Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why Mono Print?

I was first introduced to mono printing years ago by an artist who manipulated paint on a glass template with various tools and then ran the template through a press and printed her designs one at a time on paper.

Watching that, I thought, “It’s truly beautiful, but, no, it’s not for me!”

Yes, I enjoyed viewing the process.  It was very interesting and the final prints were quite beautiful.  But, that was the end of my interest, or so I thought.

Years later, in a class with fiber artist, Joan Schulze, mono printing came back into my life. I admit it, I started listening to her lesson with only half an ear because I already knew about this process. 
“Yada Yada Yada…mono-printing!”  This was nothing new. 

Except wait! What was she doing? She was not using a piece of glass as her template!  Hmmm, That’s good, I’ve always seen that rigid base as limiting and stuffy!  She pulled out and cut for herself a square piece of flexible plastic sheeting!  Flexible Sheeting? Really?

Next, she dug a teaspoon into some bright and bold color fabric paints! Plop! A dab of vibrant color was scooped out of a large jar and tapped onto a neighboring palette.  She was getting ready to play!  Okay, now she’d caught my attention!

What she showed me that day revolutionized me.  As I played with mono-printing on fabric, I became obsessed and passionate about designing and printing my own fabrics! 

I had only one dilemma. What was that, you ask? Well…..I hated my own marks”  What? How can you hate your own marks?

Okay, Have you ever drawn a straight line and said, “AH! I cannot even draw a straight line!” Well, it was something like that.  I would draw a few lines and then erase them.  I would scribble something and then throw the paper out.  More and more, I was avoiding any moment when I needed to make a mark, including in a sketchbook.  I just didn’t keep one. (“One” being a marker, or “one” being a sketchbook to mark in.)

At the same time, I was noticing and admiring all the brave mark makers around me. I was coveting their work. They were able to make such incredibly sophisticated marks!  They were the true artists.  They had no fear.  They were brilliant!  Yes, for a time there I had a chronic case of mark maker envy!

Now, as I was being drawn into mono-printing, what would I do about the hatred of my own marks? Wouldn’t it be glaringly obvious that I was a klutz at this? Oh, Woe is me!

Tentatively, I held up a 2“ brush loaded with Indigo colored fabric paint.  I bent slightly over the square sheeting.  I placed my feet squarely on the floor and then with my whole arm, I swept the brush in a full arc over the plastic.  Parts of the stroke were full of paint, other areas had a dry brush effect where I had unevenly pulled the brush lightly over the plastic. The entire move was deliberate and honest and I did it!

There rested my mark.  It was huge, in color, in paint and just sitting there. It looked so beautiful.  My excited brain said, “What? Wait, did I make that?” The less impressed voice inside me, said, “Just print it already!” and I did.

When I saw that the print was even better than the mark!  I thought, ”Hey, I could get used to this!”  With my hands lightly covered with paint, I stood there for the first time, loving my mark.  I have not been able to stop.  It was a pivotal moment in my art career.

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