Art, Plants and Animals

Painting with the Sun

The world of plants is incredibly beautiful and extremely diverse. Plants play a key role in our planet’s ecosystems, providing us with food, oxygen, as well as creating beautiful landscapes and providing shelter for many species of animals. All plants are unique and special in their appearance, shapes and colors. We have a huge variety of trees, flowers, grasses, shrubs, climbing plants and succulents. Every corner of our globe hides unique species, adapted to specific environmental conditions.

The multicolor of flowers and their delicacy delight our eyesight. Trees, on the other hand, provide us with precious oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, contributing to the regulation of the planet’s climate. Some plants also have medicinal properties that have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. These plants contain many valuable chemical compounds that support our health and help treat various diseases.

Discovering the diversity of plants is an endless journey. We encourage you to go on this journey with your children and not only take a close look at the diverse shapes and colors of plants, but also capture these images using one of the oldest photographic techniques – cyanotypes.

Purpose: To show children the diversity of fauna, to learn an interesting photographic technique

Time: 30 minutes

19.09 Dzien Flory I Fauny Zadanie 2 Materialy


  • Plants
  • Cyanotype paper (you can purchase it here:
  • Water

Course of the task

Step 1

1. The children together with the teacher collect different varieties of leaves and flowers. It is best to choose those with more pronounced contours. 

2. The teacher distributes special paper to the children. There are different types of cyanotype paper available on the market, differing in thickness, texture and shade of blue. 

3. Children with the help of the teacher on the blue surface of the paper arrange the plants they want to capture on the prints. They can be arranged freely to get interesting compositions.

Step 2

4. The teacher carefully places the paper with plants under strong light (preferably sunlight). Exposure should continue until the paper outside the plants turns white. 

5. After exposure, carry out the development process according to the paper producer’s instructions. The most common is to dip the paper in water. The image will then disappear for a while and appear in inverted colors. Water also removes excess chemicals and fixes the image.

6. The paper should be left to dry.

A few words about the technique used

Cyanotype is a photographic technique that uses the photosensitivity of iron salts. This unique method makes it possible to create extraordinary blue prints. The cyanotype process involves applying a special iron salt solution (usually this is iron ammonium citrate), potassium ferrocyanide and water to paper or fabric.

Then, the negative or objects you want to reflect are placed on the prepared substrate and exposed to sunlight or another UV source. The UV rays cause a chemical reaction that results in the formation of a blue pigment. You can use already finished cyanotype paper, such as this one:

After exposing the objects or negative, the medium is carefully rinsed with water to remove the unused chemical compounds. The result is a blue reflection of the objects or design on the paper.

Cyanotype has a unique, nostalgic-looking effect in shades of blue, which are characteristic of this technique. It is a creative and artistic process that allows for the creation of beautiful, unique works of art, whether by reflecting real objects or creating graphics on negatives.

This method was particularly popular in the 19th century, especially as a way to create copies of engineering drawings and scientific notes. Today, cyanotype is also prized by artists and alternative photography enthusiasts as an original way to express their work.

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The post was written as part of a project co-financed by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt in cooperation with Naturschutzzentrum Oberlausitzer Bergland.

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