Cyanotype, Watercolor and Gouache

Artist Julia Whitney Barnes has an absolutely fascinating process for creating her stunning botanical pieces, combining cyanotype, watercolor and gouache.

Cyanotype is a cameral-ess photographic printing process invented in 1842 by scientist and astronomer Sir John Hirschel, which produces a cyan-blue print when a chemistry-coated surface is exposed to sunlight.

Julia has combined this printing process with fine art to create beautiful botanical masterpieces. Here is a look at her process.

► Julia cuts a roll of our 400 Series Watercolor paper to size. This is a heavyweight paper at 140lb/300gsm and is manufactured to withstand wet media techniques, making it an ideal choice for Julia's process.

► The watercolor paper is coated with cyanotype chemistry, causing it to have a temporary greenish color.

⁠► Julia uses real plants grown locally in her Hudson Valley home garden, from her generous green-thumbed friends, and other nearby areas. Each selected flower is preserved through a pressing process in which she dissects and shapes each form (akin to a specimen from a natural history museum) then lays everything out in massive flat files in her attic studio. ⁠

► She meticulously lays out the pressed flowers in an elaborate composition at night.

► The piece is then exposed to natural or UV light to create the cyan-blue print.⁠

► After the cyanotype process is complete and the design is "printed" by exposure to light, she uses a mix of watercolor and gouache to paint the negative areas of the paper, creating her final masterpiece.

Here's another look at a cyanotype print with watercolor and gouache added to complete the piece:

Thank you for sharing your fascinating process with us, Julia!

Cyanotype process taking place as the sun exposure "prints" the blue background on the paper.

See more from Juila Whitney Barnes:
Julia's Website
Instagram (@juliawhitneybarnes)

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