Part 3: Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits with paint

Brief

Now that you have more of a grasp of the monotype process, create three monotypes that encompass the techniques you feel work the best to create the kind of self-portrait or portrait images you want. Think about what you want to communicate with these images and how your use of paint will enable this.

Arrange the finished prints in different ways and photograph them. Before you do this, have a look at the work of Annie Kevans, Yuko Nasu, Luc Tuymans, Eleanor Moreton and Chantal Joffe to see how their series of portraits work as a whole as well as individually.

Process

From having believed I had learnt a fair bit during the exercises of this part of the course in relation to the monotype print process I suddenly felt quite challenged with the assignment – only 3 monotypes?

I decided to create some new portraits/self portraits and these can be found here:

https://stuartbrownleeocaupm.wordpress.com/category/sketchbook/

I started attempting to turn these ink sketches into monotype prints, and kept going, trying to capture the chosen 3! I’m not so sure I achieved it, but here goes.

For all the prints, I used a 40x30cm glass plate to paint over the various ink sketches with oil paint thinned with Liquin:

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Bobby 1” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

Oil paint not thinned enough resulting in paint becoming really sticky on the A4 card once pressed. Probably painted in too much of the image resulting in bleeding/muddying of the printed image.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Bobby 2” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed canvas sheet)

Similar to “Bobby 1” although the eyes are a lot more piercing. I made a bit of a mess around the edges, thus the coloured framing.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Bobby 3” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

A much simpler line print image achieved with thinner oil paint.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Ghostly Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card) – second print from glass plate for ‘Bobby 3’

This second print reminds a bit of Tracy Emin’s sketchy/ghostly monoprints, as seen for example in her 2005 monoprint on paper, “Sexy Dolly”:

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In: Downs, S. and Staff, T. (2007) Drawing now: between the lines of contemporary art. Edited by Downs. London: I. B. Tauris, p.98.
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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Happy Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

A much freer print showing facial joy, again achieved with thinner oil paint application on the glass plate.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Townhead Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card) – printed on top of pasted newsprint photograph

I came across an article in The National (Friday 3 February 2017, pp.26-27) about the Scottish artist Joan Eardley. It discussed her early years in Glasgow painting the children of Townhead, an area in the east-end of Glasgow. Townhead is where my wife was born and she remembers the tenement buildings where her family stayed before they were all pulled down to make room for the M8 Motorway running from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

The article contained an example of Eardley’s work which I cut out and pasted onto card and then used this to print an image of “Townhead Bobby” over the image of the two children in Eardley’s painting – you can just about make them out beneath the printed image from the glass plate.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Townhead Bobby 2” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card) – printed on top of pasted image

I reworked “Townhead Bobby’ again printed over a clearer image of Eardley’s painting so that the children could be seen more clearly peering through the over-print. Available at: http://www.exploreart.co.uk/artist_display.asp?SF1=sort_name&ST1=EARDLEYJOANKATHLEENHARDING [Accessed: 15 February 2017].

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Ghostly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed canvas sheet)

I don’t know whether I pressed down too hard making this print, but the paper slid a bit over the glass, resulting in a fairly unrecognisable blobbiness to the paint. This could really only be rescued by the use of cotton buds to smear away some of the paint to leave a vaguely seen line drawing self portrait.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Nearly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed canvas sheet)

I had read somewhere that it might be a good idea to wet the surface of the material to print onto and then wipe the wetness off before applying it to painted glass plate. I tried this here with this trimmed canvas sheet and while it did accept the paint it also left crinkles across the canvas.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed Bristol Board paper)

I wet and dried the paper first and used masking tape to surround the area where the print would be made, in an attempt to try and keep the surrounds cleaner. The glass plate was fairly loaded with thinned oil paint. Probably more by luck than design I managed to peel off the printed image to reveal a reasonable representational image without further working required, although in removing the top length of masking tape the paper beneath tore away slightly.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Sharp Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card)

Self portrait seen through an imaginary window frame using only thinned Payne’s Grey and a reduced amount of mark making. A cotton bud was used to remove paint to create the frame and some other areas of the figure.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Stuart painting” (oil paint, liquin on A4 canvas sheet)

I used a rolled up cut-off of sponge padding to dip into the thinned oil paint and applied it to the glass plate. Once removed from the plate the print needed some attention to bring some clarity to certain areas, such as the arm, hand and paint brush and the facial features.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Swirly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

Wet card, dried off and placed on top of loosely applied oil paint. Once removed I felt this did not need any further adding to and am quite pleased with the swirly painterly effect achieved. Without consciously trying, and in hindsight, I think I must have been influenced by the swirling, viscous painting of Cecily Brown. [see: https://stuartbrownleeocaupm.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/using-found-images-research-point-p23.jpg].

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Ghostly Stuart 2” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card) – second print from glass plate for ‘Swirly Stuart’

A second printing onto the same glass plate as “Swirly Stuart” produced my second ghostly self portrait, with the remaining paint on the glass just about leaving a recognisable image on the card.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Scraped Stuart 1” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

I had used left-over oil paint to cover the A4 card and then added a rolling of brown over the top. The printed image of my line drawn portrait on the glass plate was very nearly invisible so I decided to scribe or scrape away brown paint with a dental prod to reveal the image.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Scraped Stuart 2” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

Same technique as before but used cotton buds to draw over the image once printed.

Reflection on Assignment 3

“The intermediate status of a monoprint, between drawing, painting and print-making, is made poignant by this instantaneous capturing of a moment in time, in which fluid or sticky materials leave a unique trace on paper, one that cannot be repeated.” In: Petherbridge, D. (2010) The primacy of drawing: histories and theories of practice. 2nd edn. New Haven: Yale University Press, p.142.

“A monotype is essentially ONE of a kind: mono is a Latin word which means ONE and type means kind. Therefore, a monotype is one printed image which does not have any form of matrix. On the other hand, a monoprint has some form of basic matrix.

The process of creating a monoprint or a monotype is the same, but when doing monotypes, the artist works on a clean and unetched plate; with monoprints, however, there is always a pattern or part of an image which is constantly repeated in each print. Artists often use etched plates or some kind of pattern such as lace, leaves, fabric or even rubber gaskets, to add texture. In this case, having a repeated pattern, we have a mono print.” 
Available at: http://www.monoprints.com/monoprints.php [Accessed: 7 February 2017].

In trying to make a selection of three monotype prints from the sixteen created I laid them all out and took a photograph of two arrangements:

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From these I chose the following three prints for the assignment submission:

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I could have chosen a series of prints of either “Bobby” or “Stuart” images, but instead decided on these three prints for different reasons:

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Sharp Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card)

“Sharp Stuart” because I like the simplicity of the image, both in the technique of thinly applied monochrome paint and selective removal of paint and also the narrative of the image looking off into the distance through an imagined window. I think that this is my most successful attempt at a monotype print.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Townhead Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card) – printed on top of pasted newsprint photograph

“Townhead Bobby” because I enjoyed the process of overprinting the pasted on newsprint and the narrative connection made between Eardly’s painting and my wife’s early years living in Townhead. She is not aware of being one of the children Eardley painted, but her memories of tenement living and childhood games in the back courts are as vivid now as they were when she was a child.

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Scraped Stuart 1” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

“Scraped Stuart 1” because the technique of scraping/removing paint saved this print from being a non-print. There is something ‘Burnsian’ about the image, despite the fact that to my knowledge the Scottish bard Robert Burns didn’t wear glasses!

Having selected these three as my chosen assignment monotype prints with paint, I have to admit that of all the prints created, my overall single favourite is

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Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Swirly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

because I like the expressiveness and freedom of its swirlyness!

Artists who have influenced me throughout this assignment are numerous, including:

Loosely applied paint

Natalie Dowse; Marlene Dumas; Kim Baker; Chantal Joffe; Alli Sharma; Geraldine Swayne; Annie Kevans; and Cecily Brown.

Monotype prints

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione; William Blake; Edgar Degas; Henri Matisse; Camille Pissarro; Maurice Prendergast; Jasper Johns; Kim Edwards; and Tracy Emin.

In moving forward with monotype printing I would consider using a more robust printing method than the application of a baren. I think the pressure applied by the hand press method resulted in quite varying degrees of success. A ‘proper’ printing press for monotypes would provide a more uniform and consistent result I feel.

I can also see merit is using the monotype print as a way of developing a narrative series of painterly prints exploring certain themes or objects, along the lines of the loosely painted works by artists such as those mentioned above.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
16 February 2017

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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:

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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:

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

Available at: https://stuartbrownleeocadrawing1.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part-2/project-4/still-life-in-tone-using-colour/ [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:

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Exercise 3.2 from ink sketch 15 – Overworked
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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:

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Exercise 3.2 ‘catching flies’ (open mouth)
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Exercise 3.2 ‘itchy nose’ (hand scratching face)
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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):

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‘ghostly Bobby’

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

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‘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:

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Exercise 3.3 – monotype 7

The links to Exercises 1 to 4 are here:

Exercise 3.1:  https://stuartbrownleeocaupm.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part-3/20-a4-ink-studies/

Exercise 3.2:  https://stuartbrownleeocaupm.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part-3/chosen-image-for-monotype/

Exercise 3.3:  https://stuartbrownleeocaupm.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part-3/5-portrait-monotype-prints/

Exercise 3.4:  https://stuartbrownleeocaupm.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part-3/changing-three-images/

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

https://stuartbrownleeocaupm.wordpress.com/category/research-and-reflection/part-3-research-point-1/

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

Part 3: Monotype portraits with paint – Research point

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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 1
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 2
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 3
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 4
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 5
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 6
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 7
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 8
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 9
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 10
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 11
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 12
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 13
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Part 3: Monotype prints – Research point, page 14

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
11 February 2017

Part 3: Exercise 3.4 – changing three images

Brief

Choose three of the prints you made in Exercises 3.2 and 3.3. Work into these prints with extra paint to change the image. You could choose to pursue greater definition, a closer likeness or a more dramatic contrast. Think about how you could apply the paint to achieve these effects.

Make notes as you work through the exercises, noting down the different effects you’ve been able to achieve by removing more/less paint, adding extra paint, etc.

Three selected prints

The prints chosen for adding extra paint to make changes to the image were:

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Exercise 3.3 – trial print 1
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Exercise 3.2 – “What have I done…”
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Exercise 3.2 – “Kinda weary”

I chose these three as I wasn’t all that happy with how they had turned out and hoped that by adding paint appropriately I could achieve a better result.

The changed images

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Trial print 1 reworked

I was inspired by Chuck Close’s big self portrait in making these changes. I mapped out diagonals on the image using a light-brown ink pen and then overpainted these with phthalo blue (on the outside of the head) and cerulean blue (within the head area). Adding spots of colour (burnt sienna, burnt umber, yellow ochre, brilliant red, orange, and titanium white – all mixed with Liquin) within the diagonals I then attempted to capture the pointillist / digitised pixel effect achieved by Chuck Close. My reworked image is a pretty crude attempt to change the original trial print. However, I do quite like the light blue aura surrounding my self portrait and when looked at from a distance the image does begin to coalesce into a more recognisable, if somewhat abstract, representation.

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“What have I done…” reworked

This is my favourite of the three altered images. I turned the image to landscape mode and overpainted the white background using left-over paint from Trial print 1 reworked. The paint was applied using a palette knife and I added payne’s grey to the bottom half of the background. Palette knife applied payne’s grey then picked out the highlights of the self portrait, leaving the original light green shining through. There is something quite spooky about the finished result. In my imagination the disembodied head and hand appears floating in space, appearing from the centre of a vortex in space? The application of the paint this time reminds me a bit of Cecily Brown’s gestural mark making.

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“Kinda weary” – reworked

Reworking this image was a bit more challenging. I didn’t particularly like the original print as I thought it was  kind of messy. I chose to block off the ‘window’ to the self portrait using ivory black and Liquin mixture to frame the image. Keeping with ivory black and Liquin mix I then picked out the lines of the face and blended the hand and hair into the black frame. The overpainting was finished with bright red for the lips and for some added edginess in the background purple.

My final take on this exercise is that I feel that I have improved the original images in a manner that challenged my thinking about the process of making changes and resulted in three quite satisfying reworked self portraits.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
31 January 2017

Part 3: Exercise 3.3 – removing paint

Brief

Make five more portrait monotype prints, this time removing different areas of paint with cotton buds, cotton wool, smooth rags, rough rags or tissue paper.

Trial monotype prints – removing paint

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Trial monotype print 1 – from ink sketch 10

This A4 card print was painted from ink sketch number 10 under a 40x30cm glass plate using burnt umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, titanium white and liquin. Various tools were used to scrape off different areas of paint after printing, including: cotton buds, paper towel, sponge and an old comb. The result was pretty messy so I had another go with the same image.

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Trial monotype print 2 – from ink sketch 10

Same ink study sketch and same process, but with different ground and slightly messy end result.

Final monotype prints

I decided to restrict my final monotype prints to the use of black and whites in different combinations.

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Final monotype print 1 – from ink sketch 11

Again using a 40x30cm glass plate to cover the ink sketch I painted on the glass surface with thinned ivory black and payne’s grey, then removing elements of both paints using cotton buds and thinners on the A4 printed card.

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Final monotype print 2 – from ink sketch 18

Ivory black and liquin A4 ground pressed onto glass with sketch image painted using titanium white and liquin. Paint was then removed from the printed card using cotton buds and thinners.

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Final monotype print 3 – from ink sketch 18

I made a second print of ink sketch 18, this time using white A4 card to press down onto the painted glass image – this time using ivory black and liquin to capture the image. Cotton buds and thinners were again used to scrape off elements of the card’s painted surface. I’m particularly intrigued by the silhouette effect caused by the liquin seeping out from the paint onto the white card.

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Final monotype print 4 – from ink sketch 21

Black gesso covered A4 card pressed onto image painted with titanium white and liquin. Paint removed from printed card with cotton buds.

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Final monotype print 5 – from ink sketch 20

This last print is my favourite (leave best till last?) I think my technique improved with each attempt and this image, in a fashion, captures my reflection on the monotype print process as I developed. This time I painted my self portrait on the glass plate using ivory black and liquin mixture, pressing down white A4 card and then removing different areas of paint from the printed card with cotton buds and sponge.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
24 January 2017