Drawing Closer

From 2012-2014, I made hundreds of monotypes the tension between chance and artistic intention. These prints walk a line between abstraction and representation, where the hand pictured can stand in for myself, my body, my psyche. The project originated out of an attempt to draw pain.

My practice incorporates chance and unpredictability. I often work on an image from the back of the paper or make marks with a tool held loosely in the hand. I developed this practice for practical reasons and also because it reflects my interest in uncertainty and responding to accident.

Process is very important to me. An image of the completed print does not appear fully-formed in my mind’s eye. When I begin a new image or return to an unfinished print, I meditate on my current emotional or physical state or revisit a feeling that I had previously noticed. I mix colors and choose techniques that reflect the mood or thought I am exploring.

I work on many prints simultaneously, responding to an image and its “siblings” in parallel. I reuse plates, stencils, and compositions in an iterative, layered process that often spans multiple prints over the course of a few days in the studio.

more prints in the Zea Mays Printmaking online gallery

Prints from this series have be shown at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Amherst Public Arts Commission, the Sanford Gallery at Zea Mays Printmaking, the Arsenal Arts Center, The Loft @ Mill 180, the Fitchburg Museum of Art, the Falmouth Arts Center, the Jasper Rand Museum, A.P.E. Gallery, Flying Object, the Monson Arts Council, and the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in Havana.

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“Drawing Closer” installation view at Elusie Gallery, Easthampton, MA; Summer 2014
"Drawing Closer" installation view at Elusie Gallery, Easthampton, MA; Summer 2014
“Drawing Closer” installation view at Elusie Gallery, Easthampton, MA; Summer 2014



Typically, printmaking techniques produce an edition of prints (many prints of the same image) from a single plate. Monotype is a type of printmaking where only one image is created which cannot be duplicated. Ink is rolled or painted onto a smooth, non-­absorbent surface (the plate), typically a sheet of plastic, and then transferred to paper using a printmaking press. In my own practice, I often transfer ink from plate to paper without the press, using pencils, my hand, or simply gravity.

I make use of a monotype technique called trace drawing (also known as direct offset). The plate is covered in a thin layer of ink and paper is laid on top of the ink. Using a pencil, I draw on the back of the paper to transfer ink from the plate to the paper’s surface. After I make a trace drawing, the remaining ink on the plate can be transferred to paper using the pressure of the press. I call this a negative trace drawing.

Viscosity monotype takes advantage of the thickness or fluidity of the ink. Instead of mixing together, inks with different viscosities will “resist” each other when they are applied to the same area of the plate one after the other. For example, painting some thick blue ink onto the plate and then rolling some thin yellow ink over it will not create green. Instead, the yellow ink will fill in the areas around the blue ink and resist the blue almost like two magnets of the same polarity.

After a print has been made, there is usually a small amount of ink left on the plate. This remaining ink can be used to produce a ghost print. The ghost is an identical, but lighter version of the first impression. I frequently make use of ghost images and sometimes use a release agent to make the ghost print stronger.

Esther S White, 348, 2013, 13″x19″, monotype


Exhibition: Feels Dark, Like This October 4 – 27, 2013 at Flying Object in Hadley, Massachusetts.

From the curator, Anna Slezak: The work on view explores moody, bittersweet emotions; a sense of being on the edge. What does it feels like to experience uneasy feelings or losing control? How does one deal with the sense of possibly never returning, yet still seeing a light at the end of a dark tunnel? In whatever manner these questions/feelings/ideas may manifest in the mind, these artists are familiar with them in some way. Work ranges from transcendent, ethereal paintings, to emotionally and intellectually provocative embroidered quilts.

With work by Carrie Bergman, Judith Bowerman, Ella Longpre, Emily Pardoe, Adria Sutter, Greta Svalberg and Esther S White. Curated by Anna Slezak.