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Moss-Rose Purslane (Portulaca grandiflora) anthotype by Alexandra Whiteside

“Cool Cat” by Alexandra Whiteside
Country: USA
Parts used: Petals
Application: Rubbed directly onto paper
Exposure time: approximately 3 weeks
Months, season and year: July 2022, Summer
Substrate: watercolour paper (cold pressed)
Contrast of final print: ** (Medium)

Anthotype "Cool Cat" by Alexandra WhitesideMoss rose for anthotype emulsionAmount: unsure, several days of gathering red flowers specifically
Extracted using: Attempting to grind the flowers in a mortar and pestle with or without solvent (water, alcohol) simply made a gooey mess and was not easier to apply.
Thinner: none
Layers: unsure; probably 3+
Used to create image: Laser printed OHP positive (two layers)
Challenges or observations:
This is a succulent plant and can only be effectively used by rubbing flowers directly onto paper. If you prefer to minimize residual “gunk” left on the paper you can lightly wipe it off with a cloth; this is easier to do with hot pressed watercolour paper rather than cold pressed or rough. It can be a bit messy but is very easy to wash off your hands when done.

This is one of very few plants capable of producing pure red tones (not rusty-red or pink). Portulaca comes in many vibrant colors (red, yellow, magenta, fuschia, orange, pink) and is a prolific bloomer under the right conditions (sunny, prefers some dryness to overwatering); note that blooms must be plucked/deadheaded daily to encourage the plant to focus on producing more – if you do not do this the number of blooms will dwindle.

I rated this a “good exposure” but think a lighter application of color may have resulted in faster exposure times; I had used enough flowers that the paper was a rich, scarlet red before exposure. Exposed areas also tend to fade to brown/beige rather than pure white. Leaving some of the residual petals on the paper can create interesting effects, depending on your aim. For me, this plant is one of my favorites to use and I will continue to use it frequently.

Instagram: @flavorful_quark

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