How to Make an easy Mono-Print or Trace Mono-Type

1908 007

This easy exercise will take about 15 minutes preparation and 30 minutes in execution but the results will be well worth it.  Oh, if forgot, you may need 10 minutes or so to clean up.

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of good quality paper, whatever size you choose. It is probably best to do a practice run first.
  • A piece of craft paper or soft cardboard to suit the paper size.
  • A flat piece of plastic board (not too thin) to suit the paper size or larger.  I purchased one at a junk shop.
  • A clean piece of board, Masonite or similar.  Artists boards are available at art or hardware shops at a reasonable price or you may have one around the house.
  • A brayer or roller suitable for mono-printing.  I purchased one cheaply from an art shop.
  • A jar of mono printing ink, choose your own colour, black is the most popular.  Inks are available at art shops.
  • An old plastic teaspoon.
  • Clean rags, gloves, mask (optional.)

1808 005

Firstly, place small amounts of the mono-printing ink here and there on the board with a plastic teaspoon.  Take no notice of the text written on my board, it won’t come off!

1808 007

Next, roll the ink onto the board until it coats thinly.  If the ink coats too thickly the mono-print will have to be done several times to get a good print which can be fun.  Thick ink will produce blobs of ink here and there.  This is my ink-coated plate.

1808 009

Next, I placed an item of clothing on to the plate.  You can use anything you like, string, rubber gloves, the sole of an old shoe, a piece of old mesh, anything that has grooves to make a textured mark.

1808 010

Then I placed the sheet of  craft paper down over the play suit and rubbed the paper over firmly and evenly so as to gently press the play suit against the ink.  Allow the work to rest while you prepare another piece of paper by laying it onto either a table (not in the dining room!) or a clean artists’ board.  This is in readiness for the ink-soaked item to be placed on the clean page.

1808 014

Once I had evenly and firmly pressed the entire top sheet of paper I removed it to again reveal the item of clothing.  Gently and carefully I lifted the play suit off the plate and placed it face down on to the clean sheet of paper I had earlier prepared on the board.

I then placed an old piece of craft paper on top and rubbed the work over again as previously.

1808 015

1808 017

I then gently rolled it over with the rolling pin to get an even print.

1808 018

Then this was the exciting part, I lifted the craft paper off and then lifted the play suit off the plate to reveal what was underneath.

1808 020

1808 022

I ended up with a lovely print and you can see the complete image at the top of the page.

Here are some pictures of other mono-prints done in my days at art school using junk I found from a recycling shop.  I used the same method as above and later went in with some watercolours when the ink was dry.

Good luck with your mono prints but a word of warning, this process is addictive because of its unpredictability and the amazing, surprising effects you can get.

After Kandinsky Arbeiter Communication Breakdown


Drawing: Great Masters – Rembrandt

101 019


Rembrandt Van Rijn “Saskia Asleep”, The Pierpont Morgan Library, NY

What is a drawing study?  A drawing study is a rough sketch drawn to gain information only.   The above work by Rembrandt shows how a study can become a delightful piece of work in its own right.

In this work above, Rembrandt has used loose brushstrokes with washes added for tone. This piece shows mainly an “uncontrolled” style, however, there are small areas of control in the faces and hands of his subjects. The switch to the “controlled” hand gives a delightful balance to the carefree strokes elsewhere.  Rembrandt usually used pen and ink/brush in his studies, ideal for showing the quality of line (changing thickness of line weight.)  His rapid style lends much vitality to this work.

Beautiful soft tones surround the figures and you will see thick black accents under the head, arm and pillow to ground and give weight to the figures. Rembrandt was highly aware of light and shadow and in this sketchiest of works he shows the presence of same.

A calligraphy or “sumi” brush can attain different width of strokes like Rembrandt.  Bear down for the thick strokes and use only the point for thinner lines.

Do you like Rembrandt’s style of drawing?  Do you enjoy being influenced by the great masters?  Does this influence help you to try new ways of drawing?



Drawing and Your Handwriting

101 016

Eugene Delacroix, Study of Lions. Graphite, David Adler Collection, Art Institute of Chicago

“If it is necessary to rough cast with a broom, it is necessary to finish off with a needle”. Eugene Delacroix

Each of us is unique!

When we write, it is with a distinctly different style to everyone else.  We express our writing craziness subconsciously.

Most, if not all of us, write in 2 different ways.  If you scribble a note to a friend, this could be called “intuitive” or “free writing”.  When you do your best writing on a card to your parents, you use what could be called “controlled” or “analytical writing”.

The “scribble” or “intuitive” style is usually drawn first in an attempt to grasp the essence, the spirit or the feeling of what we are drawing. The “controlled” style comes into play when we want to refine, sharpen and crystallize what we have drawn after we have scribbled the gesture of what we want to draw.

The free drawing style could be described as quick, sketchy, confident, impulsive and loose.  The controlled style could be described as precise, careful, detailed, cautious, patient and deliberate.

It helps to keep these two styles apart, otherwise the “controlled” style  blocks the loose scribble that we need to start off with.

Take the above example from Eugene Delacroix.  In this study of the lion, he has used the free hand to feel out the forms early in the drawing.  The random, repeated marks over the foreleg reinforce the form.

The first lines are vague and loose yet give direction for the more accurate lines to follow. Lots of stopping and starting feeling out lines in your drawing followed by strong focusing indicate confidence, flexibility and liveliness.

Oh to have a drawing jumping off the page with liveliness!  Oh to have the picture surface vibrate!

You’ve Got to be Joking!



My quote today is from Bagwan Rajneesh..

“Whenever you see seriousness,

Know well something is wrong – 

Because seriousness is part of a diseased being.

No flower is serious unless it is ill.

No bird is serious unless it is ill.

An awakened man realizes life is a song.”

It could be said our lives are built upon the idea of limitation and struggle.  Could it be that out sense of limitation comes from seeing ourselves as separate and struggling to survive in what seems a hostile world?

Peak moments arise when this separate sense of self vanishes.  These primal experiences can be experienced during prayer, love making, meditation, music, art or whenever separation from life dissolves.  In this state the person returns home to their source or God if you like.

Meditation can happen while gardening, cycling, running, doing housework and in all those repetitive things we do.

All the more reason to make music, make art, write, photograph, meditate and make love!

Drawing – Create Cohesive Magic


Check out this crazy, yet striking drawing! This man’s clothes are totally merged with the background yet you still get the impression he is sitting with his shoulder and hand resting on the arm of the chair.

It is possible to create a unified pattern with an amazing design device!

The idea is to leave no boundary lines between one object and another or even the background as you see above.  This idea can be used when any two adjoining shapes are the same tone (or almost the same.) Dark shapes, white or middle tone shapes can all be merged just as well.

Deliberately merging the shapes in only one or two places in your drawing is enough to create cohesive magic.

Check these out!


The black dresses are merged at the knees but separate at the shoulder making these ladies strangely together yet apart.


These cows are tied together by their black shapes yet you still see them as cows only in a more exciting and dynamic way.

Are you willing to try embracing opposite qualities simultaneously? You will be surprised at the spontaneous opportunities you will find to use this great skill, all to the benefit of your drawing practice!

An Easy Naive Cityscape Painting After Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele Landscape with Houses0912 003

Egon Schiele was a very talented artist from Austria  He was born in 1890 and died of Spanish flu at only 28 years of age.  Schiele created many erotic paintings for which he was eventually jailed.  His unconventional use of colour and line had never been seen before.  You can make your own Schiele painting quickly and easily, here’s how.

Schiele Exercise – Allow 1  to 1 ½ hours

What art materials do I need?

  • A piece of good quality paper , I have used A3 sizd but you can use whatever size takes your fancy.  Not too small is good.
  • A piece of willow charcoal (easy to rub out with your finger)
  • A medium sized watercolour or acrylic brush.
  • A tube of white acrylic paint.
  • A few watercolours.  Work with either red and yellow + black and white (see below *) or blue and green + black and white.  If you use colours with these combinations you will not end up with a rainbow painting.  By restricting yourself with colour this way, you automatically create colour harmony without you knowing it!
  • Rags or disposable kitchen towels for spills
  • A palette, I used an old white kitchen plate.
  • A plastic container for water.

What to paint on?

I selected a hard piece of cardboard (off the back of an old watercolour pad) and primed it with my own homemade gesso primer.    You don’t have to do this; working directly on to paper is fine.

0511 013

Select a photograph to paint from

Next I looked at Egon Schiele’s paintings of houses, which I love!  I then selected a photograph of a similar scene and went to work.


How to draw the houses

I did a very rough charcoal drawing of the houses. Don’t worry if your shapes are wonky, you can go over them with paint later.  Actually, I got lost in the drawing and eventually created my own shapes, doors and windows.  I just kept on joining the lines and decided to add some crazy trees in the foreground at the end.

0511 014

Let’s start painting

Next I painted between the lines with white acrylic paint. Don’t worry if some of the charcoal moves into the paint, this is what will make the painting interesting.  I used the paint directly from the tube with no water to make the surface as textured as possible.  This will create lovely variations in colour when the paint runs all over the place!

0511 017

Allow the painting to dry

I had a cup of tea while I allowed this to dry.  Usually 30 minutes is enough time.  Putting the work out in the sun helps too but make sure your work is not in a dusty spot.

Let’s paint with watercolours

Next, select your watercolour tubes according to my colour recommendations above. * TIP: You can make a lovely green with black and yellow, just add white for a lighter green.

0511 019

Then check out your photograph and lay colours down according to what you see.  Put the background in first, then the dark colours, the mid tone colours and then the lightest colours last.  Your colours do not have to be exactly the same as the ones you see.  Just try to make sure the dark, mid and light tones are true to what you see otherwise your painting will look great but will only be shapes of colours.  And we want houses, don’t we?

TIP:  Put the watercolours down once only and leave them.  Watercolour has magical properties when left to do its own thing!

Watch your paint brush create magic

At the end I went over the charcoal lines with a thin brush dampened with water.  The charcoal will run and make a line.  I also put in the windows by using black (with a dot of red) watercolour paint and a thin brush.

My finished painting

This is my finished painting, it looks kind of naive but I ended up really liking it.  Putting it in a frame turned it into a magical piece of work totally suitable for my hallway!  So put yours in a frame if you can and see what happens!

0611 002

A tip used by professional artists

To make the houses come forward in the painting, paint them in warm colours.  The background or sky will recede if painted in cool colours.  This would require you to buy warm and cool versions of the watercolours mentioned above.  Ask at your art shop if you’re not sure.

You may also like to check out a later post on how to create a vibrant and interesting still life after Schiele.

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

After 911

“One word frees us from the weight and pain of life, that word is love”. Sophocles