Van Dyke

Well, it looks like I’ve taken too deep of a breath while relaxing after this semester, and have fallen off the grid a little with my blog.  Sorry!  So to make up for it a little, I thought I would share some of my favorite photographs from my alternative processes class this semester.

I have to say, if I haven’t already, this was my favorite class I took this semester, possibly my favorite that I will take while at MICA.  Just having the resources to learn about different processes, and then not having to buy the chemicals and try to deal with them in my less than acceptable home set up was pretty amazing.  I’m considering auditing this class again because I loved it so much, but we’ll see — the rest of my “MICA career” seems like it’s going to be a little crazy.

One of the things we learned about was the Van Dyke process.  I’ve experimented with a similar process in the past, Kallitype, which I came to learn is basically the same process, with just a slight difference in chemistry.  At least I had a little heads up with what I was going to be working with, which was good.  This chemistry is nothing to mess with — I messed up before, luckily just a little, but my hands were stained brown in little spots for about a week.  Come to find out, it can last much longer than that, so I got off easy.

Since I was stuck on the nature theme for this class, I thought about some old photos that I’ve shown you guys before, that I did during a still life exercise for my Digital I class last semester.  I’ve been in love with these photos since then, and I was happy to try them out in a different process.  I feel like when I do alternative process printing, I have a different aesthetic that I go for.  I like the more “oddities” and “antique” looking subjects.  Nature always works, too, but I’m really happy when I can combine the two, and I feel like these photos got it.  Maybe that’s why I like them so much.

Aside from these being my favorites, this process also worked like a charm in the class.  I had a little trouble with the cyanotype processing, which was disappointing, and palladium (which I’ll show you soon!) was a really time consuming process, which took a little of the fun out of it.  With the light boxes in class, these worked quick, and turned out great.  I used Arches Cover paper, and really enjoy the result I got from it.  There is a bit of a waiting process, if you’re thinking of trying this out and don’t like waiting.  Per suggestions made by my professor, it’s best to double coat your paper, waiting at least a day or two between coats, and then waiting an additional few days before printing.  This allows the paper to really absorb the chemistry, and will provide you with a wide range of tones once you get to printing.  So I coated during one class, had a class mate do the second coat a few days later, and printed the following week.  I’m not patient, but if that was the key to these, I guess I’ll just have to get used to waiting when I try this again.

So here they are!  Let me know what you think.  I’m in love with them, and can’t wait to do some more.  Maybe I can sneak in over the summer and do some printing?  I may just have to find out if that’s a possibility.  Enjoy!

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“Well, Welcome to This One.”

I love it when people have just the right things to say.  I also like it when something gets me right in the feels, for lack of a better word, and catches me off guard when they do.  I got that from one of my professors the other day, so I’d thought I’d share a little more about it with you.

It’s been a crazy few weeks since starting school, as I’m sure you’re well aware by my constant reminders.  But even with all the craziness, it’s been filled with some pretty great moments.  First off, everyone thinks that I’m 21…max!  I’m even being mistaken for a teenager, which makes me question some things, but I’ll still take it as a great compliment.  I’m finally starting to feel a little more comfortable, and that I may be someone who is on-par with this “art world” that I’ve flung myself in to.  Yes, I know I made it in to MICA, and that should be reassurance enough, but it isn’t.  “They”, the powers that be at MICA, even send out emails, or did at least, to new students telling them just that — “don’t be scarred/intimidated/depressed/stressed/etc…you made it here, and that means a lot!”  When coming from the world of strict business attire,where the only creativity being expressed was that of craftily written procedure or performance review, it’s hard to see yourself amounting to anything creative.  No matter how bad I want to succeed at this, I’m essentially terrified.

When I think about where I came from, the life of banking, management, stress, abuse, and all things wrong in a corporate environment, I have two feelings that have stuck around: abandonment, and escape.  Pretty conflicting thoughts, don’t you think?  As if my feelings towards them weren’t complicated enough, they still continue to be, even almost a year and a half leaving.  I suppose some of the emotions you could equate to this would be depression, anxiety, PTSD, failure,….freedom and relief?  Like I said, it’s complicated.  I whole heartedly gave over 10 years of my life to this company, only to be targeted, bullied, and attacked.  And when I fell ill as a result of this, they didn’t care at all, and wanted nothing more to do with me.  Don’t get it twisted though, no matter how it may sound, I played the hand I was dealt the best I could, and ended up resigning.  Some what reluctantly, but still, it was my choice to leave — at least they didn’t get that satisfaction.  Either way, it was a heartbreaking change, even though at the same time I wanted to do something different with my  life.  I wanted to make it better, but I was terrified of failing.

But like I said, you have to play the cards you’re dealt, and my game had just changed.  So I decided, why not, apply for this school that I’ve been wanting to go to forever.  I was just about to finish up my associates degree, because I could only handle baby steps, and didn’t see myself making it this far.  Going to school, an art school, to get a Bachelor’s degree seemed unobtainable for me.  After getting in, it was then the financial aspects that had me burdened, because let’s face it, you can’t pay for the “ivy league of art schools” on a non-existent salary.  No one was excited about the news except a few, literally few, friends, so in trying to be realistic about it, I didn’t let myself get excited about it, or celebrate.  I’m 30, and just got my first college acceptance letter in the mail, I should be excited.  Oh, wait, except for the fact that I’ll be 30….in college…with teenagers — another issue of concern.  I convinced myself I was too old, and just needed to buckle down and get a “real job”.  Oh, and back to the no job thing, I had to move out of my apartment, my safe haven, my home….my life was falling apart when it should have been on the up and up.

So I decided not to go, and things got dark, really dark, and fast.  I started looking for banking jobs, admin jobs, anything office job like, and to no avail.  What was the end of an already incredibly depressed year, I was even worse for the wear.  Then a friend hired me to bake a cake and photograph her wedding, and another friend asked me to photograph her baby, and it felt great doing things that were artistic, and that I got paid for!  Imagine that.  I figured, as the deadline for the deposit was fast approaching, I’ll just take this money to pay for the deposit.  As irresponsible as it may be, and even though it’s most likely only delaying the inevitable, I’ll have a little more time to pretend that this is still an option.

In the mean while, I still looked for “normal” jobs, but also worked on art, this blog (yay), craft fairs, and school stuff — scheduling, talking to advisors, financial aid, and so on.  I had it all figured out, except how to pay for just a little bit of it.  So annoying.  With all the work I did, this little percentage of tuition that I couldn’t come up with was going to hold me back.  I begged family to help, co-sign, anything, but they resisted, insisting that I needed to get off this vacation mode and get my life back together.  I have to say, my family has an interesting perspective of what vacation is if my life was the model for it.  Then, out of the blue, my parents, though they were very clear that they disapproved of my idea/plan/decisions/everything, that they wanted me to be happy.  What?  Seriously?  I was dumbfounded, but took their help as quickly as possible.  Though I have to hear about it all the time now, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to give this a go, even if the future of it seems uncertain.

So then I’m finally there!  Orientation.  Oh my God….can I say that it was exponentially worse than I expected?  The school and facilities seemed nice, but the people — some of the other students are down right…..just, immature, and not good people, and incredibly filled with entitlement, and unappreciative.  It’s a little astounding, and overwhelming.  I felt like crying, and leaving, and never coming back, but I knew I couldn’t let these people, who really didn’t do anything to me except make my age difference become even more apparent, control what was going to be my outcome of going here.  So I did what I knew I would do, what I always do.  I worked.

It felt great to finally have something consume my life again.  While it was nice being away from work, it was pretty boring at times, even with all my little projects that I tried to fill my time with.  Not only that, but I actually started working again, and not at some terrible place that was irrelevant to what my goals were.  I’m busy again, and it’s a great feeling.  I’m successful in this busyness, which is even a better feeling.

Even though the feedback from some of these professors has been minimal, I have enough information to come to the conclusion that I have an A in each of my six, count ’em, six classes.  I would say yay, but I worked my ass off, and there is no yay for me when it comes to grades.  I either get all A’s and am contempt with it because it’s the only acceptable outcome, or I flirt with the line between A and B, and I’m really mad about it.  It’s about half way through the semester now, and I’ve received a couple of mid-term reviews, and hope to have a couple more.  They’ve been informal, and though email, so it’s nice to have the feed back, because not having it drives me crazy, but it’s also a little impersonal.  Lucky for me, I have one professor, my sculpture professor, who is very profession, and a great communicator.  He set up mid-term review meetings with each of us, and actually sat us down to talk about our progress, grades, and future expectations.  Now that gets a yay 🙂

So in that meeting, I heard some great things — I have an A+, something that he only gives out like once or twice a year.  How unexpected.  What else was unexpected was that he told me that I took to sculpture like “a fish to water”.  I have to say, out of all the classes I signed up for this semester, this was the one I was most apprehensive about.  I never work three-dimensionally, so this was all new for me, and in having such high expectations for my self and my grades, this was going to be a challenge.  We chatted a little more, and he got the point of saying that he could tell that I was very dedicated.  Of course — do you have any idea of what I had to go through to get here?! Of course not, I’m being irrational, and joking.  I did say, however, that yes, I’m incredibly dedicated to being here.  I went through hell with the life that I had before, and I’m never going back to that world.  And then he said it…”Well, welcome to this one”.  He went on to say, many more positive things, what expectations he had for me, and that he saw me doing great things, but that little sentence stuck out to me even more than that.  I know that with the grades I’m getting in the school that I’m now attending that I should have more confidence in my work.  It’s amazing to hear that he views me as an A+ student, a natural at this art, and that he, and incredibly successful artist in his own right, sees me being successful as well.  But that welcome, as silly as it may seem, hit me hard.  I’m here, I’m still in one piece, and I’m doing the thing that I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m doing the thing that I pushed out of my mind for the last 15 years of my life.  I’m doing something that will change my life.  It’s hard to believe, but I am.  I’m doing it.  It’s crazy.  Crazy good.  I don’t ever have to go back to that life now, not if I don’t want to.

At the end of all my rambling, I’ve included some photos of things that I’ve been working on for various classes – sculpture, digital photo, studio lighting, and EMAC, which is like a sampling of all this electronic and digital in the art making world. I didn’t include anything from my art history classes, cause I figured you probably wouldn’t appreciate having papers shoved in your face to read.  And it’s ok if you think some of these are a little wacky, cause to be honest, I do too, but I like them 🙂   And what I like even more, is that this is just the beginning of a change so grand that I can’t even imaging how great things will be when I finish.  I imagine a very tear-filled graduation on my part, but only happy tears.  So thanks for the welcome, and just so you know, there will never be a goodbye.

Week 38: Bird’s Eye View

Luckily for me, even with all the art-filled craziness which is now my life, I’ve still been trying to keep this project in mind while shooting for other things.  Gotta love a two-fer when I can get one now a days.  So when my digital photography professor decided that we were doing still life set ups for the next couple weeks, I was in luck.

Not only did he have bags of incredibly interesting and whimsical things, which I really enjoyed photographing, but he also had a ladder.  Thanks to that, I was able to snap a few pictures for my “bird’s-eye view” theme for this week.  Though a bird wouldn’t be in a photo studio, per sey, the object of the theme is to take pictures of an object or objects from a view directly above them.  So we’ll just imagine that this was a really large studio…or a really small bird…or neither, whatever!

To start, I’ll share some of the non-bird’s-eye-view photos with you, because like I said, the stuff he had was just great.  When I think of still life set ups for in class exercises, I think of boring things like vases, and flowers, and all the typical things that you would see in Renaissance paintings that don’t always make the best photographs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those painting, but I think I love them more for their artistry, and not for the actual items that are in the work.  So, much like how I underestimated his first-day-of-class outdoor project, I underestimated this.  I suppose I need to more frequently remind myself that I’m dealing with actual artists, and a college which has a great deal of things at its disposal, not a community college, or a high school, or some place that really doesn’t have a regard for making art.

So as he starting pulling out these wonderful items, and reflectors, and lights from the department, the wheels started turning.  Myself and a few classmates made this lovely little whimsical set up of butterflies, antique keys, and bottles.  As you can see, we weren’t the only ones who liked these things, because as I went around the room to a couple other set ups, they had a lot of the same thing going on.

Once we were working on these for a little while, that’s when the ladder came about.  I suppose the fact that these are not true bird’s-eye view photos is most likely a good things.  My subconscious/semi-conscious fear of heights would have probably kicked in had I ventured to the top of a building somewhere, and that would be all kinds of bad.  Do you ever have those dreams where you’re in a weird, really high place, and you can’t walk and start to get all dizzy?  Yes?  No?  Well, either way, that’s what happens to me.  And while I haven’t been afraid in any real-life situations, the subconscious side of the fear pops up, and as soon as I elevate in any way I start to feel the hinting of vertigo.  The fact that I’m incredibly sleep deprived probably does not help that at all; I practically fell out of my chair – wide awake, mind you — when I got to class that day.  So although the ladder was a great addition to the still life thing and let us get some additional points of view, I started feeling dizzy only two steps up.  Don’t worry, I’m still in one piece, and trekked all the way down the two steps back to safety.  Even though there are less of these, enjoy!  I’m happy about them!  I mean, how could you not be happy about butterflies and antique stuff?

So Much To Do, So Little Time…

Oops.  Looks like I haven’t been here in a while, and I certainly haven’t been following up with my 52 week challenge like I’m supposed to be doing.  Don’t worry though! I haven’t forgotten about you, or the projects!  I’ve just been slightly losing my mind with how insanely busy I’ve been!

Yes, I’ve started school!  Going in to my 4th week and things are starting to get interesting!  I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it through this semester — perhaps taking six classes during my first semester at a new school was a little ambitious.  Oh well, I’m in it now!  It’s crazy to think that so much time has passed already.  4th week.  It doesn’t sound like much, but when you think of it, I’m 1/4 of the way done already, and it feels like it’s all just begun.  I suppose the structure of classes only being once a week (although 6 hours each, yikes), makes it seem like I’ve barely been to some of my classes.

Also, I’ve started both of my jobs.  Seriously folks, the insanity of this schedule, and driving, and everything is really starting to kick in!  I can’t complain though.  I’ve missed being this busy, and it’s a little crazy to think of what I was doing the last time I was this busy.  People at school, particularly at the job I have there, keep asking questions about what I used to do, and where I came from.  In thinking of that so much lately, I’m so thankful that I’m never going back to that again.  Do you hear me?  Never!  I know, it sounds crazy to me, too, but I love it.

So even though things have been crazy, I’ve still been out shooting.  Nothing for the current “natural elements” theme (or the next week’s theme, which I haven’t even begun yet!), but I’m shooting none the less.  Hopefully I’ll be back on track after this weekend; I do have some school projects to shoot for, but I also have ideas brewing for the two themes I should have finished already!  While I get ready for a busy day of fun, photography, and homework tomorrow, I’ll leave you with a couple of images, courtesy of my digital photography class first day shenanigans.

Apparently, my professor has some type of competitive thing going on with one of his associates.  They’re each trying to one-up each other during their first class exercise.  I’m very happy about this, because I really enjoyed this little outing.  When reading the school site the night before in preparation for the class, I’ll have to admit, I was not that excited when I read something along the lines of “we’re going outside for an exercise — it’s supposed to be hot — come prepared”.  Hmm, what the heck are we going to do, and how lame is this exercise going to be?  Not lame at all, as a matter of fact.  My teacher, with the help of his TA, proceeded to throw brightly colored juice in the air for some fun abstract shots.  When that grew tired, he then put on some plastic bio-hazard type suite so his assistant could throw juice and soda on him, as well as so he could experiment with the whole mentos in a soda bottle thing.  Fun times.  Then, as another lighting scenario exercise, we went inside and took pictures of a miniature space set up that he created.  Things are looking up being at this school.  I mean really, where else can you do stuff like this?  Enjoy!

Broken, for the Sake of Art

When my watercolor professor said that the class was going to work on a still life set up and we all needed to bring something in, I started thinking of what could be interesting.  She mentioned the importance of the “unexpected”, showed us a few examples, and then said that if we were unable to think of an object, we could always borrow from the classroom still life shelf.  Now, when thinking of the unexpected, anything on that shelf doesn’t come to mind.  It’s filled with a variety of bottles, bowls, and random objects which would be contained in your typical still life.

I thought I would alter one of those objects, and bring in something that was usually expected, but had become unexpected.  After venturing over to my parent’s house and practically begging my mother for one of her vases from the plethora which is her collection, I shattered one, and brought it in to class.  Everyone brought in your typical items; a bowl, a more stylized vase, some pine cones, flowers and twigs found outside, and of course, some objects from the still life shelf.  When I presented my object, I was greeted with shock that I would actually shatter something to make it interesting for a still life.  “Broken, for the sake of art!!”, my professor exclaimed.  It was pretty comical, in my opinion, but I was happy to contribute something that would make our set up a little more interesting.

With that being said, my mother also thought is was pretty, well, dumb for lack of a better word, that I would just break something for my art class.  Well, mother, I’m happy to report that my little broken vase is being put to good, multiple, use.  When thinking of an idea for this week’s theme, high key, I automatically thought of the white daisies that I bought for a different photo shoot that I did earlier this week, but like I said, I’m not one for the “light and fluffy” type photographs.  I began to think of how I could make things more interesting, when alas, I have my little shattered vase, which would compliment the flower quite well, while making for a more complex set up.

I’m pretty satisfied with how the photos turned out.  They have an element of darkness, while being extremely bright in content.  An “I’m sorry gone awry” is what these images make me think of.  I know I said I was going to go with the black and white theme, but with being able to actually set up a white backdrop and properly overexpose my images slightly, I thought that leaving those small areas of color would bring in some much-needed variety.  Though the original images would have been successfully considered as high key, I did a little editing to remove some of the saturated color in the flower, as well as to remove some of the shadows.  I was only working with natural light, so without being able to flood the set up with light, I was bound to have several shadows.   Honestly, I like the shadows and light passing through the shattered glass pieces, but to say in line with the theme of this week, I thought I would work to keep my images as close to high key as possible, and eliminate any unnecessary dark areas.  Check them out!