Tuesday, October 30, 2012

photos, class & transfers

last sunday was hanging day at the gallery. and i was WAY short on new work so it seemed like the perfect time to make my photo debut. the epson printer and the computer are not talking re color (and i don't know how to fix it, which is annoying, but that's another story), so i am limited to the hp photosmart for now. which means no bigger than 8x10.
you know me & my fondness for "itsy bitsy teeny tiny" artwork- i opted for some 4x4 images. the 2 below are floated in black 10.5x10.5 frames- i like the effect. i actually framed 3 retro cam phone photos. be interesting to see how they're received. i figure it isn't much different from polaroid or photoshop manipulation- you still need to have something that captures interest or no gimmick in the world works.

taught my last (of 3) class at wingtip press on monday. sad to be done- it was so much fun! i got stretched on this one, got to learn, which is really fun-
below, student artwork drying in the print racks-

this group was great- they'd say "what do i do now?" and i'd say something like" what do you think about painting over everything you just did with white paint and then sanding it off?". and we're off to the races...... wish i had a before shot of these- you'd be surprised that she let me talk her into doing more on them!
and another- before i said "what if....?" (it looks good here- you should see it after sanding and glazing- even better!)

the class was great, because they were game to try stuff, even when neither of us were quite sure how it was going to go. but that's how i work anyway, and it's part of the beauty of mixed media. so nice to have folks willing to take the risk and understand that the journey is as important as what's at the end. can't wait to do it again & see what else i can learn!
and tonight- studio night! where lynn and i proved that laughter is, indeed, the best medicine and shared with sue.
there was a lot of interest in transfers in the class. because they're cool. i've gotten lazy about doing easy apollo transparency transfers- no rubbing the skin off your fingers, less chance of rubbling too hard and losing sections- but there is nothing like the crispness of a good laser print transfer. so i decided to give it a shot with this image of a peregrine falcon. it's actually coming along pretty well ( laser print to golden soft gel matte medium, started rubbing off while damp). there are a few spots i rubbed too hard & pulled up paper, and i will have to dampen to remove the rest, but it's a good start.

these are 2 transfers i did to demo in class- the nest on fiber paste & the raven on glass bead gel. both started with laser prints ( i bought a floor model 4 color laser printer at office depot a few years ago for a screaming good price and have been delighted ever since- it SO beats going to kinkos for copies). both on 6x6 canvasses- the nest set in matte get medium and the raven in glass bead gel-

marker doodles on canvas-

because 3 of these (and one not shown) have sold out of the print bins in the last 2 months. i think i'll keep making them-
lastly, my friend the red tailed hawk patiently waiting for some attention- she's in oil, so i will want some time to work on her- looking forward to it!

it's really nice to be physically making art again. i knew all summer when i wasn't getting my hands dirty that it would inform something down the line, and it has and will continue to, but damn, it's nice to have paint on my hands again :)
have a great week!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

it's fall!

fall is my favorite season, and i have completely missed the aspen turning this year. two weekends ago was open studios and last thursday i had sinus lift and bone graft (which will lead, in 6 months or so, to dental implants. And after those are done, more work. All I can say is floss!). this is me tonight, 5 days after surgery- the swelling has come down considerably & i am getting colorful.
while i was sleeping away the weekend, i had good company- tinkerbell

and molly moo. all 3 of us in a full sized daybed.

i was sufficiently recovered by monday for round 2 of marianne's mixed media mash up. my face didn't scare anyone away. i am really enjoying teaching. i like to take workshops because i always learn something, even if the class isn't on a technique that i think i would use regularly. i find teaching to be the same sort of rewarding experience.

as phil collins said “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” 

we have a great group of students, and a wonderful space to hold the class. i love getting questions that i don't know how to answer because that helps me learn. the last class i taught was about half this size and made up of people who were comfortable calling themselves artists. this class is stretching me because there are students who are looking for more input. which is scary, because this is someone's artwork we're talking about. and i love it. the students seem to be having fun, too, which is so important. mixed media is about play, and helping someone relax and just play without being so focused on the end result is fun.
i had one woman tell me that i was so patient. the first time EVER that has been said about me- my husband is still laughing :)
saw a new "foolproof" transfer technique on the golden youtube channel (if you don't know about the golden youtube channel, check it out) so i thought i'd try it. involves using gac 500 or another runny medium and a laser print. of course i stupidly tried it on a dark background- you'd think i'd know better by now- and it didn't turn out so well. the method has promise, though. i need to be more liberal with the medium, but will keep trying.

after that didn't work, i reprinted the raven and used the laserprint instead. i think that this is mostly done, tho i may try a few starlike things (likely spatters) off to the left. i need a title- wish nevermore wasn't always the first thing that comes to mind with ravens! i've read enough that i should have some other point of reference!

this still a work in progress- another failed transfer saved by the laser print. still needs something.

and the dancing crane is finally coming together. been waiting for her to tell me what she wants for a few months, i am so pleased to be getting there- and happy with where we're going.

nice studio night tonight- lynn, sue, jaki & nancy. one good thing about travel budget freeze at work is more tuesdays. i count myself lucky to know some wonderful women, and even luckier to spend time with them creating on a regular basis.
life is good. cheers!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

open studios and beyond

this past weekend was boise's open studios weekend, when a group of artists (36 this year) opens their studios to the public. we have an event at the art museum, publish a map in the weekly paper, publicize on facebook, our website, etc. and open our doors on saturday & sunday. i took friday off to prepare, as there was little time between getting back from the yellowstone trip and catching up at work. mostly i wanted the yard in shape.
so of course when my friend lynn asked if i wanted to go to her riding lesson with her on friday morning, i went. and it was great- i haven't been on a horse for years, tho i used to ride a lot when i was young. once i remembered what i was doing and relaxed i had a ball.
after that, i went out to the birds of prey flight demonstrations. the peregrine fund has a center close to boise with breeding and educational programs. every october they hold flight demonstrations. falcons, hawks & owls show off their flying skills. it's amazing to see. i wanted to test the lessons learned in class.
of course, i promptly forgot everything in the attempt to shoot flying birds and the wonder of watching them close up in the long lens. so i spot metered & totally blew the backgrounds out. which actually, in an odd way, worked.....but still...
peregrine falcon tenting- protecting the food he was rewarded with for coning back to the falconer.
 swainson's hawk (we have these all over fairfield in the summer, it was very cool to see this beautiful powerful bird so close)
 eurasian owl hawk (or hawk owl)
and then i went home & cleaned up the yard! here's the view as people enter the back yard.

the event is not about selling art, tho it is always nice when that happens. i realized last year that it is easier to talk about my art if i have examples out. much better than if there are only works in progress in the studio. this way people can see & ask about different techniques and see common themes.

i love these conversations because, not being very introspective, it helps me think about my art. i'm always interested to hear what other people see in my work too, and how they interpret it. this is a great event because the people who come are there to see my studio and my art, and are genuinely interested and appreciative. it isn't like doing a show where you might hear under the breath (or not-so-under the breath) snarky comments.
i opted to leave the inside of the studio pretty much the way it looks when i'm working. why give anyone the false impression that it's tidy, after all? :) lots of fellow artists come through looking for ideas for their own spaces, which is also fun.

things were slow for me this year, so i had time to get some painting done. crane is coming along (finally!)

this is a reworking of an older piece that was sort of an abstract red textured thing. i added the letters. the red winged blackbird is a transfer done as a gel skin then applied to the background. i painted in highlights in the eye, the beak & the wing patch because they were too transparent to show up. 8x10

female oriole, 6x6

another 6x6

yay! finished work- it's been a while- maybe the creative juices are flowing again.....
on monday, i started teaching marianne's mixed media mash up at wingtip press. this is my second go 'round teaching there. i even picked up a few students from the studio tour!
we supply all materials, which makes it easy for people to try something new without a big investment.

here's the class happily working on their backgrounds, building texture

and last night- back in the studio

pam & sue

joined me for art making & talk. great to be back at it.
have a good week!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Photo Class in Yellowstone (and a love letter to the park)

Last week was the wildlife photography class in Yellowstone National Park, offered by the Yellowstone Association Institute and taught by Meg Sommers. I haven't been creating lately and was hoping that some time in the beautiful area that is Yellowstone doing nothing but taking photos would spark something.
For those of you who haven't been there, Yellowstone is an amazing place, with a wide variety of geography,
lovely wide open valleys

the famous and often colorful thermal features

lakes- this Lake Yellowstone-
and, always, mountains-

the landscape provides reminders of how creation is often born of an ending- these trees were burned in the fires of 1988, you can see new growth in the lower left

Lovely as the landscape is, the wildlife is what makes the park truly special for me. We are lucky to live close enough to have spent some time there. Spring trips provide great wildlife viewing- orange buffalo calves being silly

grumpy grizzlies waking up

and many other creatures, large & small.
I have come home from these trips with a lot of photos that weren't quite there- and a lot that were flat awful- because I wasn't comfortable with (and therefore didn't use) my tripod, because I got buck fever & shot away without checking my settings (which worked OK for the shot below- but that's the only time ever).

 As I have gotten more into shooting the birds in the marsh near our Fairfield home, and the pronghorn that hang out in the fields, i have wanted to become more proficient with my camera, so this class sounded like a great opportunity. half day lecture on Tuesday, shoot that afternoon, all day Wednesday & Thursday and Friday morning with an afternoon session on workflow & processing.

first part of class was an overview of basic camera technology and the importance of shutter speed, aperture & ISO in determining the final outcome. i have been shooting mainly auto (this camera can be intimidating- another reason to just get out & use it for 4 days) so this was a much needed refresher. and as i remembered things from shooting film years ago on my all manual camera it got less scary.
Meg also talked about understanding why we love wildlife photography, which I thought was great. it isn't just about taking an "I was here and saw a bear" photo, it's about sharing something about the animal in its space- much the way I feel about my other art. The image should tell a story about the way I see the world and invite the viewer into looking at things in a new way, or make them smile or agree- but always provoke an emotion beyond "that's a pretty picture". (it's what I strive for anyway).
Wildlife photography in Yellowstone is not a wilderness experience. Many of the animals are clearly visible from the road. This makes them easy to spot as there is often a click of photographers pointing the way. (yes, the term for a group of photographers is a click :)) 

This is what we were shooting at that spot.

a few more of my images from the class-
a tired looking pronghorn buck (he had several other does nearby)

geese in the thermal haze on a river

a sunbather on the Madison River

Bighorn ewe by the side of the road
and two of my favorite Yellowstone animals- bison

and raven

As I go through my hundreds of photos I can already see that I am better at using my settings to get the desired end result. I am more conscious of standing back and looking to include a sense of place or emotion rather than getting that perfect head shot. I am more comfortable with my tripod and will force myself to use it. I am more interested in learning the many things that the D300 can do (note on this- the Sony NEX really started me on this- the touch screen makes it so easy that I thought "I should really learn this stuff on the big camera too. Shots 1,2, 5 & 6 were taken with the Sony).
The post processing lesson was also helpful. I have 100s of images stuck in folders by date. no idea what's there. Using bridge and keywords will be very helpful to organize this mess- and it will give me something to do on nasty gray winter days. I am also looking forward to going back to some old RAW files & trying different techniques to finish them- like HDR, now that I know it doesn't have to have the garish look I've long associated with its use.
Steve and i are already talking about an early June trip to the park next year to put the lessons to use on bear & wolves, and about practice in the meantime.
tonight is studio night, I'm curious to see how (if) this all translates onto the started backgrounds i have sitting out there. and this weekend is the open studios tour, so stay tuned for a recap of that.
have a great week!