Posted by Open Studio

My First Printmaking Class

Written by Chris Jones

On Monday I joined five other print novices for our first ever Open Studio class. Fortunately, we dove into the shallow end with a 3-hour look at monoprinting with friendly, knowledgeable instructor Loree Ovens. The class was fun and fulfilling and inspired us all to consider exploring a little further. I, myself, start an 8-week screen printing class next week!

Instuctor Loree Ovens getting started at Open Studio's Monoprinting Workshop.
Instuctor Loree Ovens getting started at Open Studio’s Monoprinting Workshop.

I didn’t even know what monoprinting was before the class but my rudimentary understanding of Latin – mono means alone or single – suggested we would not be making multiple copies of our work.

Loree kicked things off by explaining the monoprint and monotype processes and showing us some examples of prints and the matrixes used to make them. Then, before we rolled up our sleeves, she gave us a tour of the amazing Open Studio facility, with brief explanations of some of the equipment and various printmaking processes.

First up was monotyping: Loree demonstrated the process of drawing with waxy crayons on acetate or a heavier plastic card. She encouraged us to just dive in, drawing an image or abstract pattern and we all got down to work.

Class participants getting started on their images.
Class participants getting started on their images.

Next it was on to the printing press with its huge “captain’s wheel” crank, which moves the press bed beneath heavy rollers that press the paper to the printing matrix. We all had a bit of fun taking turns driving the press (that’s me below). And then there’s the moment of truth when you peel up your paper to reveal the image you’ve created. Because the press applies so much pressure it leaves a nice embossed frame around the image.

Trying out the printing press.
Trying out the printing press.

From crayon drawing on acetate we moved on to using inks and rollers. Loree showed us how to stir up the inks then roll a small portion out on the glass table tops; with the ink evenly distributed we then used the rollers to apply the ink to our matrixes. We used various plastic tools and brushes to push the ink around: drawing ability is not required, most of us just had fun blending the colours to create abstract images.

Again we moved on to the press where we discovered whether we’d used too much or too little ink or whether, like Goldilocks, we’d gotten it just right.

Revealing a monoprint.
Revealing a monoprint.

We printed like this for more than an hour, enjoying the process and yielding a great deal of work (below). None of it is likely to wind up at the AGO but that didn’t diminish our enjoyment and satisfaction. The single evening class is an ideal way to dip your toe into the printmaking pool without a big time or financial commitment.

The final products.
The final prints.

Even the longest journey begins with a single step and instructor Loree Ovens made sure our first steps were enjoyable and enlightening. Open Studio offers printmaking classes in three education sessions each year beginning in September, December and May: sign up for the OS electronic mailing list.

Tags: , , ,

Categorised in: Art Education