Oscar Gillespie

Associate Professor of Art, Dept of Art, Bradley University, Peoria, IL, USA

Harold Linton

Dept of Art, Bradley University, Peoria, IL, USA


The Single Level Viscosity Monotypes


Viscosity can be defined as the property of a fluid or semi-fluid to develop and maintain an amount of shearing force, dependent on the velocity of the flow, and then offer continued resistance to the flow. When applied to ink, a fast-flowing (loose) ink has a low viscosity while a slow-flowing (stiff) ink has high viscosity.

Viscosity printing is based on the knowledge that because a stiff ink is not immediately soluble in a loose one, rolled ink layers can be created to repel one another. If a stiff, or more viscous, layer is rolled over a less viscous one, it will be repelled. Conversely, a stiff layer will attract, rather than repel, any subsequent loose ink layers which are applied. Under the right circumstances, one ink layer will be refused by another so distinctly that it will seem as if one were oil and the other water.

The success of viscosity printing is based on controlling the effect created by rolling one ink layer over another of a different stiffness loose over stiff, or stiff over loose. Two other concepts are also important to note in viscosity printing. One, open or bare areas of a plate attract rolled colors of any viscosity. And two, a roller coated with ink attracts the least viscous ink layer when rolled over multiple layers of colors.

While viscosity has historically been applied to multi-level intaglio printing, this demonstration will deal with single levels from matrices which have no permanent information worked into them.


  • The Single Level Viscosity Monotypes  pdf
  • Tradition, Technology Process and Product  pdf
  • Demonstration
  • Art of Oscar Gillespie