A Day of Making Mono-Prints in Amy Ernst’s Studio – We Girls Know How to Have Fun

Printing ink palette.

Well, we girls know how to have fun. And, it was at Amy Ernst’s invitation. Amy is preparing for an exhibition of her artwork at Die Galerie in Frankfurt, Germany that opens September 4th and runs through November 2nd. Her friend, artist and master printer, Lisa Mackie was coming into town to help her pull prints. Amy had a great idea. We three should have a day together creating mono-prints with Lisa’s help. And of course, Grace Howl and I jumped at the chance to experience working in Amy’s studio. We looked forward to the camaraderie we shared during last year’s collaboration. 

A different collaboration.

This time would be a bit different. This would not be a collaboration between us but an experience being together each making our own mono-prints. As artists, we lead solitary lives in our respective studios. So to have the opportunity to be creating in a space where we could have immediate input from one another was jazz. For this day, Amy would continue to concentrate on her work for the show. Grace and I, however, needed a tutorial from Lisa before venturing into making our mono-prints. Grace is a painter and was entering unfamiliar media territory. And even though my educational focus was printmaking, I had not been near a press in eons.

Each artist’s own method of creating.

As we each approach creating our work differently, the same follows with the printmaking. Amy continued to create her unique works on paper executed through collage and multiple printmaking techniques. In most instances multiple passes through the press are required.

Amy Ernst sitting at her station focused on what the next layer of printing will be.

Grace simply wanted to created finished images with one pass. She intended to paint on the plate with using various tools and techniques. 

Grace Howl useing a brayer to add different colors of ink to her plate.

Since I have been so focused on drawings that begin with an underlaying structure, I decided to approach the experience from that point of view. So, I pursued creating an underlayment structure upon which I could draw later. I also have to admit that I wanted to document the day. As a result of that activity, I was a bit too scattered to focus one hundred percent on creating. Obviously, I am not in any of the photographs.

Kate Hendrickson‘s variation of an underlayment that is ready to be printed.

A day in Amy’s studio.

View of Amy’s studio looking south.

The day was perfect. The studio was light filled. The outside temperature and humidity were such that we were able open the windows to allow good cross ventilation. Gosh, Amy’s studio is so spacious and has good (Zen) energy. Oh, I should mention that Amy had recently located a Takach press to replace her smaller Jack Richeson so we were getting to use it for the first time. Like any kid getting a new toy, there was joyful excitement about being able to use it.

Lisa Mackie preparing the studio for a day of printmaking. Takach press on the right.

When we arrived in the morning, Lisa was already in the studio making ink preparations and setting up our work stations with tools and plates. Amy went to her spot to work while Grace and I joined Lisa for a refresher course. The tutorial covered ink viscosity in utilizing multiple inks on one plate, mark making tools that either add color or remove it, masking or transfer techniques as well as other tips to prepare the plate images for printing. It was an over load of new information to cram into our heads. However, Lisa was ready to clarify what approach was best as we worked on our ideas.

Examples of material usage on a printing plate.

Mono-print means what it implies. It is a unique work created with a printing press or other technique to transfer an image from a plate to a piece of paper. The method can include various media such as printing inks, drawing materials and/or paint, as well as collage materials that can be applied before and/or after the image is transferred from the plate.

What happened making our prints.

From that point on, we each followed our creative plan working closely with Lisa to print a good impression. During moments of concentrated silence, we could hear the breeze rustling leaves outside. The quiet would be broken with banter as anticipation increased during the printing process. Then curiosity would take over and we would all gather to see the results.

Amy Ernst.

Lisa removing Amy’s print which was difficult to release from the plate.
Amy’s printing plate after the recent pass through the press and removal of the print from it.
Before printing again, Amy and Lisa discussing how the photocopy transfer technique will work after placement.

Grace Howl.

For me, it was just fun being with my friends and watching the methodology that each one followed to arrive at their finished work. Lisa’s calm patience helped the printing flow easily since there were three of us sharing the press.

Lisa helping Grace release her print from the plate just after passing it through the press.
Lisa and Amy discussing with Grace her print that was just completed.
Grace’s completed mono-print resting on the table to dry. On the left, the plate used for this print.


As for my efforts, I have posted here a couple photos. In the future, I will be sharing the before and after once I have had the opportunity to go back to the prints and drawn into them.

The underlay print which I will draw into eventually.
My plate just after printing. Cut pieces of paper act as a silhouettes before rolling another layer of ink.

Happy ending.

In the end, our fun was in the delight of simply being together. There was a comfortable rhythm in the studio. The creative energy that criss-crossed between us generated a shared dialogue that was most profound. The day having been both mentally and physically intensive left us pleased and exhausted. So at dusk, Grace and I departed the studio for home. As for Amy, after a good night’s rest, she continued to work with Lisa to print her unique pieces for a few more days.

The north view of Amy’s studio.


I want to extend a special thanks to Amy Ernst for her generous invitation to work in her studio and for sharing Lisa Mackie with us. She gave us a memorable day of artistic camaraderie.

To see more of the artist’s work:

Amy Ernst – Die Galerie  and Gallery of Surrealism 

Lisa Mackie and June Kelly Gallery  

Grace Howl 

Kate Hendrickson and Mesh Art Gallery 


Join the Journey
Receive news revealing new work, exhibitions, events and “Un Peu de Tout” (a little bit of everything).
We respect your privacy.
Scroll to Top