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 formal thumbs down from Lenswork on Thursday. Shocking, I know. They sent me a long list of criticisms with the relevant ones check marked. Super personal. Since I had already received the video critique, it was hard to get too emotional about it.
These were my official dings: “This project appears to be based on a technical gimmick that wears thin after the first few images.” “A number of really terrific images, but the weaker ones don’t support the strong ones.” “Portfolio too repetitive; doesn’t explore the theme with enough depth or variety.” The third point was his primary, almost sole, criticism in the video critique.
I pondered the idea of submitting images in different color palettes for Seeing in Sixes, but I’m kind of in a fuck you mode right now. Let’s see how I feel down the road. Right now I’m busy sourcing materials for framing and continuing to experiment with color variations. A local artist is going to give me a lesson in framing techniques. He gave me a lot of good advice over the phone and I’ve been researching local and online options for frames, mats and backing.
I’m calling my collection of new, color shifted images After the Symphony. Clever, right? The color manipulation is proving to be a bit trickier than I expected. But still I soldier on.
I spent a fair amount of time on the computer yesterday, going back through all of my sculpture raw images and making notes on ones I wanted to revisit. It was a surprising number. Now that I’ve opened my mind to creative cropping, image rotation, and color shifting, it seems I have a lot more usable options. I even fired up the printer from its month long sleep and did a couple of test runs.
The cat was a pain in the butt. He kept coming in and interrupting me, to the point where I needed to banish him and close the door. Which resulted in some truly heart wrenching meowing from the other side. Not that I can really blame him for my lack of focus.
It’s actually funny to talk about focus, when it’s something so clearly lacking in all of my abstract images. I’m just flailing a bit right now. I need a project. I looked through all of my tree images and I just didn’t feel that I had enough good raw material to build a cohesive, yet non-repetitive portfolio, if that makes any sense whatsoever. Now I’m dividing my time between experimenting with new raw images and manipulating the color of the original Symphony of Color ones.
While I almost always prefer the images in their original color, I am aware that a brilliant blue and neon orange color palette isn’t going to appeal to the majority. Especially people who are trying to match the artwork to their furniture. Consequently, I am experimenting with more soothing tones.
Here are the some of the results of that manipulation. My early efforts were a little jarring, but I’m using selective de-saturation to smooth things out. If you want to compare back to the original, it was posted on 11/18. So far I’m sticking to manipulating via color balance and hue/saturation. My next step will be to try color replacement. We’ll see how that goes.
After a break for massive house cleaning, Christmas, a family visit over New Year’s, and more house cleaning, I’m finally going to attempt getting back in the groove of posting on a more regular basis. We’ll see how it goes this time.
My creative output dropped to pretty much nothing over the past three weeks. It felt more like three months given all of the activity and chaos. I’m trying to get back to the art, if for no other reason to stifle the silence and sadness I feel looming in the house, now that my days don’t start with the shout of “Auntie Jacqueline!”
I’ve been accumulating images of trees and I need to start putting together an organized portfolio. The title I settled on is Forest of the Macabre, but I’m finding a couple of logical subsets that I’ve given the working titles of Fire and Ice. They consist of images made during sunset/sunrise and after a fresh snow. Original, right?
I consider them sufficiently different to warrant separate portfolios, although someone who feels my Symphony of Color portfolio was repetitive may beg to disagree. Speaking of which, I still have a lot of untapped opportunities in my raw images there. Plenty to keep me busy during the cold, quiet month of January.
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.