Pictographs is an abstract monotype print. It uses motifs inspired by Native American pictographs. The background is in various shades of magenta over which the motifs are printed in an intense turquoise. The print is 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 large 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.
The title has no particular inspiration beyond the overall look and feel of the image. The motifs used are based on Native American pictographs, but are common in other cultures too.
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.
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, often using stencils or masks to limit the area to which the paint is applied. The rolled out paints can also be drawn into or otherwise 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, which results in subtle variations in colour and a tangible physical texture. The nature of the process allows for intense bright colours and this colourful abstract monotype print is no exception.
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