Archive for the 'MMT4 – Research' Category

T1-MMT-P4 Collatype printing research wrapup

Sarah Ross-Thompson (

Sarah Ross-Thompson Beachfront

Sarah Ross-Thompson

creates amazing monoprints and collagraphs. Her miniprints particularly interest me because of the effective use of the small size ( 9 x 9 cm). Beachfront (link) and Moondreams (link) show how effective relatively limited colours and textures can be.

Sarah Ross-Thompson Interlacing

Sarah Ross-Thompson

A standout for me is Interlacing (link). Clearly a lacey knitted fabric and an open weave fabric were used. I wonder if the trees involved stripping back the top layer of board. Ross-Thompson uses glue on plates to create areas that won’t print. The colour is complex, some layered, some clear. I printed the image in its original size on glossy photo paper and continued to find it fascinating. Since first drafting this post a few weeks ago one of the edition of Interlacing has made its way from Scotland to Australia – a first for me, to act on my research.

Sarah Ross-Thompson Chroma 2

Sarah Ross-Thompson
Chroma 2

Also wonderful are Ross-Thompson’s explorations in colour in her Chroma and Chromascape monoprints. Red and green are seen in all their interatctions in Chroma 2 (link), while Chromascape 13 (link) is enlivened by textile use building energetic positive and negative space.

Sarah is generous in giving information about her techniques (and permissions – images reproduced with permission of artist). Some links:
Technique overview:
Step by step photographs and explanation of collagraph block building:
Quick and easy registration:

Textiles have been used in a number of Sarah Ross-Thompson’s prints. I’ve already mentioned Interlacing. In Beachfront the foreground fence looks like weaving, adjusted to give the right effect. Seeing these encouraged me to push further with textiles, experimenting in collatype plate 8 (30-Dec-2015) and in the banded ironstone formation prints (31-Dec-2015). I’ve just taken a quick photo of the two prints together and although they are completely different I can see the link.Interlaced and BIF

Bill Chambers has PDFs on a number of printmaking techniques on his website,, including intaglio collagraph and monotypes. He describes his Clothing series ( as “cast collagraph”, and the imagery is highly relevant to a textiles focus. Most of his prints seem to combine different printing processes, so are less relevant to my current research.

Tyrus Clutter has a video on creating a collatype print at, using layering of mountboard, carborundum and other techniques. I find his explanation of his problem-solving through a series of proofs particularly interesting.

Lynn Bailey‘s video showing collagraph preparation and printing really had me thinking about the materials and tools I had available, and what could work in my own situation.

I’ve experienced some challenges with research during this part of the course. Previously I’ve recorded and responded to research work in my sketchbook. When I was looking at prints with the purpose of making prints I found it too direct, there felt no space for interpretation for my own purposes. I could look at a painting by Monet, find lines, and make something my own (print p4-37 3-Nov-2015). In terms of bringing printmaking research into my own work, the focus has been on materials and techniques rather than a visual response.

Another challenge was simply the amount of interesting information available. Limiting the enormous field of printmaking to mono and collatypes still leaves an enormous and very active field. There is so much exciting work going on in printmaking, so many artists willing to share their images and techniques. In each research session I’ve found myself following trails and ideas, getting a broad rather than in-depth view. My material on any one artist has felt too insubstantial to post. Still, this is the end of the assignment and this blog is where I store and can later find information, so here are my scattergun notes.

Debra Luccio
Beautiful colour and line in reductive monotypes of dancers. A helpful page with shots showing the rolling and drawing processes.
In black and white, use of rolling to add extra movement to the image.

Niels Borch Jensen
Niels Borch Jensen 01:17″you get a distance in the process, you get an unpredictability”

Nicola Jerome
Nicola Jerome combining monotypes with animation to lovely effect.

Susan Carney
Susan Carney showing her process. Textured, apparently absorbent plate of sacking, cuts and inks stencils over the background which varies the texture and allows clearer imagery. I wonder if she reuses the plate, with traces of earlier colour on it.

Reff, T. The technical aspects of Degas’s art
Reff, Theodore (1971) “Degas: A Master Among Masters.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Metropolitan Museum Journal, v. 4 (1971) [online] Available from (Accessed 20-October-2015)
Reading about the unconventional, inventive, exploratory approach of Degas to materials and techniques included his use of counterproofs – putting pastel and charcoal drawings through the press onto dampened paper, in part as a means of checking and furthering a composition. ??? writes “variety of represented textures, without abandoning his principle of smooth, flat painting; and, something that was always important and that probably accounts for his predilection for pastels, monotypes, and wax sculpture, he could prolong indefinitely the process of revision, since each phase of the process was undertaken in a different medium.” (p. 150). This approach seems very relevant to my current mixed media for textiles course, including the idea of ongoing revision, of developing an idea by approaching it through different media.
Also in this paper is an interesting section on the variety of tools and combination of techniques used by Degas in his monotypes (p. 155).

Michael Mazur
Layers; attracted by his use of colour; often abstract. “Artists have to be good watchers. They have to watch their work instead of pre-planning it. ” Believed in keeping it simple, spontaneous (so not stencils), no preparatory sketches. Oral history interview with Michael Mazur, 1993 Jan. 12-1995 Feb. 3, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Vinita Voogd.
Teaches a “stacked” monotype method (account of a class taught by one of her students Interesting for registration method for plate.

Howard Jeffs
Excited that his work includes Australian landscapes, although some that particularly resonate with me (salt pans near Hyden, which I visited a few years ago and is amazing country) are painted rather than monotypes .

Simon Ripley A flowing approach developing ideas.

T1-MMT-P4 Collatype printing research
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Research wrapup

T1-MMT-P4 Research: Degas’ monotypes

In this research post I am looking at monotype prints by Edgar Degas. That’s a severely limited scope. There’s no historical background, context in his practice, ongoing influence, critical responses… just me looking at marks, textures and tones. Given I’m not able to see an actual print by Degas, I’ve also chosen to limit myself to images on the Google Art Project – there is a reasonable selection of good quality images which I can view as a whole or zoom into with ease. Link 1 – the specific link I have, but probably not persistent. Link 2 – the main link, from which I searched for monotype and then selected Created By Edgar Degas.

Edgar Degas Intimacy, ca. 1877-80 National Gallery of Denmark Public domain

Edgar Degas
Intimacy, ca. 1877-80
National Gallery of Denmark

In a series of interior scenes the source of light is of prime importance. In Intimacy a light above a mirror highlights the face and décolletage of a woman at her dressing table. The surface of the table and all the little pots and tools reflect light and the business of making herself beautiful. All this is on the left side of the image. On the right is space, darkness, quiet, with the slightest highlights on the nose, collar and chair of the waiting, observing man.

In Woman by a Fireplace the main lightsource is the fire, reflecting fiercely on the rounded behind of the woman. A little more light and highlighted detail comes from the candelabra and there is another reflecting glow from the dressing table mirror. Reflected glow is everything in Brothel Scene (Dans le Salon d’une Maison Close). The lightsource is curtained on the right. We see it reflected in the curve of the woman’s hip and under her breast, then clearer reflection in the wall mirror behind. Again the source is only hinted in Woman Reading (Liseuse). There is perhaps a glimpse top right, light reflected from the straight lines of the lounge, the woman’s curved back, and most strongly from the paper in her hands.

Degas Woman by a Fireplace (detail)  National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Edgar Degas
Woman by a Fireplace (1880/1890) (detail)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Degas_Woman by a Fireplace detail 2A closer look at Woman by a Fireplace shows the contrast creating the bright glow of the fire. Almost all ink has been brushed or wiped away in the fireplace, intensified by almost complete coverage of ink immediately next to it. What look like less vigorous brush marks outline the curve of the buttock, combined with some very delicate gradation of shading. The plate was 27.5 x 37.7 cm, so I estimate the detail above would be around 8 cm wide. Would that shading be done by gentle dabbing or individual little strokes? The left foot has been described with a series of clear, narrow, sharp marks. I love the little flick creating the curve of the big toe nail. There is a lot more very direct drawing by scratch (the end of a paint brush?) on this print – more than on the other examples I’ve been looking at.

This print also includes the candelabra detail at the left. The energy is amazing, and such a variety of line used to describe the form. I feel I can see the actual movement of light sparkling off the metal.

Edgar Degas  Woman Reading (detail) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Edgar Degas
Woman Reading (c. 1885) (detail)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Above is a detail of Woman Reading, showing the variation in tone that Degas could achieve in a monotype. There is a full range from fully inked to what appears to be bare paper. Direction of line is vital in indicating the form of the woman’s back. As well as groupings of brush lines, dragged through the ink with different weights, and incised lines perhaps created by the end of the paintbrush, there is a range of more gentle shading particularly on the forearm at the left. Sometimes I think I can see the fingerprints of the artist. I really like this cropped view, so full of dynamic interest. I think it makes a wonder abstract composition – something to consider, as it would be much more achievable (or less unachievable) for me in my own samples.

Edgar Degas Brother Scene (c.1879) (detail) Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Edgar Degas
Brothel Scene (c.1879) (detail)
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Brothel Scene is much lighter in tone than the other examples I have viewed. I think those fine, even, dark outlines must have been applied in an additive way, rather than ink being removed around them. On the other hand the molding of the mirror frame seems most likely to have been pushing around ink already on the plate. Of course why would an artist restrict himself to a purely additive or purely subtractive approach? The course projects break up the techniques, but presumably this is to ease the learning task.

Edgar Degas Ballet Dancers (c. 1877) (detail) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Edgar Degas
Ballet Dancers (c. 1877) (detail)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Degas_Ballet DancersDegas is known for making ghost prints of his monotypes, and for painting and drawing over the prints. Above is a detail of Ballet Dancers, described on the National Gallery of Art website as “pastel and gouache over monotype”. A small version of the full image is shown on the left.

The detail above is where the underlying monotype seemed most visible, adding interest to what must be stage scenery on the left of the image. This layering of media is definitely something to try – if not as part of the projects, then in later sketchbook work.

Edgar Degas Russet Landscape (1890)  (detail)Detroit Institute of Arts

Edgar Degas
Russet Landscape (1890) (detail)Detroit Institute of Arts

Degas also made landscape monotype prints using multiple colours and a huge variety of texture. There are areas that look more like a thin wash – I wonder if Degas played with the viscosity of the ink. There is much less detail, I couldn’t identify any of those incised lines, but a wonderful sense of atmosphere and the many materials and textures in nature.

T1-MMT-P4 Research: Degas’ monotypes
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Research: Degas’ monotypes

T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing – initial research

Printmaking in the context of this Mixed Media for Textiles course is approached with a different mindset to a standard printmaking course – or at least that’s my interpretation of it. The long term goal is not is not to develop skills in a range of printmaking techniques and media in order to make print artworks. Instead we use printmaking as one stage of creation. The techniques may be used in a sketchbook, generating ideas. Or it could be combined with other techniques we’ve been exploring – paper folding perhaps, and molding links to collatype, but what about a crumpled print partially embedded in resin? The course notes suggest starting with light cartridge paper or similar, then move on “different surfaces including paper and fabric”. That’s enticingly open. Sample making and risk taking remain key. is a pin board of my research images for this part of the course.

Naum Gabo  Opus Ten © Trustees of the British Museum

Naum Gabo
Opus Ten
© Trustees of the British Museum

Naum Gabo’s print was taken from an end-grain block of wood. This was one of a number of variants. Paper, pressure, inks were varied. “Faults” may be accepted or rejected, forms and lines in the image added, changed, removed using wax. Looking at images of Gabo’s three dimensional constructions (such as Linear Construction in Space No. 1 in the Guggenheim – link), there are very clear affinities to the monoprint – it’s interesting to note a quote on the British Museum website referring to the “depths” of the print (link).

I think Gabo’s exploratory approach and choice of materials (perspex and nylon filaments in Linear Construction in Space No. 1) make his work particularly relevant to my course.

Morning mists by A Henry Fullwood, held in the Art Gallery of New South Wales ( is a colour monotype showing an atmospheric river scene. The hazy appearance of the print works well with his subject. Of particular interest to me is the artist’s preference to increase feeling in the image by hand rubbing with an ivory paper-knife rather than using the even pressure of a printing press. Fullwood was also very conscious of the different surfaces and texture provided by various papers.

My course suggests the heel of the hand or a roller to transfer the image. I have a little craft press – intended for embossing or cutting with dies, but I’ve done some initial experiments using it as a print press. I need to observe carefully to see the variation in results each method gives me.

Rebecca Jewel Perspectives on a Museum 1 2007 © The Trustees of the British Museum

Rebecca Jewel
Perspectives on a Museum 1
© The Trustees of the British Museum

I find Rebecca Jewel’s work fascinating and beautiful. There is deep thought and study behind it – Jewell lived for a year in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, studied social anthropology at university, did a PhD in natural history illustration, is artist in residence at the British Museum. The Statement on her website presents Jewell’s work as “exploring the shared histories between the people that made these artefacts, the explorers, anthropologists and travelers that obtained them and the museum that now houses them”. For me that’s perilous ground – there’s a lot of bad and unresolved history – but this isn’t a shallow exploitation of the exotic.

The print shown above is complex, layered, textured. It is very, very precise. Rebecca Jewell’s more recent work actually prints on feathers, often using historical images of birds. The feather is more than a presentation method. Its structure has a direct influence on the print. I think that’s a key idea in introducing printmaking in a mixed media course.

More resources on Rebecca Jewell:; videos at

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione The Creation of Adam c. 1642

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
The Creation of Adam
c. 1642

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione is credited with inventing the technique of monoprint. An image of his work The Creation of Adam, c. 1642, can be seen in great detail on the google art project (link). After all the flurry of making texture with every “tool” that fell into my line of sight at the workshop, Castiglione seems to use one, perhaps a stick or paintbrush handle, superbly well. Repeated lines, sharp angular lines, flowing lines, changes in direction on rock, water, the fiery light behind God’s head, the variations of depth going into the ink…

The immediate lesson I’m taking from this is the impact of repetition and variation with restricted means.

I’ve been reading different definitions of monoprint and monotype. An interesting sentence from the Dictionary of Art & Artists‘ entry on monotype: “The only reason for doing this instead of painting directly on the paper is the quality of texture given by the pressure of printing” (Murry, P. & Murry, L. (1997) Dictionary of Art & Artists. London: Penguin Books Ltd.) The first edition of the dictionary was published in 1959. I wonder if that’s still true in the way the monotype technique continues to develop. It certainly reinforces the need to be conscious of impact on results of both of the material onto which I print and the transfer method. My early experiments (subject of the next post) have all used 110 gsm white cartridge paper. I’ll need to switch up when starting the actual projects.

More research to come, but I interleaving it with practical work.

T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing – initial research
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Initial research


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