Monday, March 1, 2021

Trailings Project - February Update

Trailings Exhibit Guides - Sara Harley
Comment Book & Exhibit Guide - Trailings Exhibit

I posted an update about my Trailings exhibit preparations at the end of January, and things were going wrong. Challenges continued through early February, but things have finally turned around and are back on the right track.

First is my good news/bad news story. I was scheduled to hang my exhibit on February 23rd, with an opening date of the 24th. On January 28th, I met with the organizer who told me they were undergoing unexpected renovations to the museum. I had been scheduled to hang the exhibit in the main exhibit area, and the revised section available was less than half the size shall I put this?...looked like a make shift corridor. I asked for some time to think about it overnight, and let her know the next day that I would prefer to wait until they finished their renovations. I guess that didn't go over well, as I was told I was welcome to apply again for exhibit space at a later date. I don't think I'll be applying again (I'm wondering why that would be necessary, as I had already been accepted?)  I still have space at the local library running from April 1st through May 31st.

I had mentioned in the aforementioned previous posting that my frame order had arrived, but the frames were poor quality and unusable. I received a replacement order in mid February, and unfortunately encountered the same problems. The company was very good to work with, and a full credit was received for the frames (just the frames, I was still able to use the other supplies from the, mats, backing, hanging wire). So here's where the good news comes in from the canceled exhibit....I had more time to figure out how to solve my frame problem since I didn't have an exhibit opening on February 24th. Every cloud has a silver lining. 

I did find a local frame maker who made the frames for me. It cost twice as much, but I have received them and they are beautifully made. Yay!  Most of my framing is now complete, with only two of fifteen left to frame. Another Yay!

The reprint of my exhibit guide arrived one week ago. I'm very happy with them! An exhibit guide is not a necessity now that I'm only showing at the library, but I'll figure out what to do with them. It was a great experience to put them together....I'll likely post about exhibit guides sometime soon.

Under advisement from a couple of experienced exhibitors, and due to lack of space at the library, I have decided to only show my photography and to leave out the story cloths (quilts) I worked on. They are part of the exhibit guide, so that will be enough for now.

I don't think I mentioned before that I created a comment book for the exhibit. In a blog post from December, I talked about getting the public involved. I have included their photographs and comments into this comment book, and there is lots of room left for anyone who sees the exhibit to leave their comments. Is there a need to have a custom made comment book? No, but I'm happy I created one!

Another good news story... four of the final images for this exhibit will be published in an upcoming issue of On Landscape magazine, a UK based online magazine.  The quality of photography they publish is top notch, and I am thrilled about this!

Despite some challenges in February, things have done a turnabout and are looking up. It's all sunshine and roses at the moment.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Flight of Fancy - Exhibit Wrap Up

Dart Gallery Newsletter Sara Harley
from the Dart Gallery's newsletter

My solo exhibit at the Dart Gallery in Dartmouth, NS is wrapping up. This six week show came as a bit of a surprise, and has been such a great experience.

Jane MacDougald, the owner of the gallery, has been encouraging me to have a solo exhibit for a while. It always just seemed too intimidating. Here's how it finally came to be...

In December 2019, I wrote a blog article called It Never Hurts to Ask. That led me to exhibiting my work at a restaurant, which was surprisingly a great source of sales until everything shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When things shut down, my work got boxed up and sat in my garage for five months. Then the Dart Gallery sent out a call for art for their December show called Off the Wall, an opened theme exhibit. I submitted the images that I already had framed and all of them were accepted. When I dropped them off, Jane talked to me again about having a solo show.  So....some of them were shown at the group show, and many of them were held until January. I wasn't expecting much...who shops for art in January? But apparently lots of people do!

The show was mostly photographic art, with a few "real" photographs as well. Flight of Fancy celebrates my love of crows. In case you missed my 20 minutes of fame, click here to view my artist talk about the exhibit.

Sara Harley Artist Talk - Flight of Fancy at the Dart Gallery
Artist Talk - Flight of Fancy at the Dart Gallery
This series has been a watershed for my photography. It has given me the permission to play and create art, rather than just snapping a photograph. It has allowed me the freedom to making images that exist only in my imagination, brought to life by layering and combining many different photographs from my library and creating something new that no one else can reproduce. Although some photographers insist this isn't photography, and some artists say it's not art, it makes me happy and I try not to be concerned with the naysayers. 

It makes me happy that some people do love my work enough to buy it from a gallery and take it home. Here are some of the pieces that have sold:

Photographic Art Always by Sara Harley

Photographic Art Beach Bums by Sara Harley
Beach Bums
Photographic Art Emotional Refuge by Sara Harley
Emotional Refuge

Photographic Art Frozen by Sara Harley

Home for the Holidays

Photographic Art Out of Time by Sara Harley
Out of Time

Photographic Art Rest Stop by Sara Harley
Rest Stop

Photographic Art Savour by Sara Harley

Photographic Art Sunny Days by Sara Harley
Sunny Days

Photographic Art There Is No Greater Love by Sara Harley
There is no Greater Love

Friday, February 12, 2021

Exhibits - Selecting Images

Part 3: Selecting Images

I have briefly discussed image selection in a couple of updates about my upcoming Trailings exhibit, but I'll try to go into more detail here. I'm not an expert by any means, but writing about it seems to help me get things organized in my own mind.

Presumably, artists who create with paint or fabric or another medium would come up with a theme and then create their art following the theme. This might also happen in photography. But for a photographer who hasn't exhibited before, more often than not they will come up with a theme and then go through their photographs to fill out the exhibit.

I might argue that you should go through your photographs FIRST and then come up with a theme, but I didn't think about that when I was writing down my "Exhibit How To"

So...I think it's best at this point to use my own upcoming exhibit as an example. I knew my theme was "Trailings", photography inspired by walking the local trails. I had taken photographs for over one year and had accumulated over 3500 (maybe 4000) photos. Yikes. How do you organize that? 

There were obvious images to toss, and obvious images that I like more than others. I am a visual person and it helps me to actually see a collection together so I experimented in organizing the images into various books using an on demand printing company called Blurb

I tried organizing images by season, by subject matter (trees, fungi, water, leaves, reflections, etc), by style of photography (black & white, a series with white backgrounds, minimalist, etc) and just by a collection of images I liked. I had some up with a short list and asked family and a professional photographer for input. I wasn't happy with any of the combinations. 

What story was I trying to tell?

Well...I went back to a project summary that I had written when I applied for a grant, and re-read it many, many times. How did the photos I took relate to that? They didn't! That was why I wasn't satisfied with my various attempts at image selection.

Here are the first two paragraphs from my one page project summary:

Trailings creatively illustrates how trail walking can heal the mind, body, and spirit. Through observation, photographic documentation, and introspection, this project is designed to provide inspiration to others by exhibiting the project results.

Trailings strives to promote understanding of wellness through art and dialogue. Using photography and stitched art,the artist creates a visual representation of her healing journey.

My epiphany: I needed to find images that told a story of emotions.

My challenge: I wanted to accomplish this with a variety of subjects and seasons. Some summer, some winter, some water, some sky, some colour, some monochromatic...a variety.

I had printed hundreds of images, some of them pinned them to a large bulletin board. I took them all and sorted them into various piles on the floor. I sorted and resorted. I chose some images that weren't "pretty". I chose some that said "sad" to me, and some that said "happy". I believe I have pulled together a series that tells a story of emotions.

photos on the floor amidst the dog toys :)

I'm a little nervous about the exhibit, truth be told. Fingers crossed that my images convey the story I am trying to tell.

Previous Articles:

1. Selecting a theme - more difficult than it seems!

2. Applying for exhibit space - writing an exhibit statement

Monday, February 8, 2021

Palate Exhibit

image courtesy of Round Hill Studio
I am stretching my photographic wings a bit and was accepted for a group exhibit at a gallery in Annapolis Royal. This is my first time exhibiting at the Round Hill Studio. We had a wonderful day out a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed a day trip across the province with our son and daughter-in-law to deliver my pieces, have a leisurely lunch, and drive back.

Palate: Comfort Food in Art - Group Exhibit

Comfort food (definition ): Food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.

Artists have answered the call to Palate: Comfort Food in Art. We have invited artists from across Canada to share their art inspired by food that provides nostalgic or sentimental value to them. We have a full offering of visually stimulating, art and stories inspired by food and memories associated with them. From photography, fibre art, found items and a myriad of paintings and drawings, Palate: Comfort Food in Art offers the audience a variety of yummy, aesthetically pleasing expressions.

If you'd like to see all the art in the exhibit, you can view them by clicking on this link:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

when things go wrong

Preparations have been underway for my upcoming Trailings exhibit. I have been well prepared for months, but no matter how well prepared you are, things happen. Instead of going into panic mode, I decided to write it out. Perhaps venting will calm my

First, my test prints of the exhibit guide I created arrived in the mail last week. I had ordered 3 copies in hopes that I would be able to send some out for advance publicity. The magazines are unusable. They were printed with incorrect margins and with "slip sheets" (some kind of printer test sheets) inserted throughout the books. I have used this on demand printing company for over 10 years and have never had a problem. The packing slip said my books were 8x10 books, not 8.5x11 magazines...I think maybe that's why all the margins were incorrect, with the print running off the pages.

Of course, I sent a help desk inquiry (you can't phone the company) but have only received a message saying they are dealing with high volumes and to expect a delayed reply. What to do? I ordered another test print...I want to make sure it is printed correctly before I order 50 copies. I am not sure that there is time to wait for the test print, order 50 copies and receive them before the exhibit opens. So....maybe no exhibit guide.

This is only a big deal to one else will care...but I did invest an enormous amount of time into preparing the guide. I am trying to look at it as experience gained, not opportunity lost.

Next issue....I print and frame my own work. I ordered my frames in December, thinking I had left myself lots of time. My frame order arrived last week...on the same day as the magazines...

I have ordered from this supplier many, many times over the past four years. Always the same kind of frames. Never had a problem. I unpacked the boxes the day they arrived and everything looked good. No broken glass, everything packaged very well and undamaged.

I decided to start printing and framing yesterday. The first frame I unwrapped was not put together correctly, so there was a gap in two of the corners. The second frame was the same. Then the third. There are only 2 usable frames in the order of 20.

I have photographed examples and sent off an email to the frame company. They are on the west coast, a five hour time difference, so I am waiting patiently for a response. Trying not to panic. 

And I'm trying to brain storm. Realistically, even if the frames get replaced I'm not sure they will arrive in time. They usually take two weeks to process an order and shipping takes two weeks at best. Set up date for the exhibit is February 24th. Today is January 26th. 


- figure out an alternative mounting system instead of traditional frames. 

- see if a local frame maker can make 20 frames without glass (this is a custom size frame)

- cancel the show at the Museum and just exhibit at the Library (scheduled for April 1st)

- use frames from our own walls (9 of various sizes - I need 20) and hang quilts on wall at exhibit instead of from the ceiling (less content at exhibit)

 Did I mention? Our wireless service is not working properly, so live tv and recorded tv is unwatchable and internet service is extremely slow. Bell is here as I type this trying to repair the problem.

When it rains, it pours.

Good of my pieces at the Flight of Fancy exhibit in Dartmouth has sold.

Savour by Sara Harley