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Degas’ Pastel Over Monotypes

By December 22, 2017Uncategorized

I’ve been making more monotypes. I can’t seem to put them down. The exciting discovery of what comes out of the press is as neurologically rewarding as opening wrapped presents. Better maybe. The invitation of the ghosted plate, cold blankness eliminated, grey tones and shapes invite me to create again, and again, and again.

Monotypes are so similar to paint that I feel I already have some skills, but they are a bit like painting semi-blind. I can see the ink on the plate, but it’s darker than it will be printed, so it’s like … well … painting in the dark. I can hold the plexiglass up to the light and see some of what I’m doing because the light shines through the area I’ve removed ink from and remains black in the areas that carry heavy ink, but the print is always a surprise. I haven’t timed myself and every time I do it I completely lose track of time, but I’m guessing I spend about 20 minutes painting a plate. Honestly it could be more. I really have no idea. But it feels like a sketch, not a “serious” work, so all the experimentation and gambling feels low stakes and high rewards. And since monotypes lend themselves so gracefully to top layers of pastels and paint, I feel another layer coming.

Degas used monotypes as first layers for drawings and paintings. He’d print one or two impressions from a plate, the first one being dark and inky, the second “ghost” image light and grey. Here are some examples of Degas’ monotypes with pastel and oil paint.



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