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Pearl’s Final Presentation: Salt Prints, Cyanotypes, Composite, Light Experiment, 3d, handcoloring, Toning (tea, coffee, food coloring, wine, selenium), chemigram (selective development), collage, fujiroid transfer lift, photogram, solarization, embroidery, weaving..


Pearl’s Artist Statement for Final Presentation

Before taking this course, the only ‘alternative’ process that I had experimented with was film solarization. This course has broadened my capabilities, and I feel a little more confident, as an artist. There were processes that I really enjoyed, and some that I still don’t have much interest in.

The first process I’ll talk about is cyanotype. I will admit to coming into this class thinking that cyanotypes were hokey and uninteresting. I still felt that way after my first attempt. I felt that the image I produced using this process would have looked better using a different method, so I was unimpressed. However, the second time I tried cyanotypes, I actually loved the four images that came out. I left one of them as a rich blue, but the other three I toned; two in tea, and one in coffee. I think the cyanotype toned with coffee is my favorite. So, I think I may try cyanotype again. I just need to make sure I’m picking images that will work – three of the four images I made had bodies of water in them, and all the images were slightly melancholy. I think that works better than trying to create a happy photograph.

Next I will discuss salt prints. I love salt prints, and I loved them from the very first images I made using this process. I love old photographs, and this process definitely harkens back to the ‘old days’ and gives that antiquated feeling. I made a lot of images with this process, including two on pieces of wood and one on canvas.

I love how it came out on wood – it almost looks like a wood burning. I toned a lot of the photos, too. I used various combinations of tea, coffee, red wine, and orange food coloring. My favorite result is just the regular salt print, though (especially on wood). I don’t feel like toning does much to make it any better. The only real thing I got out of that was bleaching out a few photos that were too dark – that’s something truly valuable that I learned in this class. I always thought that too dark was unsalvageable. Now I know better! I definitely plan on continuing to experiment with salt prints, and I want to try different types of wood.

Next is print solarization. Prior to this class, I’d only solarized negatives, never trying it while developing a print. It definitely has a different outcome, and I still prefer solarizing the negative. I don’t think I’ve gotten a hang of solarizing prints to get the results I want, so I plan on continuing to try it out.

I’m not sure how I feel about photograms. Some can be truly interesting, but I don’t think I’ve executed it well, yet. I’m going to continue to try and come up with different ideas and try them out, because I like the idea of photograms, just not what I’ve produced.

I enjoy composite prints, however I much prefer to create the composite in photoshop and make a digital negative from that. Darkroom composites are difficult, and time consuming, and expensive. Someday, though, I plan on trying it out again. Until that time, I’ll just stick to digitally composing.

For my 3D installation, I used a handpainted salt print. First, I love handpainted photographs and I’m so happy I got to try it out. I want to do more! I had no idea what to do for the installation, I was racking my brain, and then I saw that I had a canvas frame I’d removed the canvas from, and I thought since the scene in the handpainted photograph was of a house in the woods, a wood frame would look nice. I attached the photo by string so it’s kind of floating. I think that the larger frame and smaller photo makes the viewer have to look closer. And by having the subject of the photograph even smaller, the viewer really has to get up close and take it all in. Overall, I enjoy the idea of using the method of displaying the art as a part of the art itself, and I want to keep trying to come up with new ideas for that. Before this class, I didn’t ever think about that aspect.

For my light experiment I used a digital photograph. It was a long exposure, at night, and I shook the camera around a little bit so that the lights would look a little like hearts in the dark. I enjoyed doing this even before this class. In the future I want to try some of the other methods we discussed in class and what the professor linked to on our blog.

I found the polaroid transfer really interesting. I never knew we could do that! I’m going to buy a polaroid camera and experiment with this more, attaching the photos to various surfaces. I think the first thing I’ll do is make a collage. This was probably one of my favorite things I learned during this class.

I don’t think I’ve fully embraced sewing/embroidering photographs, but I’m warming up to it. My initial reaction was to not want to do it, because I felt it was kind of silly and looked cheesy. But after doing a little research, I found examples of this process that I think are truly amazing and I want to try it again. I was sewing my canvas and it ripped, so it didn’t really turn out how I wanted to.

Weaving was another thing I initially thought was cheesy, but now I think it’s awesome! I love the different geometric shapes it can produce, and I’m going to be attempting a lot more examples of this. It’s not my usual style – I don’t particularly enjoy busy photographs. There’s something really appealing about being able to create a design within a photograph, though. I didn’t quite get as good a result as I would have liked, but it’s given me more ideas to try out and this is another of my favorite things we’ve learned this semester.

Selenium toning is okay. I think it definitely improved the photographs I used it on, but I think I expected more. I might try it again, but it’s not #1 on my list.

I think selective development is pretty cool, even though I didn’t experiment with it too much. I will soon! I like how such a simple technique can completely change the mood or meaning of an image. I also like how it makes the image look more ‘handmade,’ I find that to be one of the most appealing aspects of the technique.

I’ve never really been into collages. They’re another thing I usually find kind of cheesy, but I actually like the collage I made. I used old contact sheets of pictures of my family, cut them up, and stuck them together and on top of each other. I want to try that again, but with a larger canvas and with a wider array of photographs, maybe even adding in old family photos, too. My grandma still has a lot of old negatives, so I’m going to ask her if I can borrow them.

The one process that didn’t work out for me was liquid light, so I can’t really comment on it. I didn’t get a successful image, and by the time I was going to try it again, the photolab had already packed it all up. I might pick some up and try it on my own. I like the idea of putting photographs on different surfaces, and I have several ideas jingling around in my brain.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this class and I feel that I have grown as an artist. My favorite overall process is probably to create a composite in photoshop and print out a digital negative, and then make a salt print of that onto wood. Either that or print it as a cyanotype and then tone it with coffee. Maybe that will change as I continue to experiment and gain proficiency in other techniques. Time will tell!

3 thoughts on “Pearl

  1. Pearl.

    I love what you did with your old photographs. The salt prints came out beautiful and I like how they aren’t cut out perfect, but more like torn out. I also love the ones you did on wood! My favorite ones that you did were the weaved photos. It makes it feel mysterious as if each held an interesting story to tell. Great work!


  2. I really don’t know how to start with this because you haven’t made it easy heres why. First of all your work for this class has been one of my favorite one and we have taken many classes together. Its not to say that your work for the previous class we have taken isn’t good, its to say that this type of work when I see it allows me to understand you more and see the type of artist you are and so far you are doing great. Every single peace of work in this gallery show either one of these two, you took a lot of time to make them looked how they look or you been thinking about this for a long time and I honestly don’t doubt is both of those. From the Cyanotype to the weaved and collage its just POW! and POW! amazing work. I remember you told me in one of the the lab session that you were finally enjoying this and I asked you why and you said, “I get to put my other side into it, which is my fine arts” after that I understood why every single peace you did in the darkroom was a precious pieced of work and I have to say i respect that very much. So I have to pick one of your best or my favorite work from you and I’m honestly can’t pick one, their all great in their own ways again you seriously have impress me with this Alternative Portfolio. The last thing i could honestly say to you is keep doing it I think you found your hook and if you can do it with no problem go at it because this gallery is just amazing.



  3. Pearl, I’m so impressed with many of your final pieces (especially Radish Girl and the hanging house) and most importantly your willingness to experiment in combining processes together. This is exactly what I had hoped each of you would push yourselves to do. I think your images show an enriched sophistication because of this fusion of not only processes but attention to possiblities of presentation-and interaction of viewer. I agree with Jorge about the “hook thing”, yes–you’ve turned a corner. Your photoshop composites and salt prints combine the machine and the hand -a melding of contradiction yet harmony. Salt prints allow the brush strokes-the surface-they are each one of a kind–they go against the “perfect” unadulterated surface that photoshop manipulations most often are printed on. An unlikely alliance that suit each other quite wonderfully in the images you produced. Salt prints reaffirm the magic that photoshop tries to emulate. Your image of the house in the woods that you selectively and tastefully handcolored is presented so effectively by stringing in an empty frame. It symbolizes the fragility of our dysfunctional family histories-how they are literally tied together–our lives compactly fit inside a frame–what we choose to show interior–what we do not show-exterior outside the frame. When we frame something–we ask that it is looked at–yet when the frame itself acts as a device–instead the viewer looks within themselves to see their own hidden home amongst the ideal forest. It is such a simple yet powerful symbolic piece–and really conveys how important presentation-scale-subjectivity of viewer-intention-all play out to create meaning.

    I think your partial weaving is very interesting in terms of disrupting the surface of the print. I would really like to see you work with this idea further. Allowing the tape to show and making it part of the image was an important gesture in using the family photos and relating them back to the album itself–Family and found photos are my area of expertise as I’ve used them in my work (non photoshop) quite extensively and written about their significance- since the early 1980’s so I definitely understand what you’re after and I think you’ve been quite successful in several pieces. I especially think the 2 cyanotype landscape images that are sewn and attached to the wood remind me 19th C. photographer PH Emerson as Paul remarked in our final class. I think when you combine the processes and add even a small gesture like sewing them together you elevate the images from a nostalgic sentimentality to a more critical discourse about the symbolism and meanings they evoke.

    I look forward to seeing where this all takes you–keep at it–remember making art at it’s best is never linear–and you’ve done a wonderful job zigzagging the surf this term!


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