A conversation with Georgia artist Caroline Bullock flows seamlessly among a surprising array of topics: from her favored medium—cyanotype—to her fascination with quantum physics. Listening to the Atlanta native talk about wave-particle duality, one might wonder if she ever considered a career in science. Bullock laughs. “I’ve always been interested in what we can’t see. My work is a visual record of my very human attempt to understand the universe.”
Whether watching wildlife or contemplating seasonal change, Bullock draws inspiration from the landscape surrounding her Sandy Springs home and studio. These natural influences organically translate to the cyanotype method, an early form of photography utilizing sunlight to make a contact print. The timeless technique has proved a launch pad for Bullock, who is represented locally at Spalding Nix Fine Art.
The artist’s process begins in her darkened studio, where she coats raw paper with light-sensitive emulsion. Upon carrying it outdoors, she places found plant material atop to create a sun exposure print. After silhouettes of branches and vines emerge, Bullock’s multistep method continues. Sometimes, that means washing and toning the paper to achieve a golden hue before pouring on water and acrylic inks to add gravity-assisted layers. Botanical outlines are further delineated using white paint or glitter, conjuring the impression of cosmic dust. Illusory and mysterious, these images invite questions about what is foreground and what is background. As Bullock puts it, “You’re getting both the object and its shadow, but they’re registering as one.”
Though first introduced to cyanotype while earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Georgia State University, it was while coping with the illness and death of her father in 2015 that Bullock rediscovered the classic method. “That’s when the spirituality and questioning started,” she reveals. “At the time I was doing oil paintings on panel with resin, but as I began looking to nature and science for explanations, cyanotype presented a lighter, more immediate approach.”
In 2022, Bullock augmented her body of work in cyanotype with monochromatic renditions. Bullock muses these bold works are the yin to the yang of her more colorful creations. “Balance is a huge part of what I do,” she says. “And that’s been a great lesson for me: finding harmony among contrary things and making art that—somehow—brings it all together.”