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Paul's Art Blog

Paul Liptrot's thoughts and musings!

This is the place to find out what I'm working on or researching at the moment. The blog is split into my inspirations in art and science, and my work and my current thinking.

04-04-2017 by 


In the day to day world of being obsessed with different processes, one of the questions that is often asked is simply, why? What is it that drives me to keep working with the materials I do? What excites me enough to keep going, to be looking for ways of stretching the capabilities of the material? What is it about? What does it mean?

It can be easy to get drawn into the deep and philosophical reasons as to why I do what I do but sometimes it can be as simple a turning on a light. I love working with latex and ink partly because it is impossible to predict the end result, I can lead but in that moment the chemicals will do what they want. The main reason however, is the capacity to be transformed, not only with inks and chemicals but crucially light. There is something mesmerising about focussing on something so small but that often speaks of something much bigger. The potential to find 'something' in the dish keeps me making. Sometimes its something ethereal, others a face or a creature or marks reminiscent of geological fold.  

In my recent blog post 'Emerging themes, embracing shadows!' I talked about how I'm currently researching light in different ways to see how I can further develop my petri latex series. What I'm talking about in this post is much simpler and not about how the dishes are presented or used.

It is adding light to a finished dish that provides me with endless excitement and fascination. I enjoy the trepidation that comes from waiting for a set of dishes to dry, not knowing how they will look. Studying them has become a ritual for me, looking from different perspectives, hoping to be surprised and excited.

Paul Liptrot Artists studio showing petri latex dish on OHP

Different light sources

My main light source for studying the dishes is a good old fashioned overhead projector. The strong bulb provides an intense light that is perfect for looking at all the small details.   It takes pride of place in the corner of my studio where its within easy reach, both for initial investigations but also final photography. I find that I often refer back to a lit dish so that I can fully understand it or look for the elusive coalescing of the materials that is beyond the process. The photos below show an example dish from a new set I'm currently working on and it demonstrates what I mean about the power of transformation. Each version is unique and exciting in its own way.


Unlit petri latex dish 2017

Unlit dish

In the unlit dish, the colours are relatively drab, seemingly a mix of opaque greens browns and black. You can see some of the form and flow that was created during the making but, in my mind at least, its relatively plain. This view is when you can most noticeably see the latex as its more solid and true to expecations.


Petri Latex dish lit using ambient light through window

Lit dish (Ambient Light)

The next step for me is to handle the dish and move it through various positions in my hands, sometimes close up so that I can see small details and other times up to the window. This is always exciting as the ambient light outside really influences the depth of the colour and form. The one on the left was taken on a grey day so acts as a soft background allowing more detail to show through, on bright days the colours are enhanced and brightened.


Petri Latex dish lit using overhead projector

Lit dish (Overhead Projector)

The lit dish however, shows what is revealed with an intense light. The colours are transformed with the greens receding and other warmer colours shining through. The effects that appear under these light conditions change depending on the type of ink (transparent vs opaque) and the quantity used. Smaller details like the bubbles are revealed and add depth. Over time I've experimented with different diffusers and now use a single sheet of tracing paper to soften the effect slightly, if it's too intense then the detail becomes washed out.


Implications for how the dishes are presented.

These different light conditions have enabled me to look at different ways of presenting the finished dishes beyond prints.   Light installations bring out the best in the dishes and so provide a way for me to translate my excitement for the minute details and marks.   Below are two of the ways that I've used them you can see more on the Petri latex light installations page of my website.


Spectrum Light Installation by Paul Liptrot Artist featuring 60 petri latex dishes in window

This first installation, called 'Spectrum' features 60 dishes all produced using a similar method and with a variation in colour from left to right.   These were installed in a window during an art festival and changed as the weather outside fluctuated between sunny and cloudy. The way people interacted with it was quite meditative, taking the time to absorb what was presented.


Petri Latex Light Installation with 6 light boxes by Paul Liptrot Artist

This picture shows a set of 6 dishes installed in light boxes and displayed as artefacts, specimens that draw the viewer in to look and try to interpret the marks. This method of display is akin to the scientific presentation of materials and experiments and I love this interplay between the scientific and the artistic with different people engaging in different ways.


In some ways it's hard to define what excites me, but I think the overriding emotion is that of hope, finding something new and unexpected. To see how a blending of action and material has the power to transport me to different places, whether somewhere physical or emotional. It is like a conduit for me to be freethinking and inspired by what is around every one of us. So to answer my reason for writing this post, light is the simplest transformation yet simultaneously the one that offers the most potential. Without light much of what I do and am fascinated by wouldn't exist.




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