I spent my weekend in a graphic workshop learning the art of cyanotype. Or, to be more precise, studying the method of cyanotype – the art will hopefully enter into my work as I go along. Cyanotype is a nineteenth century photographic process using chemicals that produce beautiful blue prints when exposed to sunlight.
The cyanotype process uses a mixture of iron compounds, which when exposed to sun- (UV)light and washed in water oxidize to create Prussian Blue images.
The cyanotype technique was invented in 1841 by John Herschel and was popularized by photographer and botanist Anna Atkins. Her book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, published in October 1843, is considered the first photographically illustrated book.
I do not have a favorite color per se, but there is something very special with the blues …
There are many interesting philosophical – & literary works portraying blue, an absolute personal favorite is Maggie Nelson’s Bluets – 240 short pieces, at once lyrical and philosophical, on the color blue. (Some years ago, I wrote a short piece on Bluets – it can still be read here).
As regular readers know very well by now, I have directed my creative energy mainly on making my own pictures lately. And so the following text-lines are stolen from all over … the images are mine.
As yellow is always accompanied with light, so it may be said that blue still brings a principle of darkness with it. This color has a peculiar and almost indescribable effect on the eye. As a hue it is powerful — but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation. Its appearance, then, is a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose.
For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.
“Longing,” says the poet Robert Hass, “because desire is full of endless distances.” Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world. […]
The blue of distance comes with time, with the discovery of melancholy, of loss, the texture of longing, of the complexity of the terrain we traverse, and with the years of travel. If sorrow and beauty are all tied up together, then perhaps maturity brings with it not … abstraction, but an aesthetic sense that partially redeems the losses time brings and finds beauty in the faraway.[…] Some things we have only as long as they remain lost, some things are not lost only so long as they are distant.
— Rebecca Solnit
If you'd like to try making your own blueprints have a look here