printmaking

In my studio: Sunny December Cyanotypes

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I've taken advantage of this un-seasonably warm Omaha weather to start another mini-series of cyanotypes. The yupo paper had been prepped a few months ago and showed signs of being exposed already so i knew right away that I would be going over the prints with paint. 

Sunny December Cyanotype || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Sunny December Cyanotypes || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Sunny December Cyanotypes || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

I employed an evergreen tree branch cut off from the bottom of my mother-in-law's Christmas tree for both the sun-print and acrylic paint layers. By keeping to a simple color palette, I was able to let the shape of the branch really shine!



Sunny December Cyanotypes || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Sunny December Cyanotypes || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Sunny December Cyanotypes || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

I love how the branch keeps a record of the different colors I use along the way. It moves from being just a mark-making tool to a timeline of my process. 


 
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The return of Sun printing

The Return of Sun Printing || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Alas, I am not yet back to 100% but am doing well enough to work in my garden and outdoor studio (my back porch)  a little bit.  A few years back my husband and I transplanted some ornament grass from my mom's garden to ours because we thought it would add some nice height to our perennial bed. At the time, we did not realize how much more sunshine our garden received so the grass grew more like a weed and began choking out other flowers. Not good!

The Return of Sun Printing || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

 

So this year we've decided to get rid of it once and for all! So far, only one shovel has been completely broken and another is not in the best shape. My husband had to use a crow bar and hammer to get one of the clumps out, and I am continuing to work on the last two. At this rate, it might be July before we're done but it will be so nice to have that off of the checklist!

With all this unwanted plant life piling up on my porch, I find myself again making sun prints with these cast off bits. Kinda like my Winter Garden series but still a bit different. 

There is just such a creative freedom that comes when you don't view your supplies as precious, and there is nothing less precious than weeds or, in this case, clumps of grass destined to go in the yard waste bin. 

The Return of Sun Printing || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

The Return of Sun Printing || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

 
Cyanotype closeup || Rachel Loewens Fine Art || Omaha, NE
Cyanotype closeup || Rachel Loewens Fine Art || Omaha, NE
 
“Before you dismiss any gift as worthless, look again because it may just contain hidden treasure.”  ― Rejoice Denhere, Trash to Treasure

Spring showers and happy hour

Spring showers and happy hour || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

 

 

My time in the studio this week has been limited but satisfying. I'm making cyanotypes with dead vines and leaves and then printing with acrylic paint on top using the same vines. It has been fun to extend the life of my printing materials!


Spring showers and happy hour || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

This one in particular brings to mind all the spring showers that have filled our Omaha skies this week. The winds were so strong one night that the tornado sirens went off and some people lost power because of falling branches. 

Before this week of rain, we've been spending a lot of time outdoors on our back patio. Someone in our neighborhood was giving away their table for free, and we picked it up on our way to church. We were quite the site pulling up with the back of our minivan door open and the table hanging out the back.

Happy hour || Rachel Loewens

As per our normal routine of taking a Sunday sabbatical, we spent the afternoon reading our library books and sipping on some sour beers (can't remember the name but it was delish!) and boxed wine from Trader Joe's. As much as we've needed the rain this week, I'm ready to feel the sunshine on my face again!

 
Artwork for sale by Omaha-based artist Rachel Loewens
 

Printing at the Platte

This Saturday my husband will be racing his mountain bike (weather permitting) at Platte Rive State Park so we've spent a couple Saturdays out there for him to get laps in while I hike and practice cyanotype making. Along with collecting my usual style of treasures like weeds, old seed pods, and dead vines, I found quite a few bones to add to my menagerie. 

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In years past, I've had to share this little outcropping on the river bank with teenagers fishing for whatever dwells in these shallow waters, but this time I had the place to myself!

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The nice thing about making multiple trips to the same location meant I could experiment with how much water I really needed to carry for rinsing the prints, the best locations for letting my prints expose, and having a better grasp of mixing my own chemistry.

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Here are some examples of the art I made. The piece on the left was from my first trip when my papers were over-saturated with chemicals. I took some of the vines from my garden to print with acrylic paint on top of the cyanotype. I'm calling this collection, "Bad Chemistry". ;-)

The one of the left was from this weekend where my skills had definitely improved!!

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Even though the one on the left (and all the other prints from that batch) didn't turn out like I planned, I am loving how they look with the abstract printing on top!


One thing leads to another

And yet again I begin a blog post with an update about my health. (It is almost like how British people begin every conversation about the weather except more gross.) I got hit with a cold that turned into a sinus infection so I haven't been able to go outside to make more cyanotype prints. Instead, I've been fiddling around with what to do with the prints I already made. 

One thing leads to another || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

I raided my kid's craft supplies, the embroidery floss stash left to me from my husband's grandmother, and my paper scraps to come up with some color palette ideas. 

One thing leads to another || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
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It didn't take long to notice that some of my gold line-work from last month was definitely inspiring me.

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to adhere the prints to these new pieces, hence the tape. I'm thinking of continuing with the three dimensional aspects of the pieces and mounting them on foam board before glueing them down.

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I've now got two days worth of antibiotics in my system, and the weather is supposed to be gorgeous tomorrow so hopefully I will be out printing on my back deck soon!

 

 

taking my studio outside: Cyanotype prints

We are enjoying a bought of unseasonable nice weather for Nebraska in February. It is supposed to last almost a week so I am seizing every chance to enjoy the warmth and sunshine! 

Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens

My daughter is keeping a nature journal for school, and I thought it would be fun to do some sun-printing or cyanotype printing with some of the treasures we've collected over the years on family hikes. Knowing that things rarely go smoothly the first time, I decided to give it a go myself while the kiddos are with Grammy for their weekly sleepover. 

 
Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens

The process is fairly straightforward. You lay your objects on top of the chemically-treated paper and place glass or cling wrap on top to hold them in place.

Here comes the kinda tricky part. The directions say to expose the paper to sunlight until the color lightens which should take about 2 minutes and be careful not to over-expose. I noticed that my paper seemed to be ready after only 1 minute, I but was a little nervous to cut the time in half. 

After letting a few prints go for the full two minutes, I decided to make several based off of the time it took the paper to change color instead of the time, and the results were sooo much better!! Some of the first prints were so light that I couldn't even get a good photograph of them!

Here are closeups of two prints I took from my feather collection. I love the contrast between the upper vane part of the feather and the downy barbs towards the bottom (yes, I had to Google the parts of a feather!). 

Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens
Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens

I hope my kiddos enjoy this activity next week and don't get too frustrated with all the waiting it takes for the prints to fully develop! I'm envisioning how amazing it will be to incorporate these images into some of my collages so check back to see what I come up with!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Update: My shop is now open!! Head on over to find some amazing original pieces at great prices!!