Tuesday, February 10, 2009
cyanotypes and other things of beauty
i've gotta tell ya...i'm making a heck of a lot of art these days and falling pretty head over heels with some of the stuff i'm trying. quite a bit of the art i'm making is with crayon or paint while having further conversations about the intricacies of star wars (of which i still have no clue but really like talking about the force) with a 5 year old. i kinda think this is a pretty great way to explore one's artist self. as saying or even thinking about self-critique just doesn't fly when in the company of someone who is just getting in touch with themselves as an artist. i often hear from us adults that someone once critiqued us or said something about our art that blocked us for years. the last thing i want to be in this world is that person. quite the opposite. i want to make someone else believe in art. and in them self as an artist.
when not working with crayon or washable markers, i'm taking this mighty lovely course at the California College of Art called Alternative Photographic Processes, which is working with a few of the techniques developed before the contemporary methods of printing photos. this is old stuff. beautiful archival techniques. and i'm falling. deep. we've started with Cyanotype prints which are this gorgeous blue color (if you're lucky) and heading on to Van Dyke Brown, Gum Bichromate and finally Salt Prints. had their not been a shortage of old polaroid film these days we'd be doing that too.
our first printing class was an unusually grey morning which made developing UV prints difficult, but useful experience for someone who mostly lives in a very grey city this time of the year. we worked hard all class preparing paper, which involves coating them with a combination of two chemicals, and then printing them using the sun. it took vastly longer to make each print (30 minutes as opposed to 30 seconds) so the teacher offered that we could bring the frames and are prepared paper home with us to use on a sunny day. talk about dreamy! the last two days have been sun~city and i found a sunny moment to try it out for myself.
turns out we also had some sun print paper, which is essentially cyanotype paper prepared as an activity for kids. so my art buddy joined in on the process. we prepared our frames, mine with a negative i'd printed onto acetate, and on his some light sabers and we stepped out into the sun.
after a few minutes we brought them both in and rinsed them out with water, then hung them to dry on a vine outside.
the deep blue has me swooning. i'm excited for the other processes too, especially as they are even more archival, as cyanotypes fade (not forever though) when displayed in bright light. i remember these prints from visits to the art gallery when i'd have to lift a black cloth from the front of the old photo to see it. i'd write down the names of these techniques on gallery visits, wondering what they were and how they differed from darkroom printing. turns out i was destined to find out.