Monotypes, are also known as painterly prints because they are essentially printed paintings. The characteristic of this printmaking method is that no two prints are alike; although images can be similar. The appeal of the monotype lies in its unique translucency that creates a quality of light very different from a painting on paper. The beauty of this media is also its spontaneity because it explores printmaking, drawing and painting mediums and the results are often a surprise. Some purists think that the reason to make monoprints instead of paintings on paper is blurred. For me, the spontaneity of the process of combining the printed inks and textures on paper create a surface is unlike any other. People often ask me what is the difference between a monoprint and a monotype. A monotype is creating by covering a metal, acrylic or cardboard plate entirely with etching ink. This process can be carried out using a variety of tools. Brushes, cotton swabs, toothpicks, foam board, fingers etc. Using these tools one removes ink selectively for the lighter and white areas of the image to occur. One can also start with a clean plate and apply ink in various ways, but etching ink is very stiff and unmanageable and difficult to work. it is often difficult to achieve the intended effect. If the ink is too thick it will form a blot and if it is too thin it might not show up at all. When the picture on the plate is finished it is run through an etching press usually on dampened rag paper to form a unique kind of print. Almost all the ink transfers to the paper so it is not possible to make a second print. Sometimes you can run the plate through the press and the resulting print is called a "ghost" because it is a much paler version of the original
The process of the Monotypes and Monprints are the same, but when doing monotypes the artist works on a clean and unetched plate. Monoprints, however, always have a pattern or part of an image that is constantly renewed in each print. Artists often use etched plates, incorporating some kind of texture such as lace, leaves, fabric to add texture. I prefer to use a variety of specialty papers and stencils to create my images. I also add collage elements to finish off the print in a process called chine colle'. Monoprinting is a challenging technique because not only is the image reversed when printed but while working on the plate it is impossible to see what the final result will be. Many effects can be achieved making monoprints that can not be achieved using any other process. It is the mystery and the surprise of the finished print that continually peaks my interest.
Chine Colle' is a method that requires the use of two kinds of paper one durable which serves as a base and one which is lightweight such such as Japanese papers. The image is printed onto the Japanese paper which is glued to the more durable paper and then run through the press. Famous Artists using the monoprint and monotype techniques are: Edgar Degas Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse. Today many contermporary artists use this process to create new and innovative images The beauty of the monotype medium is its spontaneity and its flexibility to incorporate the mediums of printmaking, painting, drawing and collage in one image. It is the perfect vehicle for a mixed media image.