Tag Archives: #enpleinair

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.

Tydfil The Martyr

7 Sep

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Husb and I went to the Annibyniaeth march in Merthyr Tydfil today, it was great. There were 5,300 people marching for independence and 53 dogs. Of course I had to have a scribble – of the people and the dogs. The people stayed still for longer!

 

annibyniaeth b 070919

 

Tydfil was a daughter of King Brychan of Brycheiniog who was martyred in the area by pagans around 480 CE and the place was named Merthyr Tydfil in her honour. In modern Welsh, merthyr means martyr but in old Welsh it means a church built over the relics of a martyr.

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 Before long it was superseded by other more reliable forms of photography but was still used to produce blueprints for engineers.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.

 

The Swansea Devil

3 Sep

 

sketch 3

 

I popped down to Swansea Museum today to do some sketching. It’s a lovely museum with loads of interesting stuff to draw and it’s served generations of Swansea people. I sketched the Swansea Devil, a local legend.

 

Two quick sketches to start

Two quick sketches to start ….

 

He was recently rehomed to the Museum because after a chequered history he was in pretty poor condition – he’s made from wood- and the Museum is able to look after him under the controlled conditions he needs.

 

sketch 1

I did a few sketches in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen and one with walnut ink wash and a brush. Today I wanted to get a feel for the sculpture before I develop some more complex work. I find it difficult to draw other people’s art as I keep wanting to put my stamp on it.

White Leaves And Pooled Corners

2 Sep

 

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Craig-y-Nos

Another one of the cyanotype prints I did at Craig-y-Nos a few days ago. The gardeners had been trimming hedges so I picked up a few leaves and arranged some stones and gravel from the river bank onto the treated paper. It was a very overcast day, around midday, so I guesstimated an exposure time of 20 minutes. When I developed it in cold water, I added a dash of vinegar, which is supposed to increase the contrast. It’s quite a good colour and I like the softness of the leaves. The photo below was taken while I was exposing the cyanotype. I think it’s a nice image in it’s own right.

 

exposure 4

 

Pooling

The dark splodges in the corners came from the initial coating process. The received wisdom is to coat the paper and let them dry on a flat surface, but I found that almost all the sheets of paper had ‘pooled’ at the corners. The previous batch had been hung to dry and the coating was much more even.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Blue Stones

1 Sep

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Brushwork And Gravel

This is another cyanotype from my field trip earlier this week with colleagues from the FIRE Lab. When I prepared this sheet of Bockingford (300gsm) with the cyanotype chemical coating, I tried being a bit freer with the brushwork, instead of applying an even coat in a rectangular shape. And I used gravel from the bank of the River Tawe to make the image, something I hadn’t tried before. I hadn’t realised how varied it is, so many different grades. The name of the river, ‘Tawe’, might share its origins with a group of Celtic river names meaning “to flow”, including Thames, Tame and Tamar.

 

 

Fern And Raindrops

31 Aug

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Sploshed

Here’s another of the cyanotypes done a couple of days ago on a FIRE Lab field trip. I clipped the fern directly onto a piece of Bockingford paper treated with cyanotype chemicals. It was overcast and about midday so I estimated a 20 minute exposure time.

It started to rain and drops sploshed onto the paper.

Exposure 1

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.

 

Blue Wash

30 Aug

develop 1

Today I developed yesterday’s cyanotypes in the garden shed. Husb has been making the shed, from scratch, for about 3 years now and it’s nearly finished. He’s plumbed in an old Belfast sink which is big and deep enough to easily develop the pictures. I soaked them for 5 minutes under running water, then 20 minutes in a tray of still water with a spot of vinegar in it – apparently it increases the contrast.

 

More tomorrow……

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