July 18, 2017

Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts - Judging 2017

Jurors and Escorts, CPFA 2017
Last Thursday I reported for duty at the Central Pennsylvania Festival for the Arts in State College, PA, with my fellow jurors. After having picked the artists for the Sidewalk Sale (read about that process here), it was time to hit the streets and see the work in person. Each juror was assigned a volunteer escort to travel with them and keep them on track and on time.  The Sale is spread out over several streets and areas of the Penn State campus, so having an escort who knows their way around is really helpful. They are also super nice people!
Booths at CPFA
This is the one and only photo I took of the show, and it doesn't begin to do it justice. I was too busy working to focus on photography. I had 300+ booths to visit and score over the course of a long day. As requested by the show organizers, I made a point of introducing myself and chatting briefly about the work with all but a handful of the artists (I would never interrupt a sale). I also made a point of keeping my energy up and giving each artist an equal measure of my attention. My escorts helped by making sure I  had a good lunch, and by providing Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream at just the right moment in the heat of the afternoon.

Overall I was very, very pleased with the artwork we had selected. It was a real thrill to see so much high quality work in person, and meet so many creative and incredibly hardworking artists. (You can see the full listing here.)

The next morning I dashed about in a series of thunderstorms, reviewing some of my choices and making sure my scores were as accurate as possible before turning in my score sheets. Late in the afternoon after the scores had been tabulated, the jurors met to discuss the results and decide on the prizes to be awarded. There was over $17,500 to be awarded in various categories--a huge responsibility, and one we took very seriously. This was a GREAT group of jurors and I'm very proud of the work we did.

And he we are just before the awards ceremony Saturday morning. L-R Sue RenoNaomi Cleary, Patricia Bellan-Gillen, Jim BovĂ©, and Jay Gould.  It was so much fun to see the artists receive their awards, and an honor to be a part of this artist community. 


CPFA Jurors at Awards Ceremony, Allen St.

July 11, 2017

Experiments in Wet Cyanotype - Part 4

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 40
By now I was really in the groove for making wet cyanotype prints. Experiments to this point helped me dial in a process that produced prints with an aesthetic that I wanted, while still having the thrill of unpredictability.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 41
You can read about the process to date in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. And I've added a Wet Cyanotype tab to the top header where you can always access all the relevant posts in reverse chronological order.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 42
For this round of prints, I again used my heavily treated cotton sateen. I sprayed a fine mist of water on the foam board support, layered on the fabric and leaves, gave it another light misting, then added the glass cover. The leaves were full of sap, and the weather was hot, humid and sunny.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 43
I used plume poppy leaves for the larger 16" x 20" print, and wood poppy leaves for the other three smaller prints. I left them to expose for about 24 hrs.

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 44
Here they are after exposure.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 45
Again, after removing the glass and the leaves, I let them finish drying off in a dark, air conditioned room.  They are very dark and mysterious at this point.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 46

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 47
Here are the finished prints. 
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 48
I thought the patterning of the gold and orange bits was particularly nice with this round.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 49
I also loved the blue and purple shading withing the leaf impressions, and the way some of the leaf veining shows up.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 50

Obviously, I needed to make more and more and more.....

As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

July 7, 2017

Experiments in wet cyanotype, part 3

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 27
Emboldened by some success with experiments so far (see part 1 and part 2), I got slightly obsessive about making more prints.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 28
The pre-treated cotton muslin was fun to play with, but realistically I was unlikely to use it in a quilt, which is the ultimate goal here, so I put that aside and worked with just my preferred cotton sateen that I had treated with the cyanotype chemicals. The sateen soaks up a lot of product, so there was a lot to react with the moisture during the long exposures.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 29
I also started working a bit larger, using 9 x 12 inch panels and some 16 x 20. For round three I used plume poppy, Japanese anemone, and wood poppy leaves. I also used a bit more moisture, lightly spraying the foam board before laying the fabric on, and spraying again before topping with the glass. I continued to use dilute red dye-na-flow in the first spray, but I'm not certain it made as much of an impact on the sateen as it did on the muslin.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 30
I am still not entirely used to these long exposures. My old normal was 10 - 15 minutes, so 24 hours is a long time to wait! I did have the fun of hovering over them and checking them frequently.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 31
Here's the unrinsed prints after about 24 hours.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 32
They are dark and lovely and mysterious.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 33
It's sort of a shame they can't stay this way, but I have the images to enjoy.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 34

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 35
And voila! Here are the finished images. Once again, I was surprised and amazed.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 36

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 37

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 38
I felt like I was starting to suss out a good working method. The images are still unpredictable, but falling into a sort of pattern.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 39
Time to make more and more!

July 5, 2017

Experiments in wet cyanotype, part 2

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 14
 In my previous post about experimenting with wet cyanotype, I speculated that some paint stains on the foam board I was using had transferred onto some of the prints. This led me to speculate further about what would happen if I added pigment to the process purposefully. So I set up for another round. This time I misted the foam board with water to which I had added just a bit of Jacquard Dyn-na-Flow #84 Salmon color. Above, I used a plume poppy leaf, and below, a painted fern frond, on freshly treated cotton sateen.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 15
 I did the same, using Japanese anemone leaves on old stock commercially treated muslin. Then I misted the glass cover with plain water, covered them up, and waited.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 16
 Again, on the muslin, I could see color shifts almost immediately.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 17
About 18 hours into the exposure, a big thunderstorm sprang up unexpectedly while I was away, and drenched the experiment. The glass preventing any direct rain contact, but a lot of water seeped in around the edges.  Oh, the drama! I hovered over them anxiously:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 18
 I let them sit a few hours longer in the hope that some of the water would drain off, then brought them in. They were very wet, and I was hesitant to rinse the prints for fear it would all wash away, so they went into a dark, air conditioned room to dry off.  They did look pretty cool at this point:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 19
 And then, the big reveal after rinsing and drying! This plume poppy leaf print is just fabulous. There's just so much going on here, and it's all good. I was practically beside myself with joy:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 20
 Here's the other three from this batch, after exposure and before rinsing:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 21

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 22

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 23
 And here's the finished prints:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 24
 The pinkish tones from the Dye-na-flow show up the most on the coarser muslin fabric.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 25

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 26

Up next: full blown printmaking frenzy mode.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

June 21, 2017

Experiments in wet cyanotype

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 1
 I've been making cyanotype prints on fabric for many years. It's my favorite surface design technique, and I feature the prints in many of my art quilts. Over time I've really honed my practice, producing my preferred dark, crisply outlined prints on hefty cotton sateen, by carefully controlling the process and the exposure times.

Lately I've been intrigued by several Instagram accounts of artists featuring wet cyanotypes, tagged #wetcyan. There are lots of variations, and most artists are working on paper, but the main idea is to incorporate moisture and go for very long exposure times, 24 hours or more (a normal exposure is 10 minutes). The process breaks down the chemicals to produce swirls and colors shifts in the prints, and I find that beautiful and intriguing. So I decided to give it a try.

 I started with cotton sateen that I had treated in November, laid on a foam insulation board. I laid down Japanese anemone leaves and Christmas fern fronds as my resist. I used a sprayer to mist water on a pane of glass and covered it all up. I set it all in a sunny location on a very hot afternoon. (All pictures blow up when clicked.)
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 2
 After a half hour I could see funky things beginning to happen, but I was concerned I hadn't added enough moisture, so I spritzed a bit more around the edges and let it creep in.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 3
 The next day brought a forecast for heavy thunderstorms, so after 18 hours I pulled the prints and brought them indoors. Here's how they looked at that point:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 4

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 5
 They were fairly moist, and I thought it wouldn't hurt and might help if they dried before rinsing, so I put them in a dark room for several hours. Finally, I rinsed them out and dried them. This is how they finished:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 6

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 8
 I'm happy with the results. I love all the subtleties of tone, and the golden and greenish tints.

But wait, there's more! In the fall of 2015 I made a lot of samples for an article on cyanotype printing I was writing for Quilting Arts Magazine. Towards that end I bought some pre-treated cotton cyanotype fabric from a new-to-me online supplier. It was an OK product, certainly competitively priced, but loosely woven muslin, and not heavily saturated with chemical. After making the samples I had set the rest aside. By now the fabric was well past its prime, but it seemed like a good candidate for experimentation since I had nothing to prove and nothing to lose. So I set up a parallel exposure, this time with a painted fern and Japanese anemone leaves. For this one I misted the foam board as well as the glass.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 9
 I could see the chemicals moving around the fabric immediately:
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 10
 After the same 18 hour exposure, here were the unwashed prints.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 11

Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 12
 After drying and rinsing, they turned out like this. Very cool!
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 13
 I was a bit mystified by the pink tones at first. Then I realized that I had used that foam board for making painted prints previously. I always clean it off, and I've never had the leftover paint stains transfer before, but I'm speculating that cooking in the sun on a hot day may have loosened some of the red pigments.
Wet cyanotype, Sue Reno, Image 14
This was successful and interesting enough that I'm going to give it another round of experimentation.  Stay tuned!