Creating In The Time Of Corona

“Art is too important not to share” – Romero Britto

During the first few months of this year I have mostly been recovering from the art theory aspect of the MA, plus getting into the swing of the vocational practice module but alongside this I have been continuing experimentation with toning cyanotypes using coffee and green tea, mainly because we hadn’t had too many sunny days during January and February…

Then, just before the Covid19 (Corona virus) lockdown began at the end of March, the sun came out in full force and just I seemed to go crazy, creating all day and it felt so good!

Cyanotypes cooking in the midday sun!
Cyanotypes cooking in the midday sun!

I decided to go back to basics with the cyanotypes, recreating some of the experiments that I had done in the past, mostly in haste for my undergraduate portfolios and assessments I have to say, but this time I really wanted to see more clearly what happened when I added other ingredients, try new things, really play, but mindfully and documenting the exposure times and results etc, the following three images are close ups of cyanotypes with added natural food colourings and lemon juice…

So, I've been experimenting again, back to basics, no foliage or acetate just Cyanotype solution and a lil splash of this and a sprinkle of that, some cling film and full sun! 🌞 Heaven πŸ’™.

So, I've been experimenting again, back to basics, no foliage or acetate just Cyanotype solution and a lil splash of this and a sprinkle of that, some cling film and full sun! 🌞 Heaven πŸ’™.

So, I've been experimenting again, back to basics, no foliage or acetate just Cyanotype solution and a lil splash of this and a sprinkle of that, some cling film and full sun! 🌞 Heaven πŸ’™.

I also experimented with applying the cyanotype solution onto various different substrates, here is one example of a cyanotype printed onto paper previously painted with metallic acrylic paints;

Cyanotype photogram on paper pre painted with metalic acrylic paint
Cyanotype photogram on paper pre painted with metallic acrylic paint

This experimental phase hit a whole new level when I finally dared to try my hand at creating my very own ‘Cyanolumen’ prints. What on earth are these I hear you ask? Well, basically it’s when you apply the usual cyanotype solution onto darkroom photographic paper (in the darkroom or low red light), you can then add your plant matter and/or acetate photo negatives, clip into your contact frames and then expose as usual in sunlight. I was leaving mine out in the sun for around 3-4hours.

I discovered this fascinating process from a very lovely lady from North Wales called Mary Thomas (thank you Mary!), I have been following and admiring her very inspirational work on various social media platforms for some time, but I recently plucked up the courage to actually contact her about this process and we have since become friends.

I strongly urge you to check out Mary’s work, it is just fantastic; Mary Cyanolumen – Instagram

Cyanolumen is a great progression on from cyanotype, I am loving my results so far, but I do have a long way to go with these yet, still so much to learn, unfortunately I’ve run out of the fix that I had, so I can’t really do any more of these in my home studio at the moment, but I am really looking forward to getting back into the university darkrooms in the autumn hopefully so I can experiment further…

Cyanolumen on Fuji Colour Crystal Archive Professional (Type MP) photographic Paper
Cyanolumen on Fuji Colour Crystal Archive Professional (Type MP) Photographic Paper
Cyanolumen on Fuji Colour Crystal Archive Professional (Type MP) photographic Paper
Cyanolumen on Fuji Colour Crystal Archive Professional (Type MP) Photographic Paper
Cyanolumen on Barclay Poly-Grade B/W Glossy Photograpic Paper (Before rinsing and fixing)
Cyanolumen on Barclay Poly-Grade B/W Glossy Photographic Paper (Before rinsing and fixing)
Cyanolumen on Barclay Poly-Grade B/W Glossy Photograpic Paper (After rinsing and fixing)
Cyanolumen on Barclay Poly-Grade B/W Glossy Photographic Paper (After rinsing and fixing)

I also tried creating a simple ‘Lumen’ print but couldn’t get strong results. I mean they are rather nice in their own subtle way, but not quite the effect I was going for…

Lumen print on Fuji Colour Crystal photographic paper
Lumen print on Fuji Colour Crystal Archive Professional (Type MP) Photographic Paper

In times like these it is important to really go with the flow, take the rough with the smooth, the good days and not so good days just as they are, contemplate on all the things you are grateful for and all the ways in which you would like your life to be after all this is over.

I feel immensely lucky to have a small outside space where Guto (my whippet ) and I can sit in the sun, whilst also attempting to grow my own food and flowers (so far so good, they are still alive πŸ˜‰ ) plus, I do have a brilliant studio space to create in.

I do have much less income now due to shows being cancelled and the galleries being closed etc, (although I do have some extremely kind friends and more recently I have been making a few sales via social media which has really helped!), but this means that I am driving less, saving fuel as well as my impact on the planet however small, I am relaxing and meditating more, eating less, creating more, getting out in to nature more, been having some fabulous whippet woodland walkies, getting more exercise and having more time to reconnect and rebalance.

I still have to make do with all that I have, but I feel that this actually creates an opportunity to be more resourceful and therefore more creative, all part of the fun I guess. I hope you are all staying safe and well… this too shall pass.

Thanks for reading…

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