Three worlds – abstract monoprint (masks, texture, backdrawing)

I wanted to create an abstract image for one of my project 4 pieces. I generally like designs incorporating circles, so started with the idea of three circles in a row. I made a few exploratory rough sketches, and planned to use the starry effect I’d achieved before by using scattered tea leaves again as texture. This led to the idea of something vaguely planetary, but rather than planning ahead too closely (as I had with the other project 4 prints) with this print I wanted to see where the printing took me.

1. First I inked the glass with 3 colours – red, green and blue –  and sprinkled my tea leaves. I applied a mask that would leave the three printed circles, then pressed a roughly-torn shaped piece of tissue paper across the ink to add an extra textured shape that ran through the circles. Here’s the result:

stage 1, 1st print

As hoped, the tea leaves did produce an effect like constellations, and pressing  the tissue paper into the ink produced an effect that reminded me of  images of dust clouds in space or perhaps the edges of continents on the planet itself.

2. I took a ghost print of the print above, but this time also added a little backdrawing (sorry this is not a good photo):

ghost image with backdrawing

3. To create another version I re-inked the glass and repeated the process, but this time left the tissue paper shape on top of the ink to create an additional white masked area.

2nd print

4. Again, another ghost print with backdrawing:

2nd ghost image with backdrawing

I quite liked some of these as they were, but wanted to add a background. However I but got a bit stuck here and wasn’t sure how to proceed. I searched the web for some inspiring images, and found the work of Helene Brier, which included some very nice “planetary” images. The choice of yellow as a background in particular, and the white halo around the coloured discs, were inspired by her monotypes.

5. For this next stage in each case:
a) I inked the glass table with the yellow ink, trying to roll in some variations of colour so that it wouldn’t be too uniform. I then used a dry thin roller to try to lift off some ink again in various straight lines to create some more variation and texture.
b) I used three irregular, torn circular shapes from tissue paper, which I stuck directly onto the prints from the previous stage, slightly off-center, to mask out the “planets” and to create a white “halo” around each of them.  In three of the four I also masked out the horizontal irregular shape across the planets as well.
c) I used another mask to frame the rounded rectangle of the background.

Here’s a pic of the table, mid-process. (This must have been after a print was taken).

lots of masks

Here are the four results:

final prints

And the best one:

Three worlds monoprint


I am quite pleased with this set – I think there may be more I could do with the fainter ones that incorporate the ghost images, to add some darker tones to balance the stronger yellow, but I do like this last one as it is. I’m not sure whether we are looking at three objects (planets?), or looking through three windows into different universes (hence the title).

Again this was a lot of work, with lots of masking and registration, but I think again by now I was feeling much more comfortable with the process, with registration, and with experimentation in general.


One response to “Three worlds – abstract monoprint (masks, texture, backdrawing)

  1. Interesting experimentation Jackie. You’ve given me plenty to think about – the techniques are so effective – you’ve inspired me to try something like this for myself :0)

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