Camera-less photography blog 3


Chemigrams, or as I like to call them, photographic paintings,  are made by painting with developer directly onto the paper using a paintbrush. The paper can also be  coated with some kind of product that resists the effects of the developer and the fixer. Painting with developer will increase the density of the blacks, and painting with resist can create the pure whites before developing it, turning the uncovered parts black.

If one remembers that what is exposed to light turns black and what is covered remains the colour of the paper, then one can literally paint what they want on photosensitive paper. The tricky part is that the image would be revealed once placed in the developer.

The photo like qualities is still evident, but when applying the chemicals with a brush, for example, painterly like qualities are given which I found quite mesmerising. Being able to achieve something that one does not commonly see, fascinates me.

For this technique, I prefer creating abstract pieces but there have been artists who have created mesmerising intricate work using this technique. Such artists’ are: Pierre Cordier and Nolan Preece

Pierre Cordier – Charbonnage


Nolan Preece “Chemical Nuptials” 1987

The one important thing to keep in mind when making a chemigram is to be creative and experiment with anything you can possibly think of. One can use soft resists or hard resist. You can apply it by spraying, dipping, printing, using a paint brush, a sponge etc. One can use absolutely anything.

Materials that can be used as a resist are: Oil, Butter, Glue, Toothpaste, Honey, Lipstick and Vaseline.

Personally, what worked best for me was honey and Vaseline. An interesting technique is to coat the paper in varnish and then use a craft knife to mark a designee, removing the varnish and therefore exposing the paper to light.



In my next blog I will be showing you a few examples of my work, explaining how they were executed.


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