About Anne deFuria

Artist and crafter

Mastering Monotypes

Monotype of an elephant

Elephant, monotype, Conte crayon and acrylic

I am playing with monotypes these days in art class. What is a monotype, my loyal followers may ask? Basically it’s a method of printing which results in just one unique print per inked plate, as opposed to multiple prints being pulled off one plate. I paint directly on a glass plate or completely ink the plate with a brayer. Then I place paper on top of the plate and draw a picture on the paper. The pressure from drawing with a pencil pushes through to the inked plate. After using a printer’s baren to further push the ink onto the paper, the paper can be peeled off the plate to reveal the print. That’s it. The drawing is then gone from the plate, so no other copy/print/edition can be made. Except the ghost.

The Ghost: You can put another piece of paper on the inked plate, press down with the baren, and pull up a lighter version of the image which is called a ‘ghost.’ There are lots of variations to this technique, but I’ll stop here to show you a few of my first monotypes. Some are unadulterated originals, some are ghosts, some are altered with Conte crayon after they dried. The snail is a ghost print enhanced with Conte crayon. On the black sheet below, you can see that the first print was so dark, you can barely see the snail drawing. In this case, the second print was much more clear, but some details were lost. His antenna needed to be touched up because they had faded like pale eyebrows. I think a snail needs bold antenna.

Monotype of a snail

Snail, monotypes, original, and second print with Conte crayon

Now that you are completely clear about monotype printing, you know which print below is the original and which is the ghost, right?

Abstract monotypes

Abstract, monotypes

Monotype of branches

Branches, monotype

Monotypes result in lots of happy accidents. It’s a method of printing that seems to me to more spontaneous than etching, engraving, lithography and others. The textures created by the ink are beautiful and I tried to leave them alone. If you want to try printing, but you don’t have a press and lots of equipment, try monotypes.

Below, I am trying to turn an abstract into a fantasy bird. The chest design was created with inked bubble wrap on the printing plate. The white shapes were created with random card stock shapes placed on the plate. The resulting print was abstract, but I could see a Phoenix trying to take flight… he emerged from the acrylic ooze.

Monotype of a fantasy bird

Phoenix, monotype, Conte crayon and acrylic

The Value of Canada Geese

In recent days we’ve learned that the United States and Canada have lost three billion birds since 1970! I drew this picture of two Canada Geese last Spring before that sad news story broke. My art teacher photographs the birds and other wildlife in New Jersey. This drawing is based on one of her photographs. As in previous exercises, the challenge for me was to get the very dark values and to accurately catch the range of values from their bright white feathers to the midrange grays of the pond. I borrowed a 6B XXX pencil (or something way beyond my 5B) from my teacher which enabled me to catch those velvety, reflective black feathers on their necks. I hope my drawing is not a Momento Mori for our birds and their turtle friends here in New Jersey. Note: admittedly there seem to be too many Canada Geese on corporate campuses and public parks, but other species don’t adapt so well to our human sprawl and overuse of pesticides.

Drawing of geese

Canada Geese, pencil

Frame a Still Life

The drawing exercise here was to set up a still life, prop a window mat in front of it, set my desktop easel and point of view so that it would not move throughout the time I was drawing and to capture it in exactly in the same proportions in the rectangle on the paper as the mat/viewer has. I’m afraid I can’t describe that better without a photograph of the studio setup. which I forgot to take. Just think: capture the reality in front of you exactly on the paper in front of you, including the size. Sketch in pencil, then fill in with gouache. Aside from trying to accurately draw the flocked bunny toy and his glass bowl of candy, the challenges were the furry/fuzzy bunny texture, the glass reflections, and the eye reflections, and of course, the bane of my drawing existence, the elliptical shape of the bowl. When I came back to class for my next session with this drawing, other students had eaten the Skittles and my teacher had to run around finding more to fill up the bowl. They might be M&M’s mixed with Skittles…but my devotion to realism gave up after two classes and I started to eat my own still life too.

Painting of bunny toy and bowl of Skittles

Flocked Bunny and Bowl of Skittles, gouache

Keeping a Sketchbook: value studies

This 9 by 12 sketchbook doesn’t travel with me, but stays on my drafting table. The top three sketches were made with a range of pencils from 5B to 5H. What I really needed to punch up the dark values is a super-duper dark, almost charcoal, pencil. So that’s on the art supply shopping list. No matter how many layers I put on, I just could not build up really velvety blacks with my old pencil collection. I don’t like to mix my charcoal pencils with the graphite pencils. They seem to resist each other. The shiny graphite makes a weird base for charcoal. The charcoal just floats on top.
To draw the ducks, my teacher loaned me her darkest pencil. You can see the very dark necks on the ducks are darker than anything in the previous sketches. The finished duckies will star in a future post.
Sketch of fruit

Apple and orange, pencil

Flower sketch

Black-eyed Susan, pencil

Flower sketch

Daffodils, pencil

Sketch of ducks

Ducks, pencil

Art Boot Camp – Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

I’m so right-brained, or is it left-brained, that I can never remember which is the creative type and which is the other type. As a recovering (aka: retired) librarian, I’m pretty tidy and organized. As an aspiring artist, well I just don’t know. We are all complicated. The first assignment in my Art Boot Camp endeavor was to copy a Leonardo portrait, quadrant by quadrant,upside down. My art teacher adapted this exercise from the classic art book, ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ by Betty Edwards. Without going into the gory details of how to retrain your brain to see what’s really there and not what you think is there, plus the ever-challenging issue of translating that 3-d world in front of us onto a flat piece of paper without resorting to cartoons and stick figures, here is my drawing – on the right. Notice amount of caffeine required to do this. My ‘Portrait of a Girl’ has a fuller face, but, hey, you try drawing upside down.

Pencil drawing portrait

Copy of Leonardo’s Head of a Girl