Friday, April 15, 2011

Pressure and Productivity

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There is nothing like facing a deadline to stimulate the creative juices. Of course, sometimes this works in reverse. Pressure also has the potential to shut me down. The alternative, then, to shut down mode is struggling with the other demon. The demon of unleashed possibilities. Suddenly, ideas come from anywhere and nowhere. The closer the time comes to "deliver the goods" the more possibilities pop into my head—all of them demanding attention—immediate attention, naturally.

I understand that this is mostly an escape mechanism. If I become immersed in a new project, how can I be expected to stay focused on meeting an approaching deadline? What a convenient excuse to postpone the less satisfying aspects of completing a job!

Most often I am able to maintain enough discipline to meet the requirements of a commitment, but it is often difficult to avoid the distractions. The deadline for the coming art show was no exception. I squeezed in work periods to finish the pieces for the show, but my heart was already in the next project.

What was demanding attention? Some things that I am not at all certain about. I don't have any fancy explanations for this exploration. Mostly, it boils down to the fact that there was a strong impulse, and I followed it. Obviously, it is quite different from what I have been doing for a very long time. Goodness, I rarely even experiment with monotones, color addict that I am. Furthermore, all my photography heroes (both famous and not so famous) inspire me with somewhat classic photography entailing a minimum of digital manipulation. Yes, I have made prodigious use of digital tricks to obscure distracting and downright ugly backgrounds in the case of equine photography. That large order completed recently included many examples of digitally altered backgrounds. Still, I have regarded those efforts, to some extent at least, as compromises.

Recently, I began looking at some old images in a completely different way. What I found myself wanting to explore was the full potential of using Photoshop techniques to strip out distractions and put the focus on what the image is about for me.  The image posted March 29 was the first piece that came out of this experiment. The resulting images are so different from my norm that I am not quite sure how I feel about them.

I enjoy honing my Photoshop skills, but I want even more to become a better photographer. In many ways, this feels like a detour. Yes, it is fed by some recurring back pain, nasty weather, and far too many health concerns at our house—all of which complicate photo shoots. Nevertheless, the real story is that the drive is there and I am going with the flow. I just get a bit nervous about being swept over the falls!

Oh, well, this is where I am and whether or not I am completely puzzled by the effort that went into all this work and end up tossing it out in a few months is beside the point. For now, this experiment pleases me, distracts me from all the nasty, nagging questions, and almost takes the place of my long hikes along the trail. It is another example of art as therapy. Besides, who knows where this exploration might be leading?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ready for the Show, Finally

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On Friday, the final print was framed and ready to deliver for the show next Saturday. Since that piece is large and heavy (for me), the Husband pitched in and helped. Each time I finish even a medium-sized piece, I swear I will never do another. Why not make 11x14 my top size and save myself the headache? Why even go as large as 16x20? Not only are the larger pieces unwieldy to handle, but where do all those dust specks come from?! The piece just finished is 20x26 and every square inch was a dust magnet. I sometimes think, with a larger frames, that I will use an entire can of compressed air before turning the piece over to see a clean mat under the glass.

And speaking of sizes, I have become enamored of 6x9 prints in 11x14 frames. The 11x14 frame is the practical side of me. It's a standard, after all, and I am only slowly transitioning into some experimenting. One step at a time. The 6x9 prints certainly are not out there on some sort of frontier, but I had avoided that size in an effort to save money, frankly. Unfortunately, custom framing is an investment, for me, and I would rather be able to hang more prints by saving on readily available mats. Now, however, I have decided to indulge my affinity for the 6x9 print. After all, the more mats I purchase the better the discount. (See how easy rationalization can be?)

I never reported on my first order of framing kits from Frame Destination. They are outstanding. Every mat is flawless. The frames are beautifully built and they include excellent hardware. I could not be more pleased. I am expecting a package Tuesday and, yesterday, I placed yet another order. It appears that as long as I don't run out of money, I will be getting packages from the Dallas, Texas area.

I am working on some new pieces, but everything is still in flux. Eventually, I will share some of the work here, but for now I will post this photo from a brief outing last Sunday. We took one of those Sunday family drives down into Caliente Creek Canyon. The repeated rain storms along with the snow melt feeds a handful of waterfalls  dumping into the creek, and that trickle of water we have seen in the past is transformed. At end of winter the previously harmless stream threatened homes and tore up quite lot of road. I wished that I could have gotten out and walked more during this trip, but concentrated on being grateful for the opportunity to see the creek roaring along. By mid-summer it will, once again, be no more than a trickle.