Monotype or monoprint are processes with similarity but which are distinct. Monoprint is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface – such as plastic sheets or plates. The image is then transferred onto paper using a printing press. In Monotype, a matrix is used such as an etching or collagraph that is then wiped, painted or inked differently with each subsequent printing. Monoprint is where you paint or roll ink directly onto the substrate. I like the monoprint method because it has the feel of a quick sketch. It is about moving fast and creating a quick painting which, under pressure, will be changed and altered in unexpected ways. One has to ask oneself during this process: Will the smoothness of the plastic be transferred? or Is there enough paint to show a brush stroke? Monoprints can be constructed in a reverse process such as sign painting on glass. A stroke can be buried and come out in an opposite form. Inks will mix in unexpected ways. It is, as always, the unexpected that produces the most interesting results.
Lithography (from Ancient Greek λίθος, lithos, meaning "stone" and γράφειν, graphein, "to write") is a method of printing originally based on the immiscibility of oil and water. This type of stone printing is achieved through the use of lithographic limestone or a metal plate with a smooth surface. Lithography was invented in 1796 by German playwright and actor Alois Senefelder (1771-1834) as a cheap method for publishing theatrical works. Thus, lithography was for many years a chief agent of image reproduction and information dissemination. I first did a bit of lithography as an undergraduate art student but really dove into it working with Adele Henderson in my master’s degree program in Visual Studies. I found that the simplicity of the direct drawing method and the science behind the etching of the stone and printing really worked for me. I enjoyed the preparation of stones. Grinding off the old image and preparing for the new one to be etched into the stone was very peaceful; it was something I could lose myself in. After many days of this meditative work to prepare a stone, I was finally ready to start drawing. Each mark was the final mark. This meant that each time I put crayon or brush to the stone, it had to be with purpose and resolve. There is no easy out with stone lithography. About seven years ago, I spent a summer in New Mexico at the Tamarind Institute. Working with Bill Lagattuta, Rodney Hamon and an international cohort of artists, we honed and perfected our lithographic techniques and methods. Working there and earning a certificate in aluminium lithography allowed me to gain an appreciation for the role of the master printer who works with an artist to mutually produce an aesthetic product. I found that the role of the Master Printer was very much like the role of the Systems Administrator: Build test --> Build test --> Release. Then you start over: Build Test --> Test Again --> Rebuild --> Rerelease. There is a pattern to the work of administering systems that also allows room for new discoveries and happy accidents. In printmaking, a smudge may feel as if it ruins the drawing but in the etch process, that smudge might transform into something wonderful. As a SysAdmin, I spend a large portion of my time researching a technology in order to test it before deploying it. Often I find the ‘recommended specification’ does not fit my use case, so I have to fight, struggle and test until I find just the right mixture of recommendation and innovation. Building out a Hadoop cluster for the first time is a messy case of figuring out who is talking to whom and on what port and where things go and how things should be set up versus how they really need to be constructed and then reconfigured in order to get the best performance out of the system. But one then sees through the technology and it becomes a simple matter of orchestration. Through testing, destroying and blowing up servers, one sees patterns of good and bad practice. I see the same thing when I teach lithography. I take all of my experience and condense it into little bitesize data packets and then stream them to the students in a way that they can autodiscover the process with intermittent success and failure. This allows them to learn from their experiences through error and achievement.