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How I Create Monoprints

In my printing process one thing leads to another, as in the example image above. The image on the left is created with black ink and printed on a sheet of my handmade paper, all the color is from the handmade paper. In the next monoprint I have added blue ink to the image on the plate and then I rolled a rainbow roll of red and yellow ink. I have also re-shaped the image using Q-Tips and a small hand roller. the third monoprint has more drawing and wiping the ink away with Q-Tips. I have also added stamped images.  Each monoprint is unique and has a different feel from each other. For a good demonstration of me working check out this 9 minute Art Beat Video (over on the upper left).

I have just described how I made these monoprints. Now I am going to describe how I really make monoprints.

I begin by breathing deeply and fully into my belly connecting with my intuitive self. I let go of expectations and outcome. I let go of outside pressures. I let go of control. Because I know that control stops the flow of new information. I let go of worry. I breathe deeply. Intentional breathing brings me into my feeling body and out of my thinking head and into the present moment.  I like what Thich Nhat Hahn says,

 “The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment”  

Being in the present moment is key. It is only in the present moment that I can be in a state of allowing. I am allowing a connection or conversation to occur between my art self and the universal field around me. Sometimes this universal field is just what is in my emotional or feeling body, or my heart. Sometimes this field is my studio, my property, the city of Ashland, the Northwest, North America, the northern hemisphere, the world, or, the universe. I never try to control or guide what happens. I am in a state of sacred trust.   

It is from this state of being in trust that I scrape or roll the ink onto the plate. I begin to make marks

in the ink on the plate using various tools. Sometimes this part takes a while, sometimes it is fast and truthfully it is not comfortable. This is when my brain kicks in with a multitude of things I really should be doing. But I am steadfast. I have been here thousands of times and I know what to do.  

I breathe deep and come back to the present moment. It is a practice, like centering or clearing the mind as in meditation. The only thing that exists is me and the ink and I continue making marks until a shape or the curve of a line catches my attention. I am in a state of deep listening for the gesture, for the idea, for the animal, for the intuitive spark that will lead me. I follow the illusive thread of an idea wherever it leads. It is a slow and uncompromising process and it is my job as an artist to stay out of the way so that the image comes forth.

What I mean by this is that I stay out of my head allowing the image to arrive and tell its own story. I then do my best to draw out or manifest the image that is beginning to appear. What is this image? What does it want to be? What is the character holding? What does it want to wear? I proceed by feel. If what I do feels correct in my body or if I like it then I know I am on the right track with what is emerging. If it doesn’t feel right I back up and try something else. Fortunately monoprinting is very forgiving and I know that I can always re-work it later once it is printed. I know this work comes through my heart and hands and my artist filter, but I believe that my art has a voice that is independent from me. The work is a collaboration.

Most all of my monoprints are created in this way I trust the art that comes. It is important for my well being. In these troubled times my art is a balm for my soul and I am glad to share it. Creating art and art stories is my medicine and practice.

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