15 Jun

Experiments in the Sun

I’m kicking around ideas for a new series and needed to do a bit of experimentation. I pretty much know in my head what I want, and I think I know how to get it, but you never really know until you know.


I wanted to try a full body sun print. So, I laid out a piece of cloth on a large plastic tablecloth, painted it, dragged it out onto the patio into the sun, and lay down on it for almost an hour, from 10:00 to 11:00-ish. The first thing I learned was that concrete is really hard when you lay on it, unmoving, for so long. I also lost feeling below my elbows. The second thing I learned is that sweat messes with the process and makes the paint spread out in flowy puddles. Neat effect, but not the one I wanted. Sweat also makes it hard to tell when the rest of the fabric is dry. My smart phone, on which I was listening to a podcast also gave up in the sun. I called uncle and went inside to try again.


I figured that I was really better off trying again since it would be closer to noon and the sun wouldn’t cast unsightly shadows that blurred my face. This time, I got smart and laid out two thin sleeping mats side by side, then covered them with the plastic tablecloth. I covered that with a cotton tablecloth to hopefully absorb some of my sweat before it caused puddling. On top of that went another piece of painted fabric, and then me — this time wearing a long sleeved shirt to absorb at least that elbow to wrist sweat. I lay out for about 45 minutes, until just after noon.

This was much more comfortable, and created a much crisper image. The wicking worked so well that I have two ghost hands merely from setting my hands down on my way to the prone position. Next time, I must remember to only place body parts where heavier body parts will ultimately cover the marks. I faced the sun to get a better image. I wish I had a sweat-swabber to come out with some water and a straw every five minutes and a towel to dab my face, neck and lower arms. Unfortunately, everyone was inside and couldn’t hear my feeble cries over the podcast entertaining me from the shade of the screened door. Finally, my son came out and confirmed that the fabric I was not laying on was indeed pretty dry, and I was starting to feel a bit yucky, so I came in to hydrate and cool off. Still, I got a pretty good print.

I could stop with what I have, but it occurred to me that I could use myself as a stencil too, and that wouldn’t require so much time in the sun. I’ve ordered dye which I think will go through a spray bottle better than paint and will try out my theory when it arrives. Hubby wondered just how permanent the dye is. If you see me looking like a Smurf next week, we’ll know.

8 thoughts on “Experiments in the Sun

  1. oh my… indeed what we do for art! this is too funny… have you got a hammock to try this in? what about a sand dune? you could try invading a local golf club.

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