the end of print…not so much

In the late 1990’s when I first studied Graphic Design at Southern CT State University, David Carson’s important work influenced artists. There is something to be said for paying respect to the “masters” and there is something to be said for “rules are made to be broken.” So I am referencing him as a source of inspiration as a nascent designer and also as a source of reflection. Although, “The End of Print” always has and always will be a debated topic among artsy types. In as much as it’s now standard to see something on a  phone, tablet, laptop or even a large 27″ monitor,   seeing the same work as large form fine art print is an awesome experience. DinoDanDesign

Artists sometimes play their cards close to the vest…”not me” so here is more than a “sneak peek” for an upcoming art exhibit Six Unique Perspectives

Six Unique Perspectives | New Haven CT

Botanical Elements is one of my four digital montages currently featured at a group exhibit at the Mitchell Library in New Haven, CT from Feb. 8th – Mar. 31st.  BotanicalElementsOur opening reception was exciting and very well attended. I created all the digital montages specifically for this space because many visitors to the Library are familiar with the  Dinosaur sculpture on the front lawn of the Yale Peabody Museum as well as the Handsome Dan sculpture on his own bench near the Yale bookstore. These vertical panoramas are almost four feet high and extremely eye-catching:)

DinoDanDesign

Botanical Elements is a finalist…

Inspired by my first large format botanical pano, I then created this montage in November for my final portfolio presentation at SCSU. Several elements were photographed on location at the New York Botanical Gardens (the central bubble abstract in the pool room, a birch fragment glowing in the afternoon sun, and Juncus Effusus from the Burle Marx exhibit this past summer). Several elements were photographed in my studio in New Haven, CT.  The central green orchid is a Paphiopedilum Citron hybrid from White Plains Orchids; and the midori green antherium and iris are from Compo Farms in Westport, CT. The fern is a box store patio plant, the red maple is on our front lawn and the majestic ginkgo is across the street.

This pano is one of two chosen as finalists for the month of December 2019:
http://www.artroomgalleryonline.com/exhibitions/2019/december_2019.html

BotanicalElements

Total Tech Trouble…

Yesterday was a tad challenging! After a 3 hr photo shoot in my newly set up downstairs studio, I put the sd card on mouse pad by the desktop before going to the gym to stretch.

It disappeared (gone), looked for an hour…this is a first…have to go back and redo the shoot…at first, frantic, then frustrated …went to sleep early…woke up resigned and determined…chalk it up to a new desktop workflow!!!
Yesterday, also decided to enter a photography competition sponsored by PDNedu (our lab at SCSU had a pile of the mags last semester, – Nikon sponsors this and it feels appropriate.  Amusingly, the write up of a student who qualifies for a Senior Citizen Discount, also may make a nice story.
Am so glad the studio is set up. Years ago, I had one in the  back of the store, Buds & Blossoms, (the paper rolled down over the books section)…it was functional and looked artsy. To the side, there was a beautiful long oval antique coffee table and a day bed with Laura Ashley material. The wallpaper matched. The sign outside was hand painted  by a phenomenal sign painter. All kinds of fine art flower books spread out, nothing commercial…even the original Martha Stewart Wedding book.
Unfortunately though, could never use the photo studio (no time after the arrangement was done and  had to be out the door).  I had  hired the then head of photography at  NYBG, Alan Rokach, to give me private lessons. At the time, I was obsessed with the challenge of photographing all white flowers and containers. We had to use hot blue bulbs to balance off  the color positive film. For someone who has straddled the digital divide, am really glad to be on this side:)…hence all the links to resources:) And, to continuing obsessions:
nextSteps
Yesterday, I found the original Ronaldo Maia Decorating With Flowers books from a back basement  room.  Inside there were few torn pages from a NYT 1999 article about a famous fashion photographer, David Seidner, who  went to Miami to photograph orchids. At the end of his very brief life, he did a beautiful very soft focus orchid series. He collaborated with Robert Fuchs who is legendary in the “orchid world.” When I first saw the soft focus series, it made much less visual and aesthetic sense to me. At the time, I was obsessed with the botanical work of Mapplethorpe. What was stored, though, was a very strong sense of fascination with the subject. Finding this article was a moment of joy!
From my current experience which is informed by many years of additional study and work, while all orchids present perfectly for literal photography, some also present as magnificently for a more abstract vision. Both approaches present new challenges.
So as 2020 arrives, here’s hoping for  smooth, botanically inspired sailing. And knowing that there will always be unfulfilled challenges.

Natural Spaces at SCSU…

At Southern Connecticut State University, this semester, my portfolio development exhibit will include a participatory installation. During the semester I have been making macro images of botanical and natural subjects: orchids, iris, ferns, trees, leaves, etc, pushing towards very high key, very abstract or both.

Our professor, Jeremey Chandler, encouraged me to consider printing large and I am so very glad that I followed his advice. His teaching style really inspires me to move forward and find the right way. I did not want to make the botanical images large just for the sake of making large images even though this was something I always wanted to do. So I searched for a compelling reason and came up with something that seems fun and exciting.

I decided to explore the montage techniques which Jeremy discussed in class and constructed an imagined  “natural floral “arrangement in very wide panoramic format from individual photographic elements. I intentionally left a noticeable amount of white space in this digital montage and realized that the negative space was very similar to how I had designed with real flowers when I had Buds & Blossoms Floral Design Studio in Westville twenty years ago.

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What if I proposed encouraging fellow students to draw over the large printed images with pastels, pencils, etc.? The extra white space would readily permit this. Professor Chandler suggested looking at the writing of French art critic, Nicolas Bourriaud, whose theory on “relational aesthetics” proposes that “the artwork creates a social environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity.” Jeremy also suggested presenting this idea during a class critique. Our discussion unearthed questions about the “value of the finished art piece.” Hopefully, the true value will become participation. Some folks like to draw particularly those that frequent the art building at a university!

Printing an 84 x 44 inch pano was a tad challenging but it was a thrill to use the new Epson P9000 series in our lab. It was easier than I expected even though the file was gigantic.  We hung it using clips and it was thrilling to see the large piece on the wall. I went to Hulls Art Supply in New Haven several time to select pastels and pencils which paralleled the color palette. Moab Entrada Rag Bright is a beautiful matte paper made from 100% cotton. The soft texture lends itself nicely to fine art printing and was a perfect surface for the pastels.

Almost immediately the reactions of our art community were thrilling. One person shared his love of flowers and immediately identified the various species. We talked about the recent Roberto Burle Marx exhibit at the NYBG, Mapplethorpe’s perfect botanical images, Compo Farms, White Plains Orchids, studying floral design and local botanical artist, Ellen Hoverkamp. Another person  read my artist statement and seemed quite moved.

Mary, from our class, had already made the first mark which was so subtle that I never noticed it on my fave flower, the large green orchid – Paphiopedilum Hsinying Citron. After viewing the pano at 100% for touch up at least 10 times before printing thought I knew the piece well. Another student, Kenny, is President of the SCSU photo club and I asked him if he would allow me to document his effort. It was fun to photograph Kenny adding to the montage.

Very quickly, a few more folks contributed and the montage took on an entire new life. Peggy made a lady bug and encouraged her design students to also draw on the pano. Subtle and strong shadings were added in the perimeter.  Insects, more flowers, leaves and signatures were added.

By the following week, the Photo Club left their marks and making this a collaborative work of art. Amazing and thrilling to me, knowing the original piece so weIl, is the joy of discovering how so many artists made their own choices.  Someone drew a beautiful large purple flower next to the “green paph.” It looks like the flowers are walking together!

Bees, spiders, rainbows and more appeared from imagination and the pano is becoming a collaborative vision of nature. Folks seem to be having fun. This has far surpassed anything I  could have envisioned and I am humbled and happy.

I showed the Pano to my husband Steve, who is the kindest and most supportive person in the world. He succinctly sums it up: “ you are totally immersed in the world of flowers”.

My wide angle photograph does not do the work in progress justice…and it’s fun to see it up close…so please stop by to see our exhibit, Natural Spaces.

NaturalSpacesSCSU

Appreciation of montage theory…

Our photography class recently visited The Yale Center for British Art in preparation for our film montage assignment. This is a phenomenal exhibit concentrating on current trends in the genre of motion …a first for the Center, running until Sunday, December 29, 2019.

 Migrating Worlds: The Art of the Moving Image in Britain

Theo Eshetu is one of several artists currently featured at YCBA in New Haven. It is important for me to take time to learn about and appreciate an artist’s exploration and vision…this prior interview is fascinating:

 

SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
A video artist born of mixed African-European descent, Theo Eshetu has spent his career presenting images of his global identity. His work, Brave New World II, is currently on display in the African Art Museum.

Working with Kim Weston…

My friend, Kathy, had mentioned that she really enjoyed a workshop she took, How to See + Make Photographs, led by Kim Weston at the Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville, CT. After reading about Kim’s work, I was thrilled to discover that she planned another, How to See + Make Photographs II, in conjunction with the ArtEcon Initiative (www.ArtEconInitiative.org). I signed up in April knowing that there would be a gap over the summer as I geared up for my portfolio development class at Southern Connecticut State University.

Years ago, I was a florist in New Haven, CT, and based my designs on the study of Ikebana or Kado – the flower path. My approach was intentionally minimalist so folks could appreciate the individuality & beauty of each blossom. A client gave me a book of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos of flowers…and I promised myself to put together a body of work that inspired me as much as those photos. In 2001, closed the shop and went back to school to study photography and graphic design. I have been photographing flowers in earnest for over ten years. Magic occurs for me when using a macro lens & standing very close to capture a tiny detail. Equally “magical” is the ability to change something as small as a single pixel and not deal with the unpleasant odors & chemicals of the darkroom. Perhaps, most magical, is the chance to get in so close & capture something not obvious to the human eye. Maybe even crop closer so as to wonder about what the final result describes. I totally love flowers…they make me happy…some more than others. I love to consider them as individuals and love to explore their colors, centers, forms and lines…and am thrilled that much of my work reflects this. Just take a quick glance upwards at the mosaic header. And, I feel that my journey has just started!

Although I went in many directions for school and work, kind, positive & supportive people helped me to stay on track and also encouraged me to see & create with a wider perspective. It’s nice to come back again to this promise made in 1989 while at the same time, Kim’s workshops help me move forward at a time when I hoped to kickstart my creative energies for the fall semester.

In May, Kim announced another workshop, Through the Camera Lens to the Photographic Print.  At first, it was enjoyable to push forward knowing that by the fall there would be some new work for me to show at the university. To be honest, I tried some things for the sake of trying and although the images were interesting and technically proficient I really did not enjoy most of the work and realized that the person I needed to please was me!

It became increasingly challenging to offer an informed opinion without meeting resistance and the interactions felt unpleasant. It was difficult for me  to internalize several carelessly “pronounced” as dogma, principles, some of which hardly made sense. One, in particular, “only people who are good at it should do video,” struck me as odd. Another, “I don’t enjoy explaining the technical stuff about using the camera.” And, another, “I don’t want to see images of dogs, flowers or cuba.” Eventually I realized the futility of offering an alternate opinion, left the workshop and just kept counting the seconds until the start of this fall semester.

However, during the summer workshops with Kim, I tried very selective focus, high key backlighting and intentional defocus…some techniques were relatively new for me.  This allowed me to photograph deliberately arranged, fairly usual botanical subjects in a new way and to concentrate on the abstract components of light and shadow and still make images that please me.

It’’s really hard for me to pin down a  favorite part of these workshops but with all due respect we were introduced to the work of several unfamiliar artists, I was inspired to learn more for days and really enjoyed this part of the learning.

Over the years, in fact, since the early 1970’s, I have taken a number of university level photography courses, specialized workshops and even private instruction to learn and grow as a photographer.

It was such a relief to know that I could look forward to the value of each university class and leave energized, satisfied and inspired…more to come on the value of this type of formalized learning.

cinemagraphs | fun & creative

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It’s important to push past your comfort zone and since I have always loved photographing flowers along with the rest of the word, it has been a challenge to be considered truly creative by those who are. Hopefully, this cinemagraph is a start. The cinemagraph form is something I actually worked with several years ago in an Advanced Digital Photography at Southern Connecticut State University.

The first challenge is to have a collection of images and video suitable for the technique. Most of my flower photographs are hand held, extreme close ups with radical cropping, hi contrast lighting, and sharp focus which typically results in a dark background.

For the cinemagraph to work, it was important to have a high key background and framing to show the entire blossom…so this would be a 180 in terms of my photographic style. And then, this idea was filed away along with the desire to do some hi key work.

Last year, working with a client who needed dozens of individual, isolated product shots was great practice for the future.

Fast forward to spring 2019: I am taking a workshop led by Kim Weston for the ArtEcon Initiative (www.ArtEconInitiative.org). We meet each week at the Kehler Liddell Gallery,  a retail art gallery collectively operated by member artists, in Westville, CT.  This being said, though, I am glad that I did not take the broad strokes of advice offered to our workshop group early on in this session series: “no flowers, no dogs, no cuba.” Initially this struck me as very odd but I’ve always tried to show respect for the the opinion of an artist with formal training from an institution worthy of respect. Then there were the continued heated debates within our group about “cropping” and “getting it right in camera” and avoiding post processing. Somehow the individual artist’s intent got lost in the group discussions.

I picked up an interesting dendrobium orchid specimen at White Plains Orchids a few weeks ago and was able to make an image which I thought would be a simple print

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for the final presentation at Kim’s workshop. Pushing past some of my recent abstract work, I realized this orchid image was a perfect element for a cinemagraph. I did a bit more research and found that cinemagraphs have only gained in popularity since my original exploration in 2016. This just happened on Friday, May 3rd so I had to dig out some video footage for the composite. I am pretty sure (optimistic)  that no one is capturing images of water falls and then animating flowers to float and dance so I was comfortable repurposing the flowing water.

Kim brings a “scholarly” and “established” approach to the conversation about photography. She has been stressing the importance of originality and producing new work which is always good advice although it seemed that there might not have been enough room for folks who had opinions or perspectives that did not coincide with certain personal preferences. It seemed that some folks felt uncomfortable and just stopped coming.  Others felt the need to have side conversations during our critiques, leaving the artist who was presenting their work, unable to gain more meaningful feedback.

So back to my work, Taking this a step further, I envision a gallery installation of vertically flowing water with a floral animation projection which could be influenced by locale/environment. Or perhaps, a moving seascape with animated botanical elements. So this will be continued.