Sep 1, 2010

Inspiration in a Wistful Look : monoprinting

Monoprint by Flora Doehler, 2010.

Ideas for art work are all around us. I was at a friend's house the other day and spotted this in her garbage:

Through the Eye of a Needle: stories from an Indian desert.

I fished it out and thought about what it was that drew me to the image. The photo itself looked timeless. It could have been 100 years old. The colours reminded me of the plants in my garden and the growth and passing of people. The posterization of the woman stripped away her personal details and left an impression of the person. And the expression on her face was so earnest, so sad. There is a photo of her in full colour at the end of this 2 minute video promotion for the book and DVD right here and she is definitely living in the here and now.

The photo reminded me of old family photos I have of my ancestors. I've long wanted to create a group portrait using photos of all of us at similar ages and that's a project I'd like to take on this winter.
I wondered how I could translate a photo into a mono print. I looked for photos with good contrast and found one of myself taken when I was six.

Using Adobe Photoshop Elements, I posterized the photo which turned it into this:

Elements is a less expensive version of Photoshop. I also think that it's easier to use.

Next, I printed the photo out on paper and placed it over a piece of foam. Then outlined the black edges of the portrait while pressing hard with a ball-point pen. This made an indented line in the piece of foam. I removed the paper and went over the indented line once more with my pen.
The foam parts will print out and I cut away all the parts that I wanted to remain white. I left a 1/16th of an edge of foam beside the pen line which will stay white. Then I glued the results on a piece of wood and added some precut letters and stars.
Attach the letters backwards because the resulting print will be a mirror image of the printing block.

I inked the foam and printed.

I'm pumped now to work on an ancestral portrait series thanks to that wistful discarded image that inspired me. Inspiration is everywhere.

With the next image I'll be more mindful and remember to flip my photo before I trace it so that it comes out the 'right' way.


  1. Yes, inspiration is all around us, but you have to have the vision to see it. You definitely have that, Flora. I love this work of yours, and look forward to seeing your ancestral series.

  2. it's interesting to see the process from inspiration to finished monoprint. really lovely Flora.


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