Back again

Back again from trip to Portugal and Spain. Made lots of sketches of countryside as was thinking about how to use the textures in prints.

Also, now, have received books- Julia Ayres Monoprinting, The Printmaker’s Bible by Ann D’Arcy Hughes, and a fun activity book by Christine Schmidt. Have scanned these and learned a lot.

Just as well. My visits to art shops in three European cities have so far produced no more in the way of printmaking materials. They all seem to think the request is very esoteric. So, the other side of the coin of having learned from the books above is that I can’t get most of the materials mentioned and so will have to try to work with what I have.

I will try today to use other paints to print with- gouache, acrylic and watercolour- also using wet/ moist paper. I will try painting from light and from dark- both of which I have tried briefly before. I also want to try using masks differently- painting or rolling onto the masked printing plate.

Started with gouache- very sticky and dry. Difficult to roll on. I wonder if the roller I am using is a bit damaged- it seems to be uneven. Well-used at school, no doubt, but lucky I brought it, as I can’t get another one here.

Subject: Spanish landscape- textures of fields.

Medium: gouache

One colour, removing with a range of materials- screws, comb, toothbrush, tissue… The paint felt very sticky, so I wet a sheet of paper to take the print. Soaked it and wiped it with kitchen roll.

Not effective:

Somewhere amongst the materials, dust had got in. The thin lines made by scraping finer objects like a comb and crew, did not come out, so still too dry.


Tried finer paper for a ghost print- just thin copier paper- and wet it from the back. Decided this paint was too dry.

Tried painting the gouache onto the printing plate with a brush dipped in water. This worked better.

brush painting with gouache

Wet the gouache and rolled on again, very thin layer. Tried just wiping off with tissue and cotton wool, and scratching roughly. Moistened paper with a sponge.  End result shows very clearly the circular motion of the wooden spoon I used on the back. Obviously still not getting texture right.

Medium: acrylic

By contrast with the gouache, the acrylic was not sticky at all. In fact the roller wouldn’t roll, it just slid around. Finally I managed to get a very fine, smooth layer on the plate. Then I tried scraping off- the best implement I found to be a wooden rawl plug, which gave a roughly textured line. The plate looked good. The print didn’t work. The acrylic, being plastic, formed lumps where the paint had been scraped. The paper, although wet, didn’t pick up the colour. I tried wetting it more from the back, but it made no difference. The paint was dry on the plate. It would have to be applied in a very thick sticky layer.

Somewhere amongst the books I looked at today, the claim was made that you can print with anything you can paint with. I’m not really finding that to be the case, so will go back to my limited stock of printing inks.


Painting on glass

So much for the “how”. There’s also the “what” to think about. For still life with two objects I decided to do a tree on a grassy surface: I know it’s not what was asked. Mixed pale blue, green and the darkest colour I could make with red, yellow and blue all together. Painted the pale blue negative shape around the tree and the ground.

Negative shape

Patchy, some parts thick, some textured with the brushstrokes. Knew that the brush marks would show but just coloured in with them anyway.

Added the green- some parts went on thicker than others- tried to make it more textured in the foreground.

Positive shapes

 Used a soft brush to do the darks on the tree- these went on quite thick, and when the plate was pressed they spread a bit bigger than I had planned.

Took a ghost print and did some backdrawing to add definition.

ghost print with backdrawing

Felt ready to move on. Will go back to it when I have clearer idea of what I’d like to do with these effects.


Monoprint markmaking

Used A4 glass plate and selection of brushes

Experimented with:

two colours, brush swirls and different densities of colour, mixing on a palette and on the glass

two colours

drier/ wetter colours diluted with a little water or retarder

wet/dry, textures using brush

making textures on the plate with a brush by dragging the brush through the colours.

scratching lines with the end of a brush

scratching, wetter and drier

splattering wet colour


reapplying colour after first print

reapplying ink

using acrylic paint instead of ink

rolling on a layer of colour then wiping off

ghost prints

Just trying to get a feel for it.


Textures one gets from drier paints

Hard edges from wetter ones

Spain, somehow....

Texture of colour applied by roller

Interesting textures from using a brush

Flattening/ spreading of thicker/ wetter paint into a larger blob

Copier paper more absorbent than cartridge

Acrylics very sticky and wet

Different textures of the inks from the bottles- blue quite runny.

Yellow ink quite transparent: add white to make it more opaque.

ghost print with added ink

Ghosts prints can be quite effective

I made the classic mistake of trying to reproduce a French butcher’s blackboard with the day’s offers written on it, forgetting that the writing was reversed.

basic error

Printmaking: Starting Out


Printmaking 1

Aside from primary school, I have no experience of printmaking. What experience I have involved potatoes…


I came to France with 4 bottles of printing ink- water-based, Daler Rowney, in red, yellow, blue and white (which survived 4 flights and my case getting lost in Paris), two rollers borrowed from school, and my OCA folder, which I picked up in Scotland. Here in Perigord, a new sink has been put into my garage (aka studio), and I have a good space to work. I got a sheet of Perspex from the DIY store, and took the glass out of some picture frames. I got rid of a lot of dust and spiders’ webs in the studio before starting and set up a laundry high dry. For paper, I have a ream of cheap copier paper, pages of just-over A4 cartridge paper, white and coloured.