Posts Tagged ‘photography’


Well, guess what? The studio is tossed again.

Last week I put my big folding table into the middle of the living room and brought out the various and sundry boxes and bins of paper and images and sorted it into cool boxes I got at the Dollar Tree. The boxes are letter-sized and have a self-lid and hold a goodly amount of of paper. I was soon overwhelmed with the sorting but I did get through the bins It is so much easier now to keep it neat and find images by subject matter which is important to me. I wanted to do a page with an owl last week. I have 284 pictures of owls around here and couldn’t fine one. One. That’s what started this ball rolling.

I got overwhelmed, particularly with laser copies (lots of black and white) of my own photographs. In the good old days I had a color laser printer and I routinely printed contact sheets and reproduced my photos. Lots and lots of mannequin photos because I used them frequently in my work. I knew there were too many to go into the nifty boxes without there being 30 boxes of mannequin photos. So I started shoveling them into a separate pile. Before I knew it, that pile was teetering on the edge of calamity just like my sanity.

I had to put the big table away, and the stack took up home on the dining table. I filed the neat boxes away in the studio and that was a wonderful feeling. But then I’d walk through the center of the house and the stack that didn’t get filed away, mostly my OWN art, was taunting me. Plus, the dining room is smack in the middle of my feng shui Wealth area and that is not good. How many mannequin photos can your Wealth area overlook? If I know my Wealth area, and I do after many hours of studying it and moaning over it, there were about 6000 more mannequin faces than it could manage. My Wealth area couldn’t even with it and neither could I.

There were stacks of paper. Strangely, I’ve been obsessed with stacks for awhile. It started with caryatids about 18 months ago. They were fascinating to me. Then I saw pictures of cairns that my husband took in the Smokey Mountains last spring. There is an artist that works in several rivers up there making cairns (he’s around on the internet, Google him if you want to see his work. He is really good, a true Rock Whisperer). Then I ran into this cool Edward Gorey’ish fabric during Halloween that was so exciting to me. About that time the Alice in Wonderland stencils showed up at Dollar Tree. One day I couldn’t take it anymore and cut out a caryatid, the gothic fabric and created an Alice stack using illustrations and stencils. A reprieve but I returned to stacks again.

Stacks of paper. Obsession with stacks. What are stacks? They are layers on top of layers. Image on top of image. Strips on strips.

I couldn’t use all those faces, but I could use strips of paper. I could weave them, layer them, draw on them, use them as backgrounds, etc. I could make strips out of all that stuff, throw them into a box and haul a handful out and use them however I want to in the moment. If I found I didn’t like the process, or wasn’t using the strips, I could toss it all into the recycle bin with no guilt.

So yesterday I spent a few happy hours layering paper and cutting it with my paper cutter. All different widths. I find cutting or tearing paper stress relieving. I can honestly say I enjoyed it, and I thought about the strips most of last evening. I had the urge to get up and bring some in to draw on but I didn’t because we were relaxing watching Dexter. It’s one of the few programs I enjoy watching, but I was tempted and that is a good sign. I’m onto something.

So, my Daily Art practice rolled around and the first thing I did was grab a bunch of strips. I wanted to start by paper weaving. I took two wide strips, cut them into random pieces. One was a black and white photo of mine, the other text from a book. I glued those pieces randomly to a paper foundation. Then I selected several strips and cut them down to smaller widths. Surprisingly, all the strips I used are my own work. I did simple over/under weaving over top of the other images, shifting the colored strips to where I wanted them. I glued the ends down to make it permanent.

The process created leftovers and I tossed those strips back in the box to be used for another project. I decided to journal, and stamped out “life is a tapestry.” Then I wrote “weave it” in black pen randomly, and did some circles on the strip with the wording, to make it stand out more. This project was finished in an hour and I very much enjoyed it. I plan to do many of my Daily Practice pieces with these strips this month. Perhaps it will inspire you to try it.

I will soon post an update on my Mythos blog about how my 2016 Initiatives are going so far. If you have an interest check it out over the next few days. I will say here that I missed only 1 day in January. The day I missed I simply did not want to be in the studio. I was tired and not feeling particularly well. To go in would have defeated the purpose of the Initiative, which is to give myself time to do what I love. It’s not an obligation, it is a privilege.

I would urge you to get into your studio every day, even if just to paint a background or stamp a word on paper, or whatever you enjoy doing. Just for the fun of it.



ask for help

Another Daily Art practice piece with a vintage photo as a focal point. The reason I went to a photo again is because I am (again) rearranging and sorting materials and tools in my studio. In my Daily practice I’ve gotten to the point where I simply reach in and pull out something to use.

When I was sorting through shelves of old journals and books I could alter, I ran across some Canson Manga kits. I don’t know if they are still available. They are a beginner set for artists trying the comic book style. There are paper stencils to prepare layouts and one stencil is a “thought bubble” or narrative block. I liked them back in the day to create easy quick grids. They were buried in the journal shelves and I was glad to run across them. This week’s art seems to be a “Hey friend, so glad to see you!” week.

The photo is an odd size and in the portrait orientation. I put it up in the left hand corner and liked the way it went 3/4’s onto the page. But the bottom right was just filler and there wasn’t a lot of room to do any text, which isn’t necessary but the picture warranted something. So I cut the bottom right off and decided to grid it out. Gridding it seemed to help the story. Frame 1, guy on ledge watching Frame 2, guy trying to climb to ledge. Frame 3, rest the eye, Frame 4, narration. I had a piece of brittle aged brown drawing paper laying on top of the work island so I used the Canson stencil to cut out the window frame. The frame breaks up a bunch of non-narrative space and helps the viewer grasp the story. At least I hope so.

In recovery we learn to ask for help, and also learn to be willing to receive it, the way it comes. The guy that’s climbing isn’t asking for help and the guy on the ledge isn’t offering any. Maybe in the next second something happened, but right now I’m looking at what IS preserved and it seemed a good time to remind myself to Ask for Help. I don’t need help right now, but one day when I’m looking back on my Daily practice papers I might and this will remind me.

The wash is walnut ink, the rubber stamp text is StazOn Saddle Brown. The handwriting is Sepia Pitt Pen. As I did yesterday, I doodled a bit outside the photo to extend lines. I added some flowers because they got cut off by the frame.

In the second frame running down the center you might be able to see a stitch line. A few years ago I got froggy and took a bunch of old photos out and stitched them together on the sewing machine. I used them to make fabric/paper hanging collages and some were left over when I got bored doing that. Old photos can be very fragile. They were often glued to scrapbooks and then get taken out and the force of removing them weakens the paper. As I was gelling this photo to the foundation paper, the bottom tore off. No big deal, just wanted to mention that they can get very delicate.

Talk to you tomorrow, I reckon.

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 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.




Sometimes when you are out there shooting a subject comes along that is just plain hard to shoot. Shop windows tend to be difficult in general. There is usually a glare on top of the reflection, then the reflection, then what is in the foreground, the subject itself, and a background. Imagine being a camera lens with one or more focusing points trying to figure out what to focus on? I don’t know about you, but i only have one brain and it is hard enough to focus that. It is not unusual when trying to shoot shop windows to have to not only move the camera around to somewhat realign the focus centers, but also move your body to different positions and angles. Sometimes if you can remove one or two layers by doing this you can get a focus on what you want. Sometimes you can’t. The last time I was at ARTpool shooting the big storefront windows I had a great deal of trouble with focus. No matter what I did, the camera preferred to focus on the reflection, not the contents of the window. I finally decided to just go with it and see what happened later. While I prefer to remove color from my photos this one is all about that yellow popping off the blue, and to change this to grayscale would be a muddy mess. I like the moodiness…she looks almost like a ghost from the past. Not every photo taken under these conditions would work. You need a bold out of focus subject and a focused subject that doesn’t compete too terribly much with it. If you are shooting something you really love, and the focusing is off, try everything you know to do and if it doesn’t correct, try going with it. The results could surprise you.


I love the face on this mannaquin. She has lovely features and I think the feather hat sets off her look perfectly. The fringe earrings are the creation of Marina Williams of ARTpool Gallery. I particularly like the way the smaller side of the face is highlighted, although the window from the other side is blown out. I was surprised that the shot came out as it did, considering the camera had three completely different levels of light to meter. Got lucky. This girl will probably be featured in upcoming artwork.


An old jewelry holder turns eerily gothic under Topaz Labs “simplify” filter. I love how the filter kept the touch of dainty rose on the flower, while converting the rest into black and grey tones. “Simplify” removes details and smooths the pixels. Another good look for this photo was the “gritty” i used on the display i showed last week, the flapperish girl with the sculpted hairstyle. A program of plug ins (plus the standard filters that come with Photoshop Elements) can change your photos in amazing ways. Don’t be afraid to take a favorite photo and apply a bunch of filters to it. This photograph was taken at ARTpool Gallery, as usual, the wonderful vignettes are made possible by the magnificent styling of Marina Williams.


This vintage gal wearing a starfish reminds me of the 1920s. The original shot was much smoother and the red was more of a tomato color. I altered it with Topaz Labs filter “gritty 2” which changed the red to this burgundy and the creamier skin tones to a greytone/sepia look which i thought fitted the referenced time frame. I found her at the fabulous ARTpool Gallery in St. Pete on my last visit. Posting to the blog has slowed down reflecting my current activities of cleaning house, decluttering rooms and garage and working on the runway show at ARTpool in July. We have our photo shoot the last of June and all looks have to be complete for that. I ended up using drink umbrellas and party flowers for the accessories and silk flowers for the headpieces. Working primarily with a geisha inspired theme. It’s been a fun experience even though it is out of my customary box. Special thanks to my sister Linda and mom for all their support. Plus husband Bob of course.