Thursday, December 5, 2013

Left is Right: Forays into the Madness that is the Monoprint

Photo by Karin McKenna
Follow my continued adventures as I stretch, bend and leave my comfort zone in the rear view mirror in order to return to Chicks with Balls refreshed, awake, alive and inspired.

Some of the photos here are courtesy of my fabulous, famous photographer friend Karin McKenna, who came with me to Zygote Press on my monoprinting day to see the action. While I was monoprinting Karin wandered around the Zygote studios with the camera she uses to save the world and found inspiration right and left. Check out her unique view of Zygote on her blog at

You may remember Karin because she is also a Chick with Balls.

And now, here's how I got involved with monoprinting at Zygote Press.

 Zygote Press is Cleveland's only print cooperative. Masterminded and executed by Liz Maugans and Bellamy Printz, Zygote has been incredibly active in the community and practices boatloads of community outreach; bringing people to art, art to people, art to Cleveland and Cleveland to the world.

One of their outreach activities is Monothon. Each year selected Cleveland artists who are not print-makers (they can be painters, photographers, movie producers, ceramicists, jewelry artists, just not print-makers) are invited to the Zygote studios to create a monoprint with a personal printmaking mentor. We learn the process, have a blast and create a few monoprints,. One of these is sold at a fundraiser for Zygote, another is forever archived at Zygote and the rest are for the artist to keep.

Photo by Karin McKenna

I was honored that Liz Maugans asked me to participate in Monthon this year.

This year's Monothon artists are, Gina DeSantis, Brandon Juhasz, Kasumi, Susan Kelley, Irina Koukhanova, Jason K. Milburn, Erik Neff, Scott Pickering, Deborah Pinter, Lauren Sammon and of course, me, Judy Takács.

This mixing of the disciplines is a win-win for all involved, artists and art lovers alike.

Those who attend the Zygote Off the Wall Holiday Party on Saturday December 7th (12:00 to 5:00) and Sunday the 8th (12:00 to 4:00) will have the opportunity to buy an original work of art; a monoprint from a Cleveland artist whose work normally sells for much much more than the low low Holiday party price of  $150.

So, I hope to see you some of you at this event and hopefully one of you will go home with my monoprint!

Here are some pictures from the process!

Photo by Karin McKenna

Meet my personal print making mentor…Denise Stewart you are an awesome teacher, printer, friend and mentor!

The monoprint process can be a very painterly one, so, because I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone too far back in the rear view mirror, I decided to be painterly with it. 

Since the color choices for printing were much more limited than my vast palette at home in my studio, I decided to try something with color I’d only read about but never tried; the Zorn Palette

Anders Zorn is a master of portraiture and his fresh as air paintings glow. His palette consists of four colors; Black, White, Cadmium Red and Yellow Ochre. From these printing ink colors I mixed my fleshtones and it was real nice. I'm not changing what I do at my studio, but I shall add knowledge of this simplicity to my right now incredibly complicated palette.
Right and Better Left Unsaid by Judy Takács

As the basis for my print, I decided to use my most popular painting to date. “Right and Better Left Unsaid” has won awards right and left and been included in the Art Renewal Center Salon Catalog and the 52 Weeks/52 Works Calendar. And Ralph was so fun to paint the first time I thought a second time might be even more fun…it was.

I stuck my Xeroxed image of my painting behind the plexi-glass which will be my plate.

Then I started painting…backwards. The first things you paint will be the last  things to print on the plate…for me that means highlights right off the bat, and then placing progressively darker colors on TOP of them. Very confusing for someone that doesn’t even understand time zones like me.

After a few hours of painting, I decided to pull my first print.


Everyone was nice and said it was good, but I think that was the warm and fuzzy supportive studio atmosphere talking. I am thinking I’ll work back into this one.
So then I pulled a shadow print using the ink left on the plate after the first print.

Kind of cool, but to me it needs a little punch. I may go back into the print with some black ink. In monoprints that’s okay…unlike in other types of printmaking where it messes up the integrity of the print.

So then, after two prints from the original paint on the plate, I decided to work back onto the ink that was left on the plexiglass plate. This time, with reckless abandon. There was a pale image left, it was 4:00 and I said, Screw it, I’m going to get some definition going here. So out came the pure black. In my vast monoprinting experience (this was my third print) I've come to the conclusion that THIS is when the fun starts.

This one I loved.

And then after I pulled the print above, I worked back onto the image on the plate with even more reckless abandon…

I really liked the second two better than the first two…and apparently the black ink smudge that extended below his arm is “printerly” and a good thing (kind of like “painterly” is a good thing for painters.)

A super fun day at Zygote Press! And please remember you are invited to the Zygote Press Off the Wall Holiday Sale on Saturday and Sunday December 7 and 8!

Oh yeah…here's a little epilogue (you know I love epilogues). Remember the first two prints which I was going to work back in to? I continued on them back in my studio and here’s what I came up with…

Before: First print, fresh off the press…

After: With a little pastel touch-up…I think I may have gone too far, but they eyes looked too blobby and vacant before.


Before: Here's the Shadow Print, fresh off the press…

After: Here's the Shadow Print…with a little calligraphic panache. This one’s cool too…not sure which one of these will be for sale, you'll just have to see for yourself at the Zygote Press Off the Wall Holiday sale December 7th and 8th at Zygote Press, 1410 E. 30th St. in Cleveland, Ohio!

And what shall I call my monoprints? After much deliberation, I decided that, “Left is Right” was the perfect name…a nod to the original painting name, “Right and Better Left Unsaid,” and to the print process (and much of politics too) in which Left is indeed Right!