For your first foray into printing, why not try creating a monoprint. The word denotes a one-off, unique printed image. It simply means rolling out or drawing with ink onto a printing surface (called a ‘plate’) and then laying paper on that surface to make an image.
Although there is not a formal recorded history of monoprint, or ‘monotype’ as it is also known, many great artists have used the mark-making art form as part of their arsenal. Rembrandt, Degas, Pissarro and Picasso all experimented with monotype, as it was a way to play with shape, line and subject matter, and its popularity has endured.
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how best to produce a monoprint. It is just a matter of getting stuck in and enjoying the process. There are an infinite number of ways to produce such a print, using stencils and objects and textures. Playing with proven techniques at first can still produce greatly varied of effects. For the beginner or the experienced artist alike, it is good ground for experimentation and exploration of the printed form, and there is a satisfying immediacy about it that can lead to producing a sizeable body of work. Over the years the equipment and materials available have made it easy to get a good result, and this makes the art form fairly inexpensive.
Nothing too complex is required, and to start with you do not need a printing press. Apart from the roller and ink, you can improvise with whatever you have around the house or studio to make your initial print.
• Glass slab or wipe-clean printing surface
• A plate, made either of glass or Perspex – the surface you will ink up
• Printing ink
• A palette knife
• Printing roller – these have a rubbery surface and sturdy handle
• Medium weight paper with a smooth surface
• Scrap paper to use as stencils
• A roller, baren, large spoon or wadded fabric – for rubbing the paper onto the plate to make the printed image
• Pencil or fine tipped pen
• Paint brushes or tools to make marks
It is advisable to begin with only one colour, and as you go on experimenting you can start to layer colour. Ink can be oil or water-based and is widely available. Once you have the opportunity to experiment, you will start to think like a printer, find what works and get closer to the effect you want.