There’s something about the element of surprise that delights and make you smile. Think of a child watching a magic trick or someone blowing a giant bubble. Creating a monoprint feels the same way to me. You’re never quite sure what the final result will be and new discoveries are always at hand.

A monoprint is a form of printmaking where only one image is made. Ink or paint is applied to a plate (metal, glass or plexiglass) and marks are created by either addition or subtraction. Paper is placed over the surface, burnished and “pulled” by lifting the paper to create a one-of-a-kind print. 

Buttons              ©nancgordon

Buttons              ©nancgordon

The beauty of the monoprint is its versatility. The artist can work and rework the plate using brushes, rags, toothbrushes, feathers, sticks or even your fingers as long as it can scratch the surface. Edgar Degas was a renowned proponent of monoprints and would enhance his prints with pastels. Paul Gauguin, Paul Klee and Picasso (among others) experimented with monoprints and came up with their own methods by adding watercolor, additional ink and other mediums.

I pull multiple prints at a time and usually have the floor covered with them. This allows me to look around and see if they need additional effort. I also work in a specific color palette for each session. I might pick indigo one day and pull upwards of fifty prints. The next time I may use ocher and go back over some of the indigo. Working in this fashion builds a cohesive collection.

There are no “mistakes” when printing monoprints which is freeing. It’s an exploration of color, mark making and that child-like element of surprise.