Direct Trace Drawing

To make the foreground of the concertina book that I am working on, I am using a monoprint technique named Direct Trace Drawing by Post-Impressionist French painter Paul Gaugin. “First you roll out printer’s ink on a sheet of paper of any sort; then lay a second sheet on top of it and draw whatever pleases you. The harder and thinner your pencil (as well as your paper), the finer will be the resulting line” (British Museum [online]. Gaugin’s explanation roughly describes the process I am using to draw the foreground, though I use a sheet of perspex to roll the ink onto.

Paul Gauguin, Two Marquesans, a monotype, Tahiti, AD (1902), British Museum [online]
Gaugin calls this procedure a ‘monotype’ as the plate (inked surface) has no matrix (marks or etching which are reproducable) meaning that the print is made free-hand and is one of a kind. The website explains the difference:

A monotype is essentially ONE of a kind: mono is a Latin word which means ONE and type means kind. Therefore, a monotype is one printed image which does not have any form of matrix. On the other hand, a monoprint has some form of basic matrix.
The process of creating a monoprint or a monotype is the same, but when doing monotypes, the artist works on a clean and unetched plate; with monoprints, however, there is always a pattern or part of an image which is constantly repeated in each print. Artists often use etched plates or some kind of pattern such as lace, leaves, fabric or even rubber gaskets, to add texture. In this case, having a repeated pattern, we have a monoprint.”


I am a bit unsure about which process my technique fits into as my prints have a matrix in a way – and that is the tracing paper with the template drawn onto it. The reproductions will never be exactly the same, but almost identical. So I think that I should describe them as monoprints, though they straddle the definitions of the two processes.

The tracing paper has a template draw on to it in mirror-image so that when the paper is placed face-down on the inked plate, the image is transferred in the correct position.
The drying rack with some fallout prints that went wrong and some prints that turned out OK. I am getting closer to the correct consistency of ink!
The print studio in the basement of ECA where I have been working these past few days.
The ‘fill’ colour. A layer of the colour is printed and left to dry before the direct trace drawing is made.
Monoprint_fill_colour_2015_06_30 (1)
The ‘fill’ colour when printed.
Monoprint_direct_trace_2015_07_02 (1)
The direct trace drawing over the fill colour.
Monoprint_direct_trace_2015_07_02 (2)
The whole of side A of foreground of the concertina book design.
A close-up.
Another close-up. There’s a squirrel there too.



Gaugin, Paul on his process of monotype, British Museums [online] Accessed: 03/07/2015,_two_marquesans,.aspx [online] Accessed: 03/07/2015


Paul Gauguin, Two Marquesans, a monotype, Tahiti, AD (1902), British Museum [online]

Accessed: 03/07/2015

All other images are photographs of my own work and print process (30/06/2015-02/07/2015).


2 thoughts on “Direct Trace Drawing

  1. hi would you be able to explain your ink consistency and paper I did this at uni but am having trouble replicating it at home (different paper and ink) thanks

    1. Hi alwaysgrace7,

      I roll out block printing ink as thinly as possible on a flat surface. I use thin paper such as Japanese stocks or even layout or newsprint paper for best results. Let me know how you get on!

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