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.
Making the most of maps and mistakes
Creating collage elements with monoprints is so freeing. The thin Asian paper that I use is inexpensive, so even when an inked block has problems, I can print the ink on thinner paper and capture parts that will be perfect for other work. You can see the top paper in the image below where the solvent had pushed away too much of the ink. Not what I wanted for the base of my next collage, but useful in small pieces.
When I am finished printing my monoprint plate with the tape matrix, I roll the leftover colors that I used onto another plate, not worrying about roller marks or how the colors are mixed. I splash solvent on the plate and then just print, not knowing what I will get. Many of the United States road maps from the 1970s are just white. So I use the same technique while printing on squares of maps. The maps have some sort of coating, but the ink did dry in a few days.
Squeegees are another technique I have been using to create interesting textures. Using several rollers, I randomly roll leftover colors onto a blank plate and then use a plastic squeegee (used for silkscreen) to move the ink around. The areas where the ink pools provide needed depth to the pattern.
So thanks Eric Carle! Little did I know that books from my childhood (and my childrens’ childhood) would make an appearance in my art.
Next time, my first huge monoprint collage will be revealed.