The WIP: Dan Smith

Welcome to another segment of, The Work In Progress. Taking inspiration from the British band, Bastille, I created a monoprint of their lead singer, “Dan Smith.”


I typically start with a sketch when working onto plexiglass. This way I can easily retrace my design when I put the plate on top of it. By using a scribe, I was able to create a simple drypoint. Unlike some of my other pieces, this one would have fewer lines and be created in under 20 minutes. To do this, I imagined using a pen on paper with fewer cross-hatches. As long as I got the form down, that’s all that mattered since I would eventually paint over it.


To continue on, I needed to see if the drypoint would look good by itself and with the paint. I inked up the plate the way I normally would, and pressed it onto a damp paper. I noticed that the neck almost separates along the bottom because of the sudden change in contrast from the shadow. Also, I wanted to define the shoulders, shirt, and mouth a bit more. I was conflicted on whether or not to use the blue paint. Dan Smith and his music don’t seem to have an overall “blue” tone, so I experimented with blue and red.

Above you can see my attempts at creating a monoprint. While the first one obviously has a lack of value and form, the second one overextends the value and form. To be honest, the first had a low pressure on the press, so the majority of the ink wasn’t lifted. I got carried away with the second proof when treating the piece like a detailed painting on canvas. I would rather use that technique if the medium was oil, and not acrylic. To improve, I wanted to print the best of both worlds by finding the medium of the two.


My final proof turned out better than the others. I tried to have a looser stroke with fewer marks. Also, I used a more diluted paint for the background by using a higher mixture of water. Since I painted over the drypoint, some of the lines were lost, so I used a pen to enhance some of them. I didn’t want to edit it too much, or else I may have ruined the pure essence of my monoprint. I stuck with the red paint after several attempts using the blue. The red feels more harmonious and vivid than the blue, which would match the originality of Bastille’s work. Notice too how the color is subtle and not erratic and leaping from the page. It sends a deeper message that can be viewed for a longer period of time while containing a sentient and sensual emotion.

While I did take note of my past monoprint, it wasn’t as easy to reproduce its imagination. I was so pleased with the final proof of “Scream Out The Pain,” that I wanted to compare it to “Dan Smith.” Another lesson to be learned is that every piece of art is unique in some way (especially when creating monoprints, and more so with monotypes). Keeping that in mind, you shouldn’t compare any piece to your own in a direct way. While taking inspiration and evaluating the differences in movements can be noted to be counterarguments, don’t strive to create the common – strive to create the new.

Please leave a comment below if you have any critiques or comments, or simply just LIKE and SHARE!

For more, visit Tristan’s Website

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