About Movement

After deleting the last video I created, this one is a little more “serious”. I have really been wanting to experiment with dance and movement so this is a start.

Advertisements

Affinity Photo

I tried, I really did. I want to get away from Adobe Photoshop but sadly, I can not just yet. I downloaded a trial version of the program Affinity Photo as it got rave reviews from users as a cheaper but good alternative to the ever-having-to-subscribe-and-get-raped subscription plan of Adobe Photoshop. Sure, the layout of the tools and lots of other things are similar and not so difficult to figure out however I encountered some issues/problems for me within half hour which made me stop using it:

Live modes (minor issue/annoyance – just meh):

You can see, live, the effects of burning/dodging/layer adjustments just by either hovering the tool over the area of scrolling through the adjustments. Meh. I can do without that honestly and as for the burning tool, it doesn’t seem accurate and where I had more intensity in Photoshop, at say 34%, the same percentage in Affinity gives me less.

Layers:

This is theee most important thing for me. My main method of image making is with digital collage. What a convoluted mess the layering apsect is in Affinity. Perhaps I didn’t learn everything but what I did see is that if you make any adjustment to a layer, it adds a layer so if you do 3 or 4 things to a layer, you have 3 to 4 layers. If you don’t group these and organize them immediately, you are completely lost. You can’t duplicate a layer the same way as in PS. Yes you can dupe with a right click but there is no icon for it…and then it dupes everything..again more layers. Instead of giving you the undo history (which I would hope is there), they just give you tons of layers to keep in case. I guess the creators thought it would be easier to throw out the one thing you did as opposed to an entire image layer but to me, that is not enough to have all these layers. They also don’t have a flatten layer option nor a real save option. You have to Export and select the file format you want so the original thing you are working on is considered a project – Including the live mode thing, I look at Affinity as the non-commital person in a relationship.

Because my background apps kept giving me problems due to Affinity taking up more space, I had to ditch the program before I could do more with it. (I have since been a good girl and did storage management, though). I imagine there are people out there that can handle these things better than me but I am more interested in making the work and PS has been the program I have used for 20 years so until they raise their subscription rate to an impossible number for me (even though I realize what I am paying them in one year) I will have to use this program

Frustrated

As I posted, in French, in my last entry, I have been stressing over this French test that I am taking on the 4th of July but I am less stressed than before for a couple of reasons. I think I am at the level I should be in order to get my 10-year card and I am working everyday so that can only improve my chances.

What is frustrating though is that I have not been working in my studio nor doing anything in the way of creativity (the job is as creative as it can get really) and I am feeling that craving. When I haven’t done anything in awhile, I get hungry but I also feel lost. It isn’t until I have my camera either set up on a tripod or in my hands that I feel better. Even drawing – I would like to get back to that but I feel like all I can do at this moment is focus on this test. It’s not healthy, though, I admit and I will have to convince myself to do other things in addition.

Oh, and yes, I am buying a new lens this week, thanks to so many generous people who have helped me obtain that. Perhaps, once I have it, I will want to take the time to shoot.

I will just feel better all around when this is over. The test happens to be the same week where I have one last paying gig for the summer. Work will then start up again some time the end of September or more so, October. My husband and I have some vacations we will be taking so I have that to look forward to. So when the first week of July is done, I can rejoice!

oui, je stresse

J’écris ce poste en français parce que je dois me préparer pour un examen de la connaissance du français en juillet. Cet examen est pour ma carte de résidence. Je ne peux pas échouer mais pour obtenir la carte de dix ans, je dois passer avec un niveau minimum A2. Si je n’atteint pas ce niveau, je recevrai une carte de 2 ans mais je préfère que j’ai la carte de 10.

Ce n’est pas trop avancé mais c’est assez et pour moi, le problème est toujours la compréhension. Je bloque quand quelqu’un parle à moi ou si je dois écouter aux choses importantes. En fait, c’est un peu drôle parce que je peux demander des questions, pas de soucis, mais quand la personne répond…pffffft. Cependant, ce n’est pas seulement la compréhension. Quand je ne suis pas avec mon mari ou à mon travail, je ne parle pas de tous – en anglais ou en français. Je suis toute seule donc je suis silencieuse. J’essaye écouter des choses sur l’internet en français mais, lisez au-dessus.

Donc, l’examen est en 4 parties: Compréhension écrite, Compréhension orale, Expression écrite et Expression Orale. Pour les deux parties que je dois écris, je pense que tout ira bien. Pour les deux autres parties, pas sûr. J’ai télécharger le manuel pour l’examen, ainsi que des autres documents. Je vais travailler autant que possible et parle avec mon mari plus.

Ca veux dire que je vais me concentrer sur ce test et rien d’autre parce que c’est moi. Je sais que ce n’est pas bien je ne sais pas comment de-stresse. Peut-être vous pouvez me dire comment?

btf

Asking for Help

I am reaching out to you, my followers because I had a bit of a catastrophic thing happen. Thanks to my cat who went into hunting mode after I was given some bird feathers as a gift from the wildlife preserve, there was a grave accident with my camera. Thankfully the camera is fine but the lens is smashed to pieces. This camera is the only one that I have and I only had one lens. I need to replace it and it is costly. I apologize for having to ask for help but I wouldn’t if not necessary. My art is a huge part of my lifeline. I will gladly send a print as a thank you gift and if you can not donate, I completely understand and ask if you can please share this with anyone that you think is able to help. Anything you can donate would be a tremendous help. You can do so via my PayPal account. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Je me tourne vers vous parce que quelque chose de catastrophique est arrivé. À cause de mon chat, qui est entré en mode chasse après que j’ai reçu des plumes d’oiseau comme un cadeau de la réserve, Il y a eu un accident grave avec mon appareil photo. Heureusement, l’appareil est ok mais l’objectif est cassé. C’est mon seul appareil et j’avais seulement un objectif. Il me faut le remplacer mais c’est cher. Je voudrais vous demander votre soutien et votre aide. C’est necéssaire comme mon travail d’art est si important dans ma vie. Je vous enverrais un tirage en cadeau pour tout don et si vous ne pouvez pas faire un don, pourriez-vous partager ce message avec d’autres personnes qui pourrait peut-être m’aider. Vous pouvez faire un don via mon compte PayPal. Un grand merci à vous du fond du coeur.

20 Years

2019 marks twenty years that I have been creating bodies of work focusing on the self-portrait. In 1999, I told myself to go on this journey of self-analysis as I navigate this life and the personal things I faced and continue to face.

I began with how I saw myself physically and needed to accept who I was. Although I still struggle today with accepting my physical attributes, it is nowhere near how I felt back then and I have my photography and its therapeutic ways to thank for that.

So, after a couple of years, I moved from the physical aspect of who I was, to the internal which is much more complex. I went and continue with the use of metaphor, symbol and fantasy to explain what I am going through and mainly to myself. If those that view my work understand my intent, that is good but I prefer that they come up with their own interpretations as well because it brings the photographs to a more universal level. 

I also moved from film to digital technology for two reasons: the first was that I had to give up my darkroom many years ago and did not have the means nor the physical space to start a new one. The second was because new technology gave me possibilities to explore beyond the straight photograph in ways that I don’t think I could ever accomplish with film.

In these 20 years, I have shot over a million frames. I photographed myself in the safety and security of my studio and outside in all of the elements of nature. I have photographed myself in the burning heat, in the cool shade, in the rain, and in the cold; in costume and nude, with props and without. I photographed myself alone and with models – one on one and with up to 7 at a time.

No matter what, though, the one thing remains consistent – when I set up a shoot, I start out with a tiny idea of what I want and after several frames, performance and improvisation takes over, sometimes without any thought of the end result. Now, in post-production, there are happy accidents and wonderful coincidences that sometimes make me think that unconsciously, I did photograph myself with the right intent. I would like to think that way, anyway.

Many artists over the years have asked me, “why are you still photographing yourself?” or come out blatantly and say, “you should photograph other things” and give me lists of subjects to photograph. I never understood why those things are said, simply because I never thought to question anyone else’s reason for their art-making. However, I do understand that there is the implication that if you are photographing yourself, there is a sense of vanity/narcissism. To me, those words are often used in negative ways. For me, the act of turning the camera onto myself started out with the desire to love and accept myself in a way that no one did. However, after 20 years, if vanity was the reason for doing so, my work would never change and frankly, there would be boredom that would reflect in the images. The desire for me to understand my life is to express it in this manner. It is instinctual in that as soon as something important happens to me, I must document it in this way. It’s a natural part of my being and will continue to be until it isn’t anymore and that I am content with what I have created.

I created a slide show of images I have made over the years and when I look at them, I feel very much like I am looking at a photo album. I remember what was going on at the time I created them, I remember the shooting experience often, and sometimes there are funny or sad stories associated with them. That for me, is what made the work succeed and I am grateful that I have been able to keep doing this. Here’s to another 20 years or more as I enter the latest phase of my life at 50 years old.

The Most Amazing Experience in My Life

Saturday was my 50th birthday. Yes, a milestone and true one in more than one way. As my entry was about the meaning of my red hair and why it was time for a change, I needed another way to express my transformation into this new empowered me. Well, at least the empowered, warrior I hope that I am.

A year ago, my husband and I visited this wildlife preserve/refuge in the town Rambouillet, roughly 2 hours from us by public transport (including taxi from the train station). This preserve is more special than I ever experienced before because while they have fenced off areas with some deer and other wildlife, they have a center for birds of prey and more so, an open forest where one can walk and discover even more deer, wild boar and other bird species up close and personal. It was a great day and after seeing the birds of prey – a second time as I saw a spectacle in Provins during the Medieval Festival, I thought if there was a possibility of posing with some of these birds – falcons and owls. At the time, I contacted the company that worked with the festival in Provins several times but never received a response. Then I saw on the site for the preserve in Rambouillet that they offered a morning activity for up to 2 people to learn about falconry and to handle/care for their birds! You pay for the reservation and although it isn’t cheap, it goes to the center directly which is important to me.

I contacted them about reserving this activity and to ask if there was any way I could, as an art photographer, to pose with a falcon and in costume (I didn’t dare ask for more than that) and I received a response saying yes of course as long as I wasn’t a commercial photographer. I am not. So, we reserved the activity on my birthday and while I brought my costume, camera and tripod, I wasn’t sure what to expect except for posing with one bird and we didn’t know what to expect from the activity itself.

On our way that early morning we saw the storm clouds and then rain. It was already cold and we were dressed for Spring weather hoping things would clear up and the temps warmer. No. In fact, it got rainier and colder as we arrived. We met the staff of the refuge and then to our falconer. His name – Jean-Baptiste and a dead ringer for Neil Gaiman. He understood some English but didn’t speak which was ok. I understood a bit of what he said, I spoke as well as I could and of course my wonderful husband – le traducteur – translated a lot as well. We were introduced first to the owls of which there are 2 types – hiboux and chouettes. The difference is that the chouettes have rounder heads (think snow owls, barn owls) while hiboux have feathers that go to a point on top to look like ears. We got to handle them to weigh them as all the birds get weighed each day. We graduated to the hawks and falcons and then lastly, the American eagle. We saw babies, even a baby vulture and eggs in an incubator.

At that point, the weather was getting much worse so the falconer advised that maybe it would be best to end the actual activity and to do my photo shoot. He told me that I could pose with as many birds as I wanted!! We had to do the shoot indoors because of the rain, which then turned to snow…May weather, right? So we set up in one of the offices which luckily had wood walls like a log cabin at least.

Side note: after looking at the photos, I am a little angry with myself for not posing so creatively simply because I was so damn excited to be with these birds, that I was dumb-struck!

Neil Gaiman, I mean Jean-Baptiste came in with bird after bird, assisting me to get them on my arms before being off to the side to supervise..although the birds were really quite calm and gentle for the most part as they are handled so often by people. All except one of the little barn owls of the pair who nibbled on my hand a little!

Afterward, he then asked me if I wanted to pose with the American eagle but that it would have to be outside. I took a look at the slushy snow and said yes! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! So I gathered my dress and umbrella while Hubby grabbed the camera sans tripod. The eagle was already posed on a perch outside where I put him after weighing him earlier. The eagle, of course is the heaviest bird I had on my arm and so powerful! Feeling him on my arm was something else. I felt so much like a warrior there!

I loved all of my models and when we were finished with the day, Jean-Baptiste suggested we should try and do this activity again on a day with better weather and I think we will try for it next year and who knows? Maybe I will get a second chance to pose with some of my new friends but outside (and more creatively!)


Young Talent…

I will be posting an entry on the 20 years that I have been creating serious work in the next few days but I came across, again, something that I see more often now in promoting artists that is kind of ironic. When many of us graduate from art school, we do so with some of the tools that we can use to create our work but not always the vision and honestly, I say this with my work as well, one needs years to develop a vision, a style and even concepts in one’s art which is not a stage that a 20-year old is at but sure, if one works constantly at his/he craft, by 35 years old, there can be something.

By the way, I am talking about a young person in today’s society. In the days of DaVinci and the old Masters, the art students were apprentices learning directly from the artists at a very early age. They were no cell phones to distract them so back then, it is easy to learn that someone like Picasso (I will have to check my resources there) started painting at the age of 15.

So in the last, maybe 10 years, I keep seeing not only competitions but galleries and art fairs focusing on “young talents” with the maximum age of 35 years old. I don’t remember this category when I was out of school and I am not sure it’s helpful. And why? I come from the thought that a piece of art should be based and judged (well…that’s another story) on merit and if the piece really goes to the level of fine art. It shouldn’t matter how old the artist is. If you look at painters like Alice Neel and Louise Bourgeois were much older before they had an art career and became well-known.

Bottom line – there are enough limitations placed on getting promoted including the famous “women artists only” so please don’t limit seeing great art by age.

The Meaning of Red

I wrote this in my journal at the hair salon this morning: Today, I will no longer be a redhead. I have dyed my hair red for 35 years, since I was 15 years old. Thinking back on that time now, I believe I wanted to create a bond with my mother in two ways – to dye my hair red like her and to go to school to be a hairdresser like she did, although she never became a hairdresser. By the time I graduated high school, we had almost matching hair colors and styles and although I went to beauty school, I, too, never got my license. I really didn’t want to do that. I was just trying to please her as I often did then.

Over the course of my life, I changed the tone of red from natural to extreme and every shade in between trying to seek out the “vivid” color. This color is connected to a time period of stupidity in sex and the relationships I had with men attached to that. It was also connected to a constant need to accept myself physically – someone who had lost and gained over 100 pounds several different times. I thought by making my hair vividly red, it would make me the beauty I wasn’t. It would make my personality “shine”.

As I got older, I started associating the red with the Pre-Raphaelites, the faerie-world and all things romantic. As much as I still love the idea of that, the first thought that had entered my mind, when I moved from the US to France is that, I was tired of coloring my hair. Going to a salon is super-expensive and so I did it at home. I was getting back pains and really, the effort of doing it only for my natural color to start to show in 2 weeks was becoming too much for me.

But the gray….the gray hair had become ever so prominent and it scared me to stop the red. As the back pains increased though, after Christmas of 2018, I stopped coloring. It felt so freeing to not have to do that every month. Then, as the months went on, I saw more and more of my natural silver gray mixed in with my dark brown which creates the inevitable “salt and pepper” mix and gave it serious thought.

I will be 50 years old next week. I have made major changes in my life in the last 4 years. I moved to another country, first, and secondly, I have been able to detach myself from my past. I have acknowledged it all – the toxic family and other relationships, a divorce, and many other problems I had to face and I know that I had to go through it all in order to get here. Here, I have a happy and healthy marriage with complete respect, love and trust. Here, where I now enter the “last phase” of my life is now where I am finally settled with who I am. I am a strong woman, a wife, an artist, a goof-ball, and a very serious person. I am an introverted extrovert who prefers her own company to that of others but I am also caring and loving toward the friends I have and are there when they need me. Most importantly, I am a survivor and a warrior and I believe now is the time to reflect that in another way.

So, today, I said goodbye to my red. Goodbye to my past and hello to my present and future.

circa 2003
circa 2011


NOW
NOW