Going Around in Circles – 19 Mar 19

“Life is a circle. The end of one journey is the beginning of the next.” ― Joseph M. Marshall III, The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History

I was going to write about the colour blue and my fascination with it but then I was inspired to change the subject today. I have been really enjoying my art history module; Photography Begins; European Genius and the Birth of a New Aesthetic. The lectures are so stimulating and I find the history of photography itself extremely fascinating, however, I have to say, I am not so keen on writing about it in essay form 😉

Anyway, during today’s lecture we touched upon George Eastman (1854 – 1932) and his 1889 invention of the Kodak Brownie Model One dry plate camera.

“The Kodak produced circular snapshots, two and a half inches in diameter. The Kodak was sold already loaded with enough paper-based roll film to take one hundred photographs. After the film had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory for the film to be developed and printed.The camera, reloaded with fresh film, was then returned to its owner, together with a set of prints. To sum up the Kodak system, Eastman devised the brilliantly simple sales slogan: ‘You press the button, we do the rest.’” (https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/kodak-no-1-circular-snapshots/).

Photo from https://www.brownie-camera.com/31.shtml

The images created with this camera were circular and this really appeals to me. There is something really pleasing about imagery within a circle, no sharp edges, softly held within the curves.

Photo from https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/kodak-no-1-circular-snapshots/

During the past year or so I have found a few artists making use of this wonderful shape for their work. One of which is a circular landscape etching by Australian artist Bonita Ely (1946-). I like how the circular image isn’t exact, creating an almost organic feel, much like the landscape she is depicting.

Bonita Ely, Untitled (Circular Landscape) 1977, Etching and Aquatint

I feel really drawn to this circular shape, feels very symbolic of nature and indeed life. With its cyclical flow, what goes around comes around, endings automatically becoming new beginnings. I just love it.

Early last year, I naturally started to lean towards the circular image, drawn to its ‘all seeing eye’ like quality. One of my favourite images is Light Levels (below) that I took during my second year, of the mezzanine balcony and sky light within the School of Art building, taken from the ground floor looking up through the majestic ‘eye’ of this grand old building. It has and will probably always signify the feeling of awe and wonder I have felt during and carried with me throughout studying my degree here.

Samantha Boulanger, Light Levels, Digital Photograph 2018

This fascination of the circular form has brought me here, to now, with my cyanotypes;

Samantha Boulanger Cyanotype
Samantha Boulanger – Self Portrait – Cyanotype

I still have a long way to go with these, continuously developing my style using this wonderful yet slightly, capricious process… I have to say though the fun is definitely in the making.

Samantha Boulanger Cyanotype
Samantha Boulanger – Luna – Cyanotype


A few more artists that I have discovered using this circular imagery in their work who are inspiring me along the way;

Jennifer Brunjes New Orleans, LA From One Cyanotype and gold leaf 14 x 11
Jennifer Brunjes New Orleans, LA From One Cyanotype and gold leaf
Fran Sanchez Montesinos 19Jan19
Fran Sanchez Montesinos – Albumen print on cardboard from collodion negative. Petzval lens.
Rosie Emerson – Ebony – Cyanotype
Chloe McCarrick – Lunar Lady – Gold Leaf Cyanotype

I am so happy to have very recently (today!) discovered Rosie Emerson and Chloe McCarrick, absolutely blown away by their work and styles. It is so nice to see that I am not the only one who is perhaps a little obsessed with this process, likes the idea of playing with gold leaf and creating it all within a circular form. I am discovering new and exciting artists all the time. Very encouraging and inspiring.

What’s next?

Continuing with my cyanotypes, I need to create a lot more now in preparation for our end of degree show (opening on the 18th May!). Mantra du jour is ‘Keep it simple’. Plus I have to create a suite of four prints for the extra 10 credits, so I am currently attempting to create some photo etchings.

I am almost at the end of writing my art history essay (and my tether 😉 ), when this is complete I will then begin writing my dissertation.

I think I will be a very busy bee over the Easter break… hoping to be able to take a little time off to re-charge too though.

Not long to go now!!? 😀


Method in my Madness – 04 Mar 19

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery” – James Joyce

Wow, what a couple of weeks I have had?! Peaks, troughs, disappointments, health problems, changes, highs and lows a plenty!?! I am most definitely feeling the stress of this final year, had a personal blip in my life recently that meant I fell behind my own schedule, my energy and motivation slowed right down…I got quite run down, it really did take some strength getting myself going again!

I have been looking at my work recently, to see where to take it next, what it all means? I was drawn in particular at the circle shape in the cyanotype work that I had been intuitively creating and this got me asking myself why I create the work that I do?

As a part of my Research, Process and Practice module, I am encouraged to juxtapose the actual physical artwork that I am working on for the degree show with the exploration and justifications to why I am doing what I am doing, where it originates etc. I have been resisting this, thinking, well it’s intuitive, it’s about me being in nature etc… but when I stopped and took the time to really break it down, so many connections and possibilities emerged and I found it to be a very interesting road to wander down…

So, I began asking myself some questions, beginning with the reasons for choosing the process of Cyanotype itself.

Self Portrait. Traditional Cyanotype. 2018

What is it that attracts me to the cyanotype process?

I fell in love with the deep, rich, sumptuous tones of the blue that this process is named after; Cyan. Although my love affair with blue actually began with Teal and  more recently, Prussian blue… what is it about these blues that can evoke such feelings of calm? A subject that I am researching for a future blog post!

The results are in!
My wet on wet cyanotype experiments.

The alchemical feel of the cyanotype process, particularly the ‘wet on wet’ process (pictured above) where I am mixing up the chemicals, painting them onto the paper, adding the various ingredients (from the kitchen cupboard too?!), laying down the foraged plant matter and of course the putting them out in the sunshine! It’s kind of like a healing process for me, food for my soul, a real connection with my environment…

Space, Time and Grounded in Stillness

Being in nature is as essential to me as breathing, in fact the trees are enabling me to do just that! Also the feeling of ‘other worldliness’ and escape, although I feel it is much more than that, it’s like being suspended in time and space and yet grounded at the same time, I feel my soul being fed and nourished, the smell, the sounds, the sense of well-being, I really do feel at one with everything. Have been known to sit by, touch and hug trees on my walks in forests. Yep, tree-hugger and proud!

The cyanotype process (also known as blueprint) is one of the earlier photographic processes, first introduced by John Herschel (1792-1871) in 1842, he was an astronomer trying to figure out a way to copy his notes.

“Hershal managed to fix pictures using hyposulphite of soda as early as 1839. In the early days the paper was coated with iron salts and then used for contact printing. The paper was then washed in water and resulted in a white image on a deep blue background. (Apart from the cyanotype process, Herschel also gave us the words photography, negative, positive and snapshot.)” (Spike MacGee)

Cyanotype image by Anna Atkins (1799-1871)

Anna Atkins (1799-1871), a botanist, was the first person to put this process to use and photographically illustrate her book of ferns that was published in 1843 by Atkins herself.  Her father was a friend of the photographer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877). Atkins book preceded Talbots’ own book ‘Pencil of Nature’ in 1844.

My Cyanotype inspirations include Valerie D. Cargo who I discovered in an alternative photography group on Facebook. Cargo works using the wet on wet cyanoptype process or ‘Spicey Cys’ as she has referred to it. I fell in love with this process and began experimenting myself, eventually (I was anxious to start with?!)

Valerie D Cargo - spicy cys 2
Valerie D Cargo – spicy cy

I also discovered the work of Jill Welham, who incidentally won ‘International Garden Photographer of the Year 2019’ with a beautiful wet on wet cyanotype image.

Jill Welham Mirrored Images
Jill Welham (Mirrored Images) Wet on Wet Cyanotype

Jill said; “Wet cyanotype is a modified version of the 19th century photographic printing process, introducing moisture, in a variety of ways, onto the treated paper before exposure. The chemical reaction produces interesting fluid patterns and colours not normally present in a traditional cyanotype print. The resulting pieces are unique and present botanical prints in a different and painterly manner. Each piece is created with plants and flowers from my own garden and exposed using only the North Yorkshire sun.”

Other inspiration has come to me from artists such as, Meghann Riepenhoff, Herve Benicourt, Joanne Gannard, Jennifer Brunges and more recently Nikolai Ishchuk and Bob Cnoops.

Jennifer Brunjes New Orleans, LA From One Cyanotype and gold leaf 14 x 11
Jennifer Brunjes New Orleans, LA From One Cyanotype and gold leaf
Nikolai Ishchuk
Cyaqno-Dreamtime-1990-e bob cnoops
Bob Cnoops -Cyaqno-Dreamtime-1990

Such a mesmerising process creating interesting and aesthetically pleasing imagery, it’s difficult not to fall in love with it really…

What’s next?

Further questions to be asked and answered as well as more process and practice research to be had.

I am still working out presentation logistics for my cyanotypes, I am being encouraged to work bigger, I am unsure at this time, but it is a possibility, well to at least try it. I hope to incorporate some embossing and possibly photo etching too.

I am looking into creating a photo book to accompany my exhibition with all the photographs I am continually taking. (Please check out my instagram feed for regular postings of these – @samanthaboulangerartist)

Essay writing continues albeit slowly in the background… hoping to get this written within the next two weeks ideally…

Still so much to be done, created and explored… yikes!!!

Chasing my Tail – 18 Feb 19

Week three & four, not too unlike week one & two, appear to have merged into each other again. My plan to write weekly blogs as I did in semester one seem to be turning into fortnightly ones. I have really struggled to motivate myself consistently enough to really get going, despite many a plan, idea and the odd breakthrough! I have just been feeling so exhausted, like all the time?! Maybe it’s that I am still recovering from ‘January’ or final year stress, as the reality hits? Maybe it’s physical, like a virus looming or something? I am not sure, but looking into it. Anyway, despite my lack of weekly blog posting, I have been very busy…

First up, the gallery in Machynlleth where I exhibit my work let me know that they were running out of stock, so new work had to be selected and framed up ready for delivery pronto.

New work ready for delivery to Oriel Seren Gallery.
New work ready for delivery to Oriel Seren Gallery.
Little woodcut penguin greeting cards.
Little woodcut penguin greeting cards.

Whilst waiting for my tutorial with CW I realised that I hadn’t really been out with my camera much lately, that I had neglected that side of things due to my other work stresses and obligations, including an ongoing obsession with the wet on wet cyanotype process using found objects etc. So, I am making a concerted effort to try capture what’s going on around me more, to create a body of photographs that can be used in my work.

An old favorite is of course the School of Art building, this was whilst I was waiting for my tutorial;

Back into the swing of it.
Back into the swing of it.

During the periods of, what I am now calling ‘productive procrastination’ I did manage to carve a new little linocut design titled ‘Whippet Love’. I used it as an opportunity to try out Cranfields’ gold relief ink and oh my is it lush! Bit of a faff to clean it but a dream to use. Cranfield website- https://www.cranfield-colours.co.uk/ Although I actually bought mine from a small independent supplier www.handprinted.co.uk Lovely lady running it, fast delivery, personal touch of sweets with your package, nice.

Linocut. WIP
Linocut. WIP
Whippet Love - Linocut
Whippet Love – Linocut. Trying out my new ‘Cranfield’ gold relief ink!

In the studio;

I finally had everything I needed; the raw chemistry, paper, kitchen cupboard items and full sunshine… so the perfect opportunity to have a fun day of cyanotype experimentation, with interesting and pleasing results.

Wet on wet cyanotype experiments out in the sun
Wet on wet cyanotype experiments out in the sun.
Wet on wet cyanotype experiments out in the sun
Wet on wet cyanotype experiments out in the sun.
Wet on wet cyanotype experiments out in the sun
Wet on wet cyanotype experiments out in the sun with a few traditional mini ones too.

The process involved;

Mixing up the raw chemicals to produce the light sensitive solution, this was then painted onto dry ‘Hahnemuhle’ paper in a circled area, then I sprinkled some; dry coffee granules, dry washing powder, dry bicarb of soda, dry turmeric, dry paprika and a few drops of undiluted white vinegar. Laid down various leaves and feathers etc, covered in cling film and finally clipped on the glass sheet on the top.

They were then put out in full sun for 4hr 15m being checked at one hourly intervals.

The results are in!
The results are in!

What I found interesting about this experiment was how using such fresh chemicals seemed to make a difference on the depth of blues created.. and the lack of ‘run’ when painting onto dry paper rather than pre-soaked. So many variants can make a difference.

All in all an interesting result! I really am happy with the circular imagery, really did feel like I was happily lost in my very own cyanotype universe.

What’s next?

I will continue creating wet on wet cyanotypes mixing things up a little, for example I would like to experiment with diluting the ingredients, seeing what happens there. I also want to try double exposures using both foliage and photographic imagery. I will also explore how to present my work, the space around each one etc. Also consider what I am trying to communicate through these works.

Of course my Art history essay is continuing in the background, albeit slowly.

I seem to be trying to get myself organised whilst running, mostly chasing my tail!! Here’s hoping I catch it soon! 😉


Welcome Back – 30 Jan 19

First up, happy new year to you all! How was yours? I had a fairly quiet yet fun Xmas break and New Year.

I managed to get away to visit my friends in a lovely little town called Bosa in Sardinia, Italy for the week of my birthday, which was really needed.

Me in Sardinia 2019
Me in Sardinia 2019

It did however mean that I didn’t manage to get much, if any rehearsing time in for my first ‘Power Point Presentation’ which took place on the 16th Jan!? I arrived back late the evening before, totally wiped out and stressed and my anxiety at full pelt. I booked a massage for the morning of the presentation in the hopes that it may chill me out a bit, not sure it did to be fair. Plus, I had some Bach Flower remedy for anxiety which i was drinking like a fish?! I arrived tired, hungry and highly anxious, and unprepared. I am NOT naturally a public speaker. I did get a reasonable mark though, considering everything.

First lesson of the year; If you are a highly anxious person (or not, actually) make sure you rehearse and prepare notes for your presentation well in advance. 

Also, over the Xmas break I was commissioned to create a portrait of a lovely little pooch. I am not at all confident about a) my drawing skills and b) working on commissions, but after a fair few hours of sketching from the photos provided, I managed to create a lovely charcoal drawing that I was actually quite pleased with. My friend who commissioned it was too.

Commission Charcoal drawing on paper 2019

So, semester two is underway, I am content with my feedback results and even after the very shoddy presentation experience, I feel quite excited about the academic year ahead and my degree show; as well as nervous, obviously (it is a part of my genetic make up I think 😉 ). I do feel that I am more confident to experiment with my ideas and see how they work. I am continuing down the Cyanotype route for my show.

My first wet on wet cyanotype experiment (Pre-washed)

I have started by experimenting with ‘wet on wet’ cyanotypes, mostly using found objects from nature, as well as some basic store room cupboard ingredients such as; turmeric, white vinegar, soap suds etc.

Preparing to put wet on wet cyanotypes out into the sun!

Wet on wet cyanotypes are created as the description would suggest, wet rather than the traditional dry cyanotype method. I basically wet the paper, apply the cyanotype chemicals, sprinkle the various ingredients such as turmeric, soap suds, vinegar etc, I then lay down my plant matter and or feathers etc, cover with cling film and then cover with the glass/perspex sheet and clip shut as usual. These are then placed out in the sun the same as you would with traditional cyanotypes.

Early wet on wet cyanotype experiment results

The work I created shown in this blog were actually done whilst I was snowed in at home, and so the temperatures were often a little below freezing, so I think this may have had some impact on the final images.

Early wet on wet cyanotype experiment results

I am continuing to experiment with the various elements to this kind of process as you will see in future blog posts.

Feather – post experiment – Beauty in itself

“Art is everywhere, and everywhere is art”.

Brandon Boyd

Making time to be in nature is an essential part of my process

What’s next?

Well, I have to start work on my art history essay, which is a huge stress on my dyslexic and anxious mind, despite my keen interest in the subject matter – Photography Begins; European Genius and the Birth of a New Aesthetic. 

I will also be continuing my research into artists that inspire me and who are working with similar themes and processes as me for my Research, Process and Practice dissertation.

Continuing my experiments into the wet on wet cyanotypes and also working with double exposing traditional cyanotypes using photographic images onto the work.

I am also thinking about how best to articulate my work as well as the logistics of exhibiting it at the degree show.

Lots to think about. Lots to do.


Week Ten – 6 Dec 18

Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.” —Sonia Ricotti

I have to say that this past week has been quite trying, I have really struggled to get my brain working, write this blog or be creative. I have a list of things that need doing with deadlines in early January, but I just have no impetus to do any of it. I am exhausted. I have tried easing up and doing what I can, but that voice in my head is just nattering me to ‘get on with it!’ in a very unforgiving way which just makes me feel worse. I have just had to accept that I simply cannot do everything right now, that maybe I just need to step back a bit and work more over the Xmas holidays.

In the Studio:

I have been experimenting with blind embossing on one of my screen prints. Initially, I found it difficult to get my head around the whole ‘reverse’ concept of laying out the fragments and registration, but I did ‘get it’ in the end.

Preparing layout and registration on tracing paper
All laid out and ready to emboss

Final print;

I would quite like to try it with the embossing coming forward rather than ‘imprinted’…


On Thursday I allowed myself to simply ‘play’ with a brass plate. I was stripping the cured BIG ground off the plate and decided to leave some of it on and see what it would do when etched. So I gently cleaned it off and when dry I put in the Ferric acid bath for about an hour! It probably didn’t need that long but…

Randomly etched brass plate with whippet head stencil

AB suggested I lay a stencil shape on it, so I cut out a whippet head (of course 😉 ). I inked up in blue first and laid the whippet head down, then using registration weights to maintain plate placement, I cleaned up the plate and re-inked it in red, re laid the whippet down in another place and printed again. Finally the plate was inked up in yellow and the stencil laid down again (I probably should have done yellow first, but this is an experiment so…).

This was the result;

What’s next;

Over the Xmas holidays I hope to finish my power point presentation so I can relax a little.

More cyanotypes, if the sun comes out!?

I would like to spend some time in my home studio experimenting with spit bite, coffee lifts and maybe some photo etching on aluminium, printing previous plates and I will also need to prepare my work for assessment in January.

Wishing you all a very merry festive season 🙂


Week Nine – 29 Nov 18

“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” Claude Monet

If you have been following my blog of late, you will know all too well just how far out of my comfort zone I am with colour; the theory and mixing etc… I feel as though I have been kind of creatively ‘winging it’ thus far and though I am trying hard to understand colour theory, it still feels like a scary and complex subject for me indeed.

It would appear that simply juxtaposing the colours prior to printing to see how they might or might not work is actually very difficult to envisage, as the colours that are created in the mixing pot are often quite different to when they are printed. Maybe this is simply down to my lack of experience with this particular process and that I just need more practice and exploration… hmm a work in progress and so it goes on 😉

In the studio:

Screen printing, with all it’s potential colour and placement combinations, has been both quite addictive fun and hard work. Just as I get into full flow, my back starts to give way and I need to stop, very frustrating. I guess I would want to set up a system at home that would work better with my back, perhaps a smaller screen, different table height etc and maybe a gym membership?! (Only joking!!) Sadly I forgot to take my mobile phone on one of the days and so I didn’t take as many ‘through the stages’ photos this week. Anyway, the ‘screenathon’ continues;

I have been experimenting with templates and first off, I almost put the template on the wrong screen – eek! Has been one of ‘those’ weeks 😉

I tried it on a few images and the jury is still out on the results for me;

I did start a few more straight forward ‘face’ prints but kind of lost confidence in my colour choices, felt I was just paying lip service a bit, and so I decided to step away and work on some more colour combinations at home before I continue…

I am still researching the concept of self-identity and the self-portrait and the different ways it has been expressed in art. A very interesting subject that I am really enjoying exploring…

I have also been looking into the colourful works of screen print artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Peter Blake along with a few contemporaries.

Peter Blake with his Beatles Love me do 2004 Screen Print. Photo by Getty Images
Birds overlay by Joe Wilson www.joe-wilson.com

Meanwhile, in between all the screen printing and artist research, I did manage to pop up to the Andrew Logan exhibition currently showing at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. A very interesting exhibition, well worth a look if you are in the area; I particularly loved this one.


After a lot of thought I decided not to submit my work into a magazine and an online gallery, felt a bit uneasy about them. However, I am preparing work to apply to a local gallery in Aberystwyth for an ‘Artist of the Month’ slot next year. A great little gallery with some fabulous work inside, another place to visit if you are in Aberystwyth. Watch this space- eek!

I have been a resident guest artist since April at another lovely gallery in Machynlleth, Powys called Oriel Seren which I love being a part of. It is full of some really wonderful work, well worth a visit.

What’s next?

More colour theory; I am hoping to buy more acrylic paints this week to continue exploring various colour possibilities. More screen printing using new colour mixes. I will also be experimenting with the photo etching fragments, starting with embossing these onto some of the screen printed images. I am also continually working on the construction of my power point presentation for January… and breathe.

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!


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;

Under the glass being exposed in daylight
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!

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.

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 )

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.


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.


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!


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.