Charmaine Boggs is an artist and arts educator living near Dayton, Ohio. This is her first installment in a 4-part series as one of Artist Strong’s Artists in Residence. You can follow her artistic adventures, and occasional side trips, on Instagram @cboggsart.

Hi there! I’m Charmaine, and as the introduction says, I am an artist and art educator living in the suburbs outside of Dayton, Ohio.

I am honored that Carrie invited me to be one of the first artist residents for the new Artist Strong artist residency program and I’m looking forward to sharing my art with you in the coming weeks. I’m also looking forward to learning from each of you in the coming months. I think it’s going to be great fun for all of us.

I can’t exactly pinpoint when I first discovered Carrie and her art online. I’ve followed Carrie’s own art journey on Instagram and her website, learned a lot from her classes, and participated in the 30-day challenges she offers once or twice a year. But I have to say that it was working with Carrie for the 26 weeks of the Happy Every Artist coaching program that planted the seed for the project I’ll be sharing this month.

Since I couldn’t possibly tell the entire story behind my latest project in a 4-part series, nor would you want to read all that, I’ll start here with a very brief overview and then jump into the “messy middle”. That phrase, often used by artist Kim Smith (@kimmeyerssmith) during her oil painting demonstrations on Instagram and YouTube, sums up where my work on this project is right now.

I started experimenting with cyanotype printmaking during 2020. My entire “in person” art life had been shut down by pandemic lock downs and I had a long summer ahead. The combination of simple chemistry and summer sunshine made cyanotype art a perfect choice to fill those long summer days.

By wintertime, with shorter days and less sunshine, I had stockpiled a large box of lovely blue cyanotype prints. About that time, Carrie introduced “Happy Ever Artist”, so I signed up to start in January, and the rest, as they say, is history! While working with Carrie, I created a series of seven mixed media floral still life paintings, all using bits of cyanotype papers made the previous summer.

In art, as in life, one adventure often leads to another. It’s the “what if” question that can move our work in a new direction.

The seed for this project was actually planted over ten years ago. My father had spent long periods of time during his retirement years researching and tracing our family history from lives spent in eastern Europe to the early 20th century here in the United States. After his death, mom moved to Ohio to be closer to some of her children and all the photos and documents were boxed up and put into storage.

Last summer, my sisters and I were sorting through those dusty boxes and bins. Since then, knowing how much family history meant to my father, I’ve been trying to find a way to preserve some of that family history as art.

I’ve been following several photographers on Instagram who are using cyanotype techniques with photographic images. Some of them have generously published information on their process, which gave me a starting point to turn some of the family photos into “blueprints”, or cyanotype prints. So, the journey begins here. I’m not sure if, when, or how it will end, but I’m excited to share a little bit of it with you here on Artist Strong each week for the month of August.

Every month, 1-3 artists show up in our Artist Strong community to share their artistic process, journey, explorations with us over the course of a month.

The goal is to normalize the MANY, VARIED experiences of being an artist.

And if YOU  want to apply to be an Artist Strong Artist Resident, subscribe to our weekly updates to hear about the next time applications are open.