Category Archives: Monoprinting

Making art that does not fit on a cell phone

What do you do when what you create does not look its best on a cell phone? I have been struggling with this question ever since I wanted to post my first monoprint collage. Take a look at my latest monoprint collage, Benediction for an Unlikely Journey and I will explain.

©Elizabeth Busey. Benediction for an Unlikely Journey, monoprint collage, 18 x 24in.

I am drawn to small details and want to see how the compilation of details creates an energetic, continually interesting whole. I cut details out of monoprints I have created and maps on which I sometimes print colors. When people take a look at my work in person, they first come close to see all of the details, and then back up to see the work as a whole. I find these dual ways of enjoying artwork means my imagery that doesn’t get boring.

Sadly, many of the people who see my work will never see it in person. It is largest when the image is clicked on through my website. I also post it on Instagram and Facebook. Imagine how tiny the image becomes when viewed in the Facebook platform on a small cell phone. The details are completely lost. Does this make a difference?

Getting up close and personal

Detail of Benediction for an Unlikely Journey.

To counter the problem of the tiny screen, I have started including details in my social media posts and even on the webpage of the work. I’m hoping that between the two images, viewers can get a clearer idea of the work despite the problems of scale. It takes some work on their part, however…

Making the art feel at home

Benediction for an Unlikely Journey in my living room.

In my quest for image clarity, I created an in situ photograph of the work. I popped the collage into the frame matted, but without the glass to avoid reflections. Now people can see the scale of the work and how the details read from a few feet away.

Will all of these images help with the problem of the tiny screen? It will probably be some time before I know if it is a reasonable substitute to visiting the work on my living room wall.

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Searching for rhythm and energy

One thing I love about creating monoprint collages is how open-ended the process can be. I print the polycarbonate matrix in particular colors and wait for inspiration to come. A large plate (24 x 36in) was covered in tiny tape (1/16 inch chart tape) and printed with bright citrine green and teal blues. All I could think of was rhythm and energy. After several weeks, Inception emerged. (Be sure to click on the image and scroll down for a close-up. This collage is large!)

large monoprint collage with curves, in bright green and blue

©Elizabeth Busey. Inception. Monoprint collage, 24 x 36 in.

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With thanks to Eric Carle

I have been appreciating colorful collage papers for decades, thanks in part to Eric Carle. While many famous artists create collages using found images from the greater media world, Eric Carle created his work with papers that he painted. Take a look at your copy (or your child’s copy) of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to see Carle’s genius in the use of pattern and color.

Monoprints on monoprints on monoprints

With the exception of some old road and geological maps, everything I have been using in my monoprint collages comes from a monoprint itself. The image below shows a detail of a 24 x 36 inch monoprint collage I have been working on. With my exacto knife in one hand, and my paintbrush with matte medium in the other, small squares of other monoprints become part of a larger work.

Detail of a large monoprint collage.

Detail of a large monoprint collage.

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Patterns ground me

Patterns ground me. I’ve tried to make work that had nothing to do with patterns, and it didn’t feel like me. In the midst of midterm election shenanigans in the U.S., working with the Voronoi diagrams has provided me with times of peaceful creation and discovery.

A change in color hints at leaves

Geometric collage leaf structure

©Elizabeth Busey. Multiplicative. Monoprint collage (unique) 12 x 12in.

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Is it ever really finished?

Is it ever really finished? This is not a question I’ve had to ask myself until recently. When creating reduction linocuts, at some point you simply do not have any more linoleum to carve away and so the answer is yes, you are finished.

Delighting in an open-ended medium

My recent foray into monoprint collages has allowed me for the first time to decide that something was not finished. This occurred last week, as I was about to post the remaining monoprint collages based on my Voronoi diagram drawing. Here’s the finished monoprint collage, Galaxy Next Door.

Square collage with geometric shapes

© Elizabeth Busey. Galaxy Next Door. Monoprint collage (unique), 12 x 12in.

A rare side-by-side comparison

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Tiny tape makes it debut

This week tiny tape makes it debut in my creation of monoprint collages. I used black 1/16 inch chart tape from Dick Blick and was pleasantly surprised at how well the tape behaved. To make sure the tape sticks well, I always clean the plate with denatured alcohol to remove any grease before taping. I also run the taped uninked plate through the press with several layers of newsprint to make sure everything stays stuck down. (more…)

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Voronoi, Senate Hearings and Tiny Tape

I think I have finally taught my desktop the word “Voronoi.” If you are blog follower, you know that I have an ongoing obsession with this mathematical construction. Voronoi diagrams are used throughout mathematics, the sciences, architecture, and even art. While it is hard to capture in a sentence, let’s say that Voronoi diagrams describe relationships of things to each other.

rolling ink and new plate

Getting inky with my favorite colors and my newly created plate.

In the above image is a 12-inch square polycarbonate plate. On the plate, I used 1/16-inch chart tape to create a Voronoi diagram matrix. You can read more about how to create your own matrix here. I first drew the matrix on paper, and then placed the clear plate on top of the paper as a guide and applied the tape to the plate. (more…)

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Monoprints as an Homage to Chagall

I first experienced Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows at the Church of St. Stephan in Mainz, Germany. (Read more about these windows here.) I love the energetic quality of Chagall’s work that seems to draw you — almost physically — into his world.

I created a spiraling monoprint matrix with 1/8 inch painter’s tape, and set out to see where my monoprinting would take me. The following suite of monoprint collages were created with Chagall’s energy and love of color in mind.

Monoprint collage Jubilant Expanse

©Elizabeth Busey. Jubilant Expanse. Monoprint collage (unique). 24 x 18 in.

Jubilant Expanse

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Variations on a Monoprint Theme

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A true monoprint is unique. But coming up with a new idea for each monoprint can be exhausting! So I have used my painter’s tape technique to create variations on a monoprint theme. I hope the traditionalists in the printmaking world will forgive me.

One of my latest variations uses a landscape/perspective matrix, with similar colors but different techniques. Images may help me explain…

Solvent drops and a view from an airplane

©Elizabeth Busey. Boulder to Birmingham. Monoprint collage (unique). 18 x 24in.

©Elizabeth Busey. Boulder to Birmingham. Monoprint collage (unique). 18 x 24in.

Boulder to Birmingham (title inspired by the classic Emmy Lou Harris song) considers an imaginary view from an airplane. I used translucent Thai Unryu paper to create the illusion of a curved airplane window. The cloud-like papers were a ghost print from an earlier monoprint. Ghost prints are made when you print the plate again without re-inking. I use thin Masa (mulberry) paper because it has a smooth texture and captures lots of ink while being thin enough to collage. The spots on the surface — are they raindrops? — were created by solvent. (more…)

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Adventures in tape Part 2

My final adventure with painter’s tape was to use it as it was intended. Also known as masking tape, its purpose is to protect a surface from paint or ink.

When I perused a collection of images I had gathered for inspiration during my workshop at Penland School of Crafts, I was surprised to see how many were of city window reflections.  Inspired by this, I first used a blank polycarbonate plate to print a vertical light blue-grey flat.

Newsprint sketch makes masking easy

Now it was time to create my matrix. Hint #1 — If you want to recreate this matrix quickly (you are going to pull the tape up) draw your design on a similarly sized piece of newsprint. Placed underneath your plate, it is easy to recreate your matrix. I wanted to create another version of my icebergs, but now the iceberg would be reflected in the windows of a building. This might be a reminder of the perils of global warming when we are ensconced in our people-made bubbles.

Monoprint plate

A monoprint plate, sans the masking tape, ready for printing.

The painterly approach proves problematic

I created the above image by rolling a very light blue on the top and darker pthalo blue below the waterline. Sharpie marks on the back of the plate helped me to keep the horizon parallel. I used rollers, palette knives and pieces of mat board to add color to the ice above and below.

I found there were several challenges to this approach. First, the ink tended to gather along the tape, which didn’t allow for a crisp a line when I removed the tape. In addition, the plate above has a great deal of ink on it. When I ran it through the press, some of it actually squished and ruined the reflection effect. Hint #2 — One solution might be to remove some of the ink with a sheet of newsprint…maybe with the press, or perhaps without.

Another problem was the removal of the tape. Once your fingers marred the ink surface, especially where it was flat, there was no fixing it. Hint #3 –Leaving “tails” along the edges made the removal much easier. Sticking the inky tape segments immediately to an old phone book kept them under control.

Two layer monoprint

This version used much less ink, with better results and no squish.

The next iceberg was simpler — less ink and no squish. But you can still see places where the ink has bled into the areas kept blank by the painters tape. I guess this is a problem that is universal.

Layers of tape are perfect for blind embossment

My final experiment combined my love of the mathematical patterns I painted on my bathroom walls. Some tape was one-layer, used to delineate polygons. I used small rollers to combine two colors on some of the shapes. I used four layers of 1/8 inch tape to create embossment lines that continue the pattern out to an embossed border. I discovered that 1/4 inch tape doesn’t yield nearly as crisp a line as the thinner tape. Hint #4 — Avoid getting any ink on the areas where you are doing blind embossing. Even a little ink will stain the tape and will print faintly.

Monoprint with blind embossment.

Tape provides the geometric structure and some linear blind embossment.

Will I use painters tape in the more traditional sense in my monoprints? It worked best in areas where a thin layer was rolled evenly over the entire surface. Looser, thicker ink was less successful. And yet I haven’t entirely let go of the idea of environmental problems reflected in skyscrapers.

Maybe the solution is out there waiting to be discovered…

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