Printmaking: Watercolour Monotypes

Printing with watercolours from plexiglass

I was inspired by a post on Pinterest. I had of course heard of a watercolour Monotype but I had not actually seen one nor imagined how textural and soft the resulting print would be. Not only that but they also have the rich and textural qualities which denote them as a print.

My first attempt was OK, certainly interesting enough to try again and to share the process in our lesson.


The process itself is quite simple. The plexiglass lends itself to using a reference image under the plate so photographic reference or a predrawn image are very easily re-rendered in watercolour.  I will also try this technique in gouache, acrylic and oils to see what happens and compare the results.

However, for today I will focus on the watercolour monotype prints.

Process for printing watercolours

Firstly brush the plate with washing up liquid  (I Use ‘Fairy’ washing up liquid) and let that settle while you organise paper soaking.  I used Frabirano Rossapina, (300gsm) a good quality smooth printing paper. I soaked this for 10 minutes and then placed it into a towel to blot dry.  I left it in the towel so that it didn’t dry out too much.  If the towel becomes too wet then use a separate one to store the paper.  Sometimes in hot weather of if you are going to take a long time to make your image it is a good idea to use a robust plastic sheet to sandwich the towel and perhaps even place a ply board over it.

Using a viscus watercolour (straight from a tube works well) use the watercolour on the plexiglass. You will see that the washing up liquid stops the wet paint balling up.  You can also get some interesting marks using a more watery mix.

Remember that whatever paint you put down first will end up on the top if you are considering layering the paint.

The main thing and most important is to wait until the plate is absolutely dry before printing.

Place the damp paper over the plate on the press bed and pass through the press, we have a simple similar to a Tofko Studium Etching Table

We are working on small scale prints but it would, ideally, be a good idea to place the prints to dry slowly between plywood or mdf boards sandwiched over blotting paper and tissue for a few days.

The images here are a few examples of different effect you can achieve. However, I love this so much that I think I will be revisiting this and coming up with better examples as I get to grips with the process.

West Dartmoor Art Courses Printmaking sesiion are held on Thursdays at Lamerton, Devon

If you are interested in learning this or other printmaking processes do get in touch with us to find out about our weekly printmaking classes or day long courses throughout the summer. You can use the contact form for this. We would love to hear from you.

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