Interview with Angela Chalmers author of ‘Creative Cyanotype’

Angela Chalmers, a fine artist working in the cyanotype process talks about her book Creative Cyanotype. Sharing her projects she hopes to inspire other cyanotype artists.

Writer and photography / Angela Chalmers


Creative Cyanotypes book by Angela Chalmers

What was your inspiration for this book?

Angela Chalmers: There are many excellent cyanotype books in the world written by experienced alternative practitioners, so I wasn’t sure if there was any need for another. However, I love teaching the process in my workshops, and it felt like the next step for me to share my knowledge and produce a practical book that draws on my experience of creatively exploring the process as a fine artist.

“Cyanotype is highly versatile, and the innovative possibilities are endless. In the book, I demonstrate how the process can be manipulated to achieve different results.”

Creative Cyanotype includes several cyanotype projects that hopefully will be inspiring and become a starting point for more creativity.

What is your relation to cyanotypes?

Angela Chalmers: Despite graduating from University as a painter, I didn’t let that limit my artistic explorations. I ventured into photography and printmaking and discovered the beauty of cyanotype. This process fascinated me, but I had to set it aside because the Fine Arts course I had undertaken mainly focused on the discipline of painting. After graduation, I couldn’t resist the allure of cyanotype, and I returned to it a few years later. Since then, I have never looked back, and the works of Anna Atkins and the history of early photography continue to inspire my creativity.

 
Angela Chalmers portrait of artist
Angela Chalmers at St Martin’s Church. Photo credit: Tony Bartholomew.
Angela Chalmers coating paper
In the studio preparing large sheets of paper for cyanotypes.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

Angela Chalmers: Writing the book was an incredible journey, but it wasn’t without its challenges. The most difficult part was the social isolation I experienced during eighteen months. I barely had time to spend with my family and friends. But, I remained focused and determined to complete the project. I had to be disciplined in documenting each project comprehensively, and it wasn’t easy. Taking creative breaks in my studio provided a welcome break from sitting in front of my computer. A friend suggested I write a personal inspirational statement on why I was writing the book to keep myself motivated. This helped me reach my goal of finishing.

What’s the best part about being an author?

Angela Chalmers: This question is strange to me, as I never intended to be an author, and it feels a tiny bit surreal to be called one. The Crowood Press commissioned me to write a practical book on the cyanotype process. Since its publication in September 2023, I have received positive feedback with many complementary messages that have made all the challenges worthwhile.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Angela Chalmers: I discovered that writing a how-to book was a more intricate process than I had initially thought. It made me realise that how I work comes instinctively, without conscious thought. I worked hard to articulate my experiences and creative process so that I could inspire and guide others in achieving their goals.

What do you hope other artists will take away from the book?

Angela Chalmers: I hope my book is a source of inspiration and guidance to those who read it. As an artist, I understand that even though the process may seem simple, it can present challenges. My book provides solutions to some issues that may arise and aims to ignite a passion for the process in my readers and inspire them to create their masterpieces.

Angela Chalmers with cyanotype dress project
Portrait of Angela with her cyanotype dress textile piece called ’Something About Mary’.
Angela Chalmers embroidery project
The use of embroidery stitches are a beautiful addition to cyanotypes on fabric.
Angela Chalmers paper cut out project
Paper cut-outs of toned and traditional cyanotypes using skeleton leaves.

What does your writing process look like?

Angela Chalmers: When I first started writing the book, I knew that I needed to come up with a clear plan to organise my thoughts and ideas. To do this, I began by jotting down a detailed synopsis of everything I wanted to include in the book. This synopsis served as a roadmap for my writing, allowing me to keep track of everything as I worked on each chapter. It was particularly helpful to write the final chapter first. By doing this, I got a clear sense of where I wanted the book to go, and it helped guide me towards the creative projects at the end.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Angela Chalmers: Writing my book was an exciting journey, which has encouraged me to write a creative story based on my research and experience as an artist in residence at a Victorian church.

Angela Chalmers is a photographer, painter, writer and educator who specialises in the cyanotype process. Her work has been widely exhibited and is held in private collections across the world. See Angela Chalmers’s gallery.

 

Get Angela Chalmers’ book
Creative Cyanotypes book by Angela Chalmers

Creative Cyanotype: Techniques and Inspiration

by Angela Chalmers

Guide to making cyanotype photograms (camera-less photography) showing how cyanotypes can be used to produce inspirational work.

 

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