Friday, 23 April 2010

Monoprinting With Watercolor

Fern Monoprint

Like many artists, the nature around me and my relation to it, is a source of inspiration.   I live in a forest in the middle of Sweden and spend alot of time wandering around with my dog and just being.  Ferns grow in abundance here, a reminder of our primeval, prehistoric past.

The technique of monoprinting is a very exciting one because one cannot predict the final result. Here´s how I do it:
I select plants and leaves - sometimes small twigs when I meander in the forest. When I come home I take a piece of heavy weight, fine grained watercolor paper and stretch it.  I spray the surface with water and let it soak in.  The paper should be damp. Then I take a large brush and saturate it with color - a lot of paint is used in this technique. Just drop pools of color onto the paper.  When the paper is full of color I arrange the leaves and other objects on the paper.  The pigment should still be soaking into the paper.  I study this process for a while because different pigments react differently.  Here I must help the painting along by adding more pigment here or there or dispersing color with a water spray.  When I´m satisfied I cover the objects with stones so they lay flat and are pressed onto the paper. The stones are also part of the composition they leave wonderful fascinating marks and add another texture to the painting.

Now it´s time for a cup of tea and a long wait.  I usually let the painting dry overnight - it might even take longer. I sometimes help it along with a hair dryer. Now the exciting part - removing the the stones and leaves and seeing what lies underneath.

You can see in this painting, by pressing the the leaf on the paper, wet paint is pushed away under the fronds leaving an almost ghostly photographic image. The outline of the fern is defined because the pigment collects there.

I love to experiment with this technique, it makes me feel like an alchemist looking for the definitive combination of paper, pigment, water and objects. Waterford paper lends itself to sharp well defined images whereas Fabriano leaves more diffuse marks.  Paper and pigments have their own characters and it´s my way to learn more about these wonderful materials.

Sometimes the results are not how I expected. The pigments can blend too much leaving muddy colors or the object did not print as I wanted or quite simply the composition is not good enough.  I keep these " mistakes" because the colors and textures are very interesting.  Here I´v used one of these unsucessful compositions  as a kind of collage,  I was intriged by the play of color the bottom right hand corner. It acts as a backround and frame to another work.


Here is a series of ACEOs I have made with birch leaves.


































I picked these leaves from the forest floor at the end of autumn. I have kept mostly with earthy colors and greys; raw umber,burnt sienna, paynes gray and neutral tint.

Raw umber is a grainy pigment and leaves a kind of gritty texture on the paper . See on the top left hand side of this first picture.


When I can, I incorporate neutral  tint in these kind of painting.  It has a very special character - it spreads itself very easily over the paper and when it dries it leaves a well defined contour almost like an etched line.

18 comments:

  1. This is gorgeous, the colors are incredible!

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  2. The language barrier does not allow me to write exactly how much I like your work. I sit before the monitor and still watch them. Beautiful compositions and colors.
    Greetings from Poland

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  3. It's mesmerizing! I found myself staring at the picture as a whole, then at each section of the leaf, slowly going over the whole painting in a kind of slow motion . . . being treated to such beautiful, natural integrated blends of colors. It's truly beautiful!

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  4. These are positively beautiful. The play of colors and textures is really fascinating and I can see how it makes you feel like an alchemist! I love art that is unpredictable and I think it has a special, sensual quality to it. Thanks so much for sharing these great works and the process!

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  5. These prints are just exquisite! I am a printmaker too and I haven't tried this technique yet. I think what you're doing is really wonderful. I will be following you!

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  6. Love this first print -sure the nature is a great inspiration and I think you make lovely art out of it-Well done! Have a great day! Love//Eva

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  7. Wonderfull results ! Atelier Contin sent me the link to your watercolor monotype technique and I'm very impressed. I had made some monoprints with linoleum and watercolor in the past, but nothing like yours. I feel like trying again watercolor monoprints....

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  8. Relly nice colors and texture!!! Keep going :)

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  9. These are such gorgeous textures and colours. Very special.

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  10. How fantastic,, have to try, I do lots of leaf prints, but this technique is new to me...thanks for sharing!

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  11. Excellent tutorial on a very exciting watercolour technique! Thank you so much. I hope I can try this sometime!

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  12. found this article looking for inspiration for projects. what a fabulous idea. i must try it soon.

    http://saundersartistblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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  13. These are beautiful, all of them, I can't wait to try! Thank you.

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  14. These are beautiful! And I really thank you for sharing your technique. I live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State - also forest for miles and miles, with little towns carved out. I'd love to try this sometime. I think the ones done in the more neutral tones look almost fossil like. So very pretty!

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  15. çok güzel olmuş en kısa zaman da deneyeceğim

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  16. thank you for sharing! lovely tecnique and results, definitely will try, it combines my favorite things, nature and watercolour...

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