"I'm not an artist" is a self-defeating statement.

I am still surprised when people assert with confidence that they are not artists. They convince themselves and others that they lack the artistic gene.

However, as Will Gompertz states in Think Like an Artist: "What tends to set them [artists] apart, and gives them their power and purpose, is not their creativity per se - we all have that. Rather, it's the fact that they have found a focus for it, an area of interest that has fired their imagination and provided a vehicle for their talents."

So the question is: how do I fire participants' imagination during a workshop? And how to convince someone who says " I am not an artist" to even give art a try?  (This post was first published in October 2019.)

Monoprinting is the answer!

Gelli printing requires no experience at all and the results are amazing. You can easily get hooked on print making.

If you have never printed using a Gelli plate...oh my!  Very addictive fun!

The prints can be used in many different ways.

  • as a background on canvas for other art
  • for all-occasion cards
  • for gift tags
  • reprinted on clothes such as scarves, shirts, leggings, bags
  • reprinted on pillows, cushions, bedspreads, towels
  • as jewellery
  • collaged onto wood or plastic ornaments for the Christmas tree
  • reprinted as wrapping paper

And that is only the beginning!

Gelli printing 1.0

For the uninitiated, gelli printing is a form of monoprinting. Artists use a Gelli plate along with acrylics and interesting stencils and common objects to create patterns or images.

Acrylics are spread on the gelatin plate, and then different items such as leaves, kitchen gadgets, bubble wrap, etc. can be placed on the wet paint to leave an imprint. A sheet of paper is then pressed onto the plate and the image is transferred from the plate to the paper. This process is repeated several times to create layers of patterns and colour on one sheet of paper.

I have used simple Gelli prints as a background in several of my pet portraits.

Lucy Brydon takes gelli printing to a whole different level and creates wonderful, magical scenes using the Gelli plate.

Art is less intimidating with monoprinting

And so, when I am asked to teach something/anything in one session, monoprinting is my go-to technique.

Two readers contacted me eight months apart; both wanted me to help them experiment with art.

The first reader asked specifically to use the Gelli plate. She was curious about the ways she might be able to use prints in her own art.

The second reader wanted to dabble in art and didn't have a specific project in mind.

Different strategies for two personalized workshops.

The workshop for the first participant called for experimentation with the purpose of creating different patterns.

We printed to see which combination of shapes and colours produced the best results using stencils, leaves from flowers, dollar store mats, stamps, household utensils, etc.

By the end of the workshop, the participant loved the results so much that she decided to buy her own Gelli plate.

I suggested she investigate how to use her prints in collage. I loaned her Elizabeth St. Hilaire's Painted Paper Art Workshop book as inspiration. Since then, she has continued to experiment with her Gelli plate.

Frame worthy art doesn’t have to be complicated!

The second reader sent me an email asking to make art ("any art") to impress her family.

But first I had to calm her fears…

“I’m not an artist.”

“I’m scared to mess it up.”

Again, Gelli printing to the rescue! In this case, we used watercolour paper for printing selecting mostly organic items for printing.

I had a few mattes on hand to “frame” the prints so she could visualize how they could be displayed. Fabulous!

(photograph of framed art work provided by participant).

By the end of the session, she was amazed (and I was so pleased), at all the wonderful prints she had made.

“My jitters have gone away,” she said.  "Yay!" I said...

The flowery print below is for a little girl’s room whereas other prints during this session will be displayed in the participant's guest bathroom.

Yes, her family was suitably impressed with her art work.

(photograph of framed art work provided by participant).

Both participants realized that creating art need not be intimidating. There is joy in simplicity, in using intuition, in trial and error (in other words, the process) and in chopping up and reusing disasters in new ways.


4 Responses

  • I’m really going to have to give this a go seeing I have seen a few people experimenting with Gelli plates. Love what you have shown us on this post Louise ?

    • Sally, I have only done very basic things with my Gelli plate. If you do become addicted and want to create art entirely with the Gelli plate, then do visit the websites I provided within the blog post. Let me know when you start experimenting. It really is a lot of fun. Cheerio!

    • There are so many possibilities to create with the Gelli plate. The Gelli website I listed has lots of great ideas. Happy creating Christine!

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