WHAT IS A MONOTYPE?

The difference between monotypes and monoprints frequently baffles art buyers and sellers alike. Therefore, a description of that difference is useful at the outset.

 A monoprint is one of a series, therefore, not wholly unique. A monoprint begins with an etched plate, a serigraph, lithograph or collograph. This underlying image remains the same and is common to each print in a given series. Other means of adding pigment or design are then employed to make each print in the series slightly different. The series of monoprints has a limited number of prints and each is numbered.

A monotype is one of a kind, a unique piece of artwork. It is a non-complex form of printmaking, requiring only pigments, a surface on which to apply them, paper and some form of press. Frank Howell, the late Santa Fe artist who became an expert with the medium of monotypes, most clearly describes the process: 
Monotypes are pulled impressions that were drawn or painted on a metal or plexiglass plate.
The images are created through applications of ink that are rolled, brushed, daubed or otherwise applied and manipulated and then, with the material, usually paper, that is to accept an impression, are "pulled" with the use of a press.

Monotypes are inherently unique because only one or two impressions may be pulled before the ink is used up. Although there may be a second impression, it is quite different from the first in that most of the ink was lifted from the plate in its first pass through the press. The second impression, called a ghost or cognate, is much lighter or thinner and is more of a suggestion of the first. Each pulled impression may be considered a finished work or it may be further enhanced by the application of additional drawing or color.

. . . recent experimentations in the use of inks mixed with various viscosities of oil, applied in multiple layers on the sameplate prior to printing have produced complex and exciting impressions. When technically well-executed, monotypes created in this manner are distinctly monotypes in their incredible fidelity to the artist's manipulations of ink, but have a remarkable transparent and "layered" quality that is not otherwise achievable.

- from Frank Howell, Monotypes

About

Ellen Markoff grew up in Palo Alto, California. Her father was a concert pianist and an avid outdoorsman and her mother also loved music and nature. Her youth was spent listening to classical music indoors and the sounds of nature outdoors. This duality sparked a lifelong love of art, creativity, and nature. Much of her time as a young girl was spent in Yosemite National Park in California. One spring, after a long hiatus, she was shocked to see the shapes, colors, and textures were what she was bringing to life in her monotypes. She continues to be inspired by what she sees around her in nature and interprets it in her work. She lives in San Francisco, California and maintains a studio at Hunters Point Shipyards.

My work is influenced by the natural world and the forces that shape it. I’m fascinated by volcanoes, glaciers, rocks and erosion over time. The forces of nature are constantly changing our world and creating beautiful shapes, textures and colors. Things that are worn by the passage of time intrigue me. The remnants left behind indicate the transient nature of all life. It is the old, worn and eroded that I see beauty alongside the new and reborn.
I primarily create monotypes, a technique of printmaking that I fell in love with because of the spontaneity it allows. Monotypes create one unique, original hand-pulled print.
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