For several years, my basic method in art making has been to create monotypes on the press, alone or in combination with other techniques and media, including incorporation of computer generated imagery, collage, chine collee, fabric, thread, pencil and oil bar.
Monotype refers to the technique in which a single print is created by painting with inks onto a non-absorbent surface such as Plexiglas. While the pressure required to force the ink -and thus the image- onto the paper can be created by hand-rubbing the print with a barren or the back of a spoon, or, for that matter, by running over the plate with your car, I use an etching press.
Because the image is painted on, rather then incised into the plate, the process yields a single, original work of art, rather than the editions of multiples created by etching or other intaglio methods. When there is sufficient ink left on the plate after printing, a second image, or ‘ghost print’ can be pulled from the residual ink. Rather than clean the plate after the first image, I try to use the remnant as the base for creating a new, original print.
I often use Chine collée (or, commonly, ‘chine collé’) to incorporate historical documents, fragments of text, photos or other imagery into my work. Chine collee (literally, ‘attached to paper made in China’) is a adhesion process whereby various types of glues or adhesives are used to incorporate collage elements directly into the monotype print as it goes through the press.
Like other printmakers, I have been liberated from the academic demand for the one ‘perfect drop’, and relish running my images through the press multiple times, adding freely to the print when dry with stabilo pencil or oil bar if the work calls for it.
People often ask, if working with the plate and a press yield only one image, why bother? For me, working on the press provides the exhilarating and often humbling opportunity to explore issues of control and surprise. The effects obtained on the press are unique, but most importantly, the image- and the gifts of spontaneity and new direction that I receive from the press- are what inspire me.