Printmaking 101: Watercolor Monotype Process

As you look at Yolanda Frederikse’s current show (either online or in person), you may be struck by her use of watercolor.  Yes, these are watercolors, but they are also prints, specifically, Watercolor Monotypes.  Here is how the process works:


1. First, the artist (Yolanda is shown here and below) paints onto an aluminum lithograph plate.  To the left, you can see Yolanda preparing a plate, to the right is a fully prepared plate.  The plate is then left to dry.

2. The dry plate is positioned on the press bed.


3. Dampened paper is laid over the print (on the left) and the entire thing is run through the press (on the left).  The damp paper re-activates (re-wets) the watercolors on the aluminum plate, allowing for the transfer to happen.

4. We have a print!  As the name implies, this usually only yields one print per plate.  Occasionally, however, there may be enough pigment left on the plate for a strong second image or a weaker ghost image.

Your first question may be “why the extra step? Why not just make a watercolor?”  Yolanda answers, saying “effects are achieved with monotype are not possible in other forms of art [such as watercolor].”  In Yolanda’s watercolor monotypes in particular, one can see a certain uniformity of mark-making and color:  this is in part from the artist herself but also from a flattening, if you will, of how the paper uniformly picks up color off the plate.  Also, we like the tell-tale print edge, where the plate indented the paper, that is present on these monotypes.


3 responses to “Printmaking 101: Watercolor Monotype Process

  1. This is a great post! I was captivated by learning about this process that is new to me, explained in such a clear way with the photos. Keep them coming!

  2. Love this process, which I haven’t seen for years. Beautiful work too.

  3. Elizabeth Bonn-Zimmerman

    Is there gum arabic involved. I took a class with g.a. applied to a plexi sheet, air dried, then the sam as above. Beautiful work.