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Posts tagged ‘art’

Up for Discussion: Why We Blog

I’ve told you that it is a crazy week for me, and not a good one, so I am trying not to be too lazy, but I can’t do a massive Up for Discussion post today, so I thought I might do one on Why We Blog.  I will start.  I will tell you why I blog.  Then you can leave me a comment with why you blog, or maybe you might do your own blog post on why you blog with a pingback to this post.  Why do you think?

Why I Blog

I wrote my first blog post on WordPress, in September 2010, however it wasn’t my first blog.  I originally started in January 2010 on Blogspot, First One.sm20101031-3488

I started a blog for a couple of reasons, one was because I was photographing cycling and trying to sell the photos. A guy who worked with my husband suggested that I start a blog, that people liked blogs.  Well it never helped with the cycling, but then it had a second effect. Suddenly I wanted to post, I wanted to share my photos, and over time I realised that the photos I was taking for the posts was changing.

I changed to WordPress in September because I liked the stats better. WP had much better stats, still do, you could really get an idea of what people were looking at, it was good.  Then I started meeting people, I started making friends.  I have met some amazing people church0788-1scvirtually, I love seeing what they do. It has been such an incredible experience.

I really came to WP and blogging with the intention of using it to help me produce work.  In September 2010 I was trying to do lots of things, art wise that is, painting, printmaking, drawing and taking photos.  I thought having the blog would make me do work for it, but it really didn’t work out that way. Within a year of starting this blog I made the decision to give everything else up and concentrate on photography, I have never regretted that decision.

Then in November 2011 I decided to challenge myself to see if I could do a post every day, and post a photo each for the month of November, and since that time I have done a post nearly every day since.  With the exception of the odd here I still post everyday.  It works for me.

20110802-0010Posting each day makes me to go and take photos. Being a relatively lazy person, going out to take photos can be hard, so with the threat of a blog and the need for photos, I have taken far more photos than I would have otherwise.  I have found the blog a fantastic incentive to take photos.

Conclusion

The blog has meant I have met people who I would never have met otherwise.  It drives me to get out and take photos to show people.  It has been an incredibly positive experience for me.

So why do you blog?

I’m just going to approve all the comments for now, and I will try to respond to them all, but I hope you will forgive me if I can’t.

The photos today are from various posts during my first year on WordPress.

Up for Discussion: Observing the World Around You

For this Up for Discussion post I thought I would do something that I have been thinking about for a long time.  It may not seem that it is important or even relevant to photography, but I hope you will hang around long enough, and read enough to realise it does.

This is a lithography, so a drawing on a special stone that is then printed, not much room for mistakes.

This is a lithography, so a drawing on a special stone that is then printed, not much room for mistakes.

We often hear people talking about “faking the real in photography”, it isn’t a concept that is new and really, when you think about it artists have been doing that for centuries.  Learning to observe the world around them is very important.  It is something that some do well and some don’t.

Drawing

I know many of you know that I can draw, well used to be able to.  I’ve shown you images of my drawing before. One thing I’ve never really talked about is my Fine Art Degree, which wasn’t in photography,  but rather in printmaking and drawing.  It happened at a time when I was not happy with photography, or rather I was frustrated, I couldn’t get the images I wanted. I thought I would need to make them myself, so draw them.

A drawing from my sketch book.

A drawing from my sketch book.

It was an interesting process, it meant lots of observing of things as I drew them. I spent a lot of time drawing.

Observation

You can’t underestimate how important it is. Of course it isn’t important if you just want to take photos and not do anything with them, then again, if you hone those observation skills then you are likely to see more and get better photos.

If you are interested in photo editing/manipulation then it is really important.

Watching how the light falls on an object, or how it falls when it is hit by another light source. Then there are the shadows, how

Studying how fabric folds, then how the light and shadows show.

Studying how fabric folds, then how the light and shadows show.

do they fall, are shadows solid?  I saw a guy online doing some compositing, and as I watched him move a person into a lane and then add a shadow I realised that he just added a solid colour, shadows are rarely solid colours.  They often have light areas and dark areas, depending on what is around them.

The same guy also made the edge of the shadow very feathered, and soft, but then again it really depends on the light source and where that light is coming from, how direct it is.  If you went and stood outside in the sun, especially in summer, you would see your shadow would have a hard edge.  However, if you went into somewhere where the light wasn’t as strong you would see a softer edged shadow.  It really does all depend on the light.  Which is why in studios the light is often controlled with soft boxes and reflectors to make it like a secondary light source, sort of.

A drawing I did of my daughter, using window light.

A drawing I did of my daughter, using window light.

When you learn to draw you learn to watch and see how things are.

Perspective

Another important aspect is perspective.  It is something you learn in drawing and painting, probably most art forms.  I didn’t do a lot of drawing where you needed to worry about perspective, but it was always something you had to consider.

I have seen the work of other photographers and one of the things you notice is how they don’t understand perspective when they are doing composites and then the work doesn’t look real.

Faking the Real

It is an important thing.  You hear writers talking about how if you don’t make your characters real then people won’t believe them, so isn’t it the same with images, if they don’t look real then people can’t relate to them.  You have to make sure that everything in your image makes sense and is believable.  It is where learning to

A shaving brush, just studying how it looks and looking at the light.

A shaving brush, just studying how it looks and looking at the light.

look and observe the world around you really helps.

If you want to get into more photo editing or manipulation, then one of the best things you can do is learn to look at what is around you.  Don’t just take photos, look at what you are taking.  You don’t have to learn how to draw, but you can always learn how to look, observe.  Watch how light hits objects, where the light comes from. How does the light affect the shadows, are the shadows solid, or do they have lots of different strengths.

I think it is an invaluable tool and one we don’t take enough notice of.  Through drawing I really began to understand light and how important it was.  I also started to understand how I could use that in my photography and become a better photographer, at least I hope it has helped.

I have been going through all my drawings, I’ve found a lot that were just exercises, where I was just trying to see how I could draw them.  There are others that are more, a couple of etchings and some lithographs.  I will try and label them so you can tell what each is.

Starting the Year as I Plan to Finish

Happy New Year

It is the first of January as this post publishes, and I no doubt will be fast asleep, well I hope I am.

In the last 12 months I have concentrated on learning things and trying some things.  In between I did a few art images. Admittedly the year started badly with a bad back that meant I couldn’t sit for very long and wouldn’t able to spend a lot of time working on images.  As the year progressed I still didn’t do many, but it is something that I want to get back to.  Robyn’s One Four Challenge was great to help me get back into it and realised that perhaps I should be doing more.  So I am hoping to do a lot more of this next year.  It is something I love doing a lot. My back is so much better now and it is much easier to sit for longer periods of time.

I have gone through this blog and the one on my website and found images that I have enjoyed processing.  Some you have seen, some you may not.  Funny when I look at them now, they are nearly all architectural, I had really noticed that before.

Be careful with the celebrations, but I hope you all have a great evening bringing in the new year.

Influencing Us: The Art of Christmas

As it is Christmas in a few days I thought it might be nice to look at art work with a difference for the Introductions/Influencing Me post this week.  What I thought would be nice would be to look at how Christmas, St Nicholas and Santa Claus have been depicted in art throughout the ages.  They are images that we often see at this time of the year.  I really enjoyed going over websites and find images for you.  Of course there are many more on the internet. I have some links at the end of the post.  I always find Christmas a great time to get new gear, though not this year, might have to wait until my birthday.

I thought we could start with different depictions of the birth of Christ from as early as the 4th century to about the 1800’s.

Then I thought what about St Nicholas, how was he depicted and how did he end up looking like what we think of as Santa Claus.  So these are very old images up to more modern day ones. There has been this myth that he wears red and white because of Coca Cola, but it isn’t true, if anything Coco Cola stole santa to advertise their drinks.

Then I thought how different  the modern Santa Claus is now or the image that many of us have of him.

 

Then I thought, as a final thing we could look at Christmas cards and the Christmas scenes they depict.  It is interesting that Christmas is nearly always depicted with winter scenes. It is so different here, though I guess depicting Christmas scenes where it is in the middle of summer would be a bit weird, Santa would be in red shorts and a red t-shirt with a white trim.  Perhaps he would be wearing  a red sun hat, his nose would be red with sunburn, but then he would have white zinc on it to stop the sun burning him anymore.  I am sure he would wear thongs on his feet and, of course, they would be red.  Santa often arrives at functions here in a fire truck.

Below are some links of the places where I got the images and you can read more about the history of Christmas. I’ve tried not to do too much Christmas posts this week, but sometimes, you just have to do them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity_of_Jesus_in_art

http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/fatherchristmas.shtml

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2253024/The-changing-face-Old-St-Nick-700-years-hes-big-white-beard.html

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/origin-of-santa/

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/dec/18/here-comes-santa-claus-a-visual-history-of-saint-nick-in-pictures

Influencing Me – Albert Bierstadt

A while back someone said I should take a look at Albert Bierstadt from the Hudson River School of Artists.  I am so sorry, but I can’t remember who told me about him, but I am glad they did, what an incredible painter.  I have to admit I don’t know a lot about the Hudson River School, but I am always willing to look and see what I can find out.  However, upon looking up Albert Bierstadt I was more than pleasantly surprised to see a painter doing big landscapes.

1024px-Bierstadt_Albert_Sunset_in_the_Yosemite_Valley

One of the things that really caught my attention is the way he showed light.  Unlike many painters of today, he wouldn’t have used photographs to give him an idea of the landscape as he was painting it.  I know photography was around, but nothing like what we have now.  I have been out to take photos and a scene like the one above would be rare, so I think if he saw it, he must have painted it from his memory, which I think is truly extraordinary and wonderful.  It is a great scene, I would love to capture something like that through the lens of my camera.

710px-Old_Faithful_oil_on_paper_49.5x34.9cm_1881_Albert_Bierstadt

The level of detail in his work is amazing.  I know painters paint the sea and waterfalls, but I was so taken with what he has done.  I love the water paintings.  I love how you can almost see every little drop of water.

1024px-Bierstadt-Indians_in_Council

There are some paintings that he had done that I think are a wonderful record of history, and I am sure it is pretty much how it was back then.  I found this on Wikipedia about him:

A German-American painter best known for his large, detailed landscapes of the American West. In obtaining the subject matter for these works, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion. Though not the first artist to record these sites, Bierstadt was the foremost painter of these scenes for the remainder of the 19th century.

That explains why there are paintings like the one above.

Bierstadt_Albert_Autumn_Woods

I imagine this is what Autumn in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere are really like.  The colours must be so amazing.  I hope one day to travel to these areas and see this for myself.  We don’t get autumn like many other parts of the world.  Most of the trees in Australia are evergreens, so they don’t change their colours.  I love the colours in this painting, it is so vibrant, and calming in a way.

HRSOA_AlbertBierstadt-Gates_of_Yosemite

Another big landscape painting.  It is such a shame that paintings like this are not valued so much anymore.  The detail and the incredible talent that an artist must have to do work like this is amazing, but when you look at the world of art these days, you won’t find many artists doing paintings like this anymore.

I find it fascinating to look at artists who were painting the type of thing that I want to photograph.  I love big landscapes, and looking to see what I can bring to images of them.

bierstadt

He looks like a nice man, though you can’t really tell from a photo, but he was a great artist and I can tell that from his work. Wikipedia has information on  Albert Bierstadt if you would like more information.  There is also a list of the massive number of paintings that he did in his lifetime here. I do have a gallery for you now of his work, some paintings that I just loved.

Influencing Me – Looking at Paintings for Inspiration

The other day I was having a conversation with Laura Macky and she was saying how she wants to start looking at paintings and artists from other times, or something to that effect.  When I was doing my fine art degree it was just something we had to do, Art History.  It was an important part of learning, to look at the work of other artists, and not just in the medium you were working in.  They were all important, painters, photographers, sculptors, printmakers, drawers, all of them.  Everytime I would start working on something new, one of my tutors would tell me about another artists to go and look at.  It was an interesting process, looking at the work of those would give you ideas for your own work, and sometimes reading about them would help you understand what it was that you were trying to do. It is something I miss about Uni, having someone to introduce new artists to you.

Since then I’ve heard other artists saying the same thing.  I was listening to something on Joel Grimes one day and he said how in art school it was something that you did, and how much you could learn from it. It is something that I still do today, and it is still important.  We can learn so much looking at paintings from other times.

It is good to know what sort of work you are interested in, for me, I’ve always been drawn to work that tells a story.  Work that draws you into the image.

edward_hopper_021_hoteL_lobby_1943

Edward Hopper, for me, was one of the biggest influences. He told stories with his paintings.  I know they were all set up, and he could do things that we as photographers couldn’t, unless we really set the scene up.  It was something that made me stop loving photography for a few years until digital came in.  I liked how painters could invent their realities, in a way you couldn’t with film photography.  Of course, now, digital has changed that a lot and it is possible to to do it so much more now.  Artists have been creating their own realities for centuries.

Anyway, getting back to the story telling.  I have started realising that it is something I want in my images, I like the idea of story, or giving a place something.  Perhaps that was part of the reason why I disliked landscape photography for so long, because I couldn’t find the story in it, not like the painters did. Recently I was watching Ian Shive, an American National Parks photographer and he was saying that you have to find the story.  Work out what you want to say with the image.  That makes sense to me.  I have started noticing the way I approach landscapes has changed after hearing that.

rembrandt_harmensz-_van_rijn_022

Rembrandt was a master of painting scenes, painting what he saw.  His images tell you something about the way people lived, good or bad.

the_geographer - Vermeer

Vermeer did the same, setting up scenes that were about every day life.  Though, many paintings do depict people in everyday situations, there were others painting and adding different stories and different types of drama into their work.

a_lion_attacking_a_horse_by_george_stubbs_1770

George Stubbs painting  of the horse being attacked by a lion, is so powerful. I think all of us have seen different depictions of this.  Our National Gallery of Victoria also has a sculpture of it.  This is theatre in paintings.  We don’t need to see the moving image, we know what happens, and the emotions are still there.

wreckers_coast_of_northumberland_joseph_mallord_william_turner

You have to mention Turner and he landscapes, seascapes and the intense drama that pulls you into the image.

tenaya_lake_clouds_r_1440s-anseladams

Of course, putting drama into his landscapes was Ansel Adams, a master of the landscape.  He used darkroom techniques to turn something ordinary into some extraordinary.  Someone many of us look up to.

So, by looking at paintings you can see how the artists manipulated scenes through their brushes and paint to create something very powerful.  They did have the artistic talent to put there what wasn’t there, to invent the lighting, and to remove what they didn’t like.  It is something, that seems very frowned upon in the world of photography.  I don’t listen to that, I do what the masters did, when I can, I create the reality in my image that I want to create, send the message that I think is important.  You often don’t see the reality in my images, I play with it, change the lighting and make the reality the one I want you to see.  For inspiration I look at paintings and study what they have done.

Getting to galleries and seeing paintings is a great thing to do, but one place I have always enjoyed visiting is Art cyclopedia, an online gallery of sorts.  Whenever I hear of a new artist, it is one of the first places I go to.  It will give me information about the artist, and where you can find their work.  I also like how you can look at movements.  Unfortunately I don’t think the site is being kept up to date anymore and a lot of the links no longer work, but if you are interested in a particular styles it can be a good place to start.  I was looking at landscapes yesterday and found a couple of new artists, and I have some of their work here for you.

I am going to put some paintings, and photographs from artists that have been massive influences on me, and who I often turn to when I need inspiration. Do you find inspiration in paintings?  Which artists are you drawn too?  What type of artwork draws you in?

 

Influencing Me – J.M.W. Turner

In my own art practice lately I’ve noticed that I have been doing a lot more landscape images than ever before.  Landscape images were something I detested doing, I wouldn’t plan trips where that is what I would have to take, but slowly over time that has changed.  I think one of the greatest landscape artists of all time was Joseph Mallord William Turner. He was a painter that did the most amazing landscapes. I have seen a couple of his paintings and the thing that I remember the most about them was the incredible detail in some of them, but also the emotion that came from them.  His work was hard to walk about from.

1280px-Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_024

Turner was born in 1775, but the date of his birth is unknown, and this is what Wikipedia had to say about him:

Joseph Mallord William Turner (baptised 14 May 1775 – 19 December 1851) was a British Romantic landscape painter water-colourist printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as “the painter of light” and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism. Some of his works are cited as examples of abstract art prior to its recognition in the early twentieth century.

 

800px-Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_008

He was such a major influence on landscape painting of the day.  I don’t know all the reasons, why he changed landscape painting, though I suspect it was because of his style, he was very different to anyone else painting at that time.

Turner’s talent was recognised early in his life. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely; his mature work is characterised by a chromatic palette and broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint. According to David Piper’s The Illustrated History of Art, his later pictures were called “fantastic puzzles.” However, Turner was recognised as an artistic genius: the influential English art critic John Ruskin described him as the artist who could most “stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature.”

 Fonthill_Abbey_from_the_southwest_William_Turner_1799

There are paintings that Turner did that resemble what many of the artists of that time were doing, though I think he will always be remembered for others scenes.

Rain_Steam_and_Speed_the_Great_Western_Railway

His use of colour was extraordinary.  When I think of painters of that time, a dark palette comes to mind.  They often painted dark scenes, but Turner changed so much of that.  He used so much yellow, with touches of oranges and reds.  It is like he wanted to include the sunset in many of his paintings.

Wreckers_Coast_of_Northumberland_Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner

I can certainly understand why he is considered a major influence for the Impression movement and there is a lot of that impressionist style in his work.

Most of us have heard of Turner and I am sure many of you have seen his paintings.  I love the drama in them and the emotions that you feel when you look at them.  They aren’t just pretty pictures.  It is something I would dearly love to get into my photographs.  We can learn so much looking at paintings.  There is something in them that image makers today can appreciate.  I was listening to Nature Photographer Art Wolfe the other day and he was talking about how important it is to look at the masters, and to see what they did.

If you want to read more about Turner Wikipedia have a good page on him, J.M.W. Turner, and to see more of his paintings, then Wikipedia Commons has a great page of his paintings. I have more to show you and will put them into a gallery for you.

 

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