Archaic Blue Photography [very artgeek stuff]

29 Aug

Cyanotype portrait: Melvyn, Lahore.

I don’t always work from drawings although 90% of my work, or more, is based on sketches. Sometimes I have a bit of a play with photographic imagery and translate it into various forms of printmaking – monotype, block, screen, photogravure and cyanotype.

 

Cyan is the colour blue and also the first four letters of cyanide and it’s this combined with ferric compounds that form the chemical basis for cyanotype, one of the earliest forms of photography. I start by shoving a digital photo through Adobe Photoshop Elements, changing to black and white and inverting it to get a negative. Then I either put it through a Cutout filter to reduce it to four or five greytones, or into Threshold to make it a very stark black and white image, like Pop Art. Then I print it out onto acetate through an inkjet printer so I have a contact negative.

 

The next step is to coat a sheet of Bockingford or Somerset, at least 250gsm, with the cyanotype solution, leaving some brushstrokes around the edges, and dry it off in the darkroom, then into the UV Unit with the negative for 6 minutes [it can be done in daylight but takes a lot longer]. The development is easy; pop it into running cold water until the print turns blue and white and the water runs clear. Leave it to drain for a while then between tissue-lined drying boards while it’s still damp.

 

I took this photo of my husband at night in a rooftop restaurant in Lahore, Pakistan and gave him the cyanotype treatment.

 

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