Each artist has their own unique way of viewing the world. For me, sometimes it’s a visual image that gets my “need” to create flowing. Other times, it’s a phrase or concept that inspires me. I love it when connections are made between both realms in my mind. Today’s posting is about a happy intersection that happened recently.
Some time in the past few days, I read the phrase “artistic tourist”, and I wish I could remember who said it so that I could credit her. The concept, or at least the way it came across for me, was to be a tourist in your own environs. I interpreted it to mean we should look at familiar things with “baby fresh” eyes, and see what’s around us in new ways.
The second half of this connection between the written and the visual realms for me was seeing this photo of shadows on the snow by my friend, Robert Vibert…
He’s a fantastic photographer who really has an eye for the atmospheric qualities of light in his pics. He’s also brilliant seeing things that others don’t see. Add to that the fact that he’s also the dear soul who helps me with the technical details to keep this blog up and running, so I count him as part of my Heart Tribe. What I honed in on in this stark photo was the dark lines in the snow with the hint of what had made them at the top of the photo. (“Things half hidden” will be the topic of an upcoming blog.) So, I began looking at lines and things around my house, and the edict came from within….”Go forth and take pictures and give my readers some insight as to how I see things.” Here’s what happened along those lines, in the order that it came to me.
I began wandering around the house, trying to look for something simple that had to do with lines. I came across a brass match holder. The long, thin sticks of wood contained lots of lines but getting them to spill outwards and separate so that they would show up as individual elements was difficult. (On retrospect, I guess I could have put something in the holder to separate them, but hindsight is so intensely accurate!) However, as I turned to the opposite side of the room, there was a bottle of scent diffuser, with lots of splayed lines made by the wicks. “Perfect item to add to the shoot”, I thought. Then, as I was carrying them both upstairs to get better light for the photograph, I saw sitting on a bureau downstairs, a wire wine bottle holder that begged to be included in the composition. I sat all three in front of a sunny window and the results are in the above photo.
As I was taking that first photo, I happened to look outside and saw the view in the photo on the left. “Cool!” I thought, “more lines and shadows”. I braved the cold and went outside and quickly captured this photo. I liked the way the weathered boards, the “window frame” plant holders that I put on the wall of the garage to resemble an outdoor room, and the shadows, both curved and straight cast by the various metal pieces on the frame combined in this pic. Not quite as stark a contrast as Robert’s inspirational photo, but I liked the result.
I hurried back inside and then, as I looked around my house for some more lines, I wandered into my big bathroom. Years ago, I had painted a mural on the wall of an outdoor scene, and I thought the metal candle holder frame in the corner of the tub contrasted nicely with the stenciled gates I had added to the woodland scene.
There weren’t any shadows in the bathroom, but I was thinking lines compared to other lines at this point. (My thinking, in case you hadn’t noticed, when I’m in this artistic flow, is not always consistent or linear, as I let my ideas go where they will.)
I took the bathroom photo, and then wandered out into the dining room and saw lots of shadows on the wall created by potted plants that are overwintering in a southern window. However, most of the shadows weren’t particularly linear so I began looking around for something to shoot in front of the white wall. I picked up a metal sculpture of palm leaves that I liked.
I set up the camera and shot what is my favorite pic from this two hour photo shoot. The thickened midribs of the palm leaves become quite linear as they extend to the outside of the frond. Then the mid-ground of the outline of the chair backs is a nice blur of soft lines. Finally, the background has subtle suggestions of lines from the aforementioned plants. I haven’t yet learned to see all the possibilities of composition in a prospective shot unless I look through the lens of the camera and see it boxed in for me. So for me, this was a happy accident of composition. I feel, it came about because I was allowing myself to play and just let my artistic sensibilities free rein.
This posting is the first in what I hope will be a series of postings on being an artistic tourist in my own environs. More thoughts will appear as I get the photos to support the story. How I’ll use them in my own arena of art quilts, I don’t know yet, but I find that I often find more inspiration in other media than in my own. I know that I’ll be looking at things with a new eye and perhaps you’ll see some of the above photos included in future art quilts… or not.
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