FUN shopping!