Art and Housework

Quentin Crisp made the very fine observation that there really is no point to housework: “After the first four years, the dirt doesn’t get any worse.” His wisdom is directly applicable to monotype printmaking, in which ink is rolled, brushed, wiped, spritzed, or pressed onto a plexiglass plate. If you forgo the task of cleaning your plate between prints, it accumulates layers of pigment in ever-more-complex combinations. So while you might begin inking with leaf green, celery, burnt orange, and black, your prints may display a glorious array of ochres, olives, and siennas -- some planned, some not even imagined. In my Monday evening monotype class, Jan Currie has been combining thoughtful rollering with leaves and other natural objects. In these prints Jan re-used her leaves as well as her plates without cleaning them, creating bursts of color that feel almost sedimentary. This kind of serendipitous color mixing is one of the great joys of monotype printmaking. And if you forgo housekeeping throughout an entire monotype session, you'll also develop a gorgeous layering of imagery: look close, and you’ll see ghosts of other leaves lurking, subtle and mysterious, in the background of Jan's prints.

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