Week Eight – 22 Nov 18

If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed” – David Viscotts

Cyanotype fever continued well into this week, I have become completely addicted! I even dared to post my work on a couple of social media groups that I’m in, with some really positive and encouraging responses; well worth feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I have really enjoyed trying various ways to paint the chemicals and lay out the acetate images, creating some interesting images. This makes me chuckle as I was so resistant to even starting this process to begin with.

I also had a great session in the MAC suite, successfully scanning my work for a potential online gallery and competition submission.

However, I do think that I may have over done it a little this week. I was totally wiped out by the weekend, with no energy left for myself or my business. Note to self- Take better care of yourself. Balance. It is a marathon not a sprint.

In the studio:

Cyanotype fever;

I turned one of my cyanotype images from last week into a screen (or two), so that I could try my hand at screen printing for the first time. I think the pre-process fear that I usually go through is lessening, as I only felt enthused; a positive result in my world!

I did however struggle with colour mixing, despite being pretty confident with putting colour together at home, in work and my life generally, when it comes to mixing paint/ink I feel a bit lost, I really struggle.

And so, onto the first screen print layer, yellow;

Second layer is magenta, I like how it appears orange over the yellow;

Final layer is blue, appearing very dark over the two previous layers;

Really happy with my first screen printing session. A few deviations of colours on newsprint in between prints, nothing is wasted.

Final scanned print;

During the screen printing session, thoughts progressed into perhaps adding different elements to the finished prints. For example; printing my photo etching plates as fragments, also a subtle, almost ghost like ‘over printing’ using another screen and even possibly painting cyanotype chemicals and exposing another image over the top. The possibilities seem endless.

I started preparing plates to be chopped up and seeing how they may look printed onto the screen print.

 

 

I tried the over printing with another new screen. Didn’t work out as I had hoped. To be honest I wasn’t over keen on my colour palette choices, I felt they were a bit too pastel for my liking. My colour exploration definitely needs refining.

I also continued with the cyanotypes, using up the prepared papers from last week. I enjoy all my experiments with this process. I really love the results too!

 

What’s next?

Another screen printing session using different colour mixes. Experimenting with the photo etching fragments. More cyanotypes. Definitely more colour exploration.

Oh, and try not to panic; less than three weeks till we break up for the Xmas holiday!!

Week Seven – 15 Nov 18

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear” – Jack Canfield

One of the things I am currently working on, is trying to become more comfortable with that feeling of not knowing what I’m doing. You know, that ‘clumsy, fumbling, feeling stupid’ feeling when you try something for the first, and sometimes even the second time and encouraging myself to feel the fear and just do it anyway, no matter the result. As it could be said, that in printmaking there really aren’t any ‘failures’ only ‘experiments’ and ‘happy-accidents’. I like this idea!

This week has been busy, lots of experiments with Cyanotypes and photo etching, with some really great results and a lot of fun!

 

My Cyanotype process:

Under red light, I paint the Cyanotype chemicals onto pieces of Hahnemuhle paper, dry with a hairdryer, then keeping them stored in a light proof bag until I am ready to expose them.

Usually very early in the morning I lay out my prepared Cyanotype papers, arrange the acetate photo negatives over the painted areas, put under the sheet of glass and clip shut ready to lay out into the sunlight.

To expose, I lay them on the roof of my van, although I have been known to place them on the dashboard whilst at the supermarket or at Uni too. Exposure times vary depending on the desired result, for example, if I want an under exposed image or if it is very bright sunshine, then I will keep the time shorter, but if I want a stronger image or if it’s very cloudy then I might leave it out longer.

Once exposed, they are brought back into the studio and rinsed under lukewarm/cold water until they run clear, then hung up/laid flat on a towel to dry.

Sometimes the prints don’t work out quite as planned or at all, for example, the following image completely disappeared when I rinsed it. Extremely underexposed I suspect. Luckily, I took a photo of the ‘before rinsing’ stage.

I deliberately underexposed the following image as I wanted a ‘ghost like’ effect so I can photo etch on to it. However, as well as really liking the pre-washed image I was also a little concerned that it might just ‘wash off’ like the previous one so I took a photo. I am glad I did!

In the uni studio:

I am still trying to figure out a way to combine cyanotypes with photo etchings. I also tried a ‘double drop’ but I think that the ink was too thickly rolled up! I don’t seem to do too well with colour. Here are a few examples of my experiments so far;

Continuously trying to bring colour into my work… not an easy task for me!

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I quite like the following one, the subtle ghosting of the cyanotype self-portrait slightly hidden behind the image of the photo etched trees.

In my home studio:

I must say I have really had a lot of fun with straight forward Cyanotypes, playing with the photographic imagery placement, as well as the various ways to paint up the papers. I am very happy with the results;

What’s next?

Continue creating cyanotypes. Experiment with different ways of brushing on the cyanotype chemicals and inking up my etched plates ‘A la poupee’ with zingy colours. Photo etch some bigger aluminium plates and print off more cyanotype negatives with new photographic images. Continue my research into artists using photo-based printmaking and who explore the subject of self-identity and mental health issues.

Oh, and start preparing for my presentation in January- eek!!

 

 

Week Six -08 Nov 18

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” —Abraham Maslow

It has been a very interesting week. Always lots to learn and improve on and I do feel very positive about the way things are progressing, but even with my desired subject matter and direction firmly in place and feeling both able and excited to press on. I still get a feeling of being stuck, like I am in some kind of weird head fog. Mind you, the lack of sleep, constant back pain and ‘wipe out’ migraines (where the only respite is laying flat in a dark room for hours, emerging quite weary with the realisation that a whole day has been lost) are probably not helping matters much. I feel like every little step I try to take forward seems to need at least twice as much effort. I have really struggled to work for long periods of time in the studio, only managing a few hours here and there and even writing this blog has seemed just too much this week. Not conducive to a free flowing and dynamic work week I can tell you!

I do have notes and images of my experiments and ideas, but I still can’t seem to remember or organise exactly what I have been doing?!? I definitely need to keep a much more detailed and perhaps daily written art practice journal and action plan list, even if it’s just to help me with my blog post writing and the annoying bad memory episodes.

Perspective - Samantha Boulanger
Perspective – Samantha Boulanger

In the studio this past week, both in uni and at home I started off by selecting and inverting four of my high contrast black and white images to be photo etched onto 10x10cm aluminium plates and printed onto acetate via AB so they can be exposed onto some prepared cyanotype papers.

I spent all day Wednesday in the SoA studio becoming acquainted with photo etching using BIG ground and photo copies of my images. I love how the etched plates look like works of art in themselves.

BIG ground on Aluminium
Etching in Copper sulphate/saline solution for about 50 minutes
Four photo etched aluminium plates

I also continued my experimentation with cyanotypes at home with some interesting results;

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Under the glass being exposed in daylight
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The results

The prepared cyanotype papers seem to be getting randomly contaminated by light somehow despite being prepared in red light and stored in sealed black plastic bags. I am still unsure how? Looking into this and working on how I can better the storage method.

I did quite a few of these cyanotypes throughout the week, in various sun spots around my house and studio, under my daylight lamp, on the roof of my van as well as on the dashboard of my van, when both parked up at home and even whilst I took a trip into town. Come rain, cloud or shine they were being exposed somewhere. Really enjoying this process, looking forward to becoming more experimental with it as the weeks go on.

In between all the research and experimentation, I am somehow managing to restock my stand at the Aberystwyth Art Centre Winter Fair and I have even started working on some new stock in my Kaotic Kittus studio. I must admit trying to do everything on zero money, no energy and only 7 days in a week is proving to be a real challenge….but hey, what doesn’t kill you…etc.

What’s next?

Combining the photo etchings and the above cyanotypes, printing both directly on to them as well as experimenting with relief roll overs in various colours. see what happens. Order bigger aluminium plates. Prepare more cyanotypes but on larger sheets of paper to create space around the exposed/printed onto areas. Further research into viscosity printing and some colour theory exploration, as well as further artist research.

Oh and a nice cup of tea and a sit down!

Week Five – 01 Nov 18

 “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”  ― C. JoyBell C.

It has been a hell of a week, both personally and in Uni…as the dust settles and some sleep has been had, I have had time to ponder on what have I learnt and the direction I am to take…

Sometimes things in life can just get too much to bear, especially on your own. I am learning (as always) that standing up for yourself and speaking your truth from the heart is as essential as the air we breathe. That it is important to not only be aware of where you are lacking, but also where you are and could be even more successful, if only you would allow yourself to try. That taking responsibility and gaining back the control in your life, including being brutally honest with yourself and being willing to make the necessary changes is deeply empowering and essentially a game changer! What is it Gloria Steinem said; “The truth will set you free, but first it will p@*# you off”. It sure does, on both counts!

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Be Still – Samantha Boulanger 2018

I love taking photographs, they are usually quite quirky, strange, in black and white with strong punchy contrasts and a slightly ambiguous edge to them. I feel that my drawing skills are somewhat weak, where as my desire and ability to express through ‘the lense’ isn’t. I now realise that I just want to make art using my photographic imagery, and as it is too late to change modules now, I will continue to explore in more detail some of the different ways in which photography and printmaking can be hybridised.

I want to look at identity, the self, the relationship with the self, the fragility of life, mind, body and soul. I live alone, fairly isolated with just my dog for company mostly and deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis. I am constantly looking within to try help better understand myself to grow and evolve as a human being. Learning to love and understand myself so that I am more able to love outwardly. I have always been quite open about these things and have preferred deep conversations to small talk, so I figured it was time to use my art as a way of exploring and expressing this and myself more.

I was recently introduced to the exquisite and mesmerizing work of Lauren E. Simonutti (1968-2012) I just love it, the compositions, the subject, the concept, the style. It totally resonates with and inspires me.

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Lauren E.Simonutti

“Over (five) years I have spent alone amidst these 8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds and 199 panes of glass. And this is what I saw here. This is what I learned. I figure it could go one of two ways – I will either capture my ascension from madness to as much a level of sanity for which one of my composition could hope, or I will leave a document of it all, in the case that I should lose.” – Lauren E.  ‘With her photographs she gave a voice to those that suffer in isolation.’  (Quote & text taken from 500photographers.blogspot )

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There is no such thing as silence – Lauren E.Simonutti (aka -Lauren Rabbit)

Back in the studio:

Despite all the turmoil of life, this past week and being a third year student ‘trying to find herself’, I have had a few good studio sessions. Etching some test plates that I prepared at home, some working out better than others, but allowing the mistakes to happen and learning from them.

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Facing my resistance to drawing and writing in reverse was a challenge, but this was a good exercise.

I also experimented with inking up some etched plates from last year, but inking them up as if they were relief plates as well as mixing it up and doing both! Rekindling my curiosity and love for the printmaking process. Remembering to log my colour mix recipes.

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Attempting to create cyanotypes when the sun has gone in was rather frustrating, but sometimes it is just good to get out there and try it anyway! I think there had been some slight light contamination beforehand which is why it is a bit darker to start with. This process is a work in progress for me…more to come!

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What’s next?

Explore more artists who have used photography in printmaking. Take more images that reflect my theme/concept. Create some photo etchings on aluminium plates using AB’s BIG ground and continue with the cyanotype process using found objects and my photographic images, whilst looking at ways to expand on them with perhaps text and or collage.

Give myself less of a hard time, but stay focused and keep going. The chaos, the being lost and found repeatedly – it is all part of the journey.