Monoprint Mandalas

Monoprint Dots

Mono­print Dots… Bet you can’t make just one!

Inter­na­tional Dot Day, and one of my all-time favorite books, “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds, were my inspi­ra­tion for this les­son! I wanted to come up with a new way to make a series of quick, col­or­ful, one-of-a-kind “dots” that could be com­pleted in one class ses­sion. With mono­prints, only one print can be made from each design, but you can repaint the print­ing sur­face and make as many new designs as you like! These designs are styled after man­dalascir­cu­lar designs with radial sym­me­try and repeat­ing patterns.

You’ll Need:

  • foam core board (a great way to use up odd sizes of left-overs)
  • cir­cle tem­plate (I used a bowl to trace my circle)
  • pen­cil or pen for tracing
  • Xacto knife for cut­ting foam core board (an adult should do this)
  • alu­minum foil (a lit­tle larger than your circle)
  • mask­ing tape
  • tem­pera paint: red, yel­low and blue (use any 2 of the 3 pri­mary col­ors at one time, unless you want brown!)
  • 1″ foam brush
  • Q-tip
  • 9x12 white paper to print on
  • wet wipes for clean up


1. Trace and cut your cir­cle, mak­ing it a lit­tle smaller than the paper you want to print on.

2. Wrap your foam cir­cle with alu­minum foil, so that one side is com­pletely cov­ered. Wrap the sides of the foil over the edges and tape to the back.

3. Make a “han­dle” from tape on the back of your foam cir­cle, so you’ll have some­thing to hang onto while you’re painting/printing.

4. Squirt two dif­fer­ent col­ors of tem­pera paint (about the size of a quar­ter each) onto the smooth foil sur­face. (If you use too much paint, your design will fill back in. You may need to exper­i­ment to find the opti­mum amount!)

5. Hold­ing your cir­cle by the tape han­dle on the back, use a foam brush to spread the paint in a thin layer over the entire sur­face. Let the two col­ors mix a lit­tle, but not com­pletely. This will give you some vari­a­tion of color and a more inter­est­ing design. (Any two of the three pri­mary col­ors will cre­ate a sec­ondary color when mixed together.)

6. Use a Q-tip to draw a sim­ple design with radial sym­me­try. Start with large divi­sions of space and keep adding details equally to each area until your design looks com­plete. You’ll need to work quickly (before your paint dries), but that’s half the fun!

7. Press your foam cir­cle onto the 9x12 paper. Turn the whole thing over and care­fully rub the paper with your hands to trans­fer your design onto the paper.

8. Peel off the paper and set your print aside to dry.

9. Apply more paint, draw a new design, and make more prints!



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8 Responses to Monoprint Mandalas

  1. Emily September 24, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    this is a great mono­print tech­nique! i’ll def­i­nitely try it out with my stu­dents this year– it would be a great link-in with Cy Twombly, too!

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      I didn’t know about Cy Twombly, Emily, so thanks for telling me! Glad you’ll be try­ing this les­son.… let me know how it goes!

  2. Rina September 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Hi Cheryl
    What an orig­i­nal project for Dot Day. Thanks for tak­ing the time to pho­to­graph and post the entire step-by-step.

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      You’re wel­come, Rina! I hope you’ll try it… mono­prints are so much fun!! :-)

  3. Kristine January 6, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    I love that book and often started out my year with an over­head, read­ing the book and talk­ing to artists about tak­ing the fear out of art mak­ing. Lots of kids start out think­ing they can’t make art. So we would do a large, oil pas­tel pic­ture of cir­cles any sizes, etc. talk­ing about hot and cool col­ors, incor­po­rat­ing line fam­i­lies, pat­terns, etc into this as well. Such a great col­or­ful way to start the year. I love this project as well and will be try­ing with my group of adult artists with dis­abil­i­ties. No wrong way to do it so always a plus. Thanks

  4. Laura November 13, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    What kind of paint did you use for this? I love the idea and I am try­ing it before doing it with a class, but I used pre­mium tem­pera and none of the designs came out clearly. They are all splotchy! Any advice?

    • Cheryl Trowbridge November 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

      I always use the Sar­gent brand liq­uid tem­pera, and get great results every time. A lit­tle streak­i­ness is to be expected (as you can see in the pics) but that’s also part of the charm! If you’re hav­ing a lot of trou­ble with the paint bead­ing up on the foil, you can always add a drop of dish soap to the paint to help it stick. Hope that helps!


  1. Monoprints - URBART Inc. - November 3, 2013

    […] activ­ity was fea­tured on one of our favorite web­sites, TeachKid­sArt. This par­tic­u­lar activ­ity was inspired by the book The Dot and is a great way to incor­po­rate a […]

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