I recently spent a wonderful week on on Flinders island with Cycle South. The trip was about cycling and art. I took my pasta machine with the idea of making some mini textural collograph plates and printing them on location with the pasta machine. However, with all the cycling & walking, time did not allow me to make & print the collographs whilst on the island. I’ll do these now that I’m back on Bruny. I did have 2 sessions of making some cyanotypes from found objects.
Found a Handy little rock shelf out of the wind for drying
Young Tama made a print
Below are some thumbnails of the digital negatives that I’ve made for the Stoned Curlew/Pandanus work. I loathe sitting on the computer for any length of time. I would rather be in the studio getting inky. However, part of the Cyanotype process is creating the digital negatives and that means a bit of computer work. I am very ‘rustic’ about it and not very skilled nor scientific. I do it as quickly as possible without much fine tuning. For this particular type of imagery it’s fine to be a bit haphazard. I don’t know photoshop well and I just use it at very basic levels for creating my negatives. You can faff around for hours but in a nut shell, you basically need to de-saturate your image of any colour, invert it into its negative state and play with the brightness and contrast untill you have a clear cut black and white image with as few midtone areas as possible. Although mid-tones can lend themselves to different shades of blue in the final cyanotype – it’s a matter of experimenting with exposure times. The grey areas can also be scratched into lightly on the negative transparency to remove some of the computer ink and allow more light to pass through during the cyanotype exposure.
I will also be making a couple more negatives of grasshopper imagery (we don’t want Mr Curlew to starve !), a collograph plate and a drypoint on acetate plate to play with. I figure the more paper stencils, printing plates and negatives I have on the go, the wider the scope for experimentation, which will mean more interesting results – fingers crossed.
My printer decided to break down today so that has thrown a little spanner in the works as I can’t print the digital negatives onto the transparencies. I’ll concentrate on the collograph and drypoint this week until I can get to town and get it sorted ! Bloody technology !
Stay tuned for part 3 – The making of the collograph and the drypoint plates.
Part of my heart still lies in Queensland. I love the Pacific Ocean, the flora and fauna & the Queensland Sunshine. Seeing a friend’s holiday snaps on Insta took me back there in a blink of an eye.
With his permission I am using his photo of Pandanus & imagery of the Bush Stone Curlew bird to create an archival, handmade hybrid print. I’m probably aiming for a drypoint, collograph & cyanotype hybrid……but my process is very experimental, so who knows what the end result will be ! The journey is fun. Last night I played with stage one of my process – taking photos for making the digital negatives. I really like these digital images (they are by no means resolved – this is just the initial stage of my process that I am documenting). I tried some new ways of taking photos & I need to get my hands on an overhead projector & a turntable to further explore my ideas of capturing movement. I’m finally working on possible ideas that have been seed stage in my head for a long time. It’s great to be inspired by someone else’s photos from distant islands ! (Stay tuned for Part 2 – Creating the digital negatives.)
I’m playing with photographing moving plant specimens with the aim of capturing the movement and creating ideal digital negatives for my cyanotypes. After lots of experimentation with cyanotype, I
know only specific digital negatives are successful in the cyanotype process. I have a fairly good feel for what works for my process & what doesn’t. I’m attempting to move away from creating static images & would like to get the feeling of movement into the imagery at the digital negative stage of the process instead of during the cyanotype exposure stage of the process by use of the photogram method. Usually I move the objects during the sun exposure – but this has not always been successful. The idea to create the movement at the initial stage has been playing out in my head for a while & I think I’ve jumped a massive hurdle in figuring out the first step of the process (the photograph) this afternoon. Sometimes the printmaking process can be complex & I love those moments when the process falls into place in my head and I have some clarity about what I want to achieve and how I might get there. Tomorrow into the studio to see if my thinking processes ring true! I have to think in negative images & remind myself of the cyanotype mantra – “if it lets the light through, it will turn blue. If it blocks the light out, it will stay white” !!!
I sit on my paper quilt of patchwork blue. Dark shapes of Currawong, cloaked in grey and inky blackness, flash by. Bathed in prussian blue and bright warm sunlight,
vitreous humor particles float around me. It is summer. I am still.
From deep within their forest place, the piping songs of the Currawongs
entwine with guitar and double bass. ♫♪ﻬ ♫♪♭♫♪ﻬ ♫♪♫ ﻬ ♫♪♭♫♪♫♪ ♫♪♭♫♪
On the edge of Woods Lake, I hear music.
My latest print series “On the Edge of Lake Woods, I hear music” is currently showing at Parnella Gallery, St Helens, Tasmania. The work is part of an group exhibition “On the Edge” and showcases the work of 6 Bruny Island Women – Janine Coombes, Kate Mills, Marlene Schmidt, Margaret Vandenberg, Barbara Tassell and Myself. The body of work that I created for “On the Edge” consists of embossed Cyanotypes stitched together to form paper patchwork quilts and a collograph, Linocut, chine colle triptych.
FINALLY… I’VE BUSTED OUT OF MY CREATIVE BLOCK and have made some embossed paper Cyanotype wall hangings. Cyanotype printing is a non-toxic process that was developed in 1842. Early botanists used the process to capture minute details of plants. The resulting image is a stable Prussian Blue print.
The cyanotype process is a way of portraying the subject using a light sensitive emulsion and developing the image by the light of the Sun. The prints are sometimes referred to as sun prints or photograms. It is a process that requires patience as the Tasmanian sun does not always perform on cue !
Here are a few pics of my cyanotype work that I have just put into our Bruny Island “Imprint of Bruny” art exhibition. The embossed wall hangings are titled “Imprint of Bruny” – Beach walk, Paddock, Garden & Oyster Catcher. They are the result of my Bruny walks on Hansson’s beach & Highwood’s paddocks and garden. They derive from found objects and plant specimens, handmade papercuts & photographs from my walks.
To prevent cyanotypes from fading they should be kept out of direct sunlight. If they do happen to fade over time, you just pop them into a dark cupboard for a while and, magically, the colour revitalises !