Tuesday, 19 May 2009

technology is a wonderful thing

Self portrait in a digital age

Does anyone else miss polaroid photographs? i know i do. Luckily help is at hand, for i have just discovered www.poladroid.net. This is a great site where you can download free software to make any image you have look like it is a polaroid. Try it - it's serious fun.

Another useful piece of software i've just discovered is Silver FX Pro. This is a great program designed to make digital images look like they were taken on film by mimicking the main characteristics of certain film types. So those of us who are missing grain for example can just select a classic grainy film type and voila, the digital image is processed to look as of shot on that film. You can chose from 19 different film types. So far i've read rave reviews of it in all my photography mags and heard good things from other photographers.

Now much as i love this and will definitely be forking out for it soon (how i long for the grain of Kodak T Max) i can't help thinking there's something wrong here. In the past few years, like many photographers, i've traded in most of my film cameras and spent thousands getting a great digital kit together. Now i need to spend just a little bit more so that my images will... look like they've been shot on film!! Hmm. Is it me or could i not just have saved myself an awful lot of time and money by missing out the middle step there? Technology, it's a wonderful thing...

Friday, 15 May 2009

digital art

i was reading a book of ideas for photos recently as i'm doing a photo-a-day for 2009 and was feeling a little bit uninspired, and i came across the idea of photographing your own art work but with camera movement. i thought it was a bit of a daft idea until i tried it and not only got some decent photos but also got re-inspired about some of the pieces of art. The nice thing is how some pieces came out as pure abstracts whilst others still have the human form clearly in them. i also liked the sense of movement that the camera movement gave to the figures. It's one of the joys of the digital age that you can mess about with this sort of thing to your hearts content with no cost or wasted shots thanks to being able to delete. i am now going to use the digital photos as the starting point for new drawings, thus bringing the process full circle. Great fun. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

every mark matters

My art teacher was saying recently that we ought to be braver and less timid with our art. She said we ought to remember that 'every mark matters' and then just go for it. Her words were inspiring, if a trifle daunting, but i decided she was right and that i would give it a go. i could hardly wait to get back to my easel where i splashed around ink and watercolours, and layered chalks, charcoals and pencil with a delicious sense of abandon. This was it - i was an artist now, my materials flowing onto the page as i created my master work. i stood back from the easel, having really enjoyed applying my marks so deliberately and confidently, to find myself looking at one of the most appalling unappealing messes i've ever had the misfortune to put on paper. i was stunned at how childish and amateur it appeared. i saw teacher heading for me. Usually i think of her as a friend, someone i'm rather fond of in fact, but now i felt like i was back in school - how could i hide from her or at least hide this rotten drawing? Would she be cross with me, i'd been doing exactly as she asked hadn't i?! She looked at it in surprise, made a few suggestions (i think rubbing out over half of it was the main one) and then mercifully moved on to the woman next to me who was paralysed by the thought of every mark mattering and so couldn't begin. Thinking about it later i realised that my teacher is right - we should know every mark matters, we should be less tentative. i also realised that the huge gap between our intention and our abilities is hard to bridge. When i watch my art teacher draw i marvel at the confidence of her line, her sureness of execution. For me, what my brain wants and what my hands can do are two very different things. i try to practise as often as possible in the hope this will change, but for now, i must live with it. It was nice to draw for a day as if i believed i could, even if the results were as flawed as ever! 
One good thing did come out of the lesson. My terrible drawing (even my teacher, usually gentle in her admonishments asked why on earth i'd made the arm look like a sausage) was rescuable. Taking her advice i rubbed out, drew over, rubbed out and drew over until i at least had something i didn't feel had to go straight in the bin. i decided i would photograph it and post it here first. At home i would have given up, but i found that being told to keep reworking until it was better is a possibility. Learning to push through and redraw was a good lesson.
Every mark matters, and if you don't like the ones you've made you can always make new ones.

top: the offending drawing, post rescue
left: detail of the face which i quite like and other drawings from the same day in class.