Category Archives: fine art techniques

What is a Monotype?

Tropical Desires, Kathleen Thoma Art, 11x14 monotype

Tropical Desires,
Kathleen Thoma
Monotype,
11×14 inches

What is a Monotype? People often ask me this question, so it seemed to me be a good idea write about it. A monotype is a specific art technique. It doesn’t resemble other traditional printmaking methods such as engraved, relief carved, etching or lithographed prints which can produce exact, repeated copies. “Mono” means one, “Type” means print, so they are one-of-a-kind unique prints.

There is a long fine art tradition of monotype printing that most are unaware of, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Marc Chagall, William Blake and Henri Matisse all created monotype prints. However, these monotype works were often less well known.

Technically, a monotype is a simple form of printmaking. It begins with applying ink or paint onto a metal, glass or plexi-glass plate, manipulated with brushes or other tools; then pressure is applied, through the artist’s hand or through the press. (more…)

Print is ready to pull off the plate

Demontration/monotypes with hand-cut stencils

This is a series of photos demonstrating

the process of creating a monotype using hand-cut stencils.

Kathleen Thoma creating a monotype in her studio

First I start with my palette of colors. Choosing color depends on my mood or the idea I have in my head. Then I cut out my stencils using flexible, soft sheets of plastic, like cut-up plastic file folders.

Hand cut stencils

I use a piece of plexiglass or glass for my plate.  I apply thin layers of ink or paint onto the plate, playing with layers of stencils until I have what seems to be a good starting layer to put through the press. This decision is often a guess based on experience. What is fun about monotype printing is that you never have complete control over the final outcome. This can also be frustrating of course. Sometimes you don’t like the print, so you have to wipe it off and start over. (more…)