Monday, May 30, 2011

A Summer of Change


Ah, summer. Long days of sunlight and warmth with nothing to do but lounge around in the hammock and read a book, right?

Um, no. Not for me this summer.

As most of you probably know, my time in Italy is coming to an end. Our apartment will be packed up in a few weeks, as my son finishes his school year. Shortly after, we'll say goodbye to friends, neighbors and colleagues, and fly back to Oregon on July 1st. A new adventure awaits, in an old, familiar place.

With all that going on, you might find me absent here and there from the blog over the next couple of months. Since blogging has become a habit, I'll probably be on more often than not, but I'm giving myself the freedom to let things slide a little more than usual. (This is hard for me, I must admit.)

In addition, for the summer months Exploring with a Camera will run with re-posts of earlier themes. I've selected posts from last year, before many of you had joined in, and will run them as "second editions" with some new example photos along with the additions of the link up and Flickr pool for sharing. If you've done the prompts before, this will be a great opportunity to share what you captured the last time around, or cement the ideas further by using the concepts again.

Thanks a bunch for hanging in with me as I move through this transition.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Meeting the Goal (A Swap Update)


Have you ever looked at something big, thought it was insurmountable, but decided to try it anyway? Some things are optical illusions, brought on by perspective, like this building from Barcelona. It almost seems to go on forever, but that's really because of my perspective, right at the base. It's a tall building, yes, but it's not infinite.

That's a bit how I felt when I set the goal of 200 people in the Liberate your Art postcard swap. I knew it would be a big stretch, and it seemed a bit insurmountable. I knew I couldn't get there on my own, but guess what - the goal has been met! As of this writing, there are 228 people signed up for the swap. Wow! That's 1140 pieces of art that will be winging their way around the world in July. Actually, it's 1368 when you count my postcards too. I'm so excited! Thank you all so much for helping me get to this goal, by posting on your blogs, putting the button on the sidebar, posting on facebook, tweeting - all of that. I couldn't have done this without help.

There is still a little bit of time to sign up, if you haven't yet. I'll close the sign up on 4 June, next Saturday, and then the focus turns to execution of the swap. Visit the swap page here for the details if you would like to sign up.

And... there are new links added to the participant link list this week! Take a few moments and visit a few of your fellow artists who have shared links. I hope you will connect with one or two others this week and say hello.

Links Added since last update:


Grandma's Recipe Box
Heartwork Photography
Dixon Hill
Just me and my Art
Mia Makes...
Cosrard & Penpen
I miei due bambini
Special Moments in Time
Such stuff as dreams are made on
Pasando
Darlene Cunnup Photography
Peach Coglo
One Woman, Reinvented
Creative Explorer
Bren's Bright Corner
Jillsy Girl Studio
BahamaDawn
Today is a Gift
My Consuming Passions

The rest of the list - so many great places to visit!
How to Feather an Empty Nest
Learning as I Go
Paloma Chaffinch
Fiberworks
Ashley Sisk's Ramblings and Photos
Jenny Shih
Life @ RuffHaven
kharliebug
Here and Now
Living in a Still Life
Bastelmania
Donna Did It
Left in Front of Right
The Red Tin
Altered Muse Art
Dreams and Whispers
Maddy's Stitching Corner
Simply Life Photographs
Pointy Pix
Natasha May
The Vintage Artist
Digital Experiments by Carolyn
WJC's Digital Designs
Creating my Life
icandy
i wanna be me when i grow up
Giddy-Up Let's Ride
The Creative Identity
Elizabeth GLZ
Jofabi Photo
A New Day, A Different Way
A Rural Journal
Alchemy of Art
eyechai
Picturing the Year
Superdewa
Hounds in Heaven
BleuOiseau Photography
Aquarel Rivers
The Wright Stuff
The Mrs.
Urban Muser
deustchemexicana
{Furi Kuri}Travels
A Little Blue Sky
carola bARTz
Same Day: Thirty Years Apart
Camper
Cottage 960
Nomadic Notebook
Well of Creations
CindyLew's Studio
Om2Art
Hysong Designs
The Weekend Photo Warrior
Tina's Tree
The Studio 56
Kristen Walker
naperie
Rosie Grey
This Life through the Lens
Not Everyone Has Film
Sloane Solanto: A Colorful Life
Ravenous Rae
sassyangelac
My Midlife Creativities
MakieDoll
Tracy Swartz, Whimsical Gourd Art
One Thousand Paintings
One Little Promise
Amber Leigh Jacobs
Marie Z. Johanson
The Queen of Creativity
Expressive World
Random Thoughts Do or "Di"
Lyrical Journey
Karen Koch, Life Needs Art
My Sweet Prairie
dye~ing to be yours
Knottyneedle
my heart art
ODDImagination
Crafty Creativity
Jenna Kannas Inspirations
Going a Little Coastal
Starry Blue Sky
Quilting, Calle and other things
Matthew and Larissa
sightspecific
Studio Mailbox
Artimagica
Poetic Mapping
Simple Mansion
By Jen
Paper Bird
Musings of a Hennaphile
She Dreams of the Sea
The Little Things...
Tangerine Meg
amaze, surprise & delight
love PEAS
Straightlinez
Kristen Laudick Photography

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Turning the Camera on Myself


I'm over at Mortal Muses today, kicking off a week of musing on self-portraits with this image of me in my little creative space in our apartment here in Italy. We've been talking about a self portrait prompt amongst the muses for quite some time, and I must admit I had been dreading it. I don't like pictures of myself. I see all of my flaws, the things I want to change. I've never quite figured out the self-portrait craze that seems to be going on in photography right now.

The dread was reduced when I finally got the idea to capture a picture of me in this place, our apartment in Italy, which we are leaving so soon. This little space you see me in is where my creative journey has unfolded. Where I dream, plan, and capture all of my ideas as they emerge. This is me, right now, right here. In the process of doing this prompt, I discovered something interesting - I actually like this photo of myself. I still see all of my physical flaws, but it's as if they diminish in importance because there is more context. This is a self-portrait of more than the outer shell, it shows what's going on inside too. There are a thousand details in this photo I could point out, each representing some aspect of me that goes beyond what you see on the outside. I like that.

So often, with portraits, it's all about keeping the focus on the physical person and trying to remove a distracting background. Sometimes though, the context found in that background is as important to the portrait as the person itself. Context can make a portrait something more. I learned this when I saw the work of photographer Jason Bell, at an exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery in London. The portraits were for his project, An Englishman in New York, and his work struck me for how he captured the setting as much as the person in the image. These portraits are about each person in their place, and they tell a larger story than just a great head shot alone.

I'm heading out today for another week of vacation, this time to Scotland. It's our last week-long vacation here in Europe before we move back to the US on July 1. You'll see a few scheduled posts from me over the next week but I'll be back, live and in person, on June 6. Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Share Your View: Finding Form

Oranges
Oranges by Dorian Susan

With all of the recent talk about overcoming fear going on around here, you might have forgotten that  Exploring with a Camera: Finding Form is still going on! Today I'm sharing a couple of images from the Flickr pool, to give you an idea of what kind of form your fellow photographers are finding. I'm seeing form everywhere!

The link up is posted below, if you'd like to add your view to the mix. I'll be on vacation next week, so I'm keeping the link up open an extra week while I'm gone. I hope you'll take some time to explore form and see how you capture it in your photos. Archive and recent photos are all welcome! I believe we learn from review and assessment of older images as much as we learn from capturing new images.

Have a great day!


2011-04-29c
2011-04-29c by bgottsab



Don't Reject Yourself


Yesterday's conversation on fear was fantastic. If you are thinking you are the only one who feels fear, go and take a look at the comments. You and I are definitely not alone.

This topic was on my mind through the whole day. Funnily enough, a message with the title "Your Fears are Lies" appeared in my inbox later in the day. I'm on a list for fear.less magazine, which periodically sends out notes about overcoming fear, in addition to the free online magazine they publish "to show people they're not alone in their fear." The message was a perfect continuation of what I started writing about yesterday, highlighting some of the same points and adding others. If you want ongoing encouragement to overcome your fear, you can subscribe to the fear.less free online magazine and the emails here.

Later in the day, I also had a conversation with my husband about how we "pre-reject" ourselves. Here's the scenario:
1. We see something we want to do or have an idea and want to propose it somewhere.
2. We think about asking or proposing and the little voice in our head starts talking. It says, "They will just say no."
3. We are so afraid of rejection, we don't want to hear a "no," so we don't ask.
Guess what! No one else had to reject us in this scenario. We did it for them!

Have you ever done this? I have. So, so many times. I'm starting to realize that I should let someone else say yes or no, not decide for them. Some of the time, when you put a question or proposal out there, the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is a big, blank void. That's almost worse, to my mind. But sometimes, the answer is yes.

The only way you can get an answer of "yes" is to actually ask the question, send the proposal, submit your work. You open yourself up for rejection, but you also open yourself up for success. No one is going to come  knocking at your door or in your email inbox asking for this wonderful idea, because they don't even know it exists until you put it out there.

Think on this. Look for times when you don't even give others the chance to reject you, because you are rejecting yourself. When that happens, take a deep breath, put yourself out there and let them make the decision. Who knows, the answer might just be "yes."

Photo is from Murten, Switzerland.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Feeling the Fear


Sometimes, as we travel through life, it may seem that we are the only ones with problems. The only ones who feel fear. We may read the stories of these big successes, people we admire, and think, There's no way they feel like I do. We tend to look at the outward positive things and tell ourselves a story, when we can't see the fears that are inside of someone else.

I feel fear. As I start to dream big, after the creative retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago, my fears are growing to match. I recognize now that my fears have accompanied me on every step of this creative journey. Fear of sharing my work. Fear of putting my honest self out here on the blog. Fear of trying something new. The only way I've grown is to face the fear and move past it.

The bigger the steps we take on our creative journey, the bigger our fears become. Last winter, as I was getting ready to start my first run of the Find Your Eye class, I was assailed with an attack of, "Who do you think you are?"  Who did I think I was, to create a class and put it out there to the general public. To think I had something to contribute to the conversation, since I don't have a photography degree or years of professional experience under my belt. Luckily, it was too late - the class was being advertised, people were registered - I was committed and couldn't quit. It didn't mean I felt those fears any less, however.

We all feel fear. Fear of rejection, ridicule, failure, hurt. Maybe even fear of success. Fear is there to protect us, to keep us from getting hurt. Everyone has doubts and insecurities. The face we put out to the world may be a brave one, but I guarantee there is some fear going on inside. We are not alone in this. While it may be a comfort to know others feel fear too, it doesn't make it easier to deal with our own fears.

The only way I personally know how to deal with fear is to acknowledge it. If I can define the fear, understand where it is coming from, I can make a plan to deal with it and move ahead anyway. If I can name it, I'm less likely to let it stop me. The fear doesn't actually go away, I just carry it along for the ride. I think of it as having a conversation with my fear, "Hello there Mr. Fear. I see you lurking there. I see what you are trying to do. Thanks for trying to protect me, but this time I'm not going to listen to you. We are moving ahead anyway. You can come along with me and see how this turns out." Somehow, that helps. But believe me, it's not comfortable, to carry this fear along. It would be easier to run away in the other direction.

Now, as I get ready to hit the submit button on this post, the little voice of fear is talking in my head. Should I admit my fears publicly? Won't this just look weak? Maybe it will to some of you, but to others, it might bring a sigh of relief. You aren't alone.

What do you do when faced with fear? How do you recognize and address it? Move past it? Please leave a comment, and today let's help each other deal with fear.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It Happened Among the Roses


Yesterday I found myself in a rose garden, a completely unplanned event. I had walked down to a local art exhibit of young artists, to get a little bit of creative inspiration. As I was in the gallery I looked out the window and there was a rose garden, in full bloom. It was gorgeous. I was kicking myself, I hadn't brought my good camera! It was a hot and humid day and since I was walking, I wanted to travel light so I left my SLR at home. Strike one against me.

I did have my little point-and-shoot camera with me, which always does well in a pinch. I explored the rose garden, looking to find interesting compositions, color and light. Since I have Finding Form on my mind as the current Exploring with a Camera prompt, I noticed that roses are an amazing subject for the study of form. So much light and dark, along with intricate curving shapes, within a rose. I was happily exploring away when the "low battery" light started blinking and the camera eventually died. Strike two against me.

Finally, at a loss for photographic equipment, I pulled out a little sketch book and a mechanical pencil. I had dropped this in my bag at the last moment, thinking of my recent painting class and the instructor Flora's encouragement to sketch nature. These roses were too beautiful, I felt the urge to continue to study them, and pencil and paper were all I had left.

Look what emerged on my page...


Now, I was wholly and completely stunned. I was just focusing on shapes and light and dark and look what happened? I tried another one...


Um. Yeah. Can I just tell you, I had no idea that I had these in me? I'm trying to figure out where these came from. I used to draw, back when I was a kid, but of course all art stopped when I went  for the "college prep" classes in high school and then studied engineering in college. I've done a little bit of drawing here and there, the last couple of years, but never had it click like it did yesterday. 

I've discovered a new love. Photography, painting, and now I'm going to have to explore drawing more too. The feel of a pencil on the paper, the drawing of shapes and shadow, was amazing. What would happen if I actually practiced? I'm going to have to find out.

It turns out, I'm glad that I didn't bring my good camera. I would have never spent the time with pencil and paper if I had that camera, my first love, with me. You don't often hear stories of where being unprepared pays off, but in this case it did!

(Linking in to Creative Every Day and The Creative Exchange today. Hello to all!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

All Locked Up + Swap Update


I am in love with locks lately. I seem to have quite a few from our visit to Greece a few weeks ago. But, seriously, who could resist this color and shape? And those little embossed dots? The square bolts? Could you have resisted?

I'm considering this as one of the images in my next postcard order. We are so, so close to my goal -- 195 people are currently signed up for the Liberate Your Art postcard swap! Isn't that awesome? If we hit my goal 200, I promised that everyone signed up with get a postcard from me in addition to 5 postcards they will receive from other participants. I'm so excited to be this close to the goal, and it's time for me to think about my postcards too! Especially since I liberated most of my current stock at the Do What You Love retreat last week. Postcards were a great way to give people something a little bit "more" of my art than a business card. Everyone seemed to really like looking through them and choosing their favorite too.

There is still time to help me get the word out or to sign up for the swap yourself! I'm going to close sign up on Saturday, 4 June, so that I can be sure that everyone gets the final details I send to the list in June. Go here for the rest of the details, to get a button for your blog or to sign up.

I've added tons of new links to the participant link list this week. That means it's time to go visiting again. Can you find the artist who paints on rocks? How about an artist who lives in Australia? They are in there, and so, so many more amazing artists. Pick two or three links, go and visit, and leave a note letting them know you stopped by from the postcard swap!

Here are the new links added this week:


Nomadic Notebook
Well of Creations
CindyLew's Studio
Om2Art
Hysong Designs
The Weekend Photo Warrior
Tina's Tree
The Studio 56
Kristen Walker
naperie
Rosie Grey
This Life through the Lens
Not Everyone Has Film
Sloane Solanto: A Colorful Life
Ravenous Rae
sassyangelac
My Midlife Creativities
MakieDoll
Tracy Swartz, Whimsical Gourd Art
One Thousand Paintings
One Little Promise
Amber Leigh Jacobs
Marie Z. Johanson
The Queen of Creativity
Expressive World
Random Thoughts Do or "Di"
Lyrical Journey
Karen Koch, Life Needs Art
My Sweet Prairie
dye~ing to be yours
Knottyneedle
my heart art
ODDImagination
Crafty Creativity
Jenna Kannas Inspirations
Going a Little Coastal
Starry Blue Sky
Quilting, Calle and other things
Matthew and Larissa
sightspecific
Studio Mailbox
Artimagica
Poetic Mapping
Simple Mansion
By Jen
Paper Bird
Musings of a Hennaphile
She Dreams of the Sea
The Little Things...
Tangerine Meg
amaze, surprise & delight
love PEAS
Straightlinez
Kristen Laudick Photography

And of course all of the ones from before:
How to Feather an Empty Nest
Learning as I Go
Paloma Chaffinch
Fiberworks
Ashley Sisk's Ramblings and Photos
Jenny Shih
Life @ RuffHaven
kharliebug
Here and Now
Living in a Still Life
Bastelmania
Donna Did It
Left in Front of Right
The Red Tin
Altered Muse Art
Dreams and Whispers
Maddy's Stitching Corner
Simply Life Photographs
Pointy Pix
Natasha May
The Vintage Artist
Digital Experiments by Carolyn
WJC's Digital Designs
Creating my Life
icandy
i wanna be me when i grow up
Giddy-Up Let's Ride
The Creative Identity
Elizabeth GLZ
Jofabi Photo
A New Day, A Different Way
A Rural Journal
Alchemy of Art
eyechai
Picturing the Year
Superdewa
Hounds in Heaven
BleuOiseau Photography
Aquarel Rivers
The Wright Stuff
The Mrs.
Urban Muser
deustchemexicana
{Furi Kuri}Travels
A Little Blue Sky
carola bARTz
Same Day: Thirty Years Apart
Camper
Cottage 960

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Whole New World

Blooming Collaboratively, 30x30in, Acrylic on Canvas
Have you ever craved something, but didn't know how to start? That's painting for me. I've had the desire for two years now, to paint big, bold, bright paintings. Paintings that expressed something more than the reality around me. Something that would come from intuition and a place deep inside. I've dabbled in painting but on a small scale, and without getting to where I wanted to go.

I finally found a way to tap into that inner creative energy that's been wanting to run free in Flora Bowley's Bloom True painting class last week at the Do What You Love retreat. A couple of days ago, I shared the process we learned over the three days to get to one finished painting. Today I'm sharing images of the three paintings I worked on in the class, in celebration of Paint Party Friday.

Painting #1 (above) I've titled "Blooming Collaboratively" because it is not wholly mine. Flora teaches a lot about non-attachment and using what "is." She helped us work through our attachment issues by having us paint on each other's canvases at the beginning of the first day. An even bigger lesson came mid-morning the second day, when we had to give one of the two paintings we were working on to the person on our left. Yep, a day and a half of painting on this canvas, and now it's not ours. Big, big lesson in non-attachment.

This painting is partly done by Carissa, who was painting to my left. In the painting I received, I noticed the three bright orange and yellow dots. I had just been sketching flowers on the trees as part of our morning exercise, so the flowers just came, along with the circles. All of the painting you see in the middle of the flowers and circles is the original painting I received. I went from there with the background and details.

It's interesting, I really like how this painting turned out, but I'm not attached to it. I don't feel like I can really call it "mine." It came so easily, it felt like cheating. Somewhere deep inside me there must be some self-inflicted rules I'm harboring that relate to this feeling, that need to get sorted out.

Leafing Out, 30x30in, Acrylic on Canvas
Painting #2: I wrote about the process to create this painting, start to finish, earlier this week. You can read that post here. I am more attached to this painting, because of the struggles I went through and what I learned on it, but I'm not sure I like it. I like the colors and the shapes, the brushstrokes, the individual elements. I struggled with the composition.

What I've realized is that composition in painting is very different than composition in photography. In my photography, composition comes naturally to me. My favorite type of photography is what I call "real life still life," finding an existing scene and composing a photograph with the elements that are already there. Composition, in that case, is about eliminating what shouldn't be in the frame so that my vision is clear. Painting is different. I'm creating the elements, adding them, subtracting them, combining them. There are just so many possibilities! I'll have to work through this more, to find a compositional style in painting that comes intuitively.

Unlocked (unfinished), 30x30in, Acrylic on Canvas
Painting #3: This is the canvas we started from scratch on the third (and last) day. Using all of what we had learned so far, it was time to integrate and work independently. Boy, was it fun!! This one came very easily so far, but it's not complete. Others have commented, "It looks complete to me!" I know in my heart that it is not. I see a few things that I want to do, when I next get my hands on it. The visual elements represent how I feel about painting after this class too, as if there is something that has been unlocked inside of me. Something I've been trying to get at, but didn't know how.

It was great to get the opportunity to do this third canvas, start to (almost) finish. Flora's classes are usually two days and so this third canvas is not part of the normal plan. It really helped me to integrate what I've learned and see what would come out in a work that was on my own. I find it so interesting, how some of the elements are the same in all three - the circles, organic curving shapes of flowers, leaves and vines, the colors of the last two - mostly cool with some warm popping through. Here I've hardly painted and a bit of style is emerging. I love it! Right up my alley as I'm passionate about everyone finding their unique vision of the world, regardless of the art form.

There you have it! Three paintings - bigger, bolder and quicker than I've ever painted. I'm filled with so much joy and excitement about painting, a whole new world has opened up. I am completely and totally smitten. Now, these canvases have been removed from the wood frames and are rolled up, ready to be shipped to Oregon in July when I move back home from Italy.

After writing this, I'm itching to paint again and am resolving to make the time to get to it before we move. Happy Paint Party Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Exploring with a Camera: Finding Form


Happy Exploring with a Camera Thursday! I'm so excited that for the next couple of weeks we will be Finding Form in our photographs. While I've been exploring form for a while, I didn't become quite so focused on it until our recent trip to Greece. Today I will explain the idea of form and show you how I use it in my photographs. At the end of the post you will find the link tool to share your own photographs of form, or you can add them to the Exploring with a Camera Flickr pool.

What is Form?


It helps to explain form by contrasting it with shape. Shape is two dimensional, flat. Form is three dimensional, it has volume. In our photographs we can often find elements of both shape and form. In some cases, the object we are photographing really is flat, and has only shape. In most cases, however, the object we are photographing is really three dimensional, it has volume. We communicate those 3D forms in our 2D photographs through the angle and lighting we choose to capture.

Before diving into examples of form, I'll show you an example photograph of shape, absent of form. A silhouette is a shape, it has no volume. In the photo below, you can tell that these are people, but you don't get much indication of the form by the silhouette, only the shape. Contrast that with the lead-in photo of the stairway on Santorini island, in Greece. In the stairway photo, there is dimension and movement. You move through the stairway and can see and feel its dimension - that's form.


The light you use in your photographs is what expresses form. Do you need direct light or indirect light? What's best? I found it interesting, as I consulted my photography reference books on this topic,  how discussion of form was either completely absent or contradictory. Only two books even mentioned shape and form as design elements in photography, and those two disagreed on what light best expresses form. 

So, in my explorations I looked at images where form was a dominant element and what type of light I was using, to share with you here. My conclusion: The light that best expresses form will depend both on what is available and on what you are trying to convey. Each type of light emphasizes different elements of form: Direct light seems to emphasize planes and edges while indrect light emphasizes curves.

Direct Light

Here is an example of direct afternoon sunlight, on the turret of this church on Santorini. The form is definitely expressed, you can see the dimension of the building through the different faces and the curve of the dome. The resulting form is very planar or angular, however, and the curves are minimized.


The volume of this carving, from a door found in Cefalu, Sicily, is clearly evident. There is a strong element of shape with the circles but the strong light and shadow gives the dimension of form. I almost want to reach out and touch it, run my fingers along the carved surfaces.


This image of footprints in the sand is all about form. There is really nothing "there" in this image. The photograph is of what is not there, the displaced sand, that the light and shadow highlight. Without the direct light, these footprints would not have the strong dimensional form you see here.


Indirect Light


Indirect light is softer, more gentle; It emphasizes the curves. I love indirect light for the gradations it provides, which serve to show volume. The indirect light on this Canova sculpture in the Louvre is marvelous for capturing the details of the form. Can you imagine this sculpture with a strong front or back light? The depth would be gone.




I have completely fallen in love with sculpture as an art, I think because it is pure form. Photography and sculpture have an amazing amount in common - both are about expressing light on a volume. The significant difference is that sculptors create the form from nothing while photographers capture the form that exists. Aren't we lucky that those of us who aren't going to carve marble have a way to communicate form?  I think so!

Here's another example of form, expressed through light on a sculpture. You saw this image of a Rodin sculpture several weeks ago when we explored rim light, but the form is definitely captured by the indirect lighting from both sides.


The attic of Gaudi's Casa Battlo in Barcelona is a heavenly place to capture form in indirect light. This stairway has indirect light from several directions, which serves to highlight the various forms that it is made up of. The gradation of light and shadow give the image a lot of depth and layers to move through. The curves are emphasized.


Here is a final example of lighting from Santorini, a combination of both direct and indirect light in this scene. How do you think they work together? What does each type of light emphasize?


Color

In looking at my photographs that have form as a primary design element, I've noticed that they are almost always monochromatic. Removing variation in color helps to focus on the form. This can either be done by converting to black and white, or capturing a mainly monochromatic scene. This street corner in Brescia, Italy is a good example. The form of the buildings is emphasized through the light on the different surfaces. Since both buildings were pink, the image retains a feeling of form as one of the main elements.


This group of images from Burano, Italy show variation in color when taken together. If you look at each one individually, you will see form as a dominant element in each photograph. These photos also serve as examples of how indirect light works differently than direct light to show form. The curves of the pipes and other elements are emphasized rather than the planes and edges. The indirect light gives a softness to the images, where direct light would give harder, distinct edges.


Images don't have to be completely monochromatic to highlight form, as this photo from Santorini shows. The form of the wall and steps is a strong element in this photo because the colors are softer and don't compete.


When there is strong color contrast, however, form can recede to a secondary element in the photograph. This image from Burano has a strong element of form, however the strongest design element of the image is color because of the contrast of the bright primary colors. Form takes a supporting role here.


I hope this has helped you to see what form is, and how you can use it in your photographs. Since photography is a two-dimensional expression of our three-dimensional world, finding and conveying form is a way to give our images depth. You may notice most photographs have an element of form in them, but it may not be the primary design element. 

Take some time over the next couple of weeks to find form. Natural or man-made, straight or curvy, every three-dimensional object has form. Go through your archives, or explore with your camera, and come back and share what you've found with everyone here. I say it every time, but I learn so much through the images you choose to share here! We grow our community knowledge that way. You can link your images in below or add them to the Flickr pool.  

Thanks so much for joining me here! Have fun exploring!


FYI - Links will be moderated. Please ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a short explanation of how it relates to the current theme. Link back to this site through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finding the Contrast

Number 9
Number 9 by tim mcmurdo

Sometimes, an Exploring with a Camera topic really strikes a chord with me and with all of you. Visual Contrast is definitely one of those times! It's funny, I never quite know what is going to happen on a topic until I put it out into the world. I love how you all have run with this one, finding so many different kinds of contrasts in your images. I loved looking through the Flickr pool and I'm still visiting links, so I'll be by shortly to say hi if you haven't heard from me. 

Tomorrow we'll move on to a new exploration, look at form in our photography. Not sure what I mean by that? Come back tomorrow and find out! You can also find me on Mortal Muses this morning, as we begin musing about shapes. I found the most amazing shapes created by light and liquid over the weekend that I'm sharing there today.


{218/365} Fading
{218/365} Fading by jennifée

Jennifée says: I find it interesting how nature contains all stages of life at the same time - both vibrantly alive and slowly dying, like here.

In the Crane's Shadow {235/365}
In the Crane's Shadow {235/365} by Dorian Susan
Dorian Susan says: Lobster boat dwarfed by huge cranes at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard creates a contrast of big and small, industrial vs. simplicity of the common working man.

The Evolution of a Painting: A Thank You to Art


Yesterday I shared a tiny bit about the Do What You Love retreat, but honestly I was a bit at a loss for words. It was easier to let the photographs do the talking. How can you possibly explain the feeling of being in an environment where art and creativity, positive encouragement and infinite possibility are the norm for four days?

Today I thought I would share just a peek at some of what I experienced by showing the evolution of one of the paintings I created in Flora Bowley's class. Through showing you how it progressed through the three days and what I learned, I hope to give you an idea of what it was like. I created three paintings over the three days, and I'll share the other two (one of which is pictured above, in progress) in Friday's blog post. (I have to save something for Paint Party Friday, don't I?)

The first day we quickly learned to get past the "blank canvas" syndrome. Flora's painting technique starts with a lot of mark making. Using foam brushes, small paintbrushes, found objects, fingers, rags and a spray bottle we learned all sorts of ways to make marks on the canvas. We painted with our eyes closed, danced to the music, stopped for yoga stretches, just worked on releasing the tensions and expectations and using our whole body to paint.

One of the more interesting things we did early in the first day is paint on each other's canvases. We rotated around the room, moving from canvas to canvas and Flora would tell us what kind of mark to make. We would practice that mark on the canvas we were at and then rotate to the next canvas to practice a new type of mark. The idea was to keep us from attaching too much to any one thing we painted. It definitely worked! It was very fun to see what our canvas looked like when we got back to it.

We spent the first day building up multiple layers of two of our 30x30" canvases, painting in all of the colors of the rainbow. The idea was to give us lots of possibilities and directions the painting could go in terms of color, shape, subject. Here is the painting at the end of the first day:


Kind of wild, isn't it? I definitely had lots of directions to go with this! I couldn't really see how this was going to evolve into anything "beautiful" at this point. This was the canvas that everyone painted on, so it's fun to know that the whole class had a part in creating this painting.

Here is the image again, rotated 90 degrees, in the orientation of the painting for later comparison. It's interesting how you see different things when you rotate the painting, isn't it? We did a lot of that, working from different directions.


We started the second day by writing a gratitude list and then sketching from nature. Flora encouraged us to look at both the broad vista and the close up for our sketches. We were in a beautiful place to do this! The Yorkshire countryside rolled along in front of us and the trees and flowers were in their spring bloom. She then showed us how she started to use what was working in the layers she had created, plus her sketches from the morning, to bring more out of the painting. She encouraged us to make a bold move, commit to something, not be afraid to cover up what was already there. You have to do this to make room for the new, great things that will come along.

That was probably the hardest lesson for me to learn in this class - covering up what was already there. I seemed to want to keep everything. I mean, what if it became important to the end work? It wasn't until the end of this second day that I finally got this concept. It is only by truly committing and seriously covering up parts of the underpainting that the wonderful layers and textures begin to pop out. You need that contrast. (Interesting, isn't it, that I've been exploring Visual Contrast in my photography.)

My "bold move" to start at the beginning of the second day was to paint the fern across the middle of the painting and then started to fill in around that. The other leaves and circles started to pop out and emerge, so I went with that. One of Flora's mantras was to "go with what's working." Here is the painting at the end of the second day:


The color palette had emerged as mainly cool colors, green, blue and purple. I discovered I absolutely loved painting and mixing the dark and lights with my fingers, you can see that in the greens in the upper left corner. I really liked how the fern and the upper left corner were emerging, but was struggling with the bottom right. I hadn't committed to anything there yet and had been reworking it. By the end of the day, I was just fried. I needed some time away from painting, so that I could get a better perspective and see what to do next. We had an evening off from the activities, so I drank wine and talked with my cabin-mates into the wee hours of the morning.

We started day three with writing an affirmation for the day. Taking a fear, or something we were struggling with, and turning it into a positive statement.  We taped this up on the wall of the painting tent, to remind us during the day if we got stuck. We also started with stretches, and had frequent breaks throughout the day for stretching, dancing, running around the field. Just keeping ourselves loose and having fun. Letting go. It was very funny, when Flora asked us as the beginning of the day if we wanted to start with a demo or if we wanted to just start painting, we enthusiastically answered that we wanted to paint!

When I stood back and looked at my painting in the morning of the third day, I had a very good idea what I wanted to do and just got on with it. I covered up some more of the bottom right area, bringing in the light greens from the upper left, and created some repetition with the black dots. 

I was struggling with the upper right area, the bright red. I liked the pops of red that were throughout the painting from the underpainting but that area wasn't working for me. Flora suggested I pull the red through some other areas of the painting more, with little details. She didn't tell me where or how to do it, just that it would help. What a great teacher! I'm sure she saw some things I could do but she didn't tell me, she let me figure it out myself.

I finished the painting around the middle of the third day. Here is the finished work:


It is unlike anything I've ever done before. It is big, it is bold, it is unplanned. This isn't necessarily my favorite of the three paintings, but this is definitely the one that I learned the most on. I struggled with things and broke through them. Flora's experience, repeated many times to us, is that the paintings she struggles the most with are often her best work. She encouraged us to keep pushing through those barriers we found. To commit to bold moves. Look to nature for inspiration. Move our bodies. Go with what's working. Reminding us that we made the marks that were there, we could always make them again.

It was a very emotional experience for many of us. It's amazing how painting can be so connected to our core self, how much we can each individually struggle and the emotions it brings up. How we can attach ourselves to certain outcomes. How our inner voices can just destroy our confidence. There are so many parallels between painting, or any art, with our life. I learn this over and over again as I continue explore art and creativity. I have learned more about myself through art in the last couple of years than through anything else, ever.

Thank you to Flora, for being such a wonderful teacher. She gave us the tools and lessons but let us find the ways to make our painting an expression of our self. Thank you to my classmates, who provided all sorts of positive encouragement and support for each other along this journey, which was difficult at times. Thank you to Beth, for creating such a wonderful environment at the retreat that we could learn these amazing things about art and life. And thank you to art and creativity, for being the thing that makes me whole.

(Stephey Baker of Marked by the Muse is doing a "Thank You to Art" link up right now. What perfect timing! Visit her site to see more stories and link your "thank you" in.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Doing What I Love...


Imagine spending five days in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside, eating your meals in a tipi around a fire.


Staying in wonderful cabins, that feel like part of the surrounding forest, with the best cabin-mates ever.


Sleeping in a heavenly bed, in a room where the art is the natural world outside the window.

Juliette and Carissa
Meeting the most amazing people from all over the world. We didn't know each other, but found instant connections. I felt like I had known these wonderful women my whole life.

Tara
Learning to paint from my intuition with the most amazing artist and teacher, Flora Bowley. Learning to go with what's working, to go bold, to let go of attachment to a specific outcome and see what happens.


Finding my heart, in the midst of it all.

I got back late last night from the Do What You Love retreat, and I'm still processing all that went on. It was so, so wonderful! I will share more over time. Over the next few days I'll be getting caught up on the Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap, adding new participants to the link list. The swap is now at 172 participants - so close to my goal of 200 - thank you all for your help!! I will also be visiting the many people who have linked in to Exploring with a Camera: Visual Contrast in the last few days, you still have a day or two to link in if you would like to share your image. 

I'm full to bursting with all of the positive energy that happens when you get 40+ people together, all doing creative things they love. Who knows what will come out next...

(Linking in to The Creative Exchange and Creative Every Day today.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

White and Blue


Remember my desire to photograph white, white houses and blue, blue sea? 'Nuff said.

I'll be back here tomorrow, full of all sorts of creative ideas from my retreat. See you then!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Let's go Visiting

While I'm out in the Yorkshire countryside, painting up a storm, I thought it would be fun to have you all go visiting a few of the participants we have so far in the Liberate Your Art postcard swap. As of this writing, we have 106 participants! Can I just tell you how excited I am about that? So many opportunities to make more connections with other artists, so much art to be liberated in the world.

To promote those connections, I encourage you to pick 2 or 3 of the links on the list below and visit them over the weekend. See what new things you find and don't by shy - say hi!


Participant List
How to Feather an Empty Nest
Learning as I Go
Paloma Chaffinch
Fiberworks
Ashley Sisk's Ramblings and Photos
Jenny Shih
Life @ RuffHaven
kharliebug
Here and Now
Living in a Still Life
Bastelmania
Donna Did It
Left in Front of Right
The Red Tin
Altered Muse Art
Dreams and Whispers
Maddy's Stitching Corner
Simply Life Photographs
Pointy Pix
Natasha May
The Vintage Artist
Digital Experiments by Carolyn
WJC's Digital Designs
Creating my Life
icandy
i wanna be me when i grow up
Giddy-Up Let's Ride
The Creative Identity
Elizabeth GLZ
Jofabi Photo
A New Day, A Different Way
A Rural Journal
Alchemy of Art
eyechai
Picturing the Year
Superdewa
Hounds in Heaven
BleuOiseau Photography
Aquarel Rivers
The Wright Stuff
The Mrs.
Urban Muser
deustchemexicana
{Furi Kuri}Travels
A Little Blue Sky
carola bARTz
Same Day: Thirty Years Apart
Camper
Cottage 960

(Are you in the swap but not on this list yet? Reply to the email you received when you signed up with your link information, and I'll add you to the list when I return from England. If you're not signed up yet, go here.)