Tag Archives: photography

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……

Blue On A Grey Day

29 Aug

exposure 4

Out in the field

A scientist, an artist and a designer walk into a Country Park …… no it’s not a joke, it’s the second cyanotype field trip this week with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab, up to the River Tawe as it runs through Craig-y-Nos. What can I say? It’s a glorious place and I feel so privileged to go out and be an artist in places like this. There’s a castle here as well, built for Dame Adelina Patti, the magnificent opera singer.

 

 

Grey Day

Unlike Monday’s field trip in blazing sunshine, today was rainy, cloudy and grey. We waited for it to dry up a bit and exposed the cyanotypes on the bank of the Tawe en plein air. On Monday I allowed 10 minutes exposure, which worked really well (see here) but today I had to guesstimate and allowed 20 minutes. I’ll develop them tomorrow and we’ll see if I guessed right. We created images of things we found around us, being careful not to damage anything and to put things back.

 

 

Queen Anne’s Lace And A Mixed Bouquet

28 Aug

mixed bouquet

An Important River

Here are a couple more cyanotype prints from my field trip on Monday with my colleague Steph from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab. We walked the River Tawe path from Swansea up to Pontardawe, 15 kilometres. Swansea’s name in Welsh is Abertawe which means Mouth of the River Tawe, and Pontardawe means Bridge over the Tawe, and it’s an important river in these parts.

 

Queen Anne’s Lace

We took a print from a clump of gorgeous Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus Carota) and then a mixed bouquet of wild flowers. We used a ten-minute exposure time en plein air at around 1pm on a very sunny August day and then developed the prints in cold running water. The root of Queen Anne’s Lace smells of carrot and has a very high sugar content, second only to beetroot.

 

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.

 

 

 

Teasels And Rubbish

27 Aug

Teazles

 

Day Of Reckoning!

Yesterday was cyanotype exposure day, today was cyanotype developing day – and the day of reckoning! So much can go wrong. Cyanotype was the earliest form of photography, invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 to copy his notes. Anna Atkins used it to record botanical specimens and produced the first photographic book in 1843 using cyanotype. It was quickly 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.

 

En Plein Air

Here are a couple of the ones I developed today alongside photos of them being done en plein air. The first is a Teasel, an ancient plant that used to be used in woollen textile manufacture and their seeds are a favourite food of the European Goldfinch. The second is some rubbish we picked up on our walk.

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.

 

 

 

Boiling Hot And Blue Prints

26 Aug

 

cyan 3

I went on a field trip alongside the River Tawe today, from Sainsburys in Swansea to Tescos in Pontardawe, about 15 kilometres. It was BOILING hot. My colleague Steph and I did some experimental cyanotype (blue prints) exposures on the way, working with plants at the side of the path, rubbish we picked up and even shadows on the tarmac. I’ll develop these in cold water tomorrow to see what we have. Fingers crossed.

 

 

ps we didn’t pick the plants, but gently bent them and they sprang back afterwards. We disposed of the rubbish responsibly.

 

Ethereal Sunshine Print

25 Aug

 

plants 1

Walking The Tawe Path

I’m going on a FIRE Lab field trip with a colleague tomorrow to walk the River Tawe Path, making cyanotypes along the way. It looks like the weather will be great for exposing these in the sunshine. I spent most of today preparing and I wanted to do a trial run as I haven’t done any for a while. I found some ready-prepared paper tucked away in a folder and grabbed some bits of plants from my garden. I perched the paper on my garden bench and put a sheet of glass over it and let the sun bathe it in light for 10 minutes – it was about 1pm so the light was very strong.

 

plants 2

Vintage Paper

The plants were quite fleshy and the glass couldn’t squash them flat and they threw slight shadows onto the treated paper, so I guessed the end image wouldn’t be the sharpest. The paper is a sheet of vintage I was given a while back, quite old and no watermark so I had no idea if it was even printmaking paper. It’s very thick and absorbent, almost like cloth. I took a photo (above) after 10 minutes exposure, before I put it in the sink to develop it.

 

plants 3

Soft And Shadowy

Cyanotype is developed in cold water, first in running water and then a good soak in water with a dash of vinegar added. I like the way this one has turned out – the combination of the soft creamy paper and the shadowy images gives it an ethereal quality.

Seagulls At Sunset

28 Oct

seagulls

Seagulls at sunset hanging out of the spiky bits on top of the towers on top of the mosque that used to be a church. There was a seagull on each one.

Rainy Sunday

30 Apr

Sunset

Husb and I have been in West Wales all day, visiting friends. The weather when we left was gorgeous but by the time we arrived, heavy rain was moving in from the Irish Sea and scuppered our plans for a countryside walk and some quick sketching en plein air. Of course it rained, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend! Never mind, it was nice to stay in and catch up. As we drove home, I turned to look back at the North Pembrokeshire coast from the Presceli Mountains. There was a break in the rain and the evening sun shone through the thick cloud for just a few moments. I might not have managed any scribbling, but the photo opportunity made up for it.

 

I have put my series of drawings en plein air of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to see more, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page. This one is the legendary grave of Saint Elfys (Elvis) in Pembrokeshire, not for from the Preseli Mountains. Elfys? Preseli? Elvis Presley? Coincidence? hhhmmmm

St Elvis

Swallows And Amazons

30 Jan

swallows-and-amazons

Husb and I spent a few days visiting family in The Lake District last week. We travelled around quite a bit; I was hoping to do a lot of drawing but it was freezing! (I’ve been called a Southern Softie for wimping out). Here’s one of the gorgeous views I would have scribbled if I hadn’t been so cold. We stopped for a ‘comfort’ break at Coniston Water and the little island just right of centre is supposed to be one of the settings for Arthur Ransome’s book for children, Swallows and Amazons. I must check out the film.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Silbury Sunset

18 Oct

silbury-2

Husb and I had a few days away, visiting friends in the south of England. We drove back today across ancient landscape and stopped for a little while at the most extraordinary Silbury Hill, just as the Autumn sun was setting.

silbury-1

 

 

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