Tag Archives: cyanotype

Testing, Testing 1,2,3…

10 Aug

I’m doing some teaching tomorrow, taking a group of people for a walk to an inner city nature park, a reclaimed quarry and we’re going to be doing cyanotypes (aka sunprints). I’ve always done these from scratch in the past, mixing the chemicals and coating paper or fabric myself, but this time I’ll be using commercial cyanotype paper. So I thought I’d better test it out first to make sure there are no glitches.

I roped in Husb to help, which was a good idea because we needed two pairs of hands to work with plants outside in the garden – I decided I didn’t want to encourage people to break bits off tomorrow, to leave the plants intact. I tried 3 different times – 1 minute, 2.5 minutes and 5 minutes (left to right above). I think the 2.5 minute exposure is the best, it was a very bright day today. The commercial paper is much thinner than I’m used to working with but as a cost effective kit for beginners, I think it’s pretty good.

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

Two 5s And A 10 On A Cyanotype

22 May

Here are three sketches from the life drawing session at Swansea Print Workshop this week, two 5 minute poses and one for 10 minutes. I have been working with this model for years, she’s a strong woman with great presence. I used conte crayons in white, black and sanguine onto an old cyanotype I recycled because the original was darker than I wanted.

A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks

I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these antique artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.

To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left and to see the complete image.

20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.

Rubbish

27 Sep

mono 2

 

I’ve just done a dozen or so monotypes using rubbish. I recently became the artist in residence with the FIRE Lab at Swansea University and I’ve been going out on field trips with the science team along the River Tawe, looking at its ecosystem, which includes noting the rubbish. We used some rubbish we found to make cyanotypes a few weeks ago and I really liked the result, so I decided to try out a different printmaking technique with rubbish and Gelli plates.

 

mono 3

 

I started by inking a Gelli plate with a thin layer of Process Yellow Safewash ink from Caligo Cranfield and stretched a net fruit bag over it. Then I put a piece of Hosho Japanese lightweight paper on top and pressed it with my hands, to lift the ink. I repeated the process with another dozen sheets, putting different pieces of rubbish onto the Gelli plates, including ripped newspaper and old bubblewrap.

 

mono 4

Then I cleaned the equipment (in hot soapy water – so easy) and inked up in Process Red, using fresh pieces of rubbish placed at random on the Gelli plate. I put the yellow-printed papers face down and rubbed so the monotypes became yellow, red and orange.

 

mono 5

 

Finally, after cleaning everything, I repeated the whole thing with Process Blue.

 

mono 6

 

I think the rubbish looks pretty good ……

 

mono 1

…… I have plans for these ……..

Old School OHP

16 Sep

acetates 1

 

I’ve been posting about the field trips I went on recently with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab, walking the path of the River Tawe and making cyanotypes along the way. Mostly we made photograms – photographic prints made directly from found objects placed on the paper. But we also took some time out to draw onto Over Head Projector (OHP) acetates with various drawing materials to make transparencies to expose back at Swansea Print Workshop‘s Ultraviolet Unit. Younger readers might not know what an Overhead Projector is. It’s proper old school. These days we’d use a Powerpoint presentation, a laptop and a projector. Back in the day, we drew or printed our material onto an OHP acetate and it was projected onto a screen from an Over Head Projector.

The picture shows the transparencies on the UV Unit, ready to be exposed.

 

 

 

While I’m Away …..

11 Sep

sketch 4

 

Here’s a couple of ‘blind contour’ sketches I did recently on a field trip to Craig-y-Nos with colleagues from the FIRE Lab. I did the sketches without looking at the paper and without taking my conté crayon off the paper. Forces me to focus on what’s absolutely essential and gives the linework a lot of life and dynamism.

 

The FIRE Laboratory

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Laboratory  at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe.

While I’m Away….

10 Sep

sketch 3

 

Another of my quick sketches from my field trip with FIRE Lab colleagues a couple of weeks ago. I like doing these very quick sketchbook studies, they’re dynamic because I have to work so fast.

 

The FIRE Laboratory

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Laboratory  at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe.

Studying Shrimp

8 Sep

sketch 2

 

Alongside making cyanotypes with my colleagues on a recent field trip, I also did some drawings. Here’s one at Craig-y-Nos in conté crayons – black, white and sanguine into an A4 sketchbook made from brown parcel paper. It took about 3 minutes and I did it mostly without looking at the paper. It forced me to focus on the essentials in the drawing. Steph and Joelle are looking at shrimp in the River Tawe.

 

The FIRE Laboratory

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Laboratory  at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe.

A Roundup Of The Blue Field Trip

6 Sep

Out In The Field

Last week I went on a couple of FIRE Lab field trips with colleagues Steph and Joelle to walk the River Tawe Path, making cyanotypes, or blueprints, along the way. I’d prepared Bockingford paper with a solution of two chemicals, Ammonium ferric citrate and Potassium ferricyanide, in a darkroom and took them with me in a light-proof bag to prevent fogging. On the first day we exposed objects against the paper in brilliant sunshine for 10 minutes but on the overcast and rainy day 2, I upped the exposure time to 20 minutes.

 

 

Historic Process

Cyanotype was one of the earliest forms of photography, invented by Sir John Herschel the Astronomer Royal in 1842. It was quickly adopted by botanists;  Anna Atkins used it to record botanical specimens and produced the first photographic book in 1843 using cyanotype. Before long it was superseded by other more reliable forms of photography but was still used to produce blueprints for engineers. Nowadays it’s very popular in fine art printmaking and alternative photography. The exposed papers are developed simply in cold water with a dash of vinegar, keeping the water flowing for the first five minutes or so.

 

 

Using What’s There

We used plants alongside the riverbank, rubbish found along the path, and gravel from the water’s edge to construct our compositions, mostly holding the objects in place with sheets of glass or larger stones. Some of the digital photographs of the compositions in situ are as lovely as the finished prints.

 

 

SciArt

I’ve always acknowledged the close links between science, technology and art and since I’ve been artist in residence with the FIRE Lab team I’ve been able to put this into practice in a structured way. This collaboration between science, art and design in FIRE Lab is part of the growing SciArt movement that started about half a century ago, back in the 1960’s, when some engineers and artists in the USA got together and started working on interdisciplinary projects that became known as SciArt. Then it all sort of fizzled out …

Fast forward a quarter century to the UK in the mid ‘90s and SciArt resurfaced with the Wellcome Trust, which funded a decade of research projects to see what happened when medical scientists and artists work together. It was good! Since then, there have been more and more scientific research projects across British universities that include an artist as part of the team.

 

 

Seasonal Visits

As well as producing some interesting works of art, the cyanotypes are also useful for recording the rubbish we found polluting the river and the land around it in a way that is more evocative than a photograph and which might resonate with people because they’re such lovely images. We’ll be walking the Tawe every season for the next couple of years, trying out different art techniques each time. On the first field trip in May 2019 we did ‘walk and draw’ and then cyanotype at the end of August. Next season we’ll be into early Winter so we’re going to do some land art  …… watch this space ….

I Drew As Well

5 Sep

sketch 1

 

I’ve been posting pictures of the cyanotypes that I and other colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab team did during two field trips along the banks of the River Tawe recently. But I also did some drawings as well. Here’s one at Craig-y-Nos in conté crayons – black, white and sanguine into an A4 sketchbook made from brown parcel paper. It took about 5 minutes.

 

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

Rubbish Into Art

4 Sep

develop 5

 

Here’s another cyanotype print done en plein air at Craig-y-Nos last week, on a field trip with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab. My colleague, Steph, picked up a discarded fishing net from the river and arranged it on the photosensitised paper with some fallen leaves and stones picked up from the banks of the River Tawe. It was around midday but heavily overcast so I guesstimated a 20 minute exposure time, which has worked well. It’s a shame that thoughtless people dumped their rubbish into the river, but it’s been recycled into art and the fishing net was disposed of responsibly.

 

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