My art studio is bursting with spring branches and blooms. On my best days, every surface (including my hands!) is quickly covered with paint, plants and prints. I can’t resist experimenting with all these fun new materials. I'm constantly wondering "will this plant work well for printmaking, cyanotypes, or is it simply inspiration for a drawing or painting?"
Our trusty little Star Magnolia tree always blooms during Spring Break. I've been looking forward to seeing if I could make cyanotypes from the blossoms. The thickness of the branches and flowers made it challenging but it worked!
I love how the white petals filtered UV light in a way that spotlights the flower's transparency.
Another plant that lends itself to cyanotypes but not printmaking is the rose (see “Wild Rose” below). The thorns would damage my gelli plates but aren't a problem with cyanotypes.
When I'm craving more color or the joy of mixing and moving paint, I turn to printmaking. My favorite plant these days is the Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), a Pacific Northwest Native that is abundant in our yard. In the springtime, when the leaves are small and before any flowers or berries are present, it lays very flat, making it easy to work with. The thin stems and varying leaf shapes and sizes create endlessly interesting shapes.
Blending both techniques, I’ve also been exploring collage. I love how sometimes, pieces that weren't quite right on their own often fit together in unexpected combinations.
Then again, sometimes they don't! After days of cutting, pasting, assembling then repeating and rearranging, I didn't make anything I felt super excited about. But I'll come back to collage. In my mind, there is something to the concept of embracing all the pieces: the plain/boring ones alongside the most embellished/pretty bits, and even mixing in a few "ugly" scraps. My brain is percolating on somehow creating a beautiful amalgamation that reminds me of humanity… highlighting our best selves but embracing the challenging parts too.