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.
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.
The books arrived relatively quickly and overall they looked really good. I had ponied up for the super expensive deep matte paper and it makes the images really pop. Unfortunately, one of them had a tiny flaw on one image, likely caused by a bit of debris on the paper during printing. I photographed the problem and sent an email off to customer service.
The other slight issue was with the color. Almost every image was a bit off. The blues were a little purple. It wasn’t anything you’d notice unless you were comparing the book images to my set of prints, but it wasn’t quite right. I had requested no color correction, as I had used “print ready” images. Maybe that was a bad call. Fortunately, it was now Black Friday and even deeper discounts were on offer. I quickly ordered another copy with color correction in a slightly larger size.
This is one of the horizontals I turned vertical. I have a few of these that feature the green (patio chair) and for some reason most of them looked better as verticals. Go figure.
After I finished the online updates, it was getting pretty close to Thanksgiving and many retailers started offering online sales. One of those was Adoramapix, my favorite site for photo books. So naturally I took advantage of the sale and put together a book. As I was creating it, I realized some inconsistency in my titles.
Only one consisted of two words, which looked jarring in the layout. So yesterday’s image was renamed. Sort of a shame, because I really liked Molto Vivace, it just rolls off the tongue. Another image was originally named Accent. While it is a musical term, it’s not Italian and it looked out of place in the layout. Accent became Arioso. The outliers now dispensed with, I pulled the trigger and ordered two copies of the book with my 20% off discount.
This is one of three images where I performed a judicious bit of cloning to strengthen the composition. Can you tell what part is digital wizardry?
Once I had all of my images oriented and named, I started posting them on Instagram. I had pretty much abandoned Instagram nearly a year ago, with the exception of a brief spate of posts in October that featured a few of my abstract images. Then I set to updating my much neglected blog.
I started telling the story of how I got to this point and soon realized my blog looked old and sad. So I spent the better part of the weekend refreshing it. Then I needed to do the same for my SmugMug site with all of my photos. I put everything directly into the blog, bypassing the top level domain of my JustJacque site. The top level page is hideous, but I lack the technical skills to fix that. WordPress I can handle.
If I actually make any money from photography, maybe I’ll hire a web minion to do a more professional job, but for now I’ll muddle through. This image was originally titled Molto Vivace but I renamed it Oratorio. More on that tomorrow.
I was happy to land on the relatively even split between horizontal and vertical compositions, as it just seemed more balanced to me. I sacrificed a lot of pixels by cutting a few of the horizontals in half, but I can still make a high quality print at 17×22 from that and I can’t really imagine going much bigger.
Now that all of my creations were properly oriented, they needed names. Since the overall portfolio title references music, it only seemed fitting to using musical terms. Which sound so much nicer in Italian. So I immediately set out to googling Italian musical terms. Most of them turned out to be quite lovely.
I did try to match the words to the images, as much as possible, rather than randomly assigning them. In general, I tried to use the words I found prettier to the images I like better. Please don’t tell Arioso, but this is probably my least favorite image in the portfolio.
I have a portfolio, so now what? I mentioned before that my goal was to submit the images to Lenswork magazine. The name for the entire portfolio, Symphony of Color, came to me while I was working on the images during class, but I still needed to name each individual image. More importantly, I needed to determine each one’s orientation.
What I discovered while working with the physical printed copies was that that some of the images looked better “upsidedown” or “sideways.” So horizontals became verticals and vice versa. I laid all 25 prints out on one of our kitchen islands and considered them from every direction. I hesitated over a few and texted options to Jane for feedback. Unsurprisingly, we agreed pretty much every time. #soulsisters
In the end I had 13 horizontals and 12 verticals. None of the compositions came out of my camera as a vertical. Cabaletta is actually half of a horizontal composition.
We managed to exit the class at 12:30, and after picking up a couple of pies to take home to our respective husbands, were well on our way out of Two Harbours before 1:00. The roads had been cleared of the morning snow and it was smooth sailing all the way back to Minneapolis. We met our goal of being home before dark.
While it had its ups and downs, overall the class was a huge success for me. I got what I needed out of it, while not letting the overbearing instructor get into my head. Bonus points, I subverted two of the other participants into printing blurry abstracts before the end of the class. I’m sure the instructor thought I was driving the whole class into the ditch. I loved it.
Now I have my first official portfolio with a nice set of 8×10 prints and two frame worthy pieces. So what happens next? The saga continues.
Despite his admonishment about people still using the printer for 8×10, it quickly became apparent (even to the instructor) that most of the class was socializing or just messing around in Photoshop. I was just about to sit down and enjoy my slice of Betty’s Pie, when I got the word that we could start printing the large size. Finally! It was 11:30 and I was mindful of our planned departure at noon.
I fired up my first 17×22 and sat down to enjoy my pie while my creation came to life on the printer. All of our printing was done on matte paper, with a slightly higher grade used for the large prints. Seeing my work on matte paper was a revelation. Seeing it on matte paper in 17×22 was mind blowing.
If you want to refer back to the two images I printed in large sizes, check my posts from November 20th and 24th. Meanwhile, enjoy Capriccio.