‘Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shames, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.’
— Aldous Huxley
We began the session drawing faces, practicing on tracing paper before transferring to the styrofoam. The children quickly got the hang of etching into it, creating wonderfully detailed characters.
They were excited about seeing the progression from their drawing to being able to pull multiple prints from their etchings, and were soon confident enough to go straight into etching out their ideas.
Next, the children chose a leaf from a selection collected in the park, and attempted to name the type of tree it was from. They chose from two coloured inks that I had rolled out, printing the leaves in their own designs to create a background.
Onto this background, styrofoam stamps that the children had drawn and carefully cut out were printed to create the finished pictures. Fantastic work!
This was a Cyanotype Drop-in Session I ran at Cardiff Print Workshop. After my short introduction about the history and process of cyanotype printmaking, participants experimented with a variety of objects and techniques to produce interesting, abstract photograms.
Jenny syringing water designs onto the surface before exposing
Derek’s space-inspired piece using glass beads, agate, seeds and water.
Rinsing the pictures after exposure
In preparation for the drop-in cyanotype session I’m running on Sunday at Cardiff Print Workshop, I arranged some plant life and other things onto coated paper and left it to make its mark in the sunshine. Here are the results.
Prints developing in the bus stop: Charlotte Biszewski‘s cyanotype session at Spike Island in Bristol.
Rinsing out the chemicals.
One giant banner of tracing paper transferred onto the prepared paper for exposure by the sun (which happily obliged, despite rain forecast).
Detail after being hosed.
Automatic drawing or painting can be described as “expressing the subconscious” using any technique that eliminates conscious control and replaces it with chance. The basic techniques originate from spiritualism, practiced by artists such as Georgiana Houghton and Hilma Af Klint, both of whom have recently had their work exhibited in a revival of interest and appreciation of automatism and early abstraction.
Surrealists such as Andre Breton and Andre Masson, were keen to experiment with automatic drawing and promoted it as an art movement. By this time, of course, psychologists of the unconscious had dismissed the idea of spirits speaking through the artist: it was the subliminal self that could express itself in ways that could lead to the development of real artistic genius. The new interpretive framework was now wholly secular and based on the insights of psychoanalysis, but the basic techniques were adopted from spiritualism.
Whichever way you wish to interpret it, drawing randomly without rational control is a good way to avoid inihibitions that freeze the flow of creativity. It is a way to bypass the ‘I can’t draw’ mentality a lot of people develop when the natural artistic confidence of childhood is abandoned.
Making simple marks and considering the relationships between them bypasses jugement by the logical brain about what is “good” or “accurate.” It opens the doorway to the intuition, allows the emotions to be engaged, and allows enjoyment of the pure physical experience of artmaking.
One of Georgiana Houghton’s spirit drawings – The Eye of the Lord (1 Sept 1870), and Joan Miro – Preparations for Birds, detail, 1963.