Sail to Windward – monotype print


Sail to windward – art as journey – monotype gel print – acrylic on paper – 30 cm x 30 cm


Sail to Windward is another example of my normal manner of working intuitively. I add each layer in response to what was created by previous additions. This means that prints are usually built up over several sessions. I am very drawn to the way in which abstract, almost accidental layers of colour can be transformed into a harmonious image. I think of it as responsive art, i.e. art that develops out of the environment in which it is being created. It is art as a journey to an unknown destination

Often I begin with an arbitrary collection of shapes and colours simply from cleaning up the residue on a plate. Sometimes these accumulate from deliberate choices. Usually though they are literally arbitrary – at least within the range of my normal palette. Often, knowing when to stop is the most difficult stage. It usually takes me a couple of weeks after the last layer is added before I’m sure a given print is complete.

The print is about 30 cm square. It is unmounted and unframed, although if you wish I can mount it on a cradled wooden panel, with black painted edges ready to hang on your wall.

During lockdown, I have made a series of  similar colourful abstract monotype prints. This intuitive approach to creating the image, of seeing the art as a record of a journey as much as being a thing in itself, is new for me, It represents a new direction for my work that I intend to continue to explore for a good while yet. Many draw their inspiration from real places, others while still abstract, have a link back to the world of experience, and yet others are pure abstract without external references beyond the broad ideas of harmony and balance. This one has references to landscape in that there is a sort of horizon line, but other elements are abstract.

What is a gel print?

Monotype prints in general are made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. This surface, sometimes called the matrix, was historically a copper etching plate. In contemporary work other materials are often used, such as acrylic sheet. The image on the matrix is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together. This usually requires a print press. Monotypes can also be created by inking an entire surface and then, using brushes or rags, removing ink to create light areas in a field of opaque colour. This is then pressed together with a sheet of paper to make the print.

The specific process I used for this print was gel printing (or Gelli but this is a trademark). The matrix in this case is a soft synthetic gel. I apply the paint to the gel sheet with rollers or brushes. The area to which the paint is applied can be controlled by masks and stencils. The rolled out paints can also be drawn into or textured in various ways. This process is repeated until I’m happy with the image.

Some of my prints made this way have over 20 separate full or partial layers. The nature of the process allows for both intense bright colours and  subtle variations in colour as well as tangible physical texture.

Additional information

Dimensions 30 × 30 × 2.5 cm
Mounted or Unmounted

Unmounted, Mounted on panel


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