Monotypes / Viscosity Printing

The prints are almost always created in a single pass through the press, so the inks are all applied to the plate at once before transferring to paper.  The images are created with brayers, palette knives, paintbrushes and rags using viscosity technique, in which inks of varying viscosities (thick and thin) resist each other on the plate.  Differing viscosities are obtained by adding more or less oil to the inks, but sometimes the pigments themselves show marked variations in how they resist or mix with each other.  The textures and juxtapositions that result from this commingling of substances are rich and organic, dense and alive, like those found in nature.

I use oil based etching inks and plate oil (#0000) for thinning.  With very tacky inks I also add modifiers to increase flow. When I want the ink to be very runny, runny enough to be applied with a paintbrush, I use flash oil to thin it.  The first color is mixed with the greatest proportion of plate oil and has the lowest viscosity.  I roll or brush areas of this first ink on a Plexiglas plate.  I use a palette knife, rags or some other tool to scrape or wipe areas of ink away, exposing the plate below and creating my image. The second color is mixed with much less oil; just enough to get the right consistency to roll out, and this second layer of ink is rolled over the first layer.  I use a very large roller for this, one that covers the entire plate in one roll out.  Where the first layer of oily ink has not been scraped or wiped away, it resists the second, less oily layer of ink and the second color does not stick.  Where the oily layer has been removed and the Plexiglas is exposed, the second layer of ink takes, and fills in those areas.  I do not have exact ratios of how much oil I add to the ink - I do it by feel.  The amount of oil needed also varies depending on the air temperature and the starting consistency of the inks.  The first, oiliest ink layer probably contains 15%-25% plate oil, while the second layer contains just a few drops.