What is a Monotype?

With our upcoming exhibition "Randall LaGro: Light Out of Darkness" we thought this a good opportunity to make certain that everyone knows just what a monotype is!

Although technically called a print because of the transfer process, a monotype is unique among print mediums in that it is a one-of-a-kind art piece.

It is also a medium that, due to its process, must have its image created very quickly – before the ink dries. This is a requirement that perfectly suits the intuitive nature of artist Randall LaGro. As he explains his process: "Working with my own mixed blacks or a variety of brown tones reminiscent of the turn of the century sepia tone photographs, I begin by laying a thin layer of ink on the Plexiglas [plate] with a rubber roller. I work intuitively, drawing from the well of the subconscious, wiping ink away which when printed will be the white of the paper. Developing my own tools when necessary, I use brushes, Q-tips, rags and my fingers, making marks, then pulling away seeing shapes appear and finishing an image, shaping form from chaos, pulling lights out of darkness, inviting viewers to open the door to their wanderings, imaginations and dreams."

A monotype, in its essence, is simply a painting, painted on a metal or Plexiglas plate, all while the ink is still wet and workable. The ink, already laid down, is pulled away to create images, rather than laid down to create the images. And, the image is painted in reverse: the right side becomes the left side; the left side, the right. This painting is then transferred by laying paper over the plate and running it through an etching press. One time.

It is a particularly gifted artist who can see what is hidden and reveal it rather than lay an image down onto a white canvas. There is a decided psychological gravity that comes from viewing an image that has emerged from darkness rather than light.

Or, as Randall LaGro puts it: "Piercing the darkness, points of light, longing and hope."

That is the artistic gift of a monotype.