Posts Tagged ‘found images’

good dog

I’ve been eyeballing this vintage picture for a few weeks because it’s been on top of a stack of pictures that keeps falling over. Or the cats are knocking them over which is more likely. It was going into my Daily Art practice sooner or later so I made it sooner.

One thing you should know about me, and will most likely admire, is that I am a SUCKER for old photos. Any old photos. Half developed, half out of focus, any kind of half-assed, really. Good ones hardly interest me any more then mediocre or damn bad ones do. It’s perverse, but secretly you know you feel the same as me. I mean, have you ever seen one of those old black and white pictures where there is literally NOTHING but a horizon? Like, you know it’s happened to you, too. There was some kind of awesome cloud or an amazing bird formation and absolutely nothing shows on the shot. Back in the day, some old duffer sees 86 birds way up there, spelling the word Geritol or something (it is 1950, after all). He’s all excited and can barely get the manual focus right and snaps that award winner, thinking, “that’ll show ole’ Howard back home.” Then the roll gets developed and the disappointment settles in. Where are the Geritol birds? And his wife Milly screams, “Wilford, what were you THINKING??” And Wil wonders as well. Photography can be a cruel, cruel game.

There is hardly a homeless photo in Pinellas County. Well, there might be now but not in my heyday. Boxes, people. I have adopted countless ancestors, it’s a wonder that I don’t have a bunch of haints up in here. But I don’t, because the departed are happy to be wanted.

Actually, if I might wax philosophical here, and I might, because if a tree falls in the forest does it make a noise? It’s like that here on the blog almost always except for a few stalwart readers, long-time friends and relatives that trip over and think, what fresh hell today? Anyway, looking at unknown ancestors and doing your own ancestry history can bring up many emotional and intellectual issues. My sister sprang for Ancestry.com a couple years ago and we got into researching our family history like nobody’s business.  It was just interesting. I have a relative on my paternal grandmother’s side by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte. I am not kidding. What kind of parents name their kid Napoleon Bonaparte? Well, the kind that I am related to. It explains a lot.

As a photographer myself and as a curious person, I wonder what provoked them to shoot the picture. Or to shoot it the way they did. Like sometimes, when the husband puts the wife in front of the pink flowering dogwood. Which does he want to shoot? Is he a proud arborist or devoted husband? Can he be both? I suppose, but that isn’t as interesting. Everyone ASSUMES he is shooting the wife. After she dies, the grandbaby, dandling on PaPa’s knee, thumbing through the scrapbook. Kiddie, “Ooohh, pwitty!” Thought bubble over PaPa’s head, “Yes, it was a fine pink dogwood…” I mean, really.

Anyway, I can think and talk about this for a long time and I almost have today. I started with the picture. I set it on the paper foundation in the spot it is now. I almost never center anything on a page. I use the Rule of Thirds which I have discussed on this blog elsewhere. The dog is small in the photo, it was shot wonky and tilted. It is odd which is likely why I’ve been attached to it. All those different planes intersecting at obtuse angles. Hmm. One of my favorite art practices is to draw a continuation of something on a page. Like in this case, extending the photo out with drawing. Sometimes I do it with a pattern (like a floral), and extend it beyond the border. I like the “realism” plus the “handmarked imagined”. It’s a fun way to take something you didn’t do, and make it your own art. It’s more than just putting the picture on the page.

I used Neocolor watercolor crayons to draw out my added content. The bottom was empty, so I added a strip of old text. Then I took a piece of drywall tape and rubbed PanPastels over the surface. The tape is pretty deep so it tore up the foam applicator but it had been used and those things don’t last forever. I liked the scale of the squares so I continued the stenciling further than I planned at first.

It needed text and I wasn’t sure what to add. I considered a short quote about dogs but it didn’t interest me. There wasn’t a lot of room, either. I tried thinking about dog names from the 30’s but hell, I ain’t that old. Spike. Lad. Spot. Fido. If this dog was any of those, it was Lad but I can’t even. Lad. A Dog. Now you do know how old I am.

I decided not to name the dog. Nobody calls their dog by their name, anyway.  You know you don’t. Sometimes they are just Dog, or Puppy. Around here, the animals get called “Mr.” or “Missy” or “Oh No You Didn’t” or a word with “-ster” after it. Our dog is named Junebug, but we call her Bugster, June-ster, Junie Bloom, Junie, etc. My late cat, Raven, we called Ravy, Wavy Gravy, Ravy Gravy, Scamp, Crazy Cat, Termite and Shit Foot, but I’m not talking about that.

I put myself in the shooter’s place. If I was trying to leave the porch, or if I walked up to shoot the dog, I’d say “Stay!”. Then, if the dog stayed, which I assume this one did from the general lack of interest on his face, I’d say “Good Dog.”

If I’d had more time than an hour, I might have explored the situation from the dog’s side. I like how he’s looking off to the side, all casual. Mr. Hollywood. Get my good side. He might be saying to himself, “look at this dufus.” Maybe there was a squirrel over there that needed watching. If this was my dog, he’d have a cool name, but we’d just call him Bat Ears most of the time.

 

 

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Look closely

Posted: May 15, 2012 in photography
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If you look closely at this photograph, taken by an unknown shooter many years ago, you will see a very clear double exposure image. While we can produce these kinds of things in Elements and PS, there is something magical and just a tad creepy about a double exposure produced in camera. This is a found photograph and one that I treasure, not just because of the double trouble but because I enjoy the guy leaning up against a huge tree on a lazy afternoon out with his peeps having fun and somebody snapped the pix. This image has found it’s way into three canvases so far and I do not tire of him. Don’t overlook not so early photos. The rage for a long time has been late 1800s, but mid 20th century photography has a more accessible quality. I grew up with photos like this and will always love them and now I use them in my art because it is becoming a lost art.

Close cropping is nothing new to photographers but I think as artists we sometimes forget that in every composition it is possible to find small, interesting bits that can stand on their own. Particularly when it comes to what the human mind finds intriguing, such as faces of humans and animals, body parts of same, etc. Also in our images it is possible to find small arrangements of odd numbered items or marks that make a substantial impact on their own if cropped. I find that cropping “busy” subjects, such as the graffiti I’ve featured on this blog frequently, lets the mind appreciate what is there in smaller mind-sized “bites”. While a wide angle shot (or full shot) documents a piece, a close crop provides more of a study.

I love the challenge of doing a journal page spread with only magazine images. I believe in wringing a magazine dry to the point that there is nothing worth recycling by the time I’m done with it. That’s getting your money’s worth and doing the planet a favor. This is a treasure  map on the subject of a show I am having in September. There are several other subjects I want to treasure map but the magazine yielded especially nice images and words for the exhibition subject so I made this a one treasure map. These maps are fun to do, a creative challenge and a nice focus of positive intention all at the same time. The way I get started is to remind myself of my favorite trees, animals, birds, insects and flowers before I open the magazines, plus the subjects I’d like to represent in the map. I look for certain words that can be cut out, cut up and used as partials or letters to make words with. Fashion magazines have nifty phrases in the ads. Unless something changes, Treasure Mapping will be the first class I teach in mixed media processes at Whim So Doodle in St. Pete on May 19. P.S. This map was made in the Canson XL series Mixed Media blank page journal. On the cover it said it was suitable for watercolor process. Beware! It is not. The paper crumbled and wrinkled terribly with small amounts of water and even Mod Podge. My recycled map book journal beats this one all to heck and cost much less money.

Graffiti, St. Pete

Posted: March 29, 2012 in graffiti
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Another portion of a graffiti wall, unfortunately no longer visible, in downtown St. Pete a year or so ago. I was lucky to run across two graff artists in process on a smaller wall that day who answered some questions I had and were pretty inspirational. The wall this piece is from contained images by most likely half a dozen artists in a montage; it was stunning. I think this hand is gorgeous and love the stenciling and starburst of color in  red.

I have an ornamental bird cage that catches the light once a day if the sun is strong enough and on this day I couldn’t resist shooting it. I like the way it came out, with a little distortion and the fine brass bars highlighted. The heavy lines are also the cage, circumference support and the door frame, a little off kilter. If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time you know no ray of sunshine or object around the house is safe from shadowlet production and my attention. If you have a camera this puts it to fun use.

The most recent in my silhouette series on 12″ canvas. Free spirit out for a night on the town. This was a fashion magazine ad originally, cut out with a craft knife, painted with black gesso and matte medium to place it on top of the acrylic and gesso background. There was also an edge of scrapbooking paper still showing on the left side. This canvas was repurposed from one of my previous paintings. If stuff is around here long enough and I no longer feel it I have no problem painting over it. Enjoy your day!