Impromptu Residency (Day 5)

Jul 7, 2018 / Photography / experiments

a man sleeps underneath a tree in a forest and he is dreaming
Experimenting with Toning and Layers. Cyanotype toning with bleach and layered printing


An unexpected break at work led to a 5-day burst of art making. I called it the “impromptu residency.”

Also, I decided to blog about it everyday. This post is day 5. You can read day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4 here.

By day 5, I actually felt run down. I usually don’t work at this pace. I was exhausted.

I had wanted to use my new found experience from days 1 to 4 and apply them to prints for Part III of A Million Suns.

Well, I managed it on one print—see the headline image for this post.

How does this incorporate what I learned this week?

I normally don’t print in layers, but this image has two layers in it. This requires two digital negatives as shown below.

The first one:

Digital Negative, Layer 1
Digital Negative, Layer 1. NULL


The second one:

cyanotype digital negative using orange ink
Digital Negative.


I first contact printed the background. While printing this first layer, I made a mistake of placing the digital negative in reverse. But then I realized I liked it this way, and I went with it. I applied bleach to this layer for a yellowish tone.

I then printed the second layer with the figure and the tree.

Could I have printed this resulting image using just one digital negative? I don’t think so, especially if I want a different tone for the foreground and the background. I could have made the background more yellow (using bleach) or more brown (using tannic acid). The possibilities will be interesting to explore. This is just the start.

I’m excited how I’m going to use this technique in the future.

Four Lessons from This Impromptu Residency

1. I can create a variety of tones from cyanotype. I knew this already, but my knowledge was more intellectual rather than hands-on. I am perfectly happy with blue, but what if I wanted some color contrast?

Well I can do that. Just look at the colors that I’m able to produce from cyanotype blue.

Cyanotype Colors That Can Be Achieved
Cyanotype Colors That Can Be Achieved. NULL


I can go darker (a shade) or go lighter (a tint) with any of these colors, but what anchors them will always be the beautiful cyanotype blue.

2. I also learned that I could write a blog post in one sitting (like what I did this past week). Blogging doesn’t have to be perfect. I want to remember this in the future when I sit and write the next post.

3. Be prepared for a dip. I called it the doldrums in day 4. When I started out, I was on a high, but that’s unsustainable. There will be a dip somewhere in the middle. I’m going to be prepared in the future.

4. The last one: when you set a goal, it’s good to finish itäóîno matter how imperfect and small it may be.

Well, that’s it for this impromptu residency. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, please shoot me an email!

About the Author

Jonah Calinawan

Hello! I’m Jonah, an accountant turned artist behind A Million Suns.

I create cyanotype art that makes you think and feeds the soul. I also blog about the quest for a meaningful life using art and positivity.

When not shooting photos, I teach myself piano and recommend pianist Josh Wright’s Propractice tutorials (affiliate link).

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May 2019 Studio Update
Impromptu Residency (Day 4)
Impromptu Residency (Day 3)

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