Peony and Parakeet

Self-Expression with Gelli Plate

Humanity - a monoprint by Peony and Parakeet. See my tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Printing with a Gelli plate was one of the things that popped up from the reader’s survey. As I happen to love mono printing techniques, it was quickly selected for the theme of the week!

Glass Plate

Almost 30 years ago, long before Gelli plates, I used glass plates for mono printing. I usually made a sketch first and then added each color as a separate layer.

Sisters by Peony and Parakeet. Printed with a glass plate. See my tips for creating monoprints!

This monoprint was made in 1988, and it represents my sisters.

Gelli Plate

Gelli plate is a great invention, and it’s available in various sizes and shapes. My plate is 8 x 10 inches in size. Acquiring one is not a necessity. Glass plates work fine even today. You can also use any plastic transparent like overhead projector transparencies. The advantage of Gelli plate is that it has a flexible and sticky surface. That makes the using of masks easier. So if you fall in love with mono-printing, I would recommend purchasing the Gelli plate.

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

In addition to the plate, I have Golden Open acrylic paints. These paints have extended drying time, so they are especially suitable for mono-printing. I only have six colors, but by mixing them, I can get a huge variety of colors.

To create monoprints that include self-expression, I have 6 tips for you.

Tip 1: Use brushes instead of a brayer

The most common tool with the Gelli plate is a brayer. I have a Speedball brayer, but I often use brushes instead. They make the prints much more artistic, unique and expressive. With brushes, you can easily create non-repeating details and large color areas – the elements that contain more communication than monotone repeats.

Tip 2: Use a variety of tools

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Your artwork is much more interesting if you use a variety of tools. For this post, I have used two different brushes, a double-ended embossing needle for doodling and a long palette knife for wider strokes. Your imagination is the only limitation when tools are considered. Just remember to avoid sharp objects!

Tip 3: Use hand-cut shapes for masks

When combining a variety of colors and surface patterns with hand cut shapes, the result is much more organic than using one color and cutter-cut shapes. The temptation to create a repeated design is bigger than when using freely cut unique shapes.

Here are some patterned papers that I printed from machine-cut shapes.

I made these with Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate, and this might work as a fabric design too.

But with freely cut shapes, I avoided repeating the same motif.

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Tip 4: Let each layer bring something new to the artwork

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

When creating a new layer, I do not mix and match colors too much. Sometimes colors look even more amazing on a plate than on a print, so I had to take a close-up from the plate!

See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

I also think that cutting new shapes for each layer can really pay off. Add new and different with each layer, still letting the lower layers show too!

Tip 5: Create at least two monoprints at the same go

If you use slowly drying acrylics, you can get at least two monoprints from the same layer of paint. You can also experiment with that by creating two different artworks by changing the printing direction. I have turned the last layer upside down in the second monoprint. Thus the two prints differ slightly.

Monoprints by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Tip 6: Doodle and color over

A monoprint before and after decoration by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

I doodled over the other of the two monoprints created for this post. Besides a white gel pen and a black thin tip marker, I also used colored pencils to fine-tune the colored areas slightly.

Here’s the bigger picture of the decorated print:

Technology - a monoprint by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Finished Prints

Humanity and Technology - monoprints by Peony and Parakeet. See 6 tips for using Gelli plate as a tool for self-expression!

Here are the two finished pieces. Which one do you like more, the one that is not decorated or the one that is?

My husband asked after seeing these: What are you thinking while making these? – I try to think of nothing while creating, I said. I believe that you have to think before you create, not while you create. However, after a vivid discussion, I named these: the one on the left is Humanity, and the one on the right is Technology.

Gelli Printing Project in a Video – Apples and Tomatoes!

In this video, I talk about how and why to add diversity to your art. At the same time, I am creating a monoprint with a Gelli plate showing easy techniques to create an image.

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