Tag Archives: River Tawe

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.

 

Having A Rummage

29 Jun

manier couleur

Inspiration…

We find inspiration often in the oddest places. I never thought that I’d be inspired by Victorian culverts way out up in the Brecon Beacons, but here we are. I recently made a series of sketchbook drawings of culverts on a field trip with scientists Steph and James from the FIRE Lab project in Swansea University’s Department of Zoology. I’m playing around with the imagery to see what emerges.

Rummaging…

I was having a rummage in my paper draw the other day and found some pieces of paper that I’d stretched ages ago, gessoed and sponged randomly with thin glazes of acrylic paint. I’d forgotten all about them so I grabbed one and smeared compressed charcoal over a section of it and then started rubbing into it with wire wool and aluminium oxide paper. Finally, I added a few charcoal lines. I like it. It’s very different to what I’ve been doing most of my life.

 

 

Otherworldly

24 Jun

manier 3

I’ve been doing a manier noir drawing (above) the past few days (click here if you want to see the process), based on an original sketch I did a few weeks ago on a field trip with scientists from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab project. We were looking at culverts up in the Brecon Beacons. I found them fascinating, lovely stone architecture, probably Victorian. I thought there was an otherworldly atmosphere to them.

 

From left to right: paper prepared with charcoal; original sketch; manier noir drawing in progress using wire wool and aluminium oxide paper.

 

I like this technique, it has a spooky, soft, ethereal quality. Manier noir means “the dark manner” which I think suits it.

 

 

Cutting The Vinyl

20 Jun

lino 1

I did a lino cut today, well it was on vinyl, from an original sketch I did in my sketchbook when I was on a field trip recently with the Fire Lab, to study Victorian culverts on the Tafarn Y Garreg road towards Brecon.

The drawing is quite abstracted, I was looking down along the stream bed as it wound its way down the valley wall into the River Tawe. I transferred the drawing, in reverse, onto the vinyl using powdered chalk and a hard pencil and then cut it with my Flexcut tools.

Just In Case….

2 Jun

 

ochre 1

I have been out on field trips up along the course of the River Tawe recently, with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Laboratory project. We spent some time examining culverts under the road that runs alongside the Tawe near its source up in the Brecon Beacons. There were differences between the culverts; different plants, different environments, different creatures. Most of the stream beds were made up of plain grey stones but I came across this one, towards the end, which glowed with speckles of a vivid terracotta orange.

ochre 2

I pulled out a few pieces and rubbed them against a dry grey rock and the soft pigment marked the surface easily. I collected a few to bring back, checking them for little creatures, and then a threw a few coins into the stream, as a token to appease any Gwragedd Annwn who might be hanging out in the crystal waters. Just in case …..

Like Liquid Silk

30 May

culvert 1

I did some development work today, using one of the drawings I did en plein air on a recent field trip with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Laboratory. I sketched some culverts up in the Brecon Beacons, near the source of the River Tawe and today I worked on a very large piece of vintage Waterford paper with my own home-made walnut ink and some Isabey brushes.

The paper is lovely, very thick with deckle edges and the ink glides across its surface like rich sepia liquid silk. I used the ink neat and watered down into a mid-brown wash and I also splashed ink across the surface. I’ll leave it a couple of days then decide how I want to proceed – do I use colour or not? Or should I put in some darker tones with Indian Ink?

 

 

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