Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old monotype and new work in draft form

I was reminded of monotype making, a wonderful artform, the other day, when I was talking with Donna S, the star at the library gallery, who, a very good artist in her own right, also runs the gallery and its doings, including herding the artists, not unlike herding cats....

I was invited to share what I could about ideas for her teaching papermaking in her summer program this year, to the multitudes, so I went in for a meeting with her. Anyway we were talking about art and varying sizes of same, and she recounted how she'd done a huge handmade paper piece, long ago, as a project, and been unable to get it home from school, since it wouldn't fit in her little car. Somebody got lucky, I guess, if they happened to see it at the dumpster.

I have the opposite situation, usually, always driving a small car, and typically making rather small artworks. Years ago, I was given a corporate show, and arrived on the day they wanted the doings handed over, with 50 count them, artworks,framed, in my little Horizon hatchback. They were taken aback as I unpacked it like a clown car, and one of the officials asked "If you had a bigger vehicle, would you make bigger art?" and I explained that it was the other way around...

Anyway, those small works were monotypes of all kinds, and in the course of faffing around, I mean experimenting in design, with a piece I hope to send to the libe gallery for part of their summer show this year, I found a monotype from a series I did ages ago. So I framed it and it will finally be on our walls, instead of the walls of the various places it's traveled to on exhibit. I'll have to dig further into my archives (that mass of stuff under the worktable in the studio) and see if there are any other ones worth showing you.

I think this mono, done on black Arches cover, must have been around the time of my black gesso period -- it fits the motif pretty well. I used to do a lot of work with metal pens, drawing copper lines that resembled wire until you realized it was an optical illusion.

And while I'm on this hobbyhorse, I'd like to remind us all that the word for this work is monotype, not monoprint. A monoprint is a print of which the artist chooses to make one, but could in fact make more, because it's a different technique from putting down the inks directly on the plate with no other items involved. Thank you.

Incidentally, you know the Degas pastels that we usually assume are pastel paintings? most of those are monotypes, which he created then finished in pastel. The reason a monotype is so magical is that you're seeing the image from the inside. You put down the image on your plate, then pull off a single copy (sometimes you can get a second, a ghost, but not always). So what you see is the inside of the work. You can't paint that directly, but printmaking is such a different experience. He was a great draftsman and monotype maker, too.

And the other piece is a rough draft of a draft of an idea, the faffing-around piece I mentioned earlier, and doing it taught me about ten things not to do, but gave me a much better set of ideas anyway, so it's all good.

When the finished piece emerges, I can confidently say it will look nothing like this. But then I always claim that if you can plan and execute a piece of art, it's not art, it's shop! I have spoken.

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