Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marvels and Magic in Photography...

I finally went to see an exhibit that had been piquing my interest with banners all over town and I saw it on the very last day it was open. All I can say is...


"Digital Darkroom" was an amazing exhibit held at The Annenberg Space for Photography, which I had not visited before. I'm so glad I did...

The Annenberg Space for Photography located in the business center of Century City

I am still absorbing the impact this photography exhibit had on me. It was filled with so many images that were:

imbued with story
mystical and magical and mysterious
gorgeous and luscious

There was photography created digitally and photography created using old-school darkroom techniques. There was 3-d photography in color and 3-d photography in black and white. There was an amazing documentary film being shown in the main room with the contributing photographers discussing their work and their process.

This film took my breath away as I heard each photographer tell the story of how they came to do the work they are now creating, using tools that had not been available until fairly recently, with one of the artists waiting for 25 years until the technology came along to help him create his work! And to see how computer technology has changed the face of photography was mind blowing for me...as well as inspiring to see how digital images are now being embraced by the art community at large in ways they weren't just a few years ago.

I've known how much technology has changed the face of so many things, including how we live our lives, but to see the story of technology in photography play out was eye opening. And seeing the amount of work these artists put into their digital photographs is an inspiration, as they often put hours and hours into creating one amazing image.

There was also a shorter documentary about the 3-d photography artists in another room of the exhibit and it was so fascinating to see how these artists create their work in 3 dimensions and to learn about the history of 3-dimensional photography from the stereograph viewer to 3-dimensional cameras.

There were a total of 17 artists sharing their work in this exhibit, but here are the artists that stood out for me:

                   Maggie Taylor 
                                     Pierre Beteille
                                                        Brooke Shaden
                                                                            Bonny Pierce Lhotka
                                                                                                          Christopher Schneberger

And here are some thoughts from some of the artists that resonated with me:

" I want to be able to respond authentically to the things I see" - Jerry Uelsmann

" I just create images that resonate with me and if I have a hidden agenda, that is to amaze myself" - Jerry Uelsmann

"I think that the people who want to express themselves will find a way no matter what" - Brooke Shaden

My dear boyfriend came along with me on this field trip, which I thought he might enjoy as he studied photography in college. I'm glad to say he enjoyed every minute we spent in the exhibit and I think we will be going back for the next exhibit...

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I do not know if this exhibit is going to be shown anywhere else, but here are some links to replicate the exhibit in your own home from your computer:

To see the digital artwork that was in the exhibit, check out this gallery link; you can view the 3-dimensional artwork gallery with this link, but you will need to have 3-D glasses to view it with.

You can check out this link to watch the video about the artists in the exhibit "Digital Darkroom" - it lasts 25 minutes and 32 seconds, so be sure to have a cup of tea or coffee with you!

And you can watch a 2-dimensional version of the documentary about the 3-dimensional photo artists in the exhibit - it lasts 14 minutes, 27 seconds. Some of the 3-dimensional work is lost in this video but if you have 3-d glasses at home, try watching the 3-d video about 3-d artists with this link!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Workshop with Orly - Fake It 'Til You Make It

Orly Avineri hosted another one of her fantastic art journal workshops on Saturday and it was called "Fake It 'Til You Make It". The theme was to "copy" the work of an artist we admire to see what it's like to make art as they do. It's an exercise that is often employed in art classes and I remember doing such an exercise in my Life Drawing class. I chose to copy the work of Caravaggio at the time...

Though one of my very favorite artists is Joseph Cornell, I really didn't want to copy his work. So I chose to copy an artist whose work (and life!) I admire: Beatrix Potter.

I stumbled onto the movie about this amazing woman who was truly ahead of her time: an independent spirit who managed to create a life she loved around her art, make a living at it and she was an early environmentalist to boot! Learning about Beatrix Potter gave me a new-found admiration for her work in illustrating the children's books she wrote. Since I've had a yearning to work in watercolor more, I thought that copying Beatrix Potter would be a great way to practice some watercolor painting, not to mention practice my rusty drawing skills...

We were all instructed to bring a print-out of a work we wanted to copy and this is my favorite Beatrix Potter illustration - since I have long standing skills as a seamstress, I'm sure it's no surprise!

"The Tailor of Gloucester" by Beatrix Potter

We began to 'copy' our chosen works of art, or at least a section of it. Here is what my copy looked like at the end of our copying time:

Original on the left - my copy on the right...

Orly informed us that though we may be trying to replicate the work of a favorite artist, our own style of our own hand will always come through. My replication of the little mouse tailor was no exception - I have a fondness for small chubby furry creatures and my 'tailor' looks more like a hamster than a slender mouse!

For the other side of the journal spread I decided to abstract the spool of thread from the first page:

First spread in progress...

After lunch we were instructed to create artwork as WE usually create our artwork, but I had only had the color print outs of my chosen artwork, and my watercolors. I did not have much in the way to create mixed-media collage as I usually create it at home, but I did have some color prints I had considered working from - they were botanical prints, which I admire for the quality of the detail and the beauty of the color used in creating them...

Copy of a botanical print on the left side of the journal spread after some 'aging' and tearing

I had asked my dear boyfriend to make ONE copy of the Beatrix Potter illustration and of the two botanical prints I admired. However, my dear boyfriend just can't make a single print out of anything and he made a few copies of the botanical prints with notes on how he had altered them, in terms of changing the quality of the color. I found the notes he made on the back and incorporated the notes onto the tape I used to fix the copy to my journal page!*

Qualities of color can be HUE, SATURATION or BRIGHTNESS

Orly encouraged us to return to our first journal page and see if we could alter it in any way. I was reluctant to do this as I was rather proud of the results in copying the work of Beatrix Potter and I could see how my own style of my hand in my art came through. But after viewing workshop participant Brian change his copied artwork, I figured out a way to start altering my artwork, and with the help of another workshop participant who loaned me her stencils and stamp pads, this is how my first page looked by the end of the day:

First journal spread with stencils and a scrap of paper I found among my supplies- more will be added soon...

Though I was rather proud of my artwork copy, many of us agreed that it's not easy to replicate the hand of an artist, nor is it very freeing. The idea behind copying the works of great artists is one that is employed in art classes and it's for the purpose of teaching students how such work was created. I certainly learned that I have a lot of practice ahead of me if I wish to create watercolor illustrations because it became very clear to me that Beatrix Potter had been practicing her skills for many, many years. It was interesting to copy her work, but it definitely felt like a class exercise, or worse, like HOMEWORK, not very joyful, fun or freeing.

The thing to remember is that copying is an EXERCISE only and not a technique to hold on to, otherwise, you can not figure out your own style of creating...

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As a dancer, it finally dawned on me one day that dance is a LANGUAGE and Art is a language too. There are many techniques in art, just as there are many steps in dance and there are many STYLES of art as there are styles of dance. You string the individual steps together to create a combination or dance routine  and in art you string together different techniques to create an artwork. I would break it down like this:

For LANGUAGE: word + word + word = sentence
For DANCE: step + step + step = dance routine
For ART: technique + technique + technique = art work

It takes a great deal of practice to begin to create effortlessly, just it took many, MANY hours of practice for Fred Astaire to make his dancing look effortless. But I can tell you, whether it's dancing or art-making, that the practice is worth every minute!

I'm still in the middle of another workshop hosted my life coach Pete and his coaching partner Wendie and this is the week where deep work is done. I may be a little quiet here for the next two weeks, but I'll be back to share what new things I learn as I continue on my journey of self discovery, so stay tuned!

* - I guess it's a good thing he made more than one print out or I might have really been stuck for the second journal spread!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blog Hop With Orly Avineri of One Artist Journal

OMG! I've been wanting to share this exciting information with you all for nearly a YEAR! I'm so VERY excited to announce...

Orly Avineri has published a BOOK!!!

Front cover of the book "One Artist Journal" by Orly Avineri!

Orly has held a long cherished dream of writing a book for many years and she has been working toward finalizing this goal since last year when I first began taking her workshops. She shared this dream with me not long after I began to participate in her workshops and I was so excited that she was choosing to self publish her work that she also shared much of what she learned in her journey of self publication. I was so honored that she shared this long held dream with me! Hearing her story of how she came to finally write her book inspired me in so many ways and it continues to inspire me still. Her journey to self publication was a winding road but it has finally come to its destination.

I already knew about self publishing for a few years and I've often thought that this is the route I will take if I ever write a book of my own. Orly's idea for her book has now changed my ideas of what my own book might look like in the future...

Orly has taken all her original artwork from her online journal One Artist Journal and turned it into a beautiful full color book that includes her words from her blog posts. She is an incredibly thoughtful individual and her blog posts and artwork reflect this about her...

Full front and back cover of "One Artist Journal" by Orly Avineri

There is a forward by Teesha Moore, one of the biggest names in the art journal world and there is an afterword by Seth Apter, also a big name in the art journal world.

I do not yet have a copy of this book, but I have seen Orly's work on her blog and the art that she creates in her home. Orly is an amazingly generous artist, an inspiring teacher and a thought provoking individual. I know that her book is all of this and more...I can't wait to get my own copy!

The oneartistjournal.com blog header - thoughtful artwork by a thoughtful artist!

Today is the day that Orly's book goes live at Amazon.com but that is not the only place where you can get a copy of her book. Here are some other places you can purchase (or win!) Orly's book:

Buy her book direct at her online store!
Buy her book at one of her upcoming workshops
You can enter to win her book by entering the giveaway at her blog oneartistjournal.com - leave a comment on her blog and the winner will be announced on Friday May 25

There are many awesome bloggers who are celebrating this wonderful achievement of Orly's. Be sure to check them out and see what they have to say about Orly's wonderful new book!

Brian Kasstle: apaperbear.wordpress.com
Cindy Woods O'Leary: artfuljourneyretreat.blogspot.com
Donna Cetorelli: solegarden.com
Erin Faith Allen: callofthewildsoul.com
Gina Rossi Armfield: sweetsistergina.typepad.com
Jane LaFazio: janeville.blogspot.com
Liesel Lund: liesel.typepad.com
Teesha Moore: teeshascircus.blogspot.com

Congratulations to Orly for achieving her long held dream of publishing a book!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Taking a Break From My Break...

Hello dear blog readers! I thought I'd take a moment to share a few things that have happened since my last real blog post...

Sadly, I got sick after the stress of dealing with the death of my boyfriend's grandfather (not to mention the changes in the Blogger system!) and I still have a lingering cough, but I did something that made me feel better and it wasn't taking cough syrup!

Last year I participated in a project hosted by blog buddy Mel of "I Speak Melsh" and I had a lot of fun doing it. Mel decided to go another round of the coloring swap and my second batch of faces arrived in the mail just after the Easter holiday. I colored in the new batch of faces as I continued to recuperate from being sick and this time I chose to use watercolors...

I actually began working with my beloved color pencils, but the idea of using watercolors began to whisper to me so I pulled out all my sets, including a vintage set of watercolors I bought at a flea market, mainly for the tin they came in. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the colors were still good!

Here are a few detail shots of some water-colored faces:

Coloring the faces reminded me that I still had not made up my "facebook" from the faces I got in the first swap, which is part of the project. The suggested style of book was an accordion style, but I found a few little books I had made many years ago before I knew anything about real hand sewn, hand made books. I took some time to assemble the faces I had received in the swap into one such little book...

One of my early hand made books made of cardboard covers and colored paper pages tied together with ribbon...

The pages are just the right size to hold pretty colorful faces with name tags included...

These are the faces that I got in exchange for the faces I made - such a colorful group! Here are a few pics of my book after assembly...

Front Cover

Made by Mel!

Back Cover

I also remembered that I had a few left over faces from the first round and there were some extra faces after this second round. I now have enough to make a book of faces all colored by ME...and I have another little book to use for it too!

A little hand made book tied with my favorite color - burgundy!

Faces from the first round of coloring - the bottom two have watercolor backgrounds inspired by the recent batch of faces

The current batch of colored faces done in watercolor or a mix of watercolor and pencil

I plan on orienting the faces differently in this book and I'll be sure to share the next book when it's completed...

I'm participating in the second round of workshops hosted by my life coach Pete and his coaching partner Wendie. This workshop series is on a tighter time schedule but it's been helpful so far in getting me to start focusing on what I want my creative career to look like. I've been having a difficult time visualizing what I want lately and I've been beating myself up over it and that is never a good thing to do...there are two more weeks left and we'll see what new self discoveries I make this time around, which of course I'll share with you all when the workshop has ended...

And I have something to look forward to this weekend - another fabulous workshop with Orly! Orly has been working on a very important project for awhile now that is finally coming to fruition on Friday. I got the advance word on this project and it is really AWESOME! Be sure to stay tuned for my blog post tomorrow on this exciting project - you're going to LOVE it!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Shorts - REAL Opera!

Hello Dear Blog Readers! After the animated short about opera I shared last week, I thought that today I would share a favorite snippet of a favorite opera, one that you might actually know...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an amazing composer of music and of operas and "The Magic Flute" is one of his most beloved operas. If you have an opportunity to locate a copy of the production* from the New York Met designed by Julie Taymor, I HIGHLY recommend watching it - It is whimsical and fantastic to see!

The well known aria from this beloved opera is sung by the character "The Queen of the Night". I have heard a few versions of this aria and seen the NY Met production, however I was quite amazed when I found this clip of Diana Damrau in a production at Covent Garden. Ms. Damrau is a powerful singer in this aria and it is truly thrilling to listen to her and to watch her very strong performance as Queen of the Night.

(I will not get into the particulars of the character, but suffice to say the Queen of the Night is not very nice!)

This video clip looks wonderful in it's clarity but the sound is not as loud as it should be, so make sure you turn up the volume a level or two to FEEL the full force of Diana Damrau singing this well known aria!

Sunday Shorts Presents Diana Damrau as "Queen of the Night" in "The Magic Flute"

* - Sadly, copies of this production could not be found at the PBS website but you can find it at Amazon, where you can also find the dvd of Ms. Damrau in the Covent Garden production, which I'm definitely putting on my wish list!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Shorts - Animated Film about OPERA!

Hello Dear Blog Readers! I'm back with another installation of Sunday Shorts, where I share some fun things that I love or am inspired by...

Last week I shared a favorite animated short from my days attending animation festivals. This animated short was actually discovered while watching my local public television station, during the same time I was attending animation festivals.

I have mentioned my time working in costumes in Los Angeles and one of the places I worked for was the Los Angeles Opera Costume Shop. Sometimes we would get tickets to see a preview of the shows we worked on, but opera can be a bit convoluted in their stories. However, many of the themes tend to repeat from one show to another as you will soon learn...

This funny little animated film describes 10 operas in 10 minutes, in an animation style reminiscent of Monty Python, and they are some of the most popular operas in the repertoire of all Opera. Be sure to keep your eye on the 'body count' as the various operas are described - it seems that Opera kills off as many players as Shakespeare does in his plays! ;)

Sunday Shorts Presents "All the Great Operas...In 10 Minutes"!