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Lewisham Arthouse, London, 20 October 2019

26 Oct 2019

Monotype printmaking involves drawing or painting ink onto a non-absorbent surface, or removing ink using brushes or rags, then transferring the image to a sheet of paper by mangling the two together. The process creates a unique print as most of the ink is removed during the initial pressing – any further attempt results in a ‘ghost’ at best. I’d never before modelled for monotype, so relished the chance at Lewisham Arthouse.

This was a London Drawing Group event led by Frances Stanfield, so whilst I did not know quite how monotype modelling requirements might differ, I knew the session itself would be enjoyable. It began at 10am with activities that let artists practice using their materials, after which I was to start work at 10:45am. My first joy came before I’d even entered the building; when I rang the doorbell it was answered by Lily Holder.

Lily has both posed with me as a model, and hired me when she’s been a life drawing class teacher or facilitator; now here she was as an artist honing another skill – kudos for that. I myself had to demonstrate but one skill: sustaining poses that were suitable for monotype production. These commenced with a pair of 10-minute standing poses, first facing one way, then modified and facing the opposite direction.

From the warm-up exercises I noticed that prints seemed to emerge as a combination of strong outlines and washes of texture; almost no internal detail or shading featured. Thus, I made sure all my initial poses were open and outward-reaching, with my limbs creating at least one area of negative space. For poses three and four, I sat on a stool for 15-minutes, and then lay on the floor with one arm raised for another 15-minutes.

In most life drawing sessions there is a gap of just a few seconds between poses – as long as it takes the model to move, basically – but here it was five minutes each time, allowing artists to press their inking onto paper. After the fourth pose, we took a longer break so people could pop out for snacks. Upon resuming, we had 40 minutes left so I settled on the stool again for a single pose that would take us to our 1pm finish.

I felt 40 minutes offered the artists more time to experiment with detail, if they wished, so I folded my arms in to make a loop around one knee. Anyone who wanted to study the fiddly connections of limbs could do so, whilst an interesting (hopefully) silhouette with many negative spaces remained for those focused on outline. The diverse set of resulting artworks seemed to vindicate that choice. In all, a fascinating experience.

From → Art

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