Part 3: Monotype portraits in paint – review of exercises

Review of Part 3

I had never worked on monotype prints before, although I do remember school days when I worked on lino prints. In preparing for this part of the course I looked around my stuff to see what I could bring to the creation of monotypes.

It’s amazing what you find amongst your possessions when you look closely – I came across an old ink print roller that I must have used on school day lino prints – you can see it here in the picture:

Gathered material for Part 3

I also pinched various glass plates taken from pictures around the house (I will put them back once I clean them up, promise). Also seen in the image is a home-made baren (made from a drill buffing attachment), masking tape, kitchen roll, cotton buds, a dental prod for scraping paint, a hand-made ‘punchinella’ made from an old office wire filing tray to add paint texture, and a bottle of Liquin for thinning the oil paint.

Quite interesting for me was that I noticed I had used the old ink print roller on a previous course as a still life object:

Sill life in tone using colour 1
Still life in tone using colour 2

Available at: [Accessed: 11 February 2017]

At my time of life, in my sixties, it is pleasing to know that I can remember such synchronicities.

This meaningful coincidence linked with ‘the trial and error…inherent in the monotype process’ resulted in a most enjoyable, messy period of experimentation throughout the exercises.

There have been successes and failures – as predicted in the course notes – but overall, I believe that I have made progress with the monotype process.

What I found most difficult initially was achieving a good balance of paint and thinner to make the oil paint the right consistency to apply to the glass plate and produce a recognisable print of the painted image.

Some of my failures were caused by overworking the paint on the printed image, while some of my successes were achieved by reducing the amount of paint applied to the glass plate and then removing paint in places:

Exercise 3.2 from ink sketch 15 – Overworked
Exercise 3.2 from ink sketch 12 – Paired back

How do I think my work in Part 3 stands up to the course assessment criteria?

Demonstration of visual skills: materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills:

I concentrated mainly on head self portraits throughout the exercises, eventually venturing into head and shoulders and upper body experiments in the assignment. I think that my initial ink studies were a good grounding for the monotype exercises as they covered a fairly wide range of facial angles and expressions.

Quality of outcome: content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas:

As recommended by my tutor I concentrated on getting straight into the monotype printing process: experimenting with image sizes; consistency of oil paint; and types of ground (card, canvas). At the same time I began carrying out research into artists who made use of the monotype process and also gathered information about the process itself. As a result, I experimented with techniques of subtraction – working from a dark field, covering the glass plate with paint and then removing, scratching and wiping paint off in order to create an image; and techniques of addition – working into a light field, adding thin paint to the surface of the glass plate, printing the image and adding paint if necessary to pick out highlights and providing more body to areas where the paint has not transferred as might have been anticipated.

Demonstration of creativity: imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice:

As the exercises progressed I began to see links emerging between some of the images I created, giving them individual names that expressed to me what the image was about or suggested, such as:

Exercise 3.2 ‘catching flies’ (open mouth)
Exercise 3.2 ‘itchy nose’ (hand scratching face)
Exercise 3.2 ‘ouch!’ (holding a skelped face)

I took this naming practice into the assignment as well, for example with ‘ghostly Bobby’ (second print made from the same painted glass plate):

‘ghostly Bobby’

and ‘scraped Stuart’ (image scraped back from dark field of paint):

‘scraped Stuart’

Context: reflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs and essay):

As I progressed with my research while still printing I began to see a pattern emerging in my own work that can be best expressed by a reduction in amount of paint used in the printing process. Making images simpler and less worked into (less is more) seems to result in more pleasing monotype prints:

Exercise 3.3 – monotype 7

The links to Exercises 1 to 4 are here:

Exercise 3.1:

Exercise 3.2:

Exercise 3.3:

Exercise 3.4:

The link to my Research notes for Part 3 are here:

Looking forward:

What I have taken from Part 3 can be summed up by learning to be willing to accept less than perfection (in my eyes), to distil my practice to more meaningful mark making and to embrace happy accidents when they occur.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
11 February 2017

Published by


Open College of the Arts (OCA) student currently studying Drawing 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s