FAQ Title Graphic


A monotype is created by painting on a sheet of plexiglass with a roller or brush (I use oil paints and a special medium), putting a piece of paper over it and putting it through the press. You get one print. It's a one-of-a-kind image. There might be a series of similar images, but each is done separately, like a separate painting.

My monotypes come into existence spontaneously and intuitively as I begin the process of painting on the plate. I usually work with oil paints, both because of their ease of manipulation and their high color quality. I have researched the use of oil paints for monotypes and can provide a copy of the research to those who are interested. I use collage with Japanese handmade papers and metallic leaf on some of my prints. Sometimes I also paint on the finished print.

Like paintings, these prints are truly one of a kind--I never do a ghost print. What then is the point of doing a monotype rather than a painting? The monotype has a different look than a painting. The process is more unruly and difficult: the paint application to the plate must be "clean" (overpainting on the plate is usually not feasible for the effects I am trying to achieve), the paint will be offset, the surface perfectly flat to the picture plane, the image reversed, and the opportunity for revision near zero. The artist is collaborating with the press, which will add an element of surprise to the artist's intended results. Because of these variables, I find monotype to be a sophisticated, challenging medium with a definite look and identity of its own.


My pastels are sprayed lightly with fixative. If you spray them too much they become dull and lifeless. They should not be hung in direct sunlight. No art should be hung in direct sunlight, but some materials are more "fugitive" than others, meaning they may fade more easily.


I mark some things way down to attract attention to my work, so there will be some bargains for people. Another reason I might discount certain pieces is because they have been around for a long time and I'd like to move them to someone's collection. Some pieces are new or I think they are better than others -- these won't be marked down. A piece I think is better than most will carry a higher price tag.


I am primarily interested in formal qualities--form, color, composition. My abstract (I prefer to say non-representational) images do not "mean" anything in a literal sense. They are meant to be visually exciting or interesting because they are strong images--formal qualities do evoke emotion, excitement, or personal associations for people who respond positively to modern art (usually this is an acquired taste). Non-representational images allow the viewer maximum opportunity to bring his/her own associations to the piece.

I apply titles that somehow seem appropriate to me when I look at the piece. This usually takes awhile. Often I do a series--this allows me to develop an image into variations--these will have the same title with different numbers.


An artist must maintain a studio, buy expensive art supplies, significantly curtail other income producing activities and usually has invested significantly in art education and ongoing art-related activities to keep up with current developments in the art world.

There has always been a great deal of preliminary work before the creation of a finished piece that is good enough to sell. Experimentation is required to get new images and techniques going. Experiments also involve expensive art supplies.

Other considerations:

A great deal of driving around is often required for procuring art and framing materials. Artists have no wholesale source for many art materials. Most artists must be capable of framing their own work (able to do at least a "generic" but professional looking frame job) for shows and for some buyers who request it. A framer has all his supplies at hand; an artist must usually go to several sources to acquire what is needed to frame pieces for a show, for instance. There is usually not room to keep a "frame shop" in your studio. Most artists frame their own work because to have it done professionally is quite a bit more expensive.

An artist who sells work and pays income, sales and business taxes as an artist must be involved in the business end of art, keeping records, usually employing an accountant for taxes, and is required by law to have a business license. A resale license is required.

A good deal of time and many phone calls are often spent with someone trying to decide on a piece. This is work time, just as is the time spent creating a piece.

A great deal of art is just not commercial in nature and cannot be sold easily. Most artists do much work like that, as well as some work that has public appeal. Even a well-known artist (Bruce Conner) has stated that a very small percentage of work created is sold. Most remains in the studio.

An artist cannot work just when "inspired." Like anyone else, an artist has to work regularly (often when not so inclined) to keep the work strong. Most artists I know work almost all the time (besides working at a job of some sort). But luckily most artists receive a huge amount of satisfaction out of doing their work, so all of this seems worth it (most of the time!).

-- Carolyn Ellingson --