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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

It’s funny how sometimes you take the same photographs of the same places and, without even realising it, track the seasons of time through those pictures.

One of the views that always strikes me as particularly dramatic is that of Whaleback Rock here in Torbay. I walk over the crest of the hill on our street and the ocean is before me. Another five minutes by foot and I am engulfed in the visually stunning combination of blue ocean, craggy cliffs and sweeping hillsides.

The photos don’t really do it justice, of course, which is one of the reasons I’m translating my visual chronology into art pieces. Still working on layouts, but the series is in progress.

The hardest part of this process is deciding whether to simply do a four-season series, whether to vary the structure and composition of the pieces from each other or whether to simply use this vista as a jumping point and do spontaneously whatever comes to mind.

The artist in me says, “be free! create!”. The businessperson in me is tempering that with, “yes, but make a saleable series and for heavens’ sake stretch it out a good bit and make some money.” I have decided that will listen to both. The first thing that came to mind was the four seasons aspect, so I’ll start with that. Complete the seasons and work in a smaller, less expensive series that mirrors the larger gallery pieces. The next step would be to play with the structure and composition, trying different media (i.e. watercolour or pen and ink drawings), perhaps working the horizontal view into four vertical tiles hung side-by-side…. You get the picture.

Here are a select few of the many photos that I’ve taken from roughly this same point of view, to give you an idea of the landscape of my world and the focus of this series :
April 26, 2006

Whaleback Rock

Feb 12, 2006

Church Cove, Torbay, Newfoundland

Oct 21, 2005

Whaleback rock close-up

Oct 21, 2005

A dog's-eye view

Oct 21,2005

Whaleback Rock

And for a bit of a twist:

Oct 3, 2005 (taken from the other side of the bight)

Gallows Cove
Starting the Gallows Cove portion of the East Coast Trail.

a quickr pickr post

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Because many most of you who read this blog will not be spending thousands of dollars to fly to Newfoundland to see the show, I have taken some rather quick pictures of what’s in it and have made a blog page for them. At the time that these pictures were taken, we hadn’t adjusted the lighting. I intend to pop back to the gallery with a tripod and the proper photo lights to take better shots and will upgrade the photos on this page as I do. Also, it is a real nuisance to shoot framed works without a filter and with sunlight streaming in from all angles. I’m not sure how I’ll remedy the glare, but I’ll figure out something.

Those of you who will have the opportunity to come along to the opening or to see the show while it’s up, please be advised that the real thing glows and has a depth that cannot be captured by photography. The dimensionality of the fibre medium doesn’t really translate well into a flat photo. In other words, it’s so much better in person. You might wish to resist temptation and not look at the photos until after you’ve been through.
Swing by and have a look any time from Sunday afternoon onwards!

Devon House Gallery, 59 Duckworth, next to the Hotel Newfoundland/Fairmont.

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A moment of grace

This is the time of year at which I find it hardest to force myself to work. There are so many other things that I'd rather be doing; gardening, hiking, photographing…..

Often I partially yield and find ways of justifying my delinquency. Photographing is…. honing my artistic eye and gathering images that can be used in my work. Gardening is…. exercise and the flowers can be sources of inspiration, dyes, etc. Hiking is both of these combined as well as a way of rejuvenating my self and marriage.

I've learned recently that, while you have to keep working consistently, this type of work is more like "punctuated equilibrium". You work on a plateau for a while and then suddenly you advance rapidly through new techniques or media. Long periods of sameness are followed by unforeseen leaps of creativity. the corollary of this is, of course, that the leaps of creativity level out into new plateaus for a while.

Evening blossoms

The emotional roller coaster of this can be hard to take sometimes, especially when you crave that feeling of exhilaration that comes with the flash of inspiration and all you have before you is the hard work portion of artistry. The hard work part is, of course, the foundation for the leap you'll eventually make. If you don't keep working and practicing and trying and failing, you'll never be able to surge forward as you won't have the footing or the fuel.

So I'm chugging along nicely now and finishing things. It looks like I'll have some substantial results to show soon, if we get some rainy weather to keep me indoors!

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BlackheadTo forestall possible speculation that I'm not actually working or making anything original….

I'm currently working on a series of series of small pieces (yes, you read that right), designed to be hung as groups. The basic theme is The East Coast Trail and the foundations of the pieces are going to be my own photography, which I will over-stitch, paint and embellish as necessary.

I've been meaning to work on this for some time now, but have never had the full concept gel the way it did last night. It's interesting how that happens sometimes. I was idly daydreaming about which hikes would be fun to do this summer and how I could incorporate our experiences into smaller, more spontaneous pieces that could then be marketed to other hikers and enthusiasts of the trail. My aim was to make original, attractive and evocative pieces that wouldn't be prohibitively expensive or drive me crazy with repetition. Also, they would have to be small and lightweight, so that travellers could transport them without difficulty.

I popped out the trail maps and guides and made an inventory of highlights of the trail as we had see them and aspects of each section of trail that we've particularly like. I noted weather, season and time of day as factors that could be used to make pieces different or enhance atmosphere. I then did a quick survey of my photos and made notes of which ones I still need and which I have.

The next step is to print out a set of four pictures and play with them.

And go hiking. We have to get out on the trail again soon – I need more shots of Motion Head (near Petty Harbour).

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Presque touchant

Tomorrow is the annual Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador Seconds Sale. There will be all sorts of things, from materials used in making art and/or craft, to books and magazines, to tools and utensils used for craft and art, to actual finished products that, for whatever reason, weren't quite up to snuff or expectations.

There is usually a pile of fabric and wool and all sorts of other cool things (it's a very dangerous place). It starts at 9am and will be held at Devon House on Duckworth Street in St. John's. All fund raised go to scholarships and awards for artists and craftspeople…. Stuff is fairly cheap and almost invariably of good quality!

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pastel sketch

Pastel dye sticks on cotton, 30″ x 20″.

Thought I’d post this because

a) it’s the first time I’ve used pastels since Junior High School (that’s grade seven, when I was 13 years old, or nigh on twenty years ago, take your pick)

b) It’s something interesting I’m working on

c) Kathy Molatch gave me some fabric pastels and I know she’ll want to see what I’ve been up to with them

d) it’s a nice picture

e) I have plans for borders, stitching and whatnot and want to show the progression

f) Jackie (known as Jaxpix to the Flickr community) in Lancashire took a stunning assortment of images of a stone circle near Coniston from which the inspiration for this sketch came. She gave me permission to use her photos for artistic purposes and I, in turn, send you back to her photos which are well worth a look. The Internet is a wonderful place…..

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I was bumping around from page to page and from blog to blog, obsessively checking my email for no good reason the other day when I happened upon an interesting entry by Dups (Duleepa VerylongSriLankanNameThatICan’tRememberandRarelyCouldButAlwaysThoughtSoundedCool)  about his photography and perspective. Defintely worth a read and think-through. It got me thinking (hold the snarky comments, please) again about exactly how we see and what we like to see. For instance, I would suspect that more people will immediately gravitate to the horizontal photograph of the two below. They contain basically the same subject matter, just from different points of view.

The Queen's Battery

Battery Panorama 

The first one is more dramatic, accentuates the height of the hill and the loftiness of the position of the building (Queen’s Battery, in case you were wondering). The second shot reduces the significance of the building and accentuates the sweeping view of the city and harbour (St. John’s, Newfoundland). Frankly, the first one is the more “interesting” shot, to my mind. It’ll be interesting to see which garners the more views and interest! My bets are on the horizontal picture, just because of the fact that the eye “likes” horizontal orientation better.

Perspective and consciously using it are fascinating things, though. Most of the time, we see perspective as something that controls our reactions to things, but when you are working with landscapes, be they photographic, painted, drawn or stitched, you realise that you control the perspective that controls the way in which people see your subject matter and work. I’m not just talking about whether you can make your lines form a believable building or if your colours work properly to convey depth. I’m talking about the conscious and unconscious choices we make that allow us to manipulate an image into something more than its subject matter. Exaggerating angles, eliminating certain features, rearranging colours and shadows; all of these are modifications of “reality” that in some sense make the artistic interpretation sing.

By making decisions about display and how to hang art, we also make choices about perspective. Hang it low, and people look down into it. Hang it high and they crane their necks, trying to see. Grouping pieces draws attention away from the individual works and onto the assortment as a whole and it’s arrangement on the wall, a favourable arrangement for less powerful pieces, but not too effective for eye-catching ones, regardless of size. Lighting draws attention and can accentuate certain colours or textures in the work more than others. It’s an on-going process and doesn’t end when a piece hits the gallery wall. People take art home, hang it in their houses or offices, where its physical perspective may be entirely different. Intriguing stuff. Gets your brain ticking.

Must go and see what’s singing out from the drawing board this afternoon….

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