Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

You know those jokes end with the line, “I told you that story so I could tell you this one…”? Right. That was the last post. Sunday I spent meandering through ideas that hadn’t quite solidified, going through the motions, as it were, of working.

Okay, I’m not quite being fair to myself here. I did actually lay out a lighthouse piece that will be pretty good and quite dramatic when completed. (That said, I must get out and visit some new lighthouses soon – I’m getting tired of doing Ferryland….). I also picked through my sketchbook, reviewed some projects, and basically did the mundane stuff that needs doing from time to time. But nothing really felt wow.

It is an incredibly rotten feeling to have time available in which to work, sans interruption, and have no work that desperately wants you to do it.

So by the time Katherine and John got back from their outing, I was more or less ready to run out of the house screaming.

We decided that, since the light wasn’t bad and the wind was low, we’d head out to Cape Spear and wander around. When we got there, the light became stunning and the wind was still low (yay!). I had a blast with the camera…. Here are the results:

Looking back towards St. John’s. The entrance to the narrows is on the left, with Cabot Tower sitting atop Signal Hill in the Centre.

The old lighthouse at Cape Spear. Closed for the winter, it’s now a museum.

Looking up… the flagpole just outside of the old lighthouse.
Looking along the coast towards Maddox Cove. The East Coast Trail will take you right down to the tip of the Avalon from here, if you have the time and fortitude to follow it….
The new lighthouse…
The remains of anti-aircraft defenses from WWII, near the new lighthouse.
The light was beautiful; one minute the day was grey and cold-feeling and in another, the landscape was illuminated. I liked the contrasts….
How to lose a tourist… Sounds flippant, but it’s true. The waves are spectacular and tourists succumb to the temptation good photo regularly. One good swell and they’re gone…. This is possibly my favourite photo of the day.

The fabulous results of this were a generally feeling of familial happiness, a tired kid, great photos, fresh air, and most, unexpectedly, the inspiration to work through the beginnings of a piece portraying seastacks at sunrise. Miracles do happen….

All-in-all, a good weekend.


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As far as I can make out, there are two basic ways in which an artist’s work can become unoriginal; by repeating others and repeating oneself. It’s a tricky thing, originality, because ideas aren’t borne in vacuums and artists rarely execute one lone piece depicting an idea. Most of us grab a hodge-podge of ideas and techniques from the world around us and process them in the blender of our minds before sculpting them into whatever manifestation we choose to create of what we feel, understand and have learned. Not only that, we generally work through an idea progressively, starting, for example, with sketches or mock-ups and becoming increasingly more complex or evocative (not necessarily the same thing) until the series or progression is rounded out with one or several works that epitomise where we were heading in the first place.

Most of us started out by copying the style of those before us. Folks coming to textile art from quilting often start with the patterns that others have designed. Some artists and quilt artists scorn this step, but I’ve actually come to see it as positive. Where else are you going to learn what is or isn’t you other than by trying out other people’s styles? Where else could you learn the techniques or come to an understanding of the materials other than by using them in a controlled environment, where you know what the results will be? What could inspire you to create your own designs other than recognising the beauty in others’?

Copying, at the beginning of developing an artistic style, is almost inevitable and probably healthy. Later, the ability to understand various styles and the effects that they create can be a useful asset when attempting to execute a piece.

There’s also a tendency to think of artists who have their own styles as being stuck in that “look”. The good artists aren’t, necessarily, although they often stay there for a while if the style still conveys what they want to depict. Most are continuously developing their work and abilities. Some change media and add the strengths gleaned through oil painting, for instance, to their abilities as a photographer. A rug hooker of my acquaintance fluctuates between rug hooking, watercolour painting and photography, with the unique traits of each creating a fullness that is her ability to see and convey the world around her effectively.

So we’re mostly all constantly in motion, mentally. Part of being an artist is being a mental packrat. You see an idea and file it away under, “hmmmm” in your index. The trick comes when you use those ideas. Taking the idea of another artist and whirling it around is one thing. Making a recognisable duplicate of their work and calling it your own is quite another. I’m not going to get into copyright issues here (they’re a separate post), but basically if you’re unsure as to whether you’re too close to the line, step back a bit.

The real catch is that when you live life as a creative sponge, you actually do lose track of what you saw where and whether the image in your head came from a dream, a fleeting idea you had while running or a glimpse of an image on someone’s webpage. Honestly. You have to be a bit careful about your ideas and how you illustrate them. Which is why, most days, I don’t look at other artists’ work online – online images tend to meld too easily into the other thoughts in my head. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? I do go to galleries, read magazines and occasionally books. Online images, though, are somewhat more ethereal, in a weird way. Photographs are less dangerous. Short of actually printing out a photograph or transfering it to fabric, there’s not much chance that I’ll misuse a photo. The simple step of redrawing it myself and rendering it in textiles would basically cover my behind legally. If ever I use photos, I do actually redraw them and generally change things a bit. The angle I want might be different. Certain features might be altered or eliminated. I generally only use photos for details and remembering what went where.Recently, though, in light of my pursuit of new techniques and ideas, I’ve been looking through the works of other artists. I’ve dredged up my links and am revisiting folks whose work I haven’t remarked upon for a couple of years. I’m also skimming through some of the posts on QuiltArt and visiting various blogs. It’s definitely an interesting experience, especially since I can remember when fibre artists first hit the Internet ten years ago or so. The growth is extraordinary, which can only mean good things for the multimedia development of the definition of art.

I have been noticing something interesting, though. Much of what I’m seeing is people doing things for the sake of trying techniques. Some (not all) of it actually has no message, research or purpose other than to play with burning fabric, for instance. Edginess used to come primarily from ideas, with a healthy contribution from both the techniques used for their execution and the mastery of the artist over the medium. Now, I’m getting the impression that creating something attractive and interesting to look at is dominant, rather than in some way reacting to a place or idea and working it through artistically.

I dunno, I could be way off here, but in my mind, the techniques are secondary to what you’re trying to achieve. Generally, the desired result should generate the need to use a technique, not the other way around. Those parts of art that play with technique first are generally, to my mind, the sketches or studies or experiments that preceed the execution of the actual work. It’s an interesting thing to contemplate, really. Part of the whole philosophy of when you have a hammer, everything you need to address appears to be a nail. Why not learn to use the whole contents of the tool box and then embark on a bigger project of monumental significance?

Apologies if this seems to ramble – my mind has been working double-time these days.

As for the nightmares – they’ve turned into strange dreams. Heather, last night you, Bob, John and I were trying to watch a movie on VHS, only the wrong film was in and the remote was broken. We kept seeing a porn film at high-speed, backwards and forwards. Had to unplug the tv to get rid of it….. Why are you in my dreams? More to the point, bring a better movie next time….



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Photos by VickyTH.
No matter what the focus of the foreground of life, the background continues to patter away. In fact, the background is often more interesting in a subtle way.

Lately I’ve been going out of my tree getting ready for the fabric painting and landscape quilting workshops this weekend. Not to mention writing up submissions to the Standards Committee of the Craft Council, working on stuff for the Comfort and Joy Show at Devon House and making Craft Fair stock. Work has been at the front of my life.

Photography has been a sideline creative outlet that has sort of kept me sane throughout the mayhem. I can take quick breaks, look at other people’s photos, go for a walk and take a few of my own and generally exercise my creative eye in an instantly gratifying sort of way. I’m coming to realise that these photos are, in a sense, a record of what’s going on in the background of my life.

Of course, there are things that don’t get photographed and they are in no way less important than those that do, just sometimes more private or less photogenic.

For instance, you can’t tell from the pictures that The Hard and The Easy by Great Big Sea has been playing in the background around our house lately, or that I’ve added Christian Bale’s Batman to Nicholas Cages’ Goodspeed as a means of keeping my butt anchored to the studio. I tend to get distracted by tedious work and have a great sense of procrastination. Movies not only energise me, but they keep me in the same room as my work. Movies I like, that is. The music is good for energy (this GBS CD is especially good – mermaids indeed!), but doesn’t have the holding power, as I can hear it throughout the house!

You also can’t tell that the dishes are no longer piled high in the sink or the laundry overflowing the baskets, as I’ve waged a war on both this morning. Airing my dirty laundry is one thing, photographing it is an avenue that I’m not about to explore this week.

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Photos by VickyTH.

Strange how aptly named this photo is. Not only is it of the foundations of a church (click on the photo for more information), but is also the basis for the first of my pieces for next year’s show.

I’ve got the layout of the background basically done and am now working on the foreground and columns. Hopefully I’ll get my hands on a digicam soon and take some “in-progress” photos.

Generally I don’t really work from photos, but I do use them as a memory aid when trying to nail down details of people, places or things. More often than not, I’ll take a camera as well as a sketch book when I go image hunting and use some composite of the two. Photos are less time-consuming than sketches for detail-recording, though sketches are better for manipulating the details and jotting down ideas for mood, colour variations and perspective.

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I know it’s been said before and I know it’ll be said again, but why, oh why does anyone ever CHOOSE a flexible schedule? And, let’s be realistic here, how much work really gets done. I don’t know what it is, but either some minor catastrophe needs dealing with (i.e. dog barf, waterbowl knocked over, washing machine unbalanced, skinned knee, etc.), someone phones, an event gets planned for times when I can actually work (i.e. evenings and weekends) or something else knocks work out of the water.

Realistically, I can’t blame people for scheduling things on evenings and weekends. Most normal people have a bit of free time then. And I can’t blame people for phoning. If I didn’t want them to, I shouldn’t have a phone. What gets my large, hairy goat is when people get ticked that I don’t answer the phone (that’s WHY I have a machine) or seem offended when I tell them I can’t talk.

Frankly, being able to procrastinate about work is one of my own personal albatrosses anyway. I don’t need help.

Rant, rant, rant……

So having killed ten minutes on the computer, I’m going to get cracking on my ornaments and the hanging thingies Laurie and I are making for the show.

Hanging thingies is perhaps too vague a term. They’ll be more like tubular hanging lanterns, made out of sheer materials, with landscapes around them. We’re dithering on lighting them from inside, but that can be hashed out later. The one I’m thinking on now is made primarily of organza with layers of tulle and organza for clouds, metallic stitching for details and possibly beads. Not sure how paint will stick to organza, but we shall see……

The photo posted here was actually part of the inspiration for the lanterns in my mind – hanging columns of sunshine and shadow symbolising transitions between ideas. I must say, Flickr is really helping my level of inspiration. I’m sorting through more ideas now than I have in weeks…..

Need more coffee.

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Originally uploaded by Vicky & John.

Right. So I’m committing myself to doing yet another THING regularly. I’m certifiable.

Actually, my initial thought was to use this blog to document “The Creative Process” of the next year, as I get things ready for the gallery show in October of 2006. Of course, what it will probably turn into is me grousing about all the other things in my life that seem to get in the way of getting ready for that show. Sigh.

I HAVE made a good start. Really. I have most of the ideas hammered out. Sketches drawn. A couple of pieces half-finished. Lots of good intentions. Plenty of material upon which to draw.

Wish this ruddy rain would let up. Four dogs and a toddler stuck inside during a downpour is no joke.

I need a digital camera. I’ve decided to bite the bullet. First I have to find the money to buy the bullet, but when I do, I’ll bite it.

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