I’ve been wanting to try some monotype printing, and yesterday finally brought a clear space of time. In the morning I mixed up one of the boxes of unflavored gelatin I bought weeks and weeks ago and put it in the fridge to set up, covered with a piece of foil labeled: FOR ART ONLY–DO NOT EAT OR TOUCH. Last night I got it out and went to work.
Amazing. I’ve never tried this before and I love the feel of the gelatin, the alive way it holds the paints (I used acrylics for this round, and plain large sheets of drawing paper, plus some small squares of stiff Bristol paper), and the way it feels under my hands as I smooth the paper over it.
That one little box of gelatin made a block that kept going through 67 prints, most of them keepers. Here’s a little show and tell:
This was one of the first ones I pulled. I love the transparency of the paint. As I went along, things got a little denser, but since each print takes nearly all the paint off the gelatin (sometimes you can get a second ghost print off of what’s left), you have a (nearly) clean slate for the next.
On this mostly red and yellow one I used the edge of a piece of cardboard cut with pinking sheers, a fan-shaped watercolor brush, and the lip of a little paper cup to add details.
I was continually surprised at the effects I got. By the time I started work on this mostly ochre and red one, I was laying the paint on pretty thickly, but it still retained a translucency that delights me.
This was one of the last ones I pulled. I could happily have gone on all night, but I was running out of room to hang up and lay down the prints (my kitchen has a few drawbacks as a studio). Besides, the gelatin was getting pretty beat up after a couple of hours. The instructions I was working from said that I could refrigerate and reuse the gelatin block for a week or so, but by the time I did this print I was scratching into the surface with a bamboo stylus and slicing it with a razor blade. By midnight the poor old block of gelatin had given its all–when I tried to pick it up and lay it back in the Pyrex baking pan in which I’d molded it, it fell to pieces and had to be discarded.
That’s okay, though. The first thing I did when I got up this morning was to mix up more gelatin for a new block, which is firming up in the fridge right now. Little does it know what’s in store for it.