January 19, 2012

Seasonal Palette - Update 3

One of the recurring themes in my work is the use of cyanotype to make prints on fabric.  I never tire of the process.  It is exciting and almost magical each and every time.  It encompasses so many of my happy obsessions--plants, photography, fabric, and working outdoors, at the (hopefully tender) mercies of the elements.  I could set up UV lights and expose the prints safely indoors, and I’m all for keeping my options open, but I think that would take some of the pleasure out of the experience.  Of course the viewer can’t tell where and how I made the print, they simply see the result, but my joy in making it is an integral part of the process for me.  Perhaps that’s why most of my work is so cheerful, however somber my intentions in beginning it might be. 

Above is one of the prints I showed underway in my last Seasonal Palette post, a painted fern specimen.  The lighter blue lines top and bottom are from the edges of the sheet of glass used to hold the fern in place, and they won’t be in the finished work in this instance.  Below is a section of another print, a length of ornamental sweet potato vine.  I pinned it in place for the exposure, and you can see lovely variations in shading along the edges of some leaves where they lifted a bit.
I made five prints for this work, and pinned them up on a design board to think about them for a bit.  One of the criteria for this exhibit is that the work must be a specific size, 78” tall by 32” wide.  I wanted the design to be engaging all along its length, so it took some rumination and experimentation with placement to work all that out.  My usual working method is to start with the prints and add patchwork elements around them, working outward until the proportions and flow seem correct.  At the end I square everything up and then measure it.  It’s a nice advantage IMO to working with fiber and/or mixed media; the imagery can grow organically.  For this piece, I needed to think more like a painter who starts with a specific size of canvas, where everything needs to contained and constrained proportionally within that space.  I’ve had to think IN the box, as it were.  Not necessarily a bad thing, just different.


kathleen said...

I'm sweet on your sweet potato vine.

Vivien Zepf said...

I'm so glad you're sharing your process. It's fascinating and fun. Thanks!

Franki said...

I too love the shading on the edge of a cyanotype print. It creates an echo or shadow effect that I like a lot.