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Gelli Plate Printmaking: Monochromatic Monotypes

00:04   Intro to monotype
00:51    Printmaking without a press
01:13    Gel printing plate
01:31    Visual qualities of a monotype
02:23   Creating a series

05:19    Akua intaglio inks
07:11    Inking the gel printing plate
09:29   Tools: brushes & rags
10:31    Wiping the plate
12:09   Registration sheet

12:36    Printing
13:43    Clean up
14:40    2nd monotype
15:14    Pthalo green
16:32    A different type of making
17:02    Bloopers

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Owen Rival

Owen Rival
Guest Teaching Assistant


Create a monochromatic monotype.

Core Ideas

Monochrome, Contrast, Light & Shadows.

GelliArts logo
Speedball Logo

Materials provided by
Gelli Arts & Speedball

Recommended Tutorials


Art Supplies: Plexiglass
Art Supplies: Large Breyer
Art Supplies: Cotton Rag
Art Supplies: Akua water based Intaglio Ink
Rives BFK Paper
Bristle brushes for oil painting
Art Supplies: Plastic Scraper
Art Supplies: Acetate
Art Supplies: Gel Printing Plate
Art Supplies: Sharpie Marker
Art Supplies: T-square
Art Supplies: Light Board
Art Supplies: Baby Wipes
Stephanie Gibadlo

Stephanie Gibadlo
Project Assistant

“This was a really fun project to work on! I have used gel printing plates once before, but I still wanted to use this as an opportunity to experiment and see what kinds of images I could make.

I wanted to start simple at first and use a limited blue palette. I really love how you can paint with the ink while using gel printing plates, so I tried to emphasize the brush texture with the prints I made. For my final print I tried making a more literal image with a cardinal print. I don’t think that print was as successful as the others, but I’m still glad I tried.

Lastly, I decided to use markers to add some accents to the prints and make them stronger as individual pieces. Overall I’m really happy with the way they came out! I’m glad I got a chance to do prints with the gel printing plate again, and I think I will do more gel printing plate pieces in the future. “

“This project was very eye opening for me as an artist! I’ve always been fascinated with painterly styles and effects, especially in monochromatic art pieces. By watching the monotype tutorial here on Art Prof, I saw how through a subtractive method, so much of the style I loved was created.

Something I have to work on in general as an artist is being patient during the process, and not getting too frustrated when pieces take a long time to complete. However, this method was so refreshing to me because it took such little time while still producing a complete work of art! I love working in series, too, and through printmaking of this kind (and with only ONE gel printing plate) I am able to do so scarily easily.

One thing I have to practice is getting more details in the final piece, because I found that it is hard to gauge the value of the ink when it’s on the plate itself. However, I feel like a light box would have helped immensely (as shown in the tutorial) and I’m going to look into getting one for future projects.

This was probably my favorite of all of the tutorials I’ve been a part of, and I will definitely work more in this medium.”

Ruth Lee

Ruth Lee
Project Assistant

“While working with the gel printing plate, I realized the most important thing about the project is what ink you use. Since I didn’t have proper ink at home, I used acrylic paint instead–but this ended up being much more problematic than I had anticipated.

Even when I tried to work quickly, the paint simply dried too fast and didn’t give me enough time to really develop any good illustration on its surface. Trying to achieve the ‘painterly’ textured look, I found out the hard way that the thinner I spread my paint to see the strokes in it, the more immediately it would dry and fail to print.

Instead, I decided to use Q-tips to draw in the paint, as it would create bolder lines and thus less surface area with very thin, dryable layers of paint. Although I ended up redoing it many times and running all kinds of test trials, there was a silver lining; painting over the gel printing plate each time I started fresh was SO satisfying. Not to mention happily squishing the gel with my fingers when washing it.

For future monotype projects, I would be sure to find a very viscous, slow-drying ink, so I can really spend time making a quality print without having to worry as much about time.”

Partial Video Transcript

Prof Lieu: “ Monotypes a really exciting medium because it’s this hybrid between painting and printmaking. The definition of a print is that it’s an image that can be reproduced multiple times. But the funny thing about a monotype is you can only print it once.”

Owen: “ Why can you only print it once?”

Prof Lieu: “ The reason is because in traditional printmaking techniques, usually it’s like a relief or you carve it into something. That’s really permanent, you can keep printing it. But with a monotype, it’s a very slick surface, you just paint on it and then once it’s printed, that’s the end of the image. There’s nothing left by the time you’re done and so what I think is exciting about monotype, it’s this one-shot deal. Usually when I’m doing printmaking, I go ‘I’ll just print another, no big deal’ But with this, you only got one chance.

Traditionally, monotype is a technique which you need a printmaking press for, which is a pain because a lot of people don’t have access to a $5000 printing press in their house. Which is why when I discovered the gel printing plates, I was so excited. We have one here from Gelli Arts and this is a printing plate which will let you make a monotype without a press. This is the gel printing plate and you can see that it’s very floppy, but it’s extremely durable.”

Owen: “ Yeah, no it seems really nice! This is so satisfying.”

Prof Lieu: “ I mean you can put so much pressure, I mean I could just do this all day.It’s just super fun. Here are some samples of some small monotypes that I made. What do you notice about the look of a monotype that’s specific to this medium?”

Owen: “ I really love the sort of like painterly textures that you’re able to get in the mushrooms. But I also really enjoy the like subtleties and nuances that are achieved just from like the process of printing onto a sheet of paper”

Prof Lieu: “ It’s a really fast approach.”

Owen: “Yeah!”

Prof Lieu: “It’s not something that you labor over for hours and hours, it’s difficult to get detailed because it is very painterly and very gestural. But that is also unusual for a printmaking technique because there’s lots of printmaking techniques like etching or engraving, which are very time consuming. You have to process the plate a billion times and etch it in acid. This is like wipe, wipe, print, and you’re done.

In addition to learning the monotype technique, we’re also going to talk about how to make a series of images. That’s a question I get a lot from people because I think it’s great to learn all different types of techniques and experiment. But at a certain point, I think a lot of people feel that they just want to buckle down, they want to focus, they don’t engage with their subject matter more deeply. So I’m wondering, have you ever worked in a series before?”

Owen: “Yeah I have! The most recent series that I’m just coming off of was a series of larger charcoal drawings and you know I felt although I was able to make some of them due to the sheer scale and time that it would take to make, I never really achieved the quantity that I wanted.

That’s I feel like with this monotypes, you can make so many, so fast that you can really explore deeper concepts because you don’t have to worry as much about individually rendering everything.”

Prof Lieu: “The process is so fast, I mean it’s almost to the point where you feel that the image is making itself and from a productivity point of view, that’s so useful because that is the danger in a series. Is that you linger too long on one image that you lose track of the others and so there’s a real continuity to making lots of monotypes just over and over and over again, that I think it difficult in other media.

The question becomes, okay well how do you make a series because it’s a tough balance. You want to have enough variety that all the images don’t look the same, but you also don’t want them to be so different, that they look like they have nothing to do with each other.”

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