Thursday 15 May 2008

MayTIF:Sunprinting and Echiums

An interlude from Greece, I've been thinking about the 'Take it Further' challenge for May, whether to use the colour palette below or go with the concept which is 'what do you call yourself and why ?' more specifically 'how do you describe yourself as an artist?'.
This debate of art v. craft surfaces regularly and as I don't make a living this way , it doesn't worry me unduly. As a botanist , I already have a label ( and could make up a latin one at that!) If I say I make quilts then the assumption always seem to be that they are for beds and although I have made bed quilts , my work would be rather uncomfortable now to sleep under. As I've always painted and drawn and 'done art' , I don't distinguish between what I do on paper and textiles, its more to do with how finished a piece is : I would regard many of my journal quilts as sketches. Making art is mainly about the process for me. I dedicated the 'Growing Orchids From Seed' book I co-authored to my parents who taught me to observe and interpret the natural world. These activities are as much artistic as scientific.
So I think this months TIF to describe me has to have a botanical theme interpreted artistically.
What comes to mind immediately are these wonderful huge Echiums ( native to the Canary Islands) which I can see from my office window. They are usually not that hardy but some hybrids sowed themselves in the area behind my lab where the airconditioning vents for the growth room give warm temperatures even in winter. These plants have now self-seeded everywhere around the building - this year there is a particularly prolific flowering (they're bi-annual) They have little blue flowers with pink stamens and the bees love them.
The perennial cornflowers in our garden also attract bees in large numbers.
While I was at work yesterday mulling over ideas, I saw the weather forecast for the next few days was for rain so if I wanted to do some sunprinting I'd better do it quickly! Starting at 5pm probably wasn't the best time especially as I had to search a bit for where I'd put the 'Soleil' silk paints! I'd brought some old scientific posters back from work as they were on foamboard which makes a good surface for sticking pins in once wrapped in a bin bag. I collected forget-me-nots, vine leaves, honesty seed pods , dandelion leaves and some grasses and placed them on wetted and painted cotton and silk lame, weighting down the board with secateurs. I had trouble chasing the sun round the garden: first of all it was on the shed roof, then the garden table and finally on the front step ( much to Ian's confusion when he came home!)
The results were surprisingly good considering how late in the day it was - I shall definately be playing some more! And I want to try some monoprinting with acrylics too ( at least that doesn't need the sun)


Linda B. said...

At long last I can put a name to the plants that so intrigued me on Cornish holidays. Echium seem very primitive somehow.

Julie said...

I have seen Echiums growing (and flowering) in Ireland at Howth but at the time didn't know what they were. They look almost prehistoric.

Your sunprinting has come out well. I didn't think about using dandelion leaves when I tried it. Blast! I pulled a load up today! I hope I missed some. :)

neki desu said...

love the write up and the sun print.

when i was very young i had 2 ambitions, to learn the dictionary by heart and a Dioscorides' plant book that my grandfather had.

neki desu