Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fifteen Days and Counting

Wednesday night's meeting of the artists participating in The Space Between The Words exhibit kicked off with a few moment of personal sharing.

I intentionally invited each artist to look within and share "How do you feel about your experience thus far working toward this exhibit?  What's been fun? What's been a challenge? What's the biggest surprise? "

This discussion brought us together as artists sharing the excitement and joy of creating new art pieces that would shortly be viewed by the public at an exhibit at the Vine Arts Center. Comments shared ranged from working towards goals, trying new materials and  first time exhibition jitters.

The evening discussions continued for two hours with participants seeking clarification on the display space allocated for each artist.

About 50% of the participants took advantage of the meeting venue being the Vine Arts Center and dropped off their art work. Everyone was circling around their own work and others so they could get a sneak preview of what had been created.  Something like an early Christmas viewing of packages, some partially wrapped, some fully wrapped and a handful of works totally open for all to see.

I can feel the excitement that everyone is experiencing and share the same anticipation as they're having.  It's been several years since I've been in an exhibit like this one and it's been both challenging and rewarding.

Fifteen days and counting til the "soft opening."

Monday, August 17, 2015

2:05 Video: How to Create a Still Life Portrait

You may be interested in how one can easily create a still life portrait.  This 2:05 video demonstration is while working at our cabin in northern Minnesota with the minimum of technology.

Some of the key things to think about are:
  • The angle and intensity of the sun
  • How you're going to control it and bounce it back into the subject
  • Backdrop material, hopefully without a lot of wrinkles  
  •     (I've never ironed so much since my mother made me do it.)
  • Needs of the flowers so they stay fresh looking
  • Angle of the table top the object is sitting on
  • Angle of the surface the camera is placed on
  • Angle of the camera to the subject
  • Reducing camera shake by setting a delayed release

Next time I'll bring up a few more tools. But really, it's all about how the light is directed on and around the subject and getting your angles straight. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Variations on the Sunflower Theme

Well, it appears that the sunflowers "got a hold on me" again this summer.

Is it their big "face," their bright colors, their tall stature in the vase? I think I best give this some thought.  It might be said that I photograph more sunflowers than any other flower.

Shown below is what photographers call a contact sheet, which is an old fashioned term, if you think about it now.  I'm not laying down actual negatives on a sheet of photographic paper to create identical size reproductions.   Oh well, no worries.

These are what I'd call "test shots. "  They are the result of two different weekends with two different bouquets, environments, backgrounds and more.  Take a look at how simple changes can result in subtle changes in the image as well.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Serendipity and Sunflowers!

What a fabulous coincidence! Serendipity! Fate!

As I was driving with Karl to the store at Moose Lake, I impulsively asked to be dropped off at the Moose Lake Flea Market and look for some fresh local flower bouquets.

I casually commented that I wondered if T.J.'s daughter was selling her home grown sunflowers up at his store, T. J.'s Country Store (Home of the Best Wurst)  in Mahtowa, MN.  But, no, we didn't have to drive up there today.  I was thinking that we'd go up there next weekend and buy some brats and bacon.

I got out of the car and walked through the row of vendors outside the Flea Market warehouse.  At the very last tent there was a family of three selling beautiful sunflower bouquets in glass jars. I commented to the group that I had wondered if T.J's daughter was selling sunflowers today, but we didn't drive up there, so how lucky I was to come across their sunflowers.

They all made eye contact with each other and the women said  "I am T.J.'s daughter, Sarah, and this is T.J.'s  granddaughter." Not wanting to be ignored the man jumped up and said "I'm T.J.'s son-in-law, Dave.
We all laughed at that one. They talked about their sunflower business, "Sunflower Sisters" and their  farm.  I relayed several compliments about their delicious brats, sausage, bacon and their sunflowers. Can you imagine that the next person who joined our friendly conversation was none other than the "J" in the name T.J., the wife of the owner.

I recounted my story of being held "hostage" by their bouquet of sunflowers I bought last year (August 2014). I must have taken 30+ pictures over three days up at the cabin. I kept making minor variations on the angle of the light, fruit, vegetables, serving platter, etc.
Still Life: Sunflowers in August,  2014  (available for purchase)
Sara said "Come up to the farm sometime and you can see all the sunflowers in the field."  Hopefully that will happen someday.

We drove home and Karl went to his easel, canvas and paint brushes to "work."  I went into the cabin aka my Studio Up North and set up a still life portrait commemorating our upcoming 16th Wedding Anniversary with today's sunflower bouquet and the wine bottle given by Betsy & Jack Doyle at  our 1999 wedding celebration. I'll be creating this into one of several different  wedding anniversary cards  for Karl.

Still Life: Sunflowers, Aug 15, 2015  (available for purchase)
I am very pleased with the simple composition and rich saturation in the colors, especially the flowers, of course.

But, tomorrow is another day and quite possibly, if the sun comes out for me, I'll be held "hostage" once again creating a new still life portrait being kissed by the morning light.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Still Life: August Birthday Bouquet

Well,  what do you plan  for your Birthday Eve day?
I had two totally different mind sets depending on our lovely, unpredictable,  Minnesota weather.

Nice, sunny day,  do the Walk For Scleroderma with my friends and then go bicycle riding. Or rainy day, who knows?  Come up with Plan B.

Well, I kept going back to sleep and just couldn't get up early to join the walkers. Sorry, friends.  I was exhausted and needed to sleep in.

When I finally got up, I had a slow morning of coffee and sorting through the Plan B options because it didn't look all that nice outside.

Eventually, around 12 noon I suggested we drive over to the neighborhood Farmer's Market on Lake Street and buy some fresh flowers for my birthday bouquet.  I bought two bouquets and then started the process of sorting, cutting, arranging, posing and photographing my birthday bouquet still life photo portrait.

I knew that whenever the next still life occurred I was going to use my set of three vases that I bought at a shop in Ouray,  Colorado.  The nicest gal, Nancy talked me into all three vases and of course, I couldn't resist them.  I'm so glad that I bought all three. 

Test shot early in the afternoon on my mobile device resulted in the basic layout.
Test shots early in the afternoon

I really wish I had an endless supply of wrinkle free fabrics.  I tried to use a solid purple background that I had purchased from a craft store but it was going to take an act of God to iron out all those creases.  And I tried, really.  But they were too visible in the test shots.

After a dozen or two different photos based on the changing light in the late afternoon, I decided this one was my favorite because of the light that was cast on both the sunflower and on the vases.
Still Life: August  Bouquet (available for purchase)

For those interested, I've found that I prefer an  ISO 400 or ISO 650 so there is high contrast and then a depth of field like F11 or F16 depending on how much of the background I want sharp.

I have natural harsh light coming from the west so I put up a white lace curtain to diffuse the west light while simultaneously setting up a white reflector on the opposite side (propped on a painting easel I don't use for painting) to bounce the light back into the side of the set.

This portrait is a bit busy with the patterned shawl as my background and my pink scarf as the table covering but it's got the right colors and textures so it works for me.

Hope it does for you, too.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Canvas Enlargements

Canvas Enlargements Arrived Today

What a relief! The photographs reproduced as canvas enlargements arrived via FedEx  today.  I was a little nervous because the vendor hadn't updated the production/shipping log earlier in the week so it didn't look like it was in production.  But no worries.  Here's all six as they appeared upon arrival.

I am very proud of the work and love the way the still life portraits look on canvas.  For those interested in my vendor of choice, I purchased these through Canvas On Demand
an online company that is easy to work with. You simply upload the images, make your selections, process your credit card and you get your finished product in about 2 - 3 weeks but order a couple of weeks earlier than your deadline (like I did) to spare your nerves.

Canvas On Demand, like many canvas reproduction companies, now have two different styles of canvas wrap presentation styles: traditional which wraps around a wood frame and the newest type "Premium" that wraps around basically, what I'd call a mat board box.  The wood style has a one year guarantee and the mat board box has a two year guarantee. You'd think it would be the other way around, wouldn't you?

Canvas Enlargements Arrived - Favorite Shown Here

The unexpected snafu is, for art exhibitions the installers require that you have traditional wire hanging hardware installed on the frame for safer hanging.  I don't think you can perform that type of installation procedure on mat board boxes.

So I'll have to do a "work-around" for that. Maybe pound two small nails in the gallery wall so it has a more secure base from which to hang.

This link below is to a different vendor but it's worth sharing so you see that typical wire hanging requirements for an art gallery installation.   

Well, I'm set with all my still life portraits reproduced on canvas now.  Unless of course tomorrow's trip to buy flowers at the Farmers Market results in gorgeous flowers that would look picture perfect in one of the new vases I purchased in Ouray, CO.

Just sayin...

Duo Life: Business Professional and Photographer

7:02a.m. Business Professional Networking Meeting

Well, I said that my intention for the blog is to share my work/life balance challenges of being a full time business professional 8 - 5 Monday-Friday and photographer/artist on my personal time.  If I'm authentic to myself and you,  I best share that as well.

No whining.  No complaints (at least not often).  Just the facts ma'am.

This morning's work schedule started at 7:02a.m. at the Professional Sales Association, Minnesota  monthly gathering out at St. Louis Park, MN. They are one of the best organizations for sales reps, sales managers and marketing representatives and I am proud to be a member.

I was dressed to the nine's with my best business attire because I want my "brand" to be highly visible, professional, recognized, informative, helpful, friendly and looking my best.  I made lots of connections, talked to friends I know and  met some new ones.  My intention is to connect with prospects and existing customers of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.  That's the business gig.

Because I felt "safe" in this group, at the appropriate time, I went around to a small, select group of individuals and shared my art postcard to The Space Between The Words art exhibit.  I didn't approach anyone I didn't already know unless one of my friends encouraged the connection.

Fortunately, the invite was welcomed and people seemed interested in my artistic endeavors.  The remainder of the day was being the MSPBJ sales person and working to sell new subscriptions.

The careful balance for me, I think, is to be authentic to both my pursuits but always keep in mind the full time gig that pays the bills and provides fabulous benefits, especially health care benefits.  I am not delusional to think the artists' life is going to ever be my main income.

Your results may be different.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When Did It All Begin, This Still Life Theme?

Daffodils, circa 2004

When did it all begin, this still life theme?
Actually I wanted to know, too, so I rolled through my archives and estimated that this image of the Daffodils was my first "serious" fine art still life portrait for me, not for a client.  I can remember sitting on my front porch and doing the art work but I'd have to guess the actual year as 2004 or earlier. 

You know what is crazy?

This daffodil portrait was photographed on medium format black and white film, hand printed on special cotton fiber photography paper and treated so it would be receptive to my (hours and hours) of hand coloring with photo oils.  I say hours and hours because I cautiously applied minimal color one layer at a time because I was scared (you know what) that I would mess up.

At the time, we were professional wedding photographers who shot with medium format and 35 mm film, both color and black and white. I was crazy enough to hand print all the black and white reprints in our home darkroom as well as offer specialty hand-colored enlargements.  It was the "thing" to do and I'm sure I didn't charge enough money for all the hand work required.

Since that first serious fine art still life portrait in 2004 I've probably created 1,000s of still life images. Some more or less serious, but all with deep love for the subject being photographed and what it represented to me at that significant moment in time.

Ten years later I was able to articulate in a short poem that the viewer was seeing a still life portrait. But I wasn't "seeing" as much as I was feeling the emotion of that day and that time as well as acknowledging the person or occasion that the portrait represented.

So what have I been creating since 2004? That's too long of a story to tell here.  Suffice to say, I'll share more current work with just a light dusting of images from the archives that are priceless emotive moments that I think you may appreciate.

Art Exhibition Journey: Selling Art on Instagram

"Focus On Things You Love" shared on @wendywalks Instagram account

On my journey of being the art exhibit director for a group art show, I research ways to promote the Art Salon For Fertile Minds' upcoming exhibit: "The Space Between The Words." 

I found this article regarding
"How to Use Instagram to Invest in Art"

Actually I read  it, as I often do, with my own personal magnifying glass on it with the questions:
"How am I going to sell my art and make new customer connections on Instagram."
"How can we promote the upcoming group art show on Instagram."

My takeaway from the article was to do the following:
(1) I opened up my Instagram account alongside the article. I connected with every one of the galleries and artists mentioned.
(2) When Instagram offered up similar accounts of  galleries and individual artists I perused their offerings and reached out to most, but not all of them.
(3) Within hours several of them connected back to me and followed my Instagram feed.
It seemed like baby steps in the right direction.
(4) I will continue to research additional galleries and artists to "listen/watch" their activity and learn from their marketing tactics.
(5) Now, going forward, I intend to be more strategic about the images I share as well as the new contacts I connect with.  I'm going to do a little more research about the types of images that artists share and when they post prices and "how to purchase" instructions.

Wendy the life-long learner continues to learn.

*Focus on Things You Love
text layout created in Studio image software and shared on @wendywalks Instagram account

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Aribert Munzner's Painting Tools

Painter's Palette - August 2015

Last night I had the honor to visit the studio of renown artist, Aribert Munzner, life long painter, retired art professor from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), member of the Vine Arts Center and more recently, participant in the group art show "The Space Between The Words."

Just walking into his studio was a visual delight with a considerable number of large paintings 6' x 5' and countless smaller ones.  I found it easy to be drawn into the large ones that felt  like you're going into outer space or even into a storybook land.

It suddenly strikes  me now that someone could write a sci-fi version of Alice In Wonderland with the main character(s) walking into Aribert's painting that landed you on a planet in outer space. I'll have to mention it to him when I see him next.

Back to the studio; I love documenting artists tools, especially their painters palette.  To me, the above image resembles fish swimming in a very colorful body of water. When I showed the image I create to Aribert, he was delighted and shocked that something he passed by everyday could, on it's own, because a work of art. I must admit, I  love it when he's happy and admiring my creativity.

Approximately two years I visited Aribert's studio and created my very first "painters' palette" image from his tools. I didn't realize it at the time but it became the first of a repetitive photographic theme that I create whenever the opportunity arises.

Painters' Tools - August 2015

This photograph didn't want to be left behind because it wanted to show off Aribert's brushes and jars with a kiss of a digital manipulation for artistic effect.  Again, my attraction to artists' tools.

Hands Are Full

  petrichor   heavy in the air   fills our hands