Monotype printing with Tony Ameniero
Three weeks ago I attended this workshop and I’ve been gathering materials and practicing the techniques I learned since then. The first thing to say about Tony is that he is a marvellous tutor: calm, unhurried, organised, professional, patient and friendly. His instructions and explanations are clear, understandable and are backed up by solid demonstrations and sample work of his own showcasing all the techniques he covers.
There were six of us in the class – two professional painters/artists, a printing and art teacher with her partner, a lady I’ve known for a while who is a long-time passionate printmaker and myself – the least experienced among them. I confess it was daunting, but my view was that I was there to learn and this opportunity allowed me not only access to the tutor but also to others who have been printing and painting for a very long time.
In the main, the two day course was designed to cover single and multilayer monotype prints (single and multicolour) with some backdrawing techniques for those who were interested.
Let’s look at the backdrawing first. I’ve previously posted about the correct way to ink up the print surface, as shown by Tony, which is working excellently for me.
Clockwise from left: 1. Tony transferring ink from his preparation area to the print plate area ready for backdrawing. 2. Lightweight kozo paper carefully placed over the print plate, hand rest in place. 3. Tony demonstrating how to draw on the reverse of the paper using the hand rest to avoid accidental transfer of ink by hand or palm pressure.
Dare I ask why OCA doesn’t include hand rest instructions in their manual? They cover making masks, constructing a bench book, various registration techniques (jigs and registration boards) and many other very useful topics. This hand rest is marvellous and helps hugely when transferring images – and is simple to make. Once the drawn lines are in place the artist can then selectively choose where they wish to apply further pressure to form a more complex design.
Single colour monotype printing. Tony uses acetate as his print plate. It takes oil based inks very well, whether they have been mixed with extender, plate oil or nothing. He showed two methods:
- Draw directly onto the print plate, either with or without a predrawn design underneath as a guide.Above left: print plate after image transfer. Right: my fallen tree print. The tonal variation hasn’t come out as well as I expected in the photograph.
- Roll ink over the entire acetate plate and then remove areas using pieces of cloth, gloved fingers, or whatever tools you decide to try.
Multilayer (multicolour) monotype printing.
Two identically sized acetate sheets are totally covered with ink in different colours. The first sheet has a design worked into it, removing areas of ink. The second sheet is carefully, and lightly, placed atop the first and ink is removed gently. This system enables the artist to see (in reverse of course) roughly how the print will appear as both coloured layers can be seen together.
Top left:The blue ink on the lower plate has the design worked into it and the red plate has been placed on top ready for ink removal. Top right: Ink removed from the top plate enables the ink from the lower plate to show through. Bottom left: The plates are separated ready to go to the print press. Slight amounts of wet ink from the lower plate has marked the back of the red plate. Bottom right: The printing paper is in place, trapped by the roller so it cannot move. The blue inked plate is placed over the registration marks. The paper will then be carefully lowered into place for printing.
Top left: The first colour has been printed. The end of the paper remains trapped under the roller ensuring it doesn’t move whilst the blue plate is removed. Bottom left: The red plate is placed on the registration marks and the first print layer is being gently lowered over the plate for the second pass through the press. Right: The final printed outcome.