Monday, 20 July 2015

MA-Ness Term 3 Week 14 - Bleaching Cyanotypes, Printing, Abstract and adopting John Waters approach of 'A No Is Free...'

this weeks post it note and successful cyanotypes top right - close up of grave sculpture from Scarborough graveyard on b+w 35 mm film  done on lined paper from notebook, bottom left - gateway in Scarborough on b+w 35mm film on rag paper and bleached and left - digital image of wind up halloween toy on cheap watercolour paper and bleached too.

Matte medium 35mm b+w  image transfer onto canvas bottom half painted with gloss medium 

cyanotypes being washed - very blue prior to bleaching and the very eagle eyed amongst you may spot some that aren't in the photo at the top but they were ones done by my husband - he wants to try and make a 3d he bleached and tea toned some of his...and he took this photograph using flash which shows the bubbling water nicely

Have been waylaid somewhat by life events this week and so not done all the things I was hoping to or was signed up for, but hopefully things will be a little better and more calm and ordered this week and I will get more stuff done on my to do list and be able to attend and take part in all the things I've got booked in my diary and not have to drop out of stuff at the last minute....and most importantly here's hoping and fingers crossed for the improvement of health in loved ones.

So if I didn't do all the things I was hoping too - what did I get done? well I did do some more cyanotyping - see above, am really pleased with the pale blue and cream gateway that came from a photograph I took in Scarborough. I have a larger staircase one I want to do as well which was taken at the same time on the same hillside just below in the Wood End Art Gallery and I hope to get some time and sunshine to do it at some point this week.

I took the vivid blueness out of it by putting it in a bleach solution (one tablespoon washing soda crystals in a litre of water) for about 30 seconds (whilst it was still wet from the initial washing process) but it can be a bit tricky judging when you've got the shade you want as you need to take it out of the bleach solution *just* before it has reached the shade you think you want as the bleach keeps on working for longer than you think as it is absorbed into the can be a tricky business this cyanotyping malarkey....but it is precisely its contrary non specific-ness that I love.

Plus it is interesting the way different paper absorbs the solution and has a different end result - the lined notepaper from my notebook has worked really well but the paper is rather fragile and so I stopped washing it after  five minutes or so when normally you should wash them for around 20 minutes or so, the rag paper (which I got from Paperchase a while back and was £6 for twenty A4 sheets) seems virtually indestructible water wise and has dried mostly flat, the cheap watercolour paper is a lot more fragile in comparison and I'm not sure if this is because it was not very good quality to begin with - it was a pad from the Works as opposed to a specialist art supplier which cost a couple of pounds and is 230gsm.

Prior to this I have used watercolour paper I have bought by the sheet for a few pence - I don't know what make it is or what gsm it is but I shall find out and see if it's better to use this in future as the ones I have done on college watercolour paper seem a bit more robust.

I did also make one on some brown paper I was given but it didn't really work - it was very dark (maybe I'd left it in the sunshine for too long as it was a good couple of hours before I washed the solution off)and then I thought I could maybe rescue it if I stuck it in the bleach but alas that just made the whole thing less brown, if you squint there is a very faint outline of the image but it is so faint it makes the spinach anthotypes I did last week look the most contrasty and bold images ever and they are way from that...

And whilst I'm talking about costs - other costs incurred this week:
£5 - Canon Eos 3000v 35 mm SLR which I got in a charity shop - couldn't tell in the shop if it was working or not and it was rather mucky but figured that if it didn't it didn't matter as the lens looked in good nick and so did the strap and both would work on other cameras we have.
£9 on two CR2 lithium batteries for the camera above - it seems to work but have yet to see what the pictures it takes look like but should find out soon - well as soon as I get them developed that is and that'll be about £14...
£5.40 on acetates - it's 30p a sheet for A4 acetates and  I made 18 and upped the density on them this time so as to get an even darker negative and I did two of the same and see if they work as a lumen print - I am still determined to get a decent lumen print.
£2 printing - the images to copy onto the acetates, this blog and various other things for portfolio purposes
£1 photocopying
£7.52 for gloss medium for varnishing - for some reason the college doesn't sell either matter medium or gloss medium, a bizarre omission if you ask me as mediums can be used in all kinds of practices not just painting. I got this from Dinsdales in Headingley (a wonderful treasure trove of art materials shop) and practised John Waters approach of 'a no is free' when I asked if there was student discount, I didn't think there would be as the price is already discounted and I was right there wasn't, but I figured there was no harm in asking.
£36 Artists Newsletter Renewal

So a relatively expensive week except for the camera which (if it works well) was an absolute bargain and the artists newsletter membership covers liability insurance too so that is well worth it too.

I've also done some more transfers of printed images onto canvas using matte medium which works so much better than pva glue but I still find the image can lift a bit - especially round the edge and they look better once they have been covered with gloss medium, previously I had just covered them with another layer of matte medium but gloss looks much better. I like using matte and gloss medium as it makes me feel more like a 'proper artist' as the first thing I think of if someone says artist to me is 'painter' and deep down I would love to be a painter and although I do not think others who are frauds when they describe themselves and they aren't painters I feel a little fraudulent calling myself one - even though I am....

 Like I said I like the physical feeling of applying paint but alas as in spite of my best efforts I cannot make what I see in my head appear on the page with paint in the way I can with a camera and so to avoid intense frustration and disappointment I  stick to lens based work plus I love the sickly sweet heady gluey smell of the mediums I'm using too.

Following on from 'a no is free' I also approached the estate agents in charge of the sale of the buildings on Headingley Lane opposite Cumberland Road to see if I could go and take photographs there before they are redeveloped, to date I haven't had a reply and I doubt very much that when/if I do I'll get a yes but it hasn't cost me anything to ask except time and you never know they may even say yes....

I'm reading Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon at the moment and very marvellous it is too - I find it very exciting to be reading a book not just set in victorian times but written in victorian times and by a woman too and to paraphrase a sentence by Audrey Linkman in Photography and Death (2011 Reaktion Books, UK) in which on page 9 she says 'no photographer can operate in isolation from the wider social and historical contexts in which their images are generated' and the same is true I think if I substitute the word photographer with the word writer.

I was told by a chum of a programme in the In Our Time series on R4 which looked at victorian sensation fiction and very interesting it was too - and there are others dealing with the victorian period  and I will be giving many of the programmes listed in their archive (you can find the details here) a listen as they look fascinating and will further my obsession with all things victorian...and I'm writing this whilst listening to the one of the Great Exhibition of 1851. If I had a time machine then amongst the exhibitions I would go to would be the Great Exhibition of 1851 and The Festival Of Britain in 1951 - I am a huge fan of Skylon and although I have stood on the spot where it was - I would love to have seen it in situ.

I also found time to watch John Waters interview by Lynn Barber in Artsnight which also featured one of my other favourite artists Jeremy Dellar and the pictures where he has given himself the 'hollywood treatment' ie a ridiculous facelift along with Lassie and Justin Bieber make me chuckle. You can see it here. Again I'm intrigued by his statement that he doesn't call himself an artist - he leaves that up to other people but I do think he is being a bit disingenuous there, after all if he isn't an artist what is his work doing in a gallery?.....

There was also (before life events got in the way) a bit of time out for me - and very lovely it was too, I spent an afternoon wandering round the charity shops of Morley with a friend who treated me to lunch as a thank you for the work I did helping him redraft his cv which he got complimented on, it got him an interview and he got the job. It reminded me that I really need to do this kind of thing more often for the sake of my health and productivity - in the same way that I've got into a good habit blog/research journal-wise maybe I need to get into a good habit taking time out-wise too.

I got some lovely feedback on this blog last week - a chum said 'I do like reading these posts, learning about new techniques and things, it demystifies it' which pleased me as I would like my work to inspire others to have a go at it themselves - anthotypes don't need much special equipment at all for instance. Another chum said she liked the conversational tone and she said that she thought this would make people more likely to buy my work but I'm not sure about this. I do wonder sometimes why I have made it public as it doesn't need to be, I could just write it and keep it private and it would serve the same research journal purpose (I print it out and hand it in as part of my portfolio) and keeping it public means I am sometimes more diplomatic when writing about something than I would be if I was talking about things to a chum.

Mmm - as ever lots of food for thought.....and lots of things on my to do list....



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