DIY: Quick, cheap, and easy monotype prints

The other night I made some monotype prints. A monotype is a print that’s made by pressing paper against an inked or painted surface.

It’s slightly different from a monoprint. Basically a monotype uses a featureless plate that would result in one unique print, while a monoprint uses a plate with permanent features like texture or lines that will persist in each print, depending on how the plate was inked before the printing process. This link explains it in more detail.

Since I have little patience and even less moolah, I’ve revised the usual way of doing monotype print (meaning it usually involves a brayer and a glass sheet/plexiglass which I don’t have). I’m sharing my quick, easy, and cheap monotype tutorial with you!

What you’ll need:

– Watercolor paint in tubes. Or if you want it to not dry up so fast, try oil paint.

– Palette knife (optional-you can also use a chopstick, a straw, a blunt knife, old credit cards or old call cards, ballpen cap, matches, or none at all, since I primarily used my fingers heh)

– Flat plastic packaging (recycle! I used the plastic from the art paper but if you have extra plastic cover that will also probably work), use only one side, so for the plastic packaging, cut it so that you’ll have two plastic sheets

– Sturdy tape (I used strong paper tape which I got from Daiso)

– Paper for making prints (I used plain oslo paper, and neon construction paper)

– Newspaper for the mess

– Brush (optional)

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HOW TO DO IT:
1. You’ll be using the plastic sheet as your pseudo-plexiglass surface. This is your printing plate. Stick it to the newspaper and stick it again to a smooth surface using your tape. Or not. I stuck mine to the newspaper atop my yoga mat since that’s where I craft (and eat and do yoga but that’s another story)
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2. Squeeze your paint directly onto your plastic sheet. Or you can mix up the colors that you want first, but this is how I did mine:

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I squeezed all the colors I wanted here onto the plastic sheet:

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3. Now the fun begins! Using the palette knife or whatever tool you want), move the paint around the plastic sheet to make your design. Work fast, or the paint might dry! I just made random swirls. Imagine you’re the great artist Rafael Pacheco and try finger painting, which is what I did. Highly enjoyable and relaxing as well. I like the feeling of making a creative mess with my hands:

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Interlude: My messy hands:

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The top of my paper tape was waxy, so that’s what I used as a makeshift mixing plate:

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4. When you’re happy with your design, it’s time to create your print! They often said that the paper should be damp, but I didn’t have a spray bottle for the water or a huge flat pan so I used dry paper. Try working with damp paper next time, and make sure you pat it into a semi-dry state using a towel, so it’s not that drippy. In printmaking class, we sandwiched the dripping paper between a folded towel. You can try that if you want, experiment and see which technique you like best.

I used dry oslo paper. It helps if you hold the two diagonal corners while pressing it down to your design so that there are no air bubbles. Work quickly, before the watercolor paint dries! Which is what happened to me, oops. Press the paper against the paint with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon or a brayer if you have one, but what I did was to use my body weight for less effort. Meaning: I stomped on top of the paper (but to be more effective, you must walk slowly in every area of the paper. Careful not to drag the paper accidentally!). I read about this technique from this wonderful printmaking book called “Hand Printing from Nature: Create Unique Prints for Fabric, Paper, and Other Surfaces Using Natural and Found Materials” by Laura Donnelly Bethmann. A must-read if you’re interested in creating your own prints!

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5. You now have your finished one-of-a-kind print! What’s great about the monotype technique is that the results are wonderfully unpredictable, so if you like surprise artworks, you’d definitely like experimenting with this printing technique. πŸ™‚ If you’re using watercolor paint, you have to keep in mind that you have to work pretty fast or else the paint will dry up in the plastic sheet. Some details did not appear since they were already dry, but that’s okay.

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Here’s my first attempt. I did abstract works for now, but am looking forward to making monotype merbirds in the near future!

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P.S.
I poured a lot of water atop the plastic sheet and pressed paper against it and loved the wash I got:
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Take a peek at my other tutorials here. πŸ™‚

Read more about my printmaking adventures here.

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Graduation and experimenting with new techniques

It felt so great when I finally graduated from Master Fernando Sena’s art class a few weeks ago. πŸ™‚ It was legit, complete with entrance of colors and a march and speeches!

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I was able to tick off another item in my bucket list, which is to exhibit my artwork:

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Met a lot of new friends and gained lots of new knowledge. I’m glad I attended this class. Thanks for the photos, lovely Jianina!

I’m planning on attending the advanced art classes but since I’m a bit busy with work lately (and low on funds heh), I’m teaching myself as of now with the help of books and trial and error.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with various techniques and art materials. I think pastel and I are friends now. Here’s a nude drawing work in progress. based on a reference photo from my beloved book of vintage lesbian pulp fiction covers. There was text near the butt area so I was a bit confused about the shadowing and contours in that area haha.
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I’m obsessed with grumpy cat! Below are drawings using Mongol Inkjoy ballpoint pens. Fun and challenging!

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Mixed media collage using magazine cutouts and watercolor. I call this “Imagined galaxies: where flowers explode in bloom and the seven suns wander freely”

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I’m learning so much from the online art course in coursera! For our first assignment related to Surrealism, I made this using pastel and magazine cutouts:

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I didn’t realize that there were so many surrealist techniques! I like cubomania:

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Quick fashion sketches using my fave pens:
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Artsycraftsy shenanigans, April-May

Printmaking activities–my first collagraph:
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Here it is with color, Mariposa’s dream. I created a papercut and added additional elements from nature:

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With my classmates and instructors:

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Aside from the glorious sunset after class, I also enjoy chasing this elusive kitty:

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After last week’s class I was able to see my very first real sunflower! I’m not from UP so this is magical for me, heh:

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We ate at ROC and met a playful kitty who stood up on her hind legs just to play with the string on my shirt hahaha. That same kitty kept on meowing for our attention and which woke up this sleeping beauty:

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I ordered a Speedball E-Z carve rubberblock from Aya and made a mini rubbercut print of an elephant, because I love elephants:

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Aside from learning about Printmaking from the PAP, I’m also learning about basic art concepts from the great master Fernando Sena. I wish I took up art classes from him when I was younger but oh well, it’s never too late! I’m learning so much, and I’m planning to take more lessons until I finish the entire course. Maybe after that I can finally achieve my dreams of having my works exhibited hehe (hint, hint, Universe! πŸ™‚ ).

I learned about shading:
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…and drawing portraits. Here’s my dad and mom:

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I also learned figure drawing. We were given scantily-clad muscled men drawings to imitate and we were instructed to dress them up. I chose to make them women:

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Pastel never really appealed to me, until I learned how to use it properly. The trick is to really push it hard against the paper and not leave the white trace of the paper underneath. I always get amazed when it blends smoothly with previous colors, but my hands are really sore recently because of the muscle strain. I’m a bit pressured when drawing in class and I get shy when people check out my work but tell myself it’s part of the learning process.

Our assignment was to draw a local landscape scene and I chose a photo I took of Mt. Pinatubo’s crater, when we climbed it several years ago. The crater lake is originally just blue because the sun was too hot and didn’t cast shadows on the lake but the teacher repaired it and added shadows, which gives it more depth. I tell myself it’s a collab between me and the master and I get the giddies hahaha.

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Before that, we had to draw this landscape scene involving this bahay kubo:

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My classes have inspired and motivated me to keep on drawing and crafting, and I find myself with that growing desire each day, which leads me to overstuff my bag with materials I think I might use like these mint-colored pens and pencil, ready for the muse’s call. Or maybe that’s just an excuse to hoard, and look (and use when there’s time) at these pretties:

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I’ve been drawing my food more often.

Pink apple mangoes, painted using watercolor:

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Pondering Pon de ring donut ponders how YOLO:

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Pon de rings I drew with pastel before I ate them:

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I’ve stopped cutting paper temporarily because it also hurts my hand (and it’s still achy from the pastel dorkwings) but I kept on thinking of making something like this so I made it anyway. Papercut and watercolor:

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Quick watercolor sketches:

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Drawing hair fascinates and challenges me:
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Artist Tribute: Danny Gregory and Robert Alejandro and their travel sketchbooks

Another new section! Each month, I’ll try to talk about artists who have inspired me and how they’ve influenced my artsycraftsy attempts and my life in general. πŸ™‚

Danny Gregory
Some years ago, I stumbled across Danny Gregory’s book in a bookstore. Flipping through it, I was entranced. It was vibrant and filled with so much creative energy and got me so inspired. I wrote down his name and researched his other books when I got home. A generous ninang learned about how much I liked his books and sent me my first Danny Gregory book, The Creative License, which I read ever so slowly, savoring all his creativity tips and luscious drawings.

His books reinforced my belief that every one of us has an interesting story to tell and how each person has an inner artist, how each one has his/her own artistic style.

Yesterday, a kindly fairy godmother sent me Danny Gregory’s memoir about love and loss, A Kiss Before You Go, which totally made my day (and made me cry in happiness a bit–Thank you again!). I have been reading about his wife Patti and their son Jack in his other books and was devastated to learn about Patti’s tragic accident. I finished reading it last night and discussed it in my book blog.

Danny Gregory amazes me with his ability to combine thought-provoking reflections and unforgettable drawings. I love his handwriting, the vibrant colors in his journal pages and his eye for detail. When I’m in a creative slump I browse through his books and become inspired and excited to start writing my own stories and experiences. His words of encouragement are life-changing for me. It would be an absolute dream to meet him someday!

Some of my favorite pages from his journals:
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ImageMore of his work here.

Robert Alejandro
Kuya Robert (of Papemelroti fame) is one of my idols. I am and will always be a Papemelroti loyalist. As a kid, I religiously collected Papemelroti products. I had a folder filled with Papemelroti notepads and various paper products. I remember we had a very cool adviser who gave us personalized Papemelroti planners for Christmas, with our name in neon orange puffy paint and a personalized dedication, then she placed each one inside a handmade origami shirt bag,Β  which made us all love her more. For me, the brand represents Filipino creativity and if the brand were a person, she’d be that crafty eco-friendly tita, or our awesome adviser.

I was lucky enough to meet Kuya Robert (and fangirl shamelessly) in the awarding night of NBDB’s National Children’s Book Award. While his work was being discussed onstage, I exclaimed loudly to my seatmate that I love him and his art (and other gushy statements) and to my embarrassment, I discovered that the guy with his back turned to me a few seats away (same table, probably heard my fangirling) was Kuya Robert himself! Haha.

One of my favorite drawings of his. Look at the detail!

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Check out more of his awesome sketches here.

Inspired by both artists, I have been drawing a lot more in my travel journal because I too have discovered that travel memories become more vivid when recorded on paper. I love taking photos but find that compared to photos, my travel sketches magically transport me to that specific moment and the details seem so vivid–the weather, the smell of the place, the sounds I hear in that area, my mood that day. Maybe slowing down and focusing your attention to a particular aspect of a place trains your brain to be more sensitive and all your senses to be fully engaged.

I am slowly learning how to not be too OC with getting the details correctly or the proportions right. I am teaching myself how to loosen up and not be too focused with perfection. I am doing this for myself, after all.

Using my calligraphy pen has forced me to stop being nitpicky and to embrace messiness, just record what I see, how I see it.

Some of my travel journals. That green notebook is filled with letters and ephemera from my trip to Thailand, and I gave it to my partner as part of my pasalubong package.

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The only hindrance I have to drawing all day is the lack of time. I would dream of drawing but have to decide if I should do that or explore some magical new place. Of course exploration wins, and what I just do is to take a lot of photographs and then draw it before I sleep while the memory’s still fresh. My camera’s review function doesn’t work anymore though (boo), so I am planning to do super-quick sketches within a limited amount of time, say maybe 5-10 minutes, Dr. Sketchy style.

Here are some of my travel journal pages. You can deduce if I had time to sketch of if I needed to hurry by the quality of the drawings, haha. I like experimenting with various sketching materials from calligraphy pens to plain crayons. It all depends on my bag space, the temperature of the place where we’re headed and my current obsession.

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My family and I will be traveling to another country next week. I used to bring just a thin notebook and a pen, and then transfer relevant ephemera to my main travel journal (a thick one that I can hardly close, heh), but for a change I plan on bringing a new blank journal this time, to inspire me to draw more and not be afraid of paper running out. (I have paper issues, haha).

Here’s what I’ll be bringing this time in my artsycraftsy travel kit. I wanted to bring more coloring items but was concerned about the weight:
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– A new travel journal, decorated with washi tape in my fave shades, with a handmade lucky knot as bookmark (made by an awesome friend)

– My reliable Pentel water brush

– Washi tape, for sticking brochures, tickets and food labels to my journal

– Little watercolor pencils

– A ziploc bag for special items: unique pebbles, fallen leaves, found items)

– Cameras and film. A friend commissioned me to create a washi illustration for her in exchange for lots of yummy film, which I’ll use with my Vivitar. I love the output of Vivitar, and can’t wait to use the film she sent (which came in a protective pouch!):

Any other suggestions for what else I can bring?

Happy weekend!

DIY galaxy Chucks

I’ve been seeing a lot of galaxy prints lately in clothes, bags and shoes, and I’m glad about this trend because the cosmos has always been a source of fascination for me. Saw a nice pair of shoes with a pinkish galaxy print in Forever 21 but for around the same price, I thought it might be better to invest in a new pair of Chucks. My ratty old pair celebrated its tenth birthday recently and it’s so worn out that when I step on puddles, my heels get wet because the sole has tons of holes, heh.

I treated myself to a new pair and chose an all-black one because I wanted to try customizing it with a galaxy print. Why buy when you can DIY, right? πŸ™‚

There are lots of tutorials online (google galaxy print shoes. Thank you, lovely generous people of the interwebs) but this is the lazy-arse way of doing it, with cheapo materials from local bookstores. The original plan was to make a detailed tutorial but my hands got too messy and I forgot to take photos of some of the procedures because I was so engrossed with the process, so apologies for the lack of photos.

What you’ll need:

– Shoes made of canvas material, preferably black or dark blue so that it’d look more “spacey”

– Acrylic paint. I used an acrylic paint set from Color & Co, around Php100+ from National. You’ll probably just use the blues, the reds and the white tubes.

– Masking tape

– Very important: A sponge brush. I got myself this nice sponge brush from Fully Booked for around Php90, but I think you can also try using plain sponges.

– An old toothbrush

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HOW TO DO IT:

1. Cover the non-canvas areas with masking tape. I originally used yellow, but that ran out, so I switched to blue, but that ran out as well, so I ended up using brown paper tape from Daiso. It’s better to use plain masking tape, though, since the brown tape wouldn’t stick to itself.

2. Mix the paint so you’d get a nice royal shade of blue, purple, and pink. It’s up to you. I saw a tutorial that used bleach, but we didn’t have bleach so I wasn’t able to try it. The results of bleach against black canvas would be orangey, and that’s also nice. Try it in a small hidden area first to see if you like the results. Dab the paint with the sponge, spreading it gently. A small amount of paint goes a long way, so it’s better to layer them. Use alternating colors. You can search for galaxy images online and use them as reference if you want.

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3. When you’re satisfied with it, dip the toothbrush in a mixture of white paint and water. Then flick the toothbrush atop your design to create stars. Another technique is to try drawing tiny stars with white paint and a toothpick, but I tried it and it messed things up so I’m not sure about this idea. Try it and see if you like the results more. Image

4. Peel off the tape and admire your masterpiece. Voila! I’m thinking of replacing the black shoelaces with something more striking, maybe shoelaces in hot pink or purple.

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Feel free to ask me if you have any questions, though, and I’ll try my best to answer them. πŸ™‚

Happy DIY-ing!

Tips, Tricks, and Techniques: Papercutting!

This is going to be a regular feature in this blog, because I want everyone to fall in love with the wonderful world of DIY. My crafting philosophy involves trying everything (with a bit of research online/through craft idols/books and magazines) and not being afraid of making mistakes–it’s all a part of the learning process! πŸ™‚ This philosophy has helped me to determine which artsycraftsy activities I love the most.

I’ll be sharing some DIY-related discoveries based on my experience with the craft, and I hope you find this guide (and future guides!) useful!

Papercutting involves the simplest of materials–a piece of paper, a cutter, and a self-healing cutting mat. Although I have tried cutting paper while sprawled on the floor (see previous post), I feel more relaxed doing it on a desk with a comfy chair. Safer, too.

I highly enjoy doing it inside coffeeshops that aren’t too crowded or distractingly noisy. I discovered papercutting some years back, when I saw the intricate paper cut artworks of Rob Ryan, and met the awesome Pergy with her ace papercutting skills.

I tried to make one myself, but I didn’t have a cutting mat back then so I used the yellow pages as a makeshift cutting mat, which didn’t work that great at all. My blade was also dull, so it kept snagging at my work, which frustrated me. However, I now have a nice cutting mat and a new sharp cutter, and Pinay crafters like Patricia, Richelle and Mansy (she’s going to have a papercutting workshop, do check it out!) inspired me with their beautiful papercut artworks, so I decided to give papercutting a second chance. We’re friends now, and my level of obsession reached that point where my day isn’t complete without doing a papercut. Heh.

Tips, tricks and techniques:

1.Plan, plan, plan. If you have a design in mind, consider which parts you’ll be cutting out and which parts you’ll be leaving. I like marking the areas I’ll cut out with an x or making marks on it with my pencil so I won’t be confused.

This is my most recent papercut entitled “Amelia’s Dream”. The outline of the face make up the positive space and the airplane cut out from her hair is the negative space. It might be helpful to read this post about positive and negative space. When making designs with a lot of positive space, bear in mind that everything should be connected though, so you can place tiny connectors between your border and your design, for example. In the papercut below, the lashes serve as my connector:

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2. Patience is a virtue. Intricate details look lovely and they also require a certain amount of concentration andΒ  so set aside a pocket of time for doing it, unless that’s how you roll. I am highly impatient and I have the attention span of a two-year-old, but for some reason, the act of papercutting puts me in a sort of relaxed trance, while I try to achieve cutting fine lines. Sometimes I hold my breath and it helps!

3. You don’t have to focus on one area. Because of my short attention span, I switch between cutting hard, detailed areas and huge easy chunks to minimize fatigue. It’s up to you.

4. Sharp cutters = <3. I use a Genmes cutter but I’ve heard others use X-acto knives or those usual thin cutters. Try various cutters to find out which suits you, but changing the blades ever so often spells a world of difference.

5. Angles, then curves. If you’re like me and you have a hard time cutting curves, cut them as angles first, then go back and round off the angles. It’ll be easier then.

6. To each their own paper. I like normal bond paper, but I’ve also tried using an index card, tracing paper and a thicker, almost board-like paper. I love bond paper the most because it’s easier to slice, but then your mistakes easily show too, and sometimes it snags, when I forget to replace my blade. The thick paper was more durable and hid mistakes easily, but it was harder to slice too.

7. Freestyle it. It’s nice to have a planned design (see first tip), but I highly recommend just taking a piece of paper and cutting shapes you like. I believe that papercutting is just like drawing, where we each have our own distinct style. Doing this will help you discover what shapes you enjoy making (mine are long, lazy waves and easy askew triangles). You can then incorporate said favorite shapes in your designs. This would also familiarize you with the kind of paper, cutter, and cutter angle you fancy.

8. Mask accidents with masking tape or washi tape. That’s what I do. Just stick some tape at the back and cut off the surrounding areas. πŸ™‚

Some papercutting links you might like:
Paper cuts by Joe
Elsita’s papercut art. She made a detailed tutorial here that I love.
Lovely blog. Here’s an interview with the artist, Naomi Shiek. (Lotsa tips there too!)

Have you tried papercutting? Do share your experience!