Carnival by the sea – abstract monotype print


Carnival by the sea – colourful abstract monotype print – acrylic on paper – 30 cm x 30 cm


Carnival by the sea, was probably completed around the same time as Forbert (also in the shop). It has the same sweeping serpentine shape coupled with more characteristic mark making like the barred blocks of colour. I say probably because these prints are not made in a single session. I add layers all the time, in an intuitive process that responds to the outcomes from previous additions. Knowing when to stop is sometimes harder than knowing how to start when I’m working this way, and it may take a couple of weeks after the last layer is added before I know I’m finished.

I think the title of this one comes mainly from the bright colours combined with the blue next to the serpentine shape suggesting a coastline.

The print was made by gel printing with acrylic paints on paper and 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. They represent a new direction for my work, one I intend to continue to explore for a good while yet. I am very drawn to the way in which abstract, almost accidental layers of colour can be transformed into a coherent structured artwork. Many draw their inspiration from real places, some while still abstract, have a link back to the world of experience such as the idea of a carnival by the sea in this piece, and others are pure abstract without external references.

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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