How do you concisely explain the evolution from witness to artist? I spent 35 years as a photographer, faithfully trying to replicate reality through the medium of a camera. Now I strive to create images that evoke an emotional response primarily using color and movement, painting without a canvas or brush. Inspiring subject matter is everywhere and I often do my best work in my own back yard.
I received my video feedback from Lenswork on Tuesday night. Short version, I’m definitely not going to be considered for publication. Long version, while he found each individual image to be strong, he felt the collection as a whole was repetitive. Why? Because I only used three color combinations. Uh, come again? This from a guy who put a dozen boring photos of aspen trees with yellow leaves in his own personal PDF publication. Not to mention selecting six images of waves crashing against the shore and six images of leaves frozen under ice for the 2017 issue of Seeing in Sixes.
I understand that creating a broader color palette makes the images more saleable/marketable and it was always my intention to do that. But to imply that the portfolio I submitted was repetitive, merely because it didn’t span the entire color wheel is beyond absurd. I guess that makes all black and white images of any single subject repetitive by definition. Sorry Ansel.
He also told me that abstract photographs are essentially unsaleable, since they appeal to such a limited audience. I’m looking forward to proving him wrong on that point.
We now have less than two weeks remaining before our family comes to visit. Every day has a cleaning and organizing task. Our nightly soak in the hot tub takes a little of the sting out of the relentless physical exertion. Meanwhile, my technical difficulties continue. My photo file server is still offline, my desktop computer refuses to let me download anything and now my laptop won’t connect to the internet. I feel like the universe is telling me to stop posting.
I’m not sure why I feel such a strong need to do this every day. Is is because I stopped for six months and I’m afraid if I stop again it will be permanent? If I do suspend posting here, do I also stop putting photos out on Instagram? It’s not like I’m getting much traction there anyway. I typically get about 10 likes per photo (with a personal best of 22) and I’ve picked up a handful of followers. Several people have started following and then dropped within a few days when I didn’t follow back. There’s this weird culture around Instagram that I don’t really understand.
Well I skipped a day and the world didn’t end. Meanwhile, I found another technical workaround. It turns out that I can’t download when I’m logged on to my computer with the userid that accesses Creative Cloud. When I log on as plain old me, it works fine. Since my photo server is offline and I can’t access images, I don’t need Creative Cloud. So I’m back, at least for now.
I’ve been trying really hard to post both here and on Instagram every day. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep that up. Beyond the sheer amount of “stuff” I need to get done every day and the constant obstacles, it can get a little frustrating. By obstacles, I mean things like the cat insisting on getting in between me and the keyboard. This morning he flopped down on my desk, knocked over my clock and almost pushed my ceramic mug pen holder to the floor. Then he sat up and bit me. Okay, more food, I get it.
I’ve also run into some technical obstacles in accessing my photo drive, which is located down in our server room. My husband is getting our network equipment organized, which has necessitated some outages. The photo server is subsequently not playing nice with my Windows 7 PC. I tried downloading some of the photos I emailed to myself for posting to Instagram, but that’s not working for some reason. Yes, it’s an ugly workaround, but I’m desperate.
I finally got the download to work by switching to my laptop. That was a ridiculous amount of work for so little payoff. Hopefully my technical difficulties will be resolved soon.
My work table spent a couple of nights in the hall, but Thursday morning we got it into the room by removing two of the legs. Thursday was a crazy day at our house. We had two electricians working to connect our long awaited Tesla Powerwalls, which required shutting off power to a section of the house for half the day. In addition, the shades we ordered for our guest suite and my husband’s office were installed. On days when we have work going on at the house I always end up feeling tired and stressed out, while not personally accomplishing anything.
On Thursday I also received a response from Lenswork on my portfolio submission. It was a generic reply, essentially stating that the work would be reviewed sometime in the next 60 days and would fall into one of three categories – Yes, No or Maybe. Yes and No are pretty self explanatory. Maybe means they’ll sit on it for a while and consider it in the next go around or two or three. It was all very polite, but boilerplate. So the waiting continues.
This is another one of my abstracts from class. Again, not 100% sure of the subject, but I think it was in the hallway of the building, so I’m going with architecture.
I mentioned yesterday that we rented a truck to move a few large items from our old house. Most importantly, we moved our old dining room table. Which is super exciting for me, because it’s going to be my photo studio work table. I’ve got a few ideas for tabletop photo projects that I’ve been looking forward to trying. Now that the table is here, I have no more excuses.
Except we couldn’t get it into the room. We were able to get it in the elevator by standing it on one end, but the doorway to my studio is just a little too narrow to maneuver the table through. The problem is a close wall on one side in the hall and a close wall on the opposite side in the room. Normally you’d remove the door in a situation like this, but we have solid wood doors that are eight feet high. That thing is not coming off the hinges.
One of the joys and sometimes frustrations of abstract photography is that you quickly forget what served as the original source material. When I first looked at this image, I was sure it was an architectural detail. But in going back and reviewing the surrounding raw images, I’m pretty sure it’s the same sculpture I featured yesterday. Pure magic.
I realized yesterday morning that I managed to screw up my “system” on day two. As I sat down to write today’s post (I try to write a day ahead of publishing) I saw that I had skipped an Instagram post when selecting yesterday’s image. Yikes. It’s a good thing I’m not in charge of anything important or dangerous.
I blame exhaustion. We rented a small truck to move a few things from our old house and purchase some large building supplies. So I was helping my husband lift and carry heavy things on Monday. I’ve let my physical fitness slide over the last year and it’s really catching up with me. My mental fitness isn’t so hot either.
Here is the missing image. Another contender for the Art as Art category. This is a small metal sculpture that I found at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts, where I attended an abstract photography class over the summer. The building offered a lot of good photo ops, so I’d like to revisit it someday.
When I presented Symphony of Color, I posted one image each day on Instagram and followed up with a blog post of the same image. I guess you could consider Instagram the “first look,” with the blog spinning out a bit of the story. I ended up having a two day lag, because I spent a weekend overhauling my blog before starting to post.
They say that you should use multiple social media channels to reinforce your “brand” or “message,” but I’m doing it more out of sheer laziness. I can’t be finding two different images to post every day. So I’m just going to continue the trend of following up every Instagram post with a blog post featuring the same image.
This new captioning option really brings up my issue with creating titles for images. I’ve got ideas for a couple of new portfolios that build on work I started in my abstract class. Yesterday’s image was an abstract of another work of art (Art as Art). Today’s is an abstract of an architectural detail (Architecture as Art). I can’t be bothered with titles until/unless I actually get enough cohesive images to create a portfolio. So be prepared for a lot of Untitled images over the next few weeks.
Over the past 25 days I have chronicled my artistic journey and the creation of Symphony of Color. In addition to the Lenswork submission, I entered the portfolio in the KelbyOne Gallery contest. That was a breeze – name, contact information and a link to the portfolio online. The selection will be announced January 9th. The winner gets a solo exhibition at the KelbyOne Gallery in Florida. Again, putting it out there with no big expectations.
Meanwhile, I talked with our home builder about featuring some of my artwork in one of their model homes. So I’ll need to provide some framed pieces to them in February. I’m also starting to put together some images for my creepy tree portfolio. I can’t say my renewed posting to Instagram has garnered much attention, but at least I’m making an effort.
I’m not sure how much new work I’m going to be producing, since we have family coming to visit in less than three weeks and there’s a ton of work to be done around the house. So I’m going to post some images from my summer abstract class. There’s not enough to make a portfolio, just a few random selections from the general heading of Art and Architecture.
I just updated the WordPress version on this blog and they completely changed the interface. It uses “blocks” to give more control on the look of posts. I love how it allows me to caption and better feature photographs, which usually ended up looking awkward pasted in the middle of text. So of course I had to go back and update my last 25 posts. Maybe I won’t need that web minion after all.
I plowed through the Lenswork submission form over the course of several hours. Maybe I didn’t answer all of the questions completely seriously. Humorless artistic pondering isn’t really my style. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of calling myself an artist at all. But I did it. I answered all of the questions, even the not required ones, and I pulled the trigger the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I even ponied up for the $25 video feedback.
So then the waiting begins. How long will it be until they respond? A quick rejection with a formulaic response? If it takes longer, does it mean they really considered me? I tried to put an optimistic, but realistic face on it. What was the probability that such an esteemed publication would feature a middle aged retiree with zero artistic cred? Was I just deluding myself?
Verismo is the 25th and final entry in the portfolio. This one makes me think of an impressionistic landscape, with grass in the foreground and a single cloud over a deep blue sea. It makes me happy.
Now that I had updated all of my online presence and indulged in some self publishing, it was time to get to the serious stuff. I had reviewed the submission guidelines for Lenswork over and over and I had all of the elements ready, I just needed to complete the online form and upload all of the images. Easy, right?
Not exactly. Because the submission form was entirely online (seven pages!) there was no way to preview it before starting to fill it out. The first page was easy and then they started asking questions. A lot of questions. Hard questions. Who are my artistic influences? Why am I a photographer? You might as well ask me why I breathe and eat.
Cavatina is the other half of the image I used for Cabaletta, featured on December 4th. They don’t seem like two halves of a whole.