Ruth Gendler Monotype in Oakland

Large Monotypes at Oakopolis 2015

The people in my art sometimes feel like companions and friends from distant times and places. Messengers climb ladders and cross bridges. Storytellers and singers remember ancient songs and catch hints of the music of the future. Poets and philosophers travel through time, retreat to the Town of Qualities, visit the Library of Dreams. Alone and in small groups they re-discover routes that have been long forgotten. They walk old roads and make new paths.

Making one of a kind monotypes has been a wonderful way to work with my tribe of characters. After making an initial drawing on the back of the plate, I use brushes and rollers to create the image. The process of printing a first impression and then a second subtler ghost image encourages variation and experimentation. Sometimes I like the boldness of the first impression, sometimes the softer ghost, and sometimes it is the image on the plate that works best. Often I re-ink the plate, print over the ghost, and then print another ghost. The images multiply.

Equinox monotype by ruth gendler


Out of the same drawing, many different characters emerge.  Although I value intention, much of the process is an adventure. Gesture and expressions change, as the figures make themselves known.The physical acts of printing provides a grounding balance to the energetic process of drawing from within. The word printmaking implies multiples; in these monotypes or painterly prints each piece is one of a kind.

Seems like whenever I don’t know what to name a piece, I call her or him a Listener. It might seem odd since I’m making visual art. One might think these characters are see-ers.  Yet, much of the art that interests me is a listening inward and under, listening for the shapes and words, listening to silence, listening to what the bones know and what the oak hears, listening for the echoes of our ancestors’s footsteps in the nearby hills. 

Eloquent Soul monotype by ruth gendler

Eloquent Soul

J. Ruth Gendler

Spring 2015