Blueprint frottage

Sonja and Leecee’s works are informed by their family’s deep cultural connections to the land and seas of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). Consider the place where you live and go to school. What is the environment like in these places you are connected to? Go on a walk around your home or school and look closely at the textures of surfaces – natural (plants, leaves, flowers) and human-made (buildings, footpaths etc).

Create a ‘blueprint’ of the place where you live by taking rubbings of surfaces using only different shades of blue. Consider your composition, including balance and repetition. Tip: We have created texture boards from things found around the home to use for our rubbings.

Digital Blueprint Drawing

A blueprint is a reproduction of a technical drawing, often used in architecture and engineering industries. This process was introduced in 1842 and allowed for rapid and accurate reproduction of an image. Of course, today the blueprint is obsolete, replaced by computer design programs – but the images themselves are still beautiful to look at as a record of a particular place or building. Create a blueprint drawing of your own culture. Take a look below at how Tom Readett our Tarnanthi Education Officer responded to this activity. Tom has created a digital drawing but you could use white conte on blue paper.

Step 1

Brainstorm! What objects of significance do you have in your home or objects or traditions that are important to your family or associated with your culture? Tom selected his guitar, guitar pick, some plants and a small camel soft toy he got as a child.

Step 2

Arrange these objects in an interesting composition. Tip: Consider your use of positive and negative space when arranging your objects.

Step 3

Create or select a blue background. This can be created digitally as Tom has done, or with a wash of watercolour or acrylic paint. Tip: If you are using the wax candle method you will need to do your (invisible) drawing first, then paint over with watercolour paint.

Step 4

Draw your composition using onto your blue background. By using white we are naturally inverting the colours. Experiment with softer marks and bold marks, can you make your object glow?

Blueprint Painting

Blueprints can also be created using candles and watercolour paint.

Tip: This activity is ideal for early years and primary students.

Step 1

Think of something that reminds you of home. We've decided to use the flower Purple Heart (Setcreasea pallida) as the inspiration for our wax painting.

Photo: Step 1: Inspiration - 'Purple Heart' flower.

Step 2

Draw your subject matter on an A3 piece of white paper using a wax candle. Apply pressure with the candle to ensure enough wax builds on the paper so it will resist the watercolour paint. You won't be able to see your marks so this is a good exercise to practice blind contour drawing!

Tip: Depending on the size of your candle, you may need to use a larger sheet of paper so that you can achieve more detail in your drawing.

Photo: Step 2: Draw your object using wax candle.

Step 3

Reveal your drawing by painting over it with blue watercolour paint. Start at the top of your paper and work your way down. Only paint over the wax with one stroke - if you paint over the wax too much it will no longer resist the paint.

Photo: Step 3: One brushstroke at a time to reveal your drawing.

Step 4

Now that you have one blueprint, why not try again! Experiment with the amount of paint and water you use over the top of a new drawing as well as the amount of pressure you apply with the candle.

Photo: Step 4: Practice and experiment.

Illustrations by Thomas Readett, Tarnanthi Education Officer.

Sonja Carmichael, Ngugi/Quandamooka people, South East Queensland, born 1958, Brisbane, Elisa Jane Carmichael, Ngugi/Quandamooka people, South East Queensland, born 1987, Brisbane, Yagabili wunjayi (make today), 2019, Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Queensland, cyanotype on cotton, 240.0 x 270.0 cm; Courtesy the artists and Onespace Gallery, © Elisa Jane and Sonja Carmichael/Onespace Gallery, photo: Grant Hancock.

Making and responding

Fibre art, drawing and intergenerational making

Sonja and Elisa Jane Carmichael, Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Queensland, 2020; photo: Jo Driessens.

Sonjia and Elisa Jane Carmichael

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