While “print” is another word for “copy,” don’t be fooled into thinking that monotype prints currently on display at the Old School House Arts Centre are anything but unique. Unlike in most printmaking where multiple originals are made, the lines and images in each of these works can only be made once.
“You can never duplicate them,” said Denise MacDonald, one of the artists in the Monoprinting Group, who created the exhibit. “You couldn’t paint these.”
Monotype printing, as defined by MacDonald, is a single print created by transferring to paper an image that you’ve created on another surface. For this particular show, the artists painted original designs on glass plates using any medium that didn’t dry too quickly – oil paints, water colours, print-making ink and open acrylic paints are just a few examples. Next, a durable paper was placed atop the wet medium to transpose the image.
“You never know what will transfer,” she said. “They’re all different.”
Finally, some of the artists chose to post-process this reverse image with pastels, casein, water colours and acrylics to highlight certain aspects of the work or to create a brand-new image. “It turns out to be something you didn’t start with,” said MacDonald.
She said that it’s this certain lack of control that makes monotype printing “a difficult process.”
“You have to have a lot of imagination,” she said.
Still, despite the hardships this art form presents, MacDonald said all of the artists in the Monoprinting Group had fun getting together and experimenting with the messy medium. All of the work in the show was created by seven artists during a refresher course on monotype printing late last year.
“We call it playing because it’s so much fun,” she said.
The monotype print show will be on display at TOSH in Qualicum Beach until Jan. 31.