Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pine Tree Row Cyanotype

I haven't done much new artwork the past week or so due to the holiday activities and family stuff. I spent much of New Year's Day in front of the TV, which is not like me, but I was in the mood to hear some string bands! (I was also trying to rest up a bit to get rid of a cold.)

I always say that my dream is to live in the mountains or out in the country some day. Until I do, being close enough to the Philadelphia area to catch the Mummers Parade on New Years Day sure is nice! Every year I wish I could make it down to center city Philly to watch the Mummer's parade in person, and every year, I don't seem to manage it! I think the last time I attended the Mummer's Parade, my husband and I took our 19-year-old son. He was about a year-and-a-half old then! After that, since I kept having kids, I guess it just got harder and harder to manage it! I'm thankful there's always the TV version option available to me.
Maybe next year I'll get down there!

Here's one of the cyanotypes I made during the pre-Christmas crazy days. I did manage to make a few while I was working on my 2007 Christmas card cyanotype (see entry below). This was created by a similar process except that the starting point of this image was a photograph I took during a camping trip, not a drawing.

First, I shot the photo back in October. Then I changed the color photo to black-and-white in PhotoShop and printed the photo on paper, adjusting the size so that I could work fairly small. (The actual size of this image is 4 inches tall and 5.5 inches wide.) I then took a piece of clear acetate, the kind made especially for printing transparencies on an inkjet printer, laid it onto the print of my photograph, and made marks on the acetate with a combination of pens (gel pens, fine point sharpie, and a black Faber-Castell Pitt pen) covering up the lighter areas of the image and leaving clear the areas that I wanted to end up dark blue. That became my negative which I used to expose the cyanotype.

The image you see here was cropped in PhotoShop, but for the original, I created a mask around the edges in order to end up with nice sharp. clean edges showing white paper. The mask didn't shut out the light entirely though, so before exposing again I will make a better mask. I plan to make some more prints of this image when I get the time.

There's one thing I've learned about making cyanotypes in the winter... The exposure times really do change due to the further distance of the sun to the earth! They are much longer than they were in those hot summer days when the sun was closer. (I can't wait till spring!) What used to take 5 to 7 minutes, now took up to 30 minutes or more.


  1. What a beautiful image! I'm always impressed by the ingenuity of the artist in conceiving and executing the many process steps that are sometimes involved in producing a piece of art (from color photo to black and white to print to transparency to cyanotype, and lastly, to digital image!)

    Incidentally, it's not distance from the sun, but tilt of the earth that causes the seasons. In fact, the earth is farthest from the sun in January. But because the sunlight hits the northern hemisphere at a steep angle at this time of year, it's strength is proportionally weaker!

  2. Jeanne10:41 PM

    Wow. Astronomers are awesome! Thanks for commenting, Paul. Distance from the sun, tilt of the earth,... whatever it was, it was a real pain waiting so long for proper exposure to occur when I'd gotten used to 5 to 10 minutes in the summer! I was tempted to get some cyanotype exposing done today, since it was such an unusually warm sunny day, but my plate was filled with other things. I guess it was a good thing--that sun was still at that bad tilt, it being January!
    Thanks for the compliment. One comment about the long process,... I believe an artist does what needs to be done, whatever it takes. It's not unlike the cabinetmaker who starts with a tree, that gets milled and turned into planks,... and after the creator spends time on many steps - the design, working out the details - ends up with a beautiful piece of furniture to be enjoyed by others. You just do what you gotta do to get the job done, right? To fellow artists out there: Whaddya think? (There's something about blue trees...)


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