Photography as sketchbook
I have a large collection of sketchbooks and journals. All 98% empty. Artists are supposed to keep sketchbooks. I've been told, that we should be introspective and keep journals with our profound thoughts and creative musings. I am a semi-competent writer, and a better than average artist (so I have been told), but miserable at documentation.
This blog is the only journal-like-thing I have managed to keep going for any length of time!
One of my art professors, Walter Hamady, kept hand-bound, beautifully written and embellished journals. They were on hand made papers, and were works of beauty - meant to last the ages. My friend Lorie posts beautiful images from her sketchbook pages. Other friends have kept sketchbooks that were achingly inspirational; musings, sketches and collections of ephemera! I have scraps of paper, sometimes, kept in a cardboard box, and my collection of journals and sketchbooks that have the first pages desecrated with horrible attempts at self-conscience profundity.
But now I have photos. Hundreds - verging on thousands - not taken for reproduction or sales or even journalistic documentation (with the notable exception of the ones of my family). They are exercise for my eyes. They are calisthenics for my knowledge of design and composition. They slow me down and make me think and work - hard.
At first I just snapped away in 'automatic' mode with my trusty Fuji. but soon I found out that to 'sketch' the right photo, I needed to be able to adjust the depth-of-field, and pick an exposure. Just like sometimes you want to sketch in color, and sometimes in black and white - the same applies to photo sketching. So I upgraded the camera and learned more about my manual settings.
Photography is an art in itself. A laudable and incredibly diverse one. But not one that I (at least for now) find a satisfactory final artifact of my creativity. I use it as the basis of my fiber art; Sometimes quite literally when it is printed as an image in my whole cloth quilt pieces. More often, as the inspiration for the textures or colors in other pieces. It isn't about the specific photographic image for me. It is about taking that to a more universal place of color, texture, and emotion through the addition of other fabric, objects, and embellishments. In the end, I hope the photo is integrated with the fiber art to create something much more layered - both figuratively and literally - than the photo alone. Here is one example of that idea (click on either to see larger):
Here is a piece that uses seven different photos within the final piece:
Some say the computer is not the place to connect with people. They say it is shallow and all you learn is what they had for dinner last night. I choose to disagree. While I love being with people in person, I also value the communication possible with the internet.
Family and food: Our family is stretched from the Middle East, through the continental USA and all the way to Alaska. We also happen to be a tribe of foodies! So seeing where and what each other is eating is fun and, through Facebook, I have gotten to experience some great foods; fish from Norway, platters of goodies and 'care' packages in Qatar, San Francisco's best dining establishments, an anniversary donuts, freshly backed goodies of all ilk, and Alaskan Salmon on the grill - and shared Jon's culinary efforts back at them!
Facebook has let me stay in touch with relatives I would otherwise have lost track of. It lets me learn more about relatives I barely knew, and it lets me find new relatives! Sometimes we even talk about things other than food! The cross generational thing is what I value the most, so nice to learn and experience through the eyes of newer generations.
Flesh and Blood Friends: We have recently moved 700 miles. So Facebook has become my lifeline to the "old neighborhood"! I value seeing what is still going on 'back home', even as Charlottesville becomes our home. It is great to hear of art openings, job changes, new books read, and even politics! (and yes, more foodie posts!) What is really unexpected though, are the expanded and new connections... finding out someone and I have mutual friends; getting back in touch with people I haven't seen since graduation from high school; learning more about people who I barely knew, and now wish I had known better before leaving the area. It is all good and interesting.
Virtual Friends: Every morning for the last 5+ years, I have gone immediately to a facebook group where I chat with three other women. We met through Etsy, and have bonded through the internet. You couldn't have pick 4 more unlikely compatriots if you tried! Completely different ages, lifestyles, interests, and locations, but we have become fast friends. We have moved, some of our kids have grown and left home, some are still growing, our pets have died and we have welcomed new ones. This is a friendship circle, I can't imagine having formed anyway else and value a lot.
Professional Contacts (and friends!): Since the halcyon days of my jill2day shop on Etsy, I have learned the value and fun of virtual connections for business and information. Sure I sold through the internet, but I also learned so much about how to do what I was doing there. While locally there may have been a few folks pursuing the same goals, on the internet there is an international community to answer questions, commiserate, and whine to! I can not begin to acknowledge the Etsy sellers, the Fiber artists, fellow Art Fair Sellers and Photographers that have entered and enhanced my life through the 'interwebs'. Kudos and and thanks to you all.
Some have become friends, both in-person and on-line, but great friends either way. All have helped me to grow - sometimes in patience and diplomacy ;-) - but mostly in information and creativity.
So here is to the Internet - and my favorite, Facebook - may we all continue to connect, confer, converse, and conflict. OMG :-) CU soon!
If you are a relative or someone I have coffee with regularly please come join me at:
If you are an artist, photographer, or just an interesting/interested person come interact here:
If you just want to follow my business page that is here:
But of course, I love to see you here, on my website, too! In fact if you leave a comment, or click on the "follow" thingy, I will know you like it here too!
One more ride on the Carousel
I have been horse crazy since .... well since forever! It all started with a great rocking horse that my father made for me, and continued when I discovered that if I stuck a broom, handle down, into the folded roll-away bed in our basement, I would have almost a full-sized 'horse' to ride on. The covey of kids in our neighborhood used to play cowboys and Indians... I was the horse! As a young teen, I actually got to ride real ones! Until one threw me off (my fault not his) onto a manure spreader and I broke a few bones. My parents weren't too keen when I wanted to get back on after I healed. My family has taken a horse-pack trip into the Rockies - probably my favorite vacation ever. I even past the "cowboy test" (next time we have a beer I will tell you that story!)
The love of all things equine includes carousel horses. They are beauties frozen in time. Yes, some weird carousels have lions and dragons and various other creatures and some even have (the horror of it all) benches.
Those are fine for others, but for me give me the horse. The one with head bowed just before rearing, or the one with fire in his eyes, the black steed who, I know, comes alive at night, and, now untethered, out runs the rest...
In downtown Charlottesville, there is a small carousel. No calliope or barker, no lights, just some patient small steeds ready to fulfill a child's dream with a push from a parent or friend. I have talked to them, and watched them many times, but today I finally found them at rest. Not a child in sight! ALL MINE!!! We communed for a while while they frolicked and posed for me. I took portraits of them... each in their own private mood.
Today we walked up a couple of blocks to the 'International Celebration' in one of Charlottesville's many parks. It was a display of cultures, causes, food and music, but what I couldn't get over were the textiles. Draped, and cut and embroidered, and embellished, and woven and batik-ed; it was all there. So much color and beauty and pride! Here is a slideshow of just some of the textiles I saw.
A day on the Blue Ridge
Yesterday was one of those wonderful days in life where it is just plain good to be alive. The weather was perfect; I was spent it with a new friend, who is also both a photographer and a fiber artist (and, as an added benefit, seems to approach life with the same pace and gusto as I do); And we spent it on and around the Blue Ridge Parkway - one of the most spectacular drives in the U.S.A. It is dotted and crossed with numerous paths for the casual geezer or the intrepid Appalachian trail through hiker. While I was sure today I would wake up stiff from the climbing, bending, walking, etc, it is my neck that is sore! I think it is from the constant looking around. There was no end to the details and vistas to soak in, and of course, photo!
We even had to come to a screeching halt when a hawk swooped down to get a snake, but saw us and flew off. Note: if you ever see a snake, and decide to check it out, be sure to look at it with your longest lens first, to see if it is a rattle snake. Then, if it is, get back in the car!!!
The wildflowers were stupendous! I have never seen so many trillium in my life (see the top picture on this post), jack-in-the-pulpits, rhododendron (which I assume were only found in floral stores!), May apples (not quite in bloom yet, but covering the forest floor) and untold numbers of flowers whose names I do not know.
Then, there were my favorites; the mosses, lichens, and ferns. The understated textural plants that grab for the sun at this time of year, before the tree leaves cover it up for the summer. Covering the rocks, the logs, the trees, and hanging on for dear life!
Here is some of the plant life we encountered; to see the pictures larger and in their full crop, click on them.
Then there are the views. You may remember an earlier post I did (last fall) about photos from this same drive. It was amazing to see it in the next season! Here are a slide show of some of the vistas for you.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !