Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Creating a still life

Balancing Act

I've talked now and then about generating ideas and how I get inspired. In January 2020, together with artist Helen Eaton, I created a group called Inspiration Collaboration. In a nutshell, we provide inspiration images at the first of every month and anyone interested creates any form of art using those images as their inspiration. 

This month, Helen's image was Basket of Peaches. I knew right away that I wanted to create a still life using peaches. I had two challenges...first, to wait for peaches to come into season here in Nova Scotia...and second, to think of a creative way to display my peaches. I decided that trying to stack my peaches was a good place to start...in contrast to Helen's peaches which were spilling from a basket. 

One thing I learned: I need a lot more practice in still life photography. Aside from lighting, my biggest challenge is placing the items. How many peaches should be in the bowl? How many should be on the table? What kind of background should I use? How much (if anything) should be reflected on the table? Where should the light come from? Yikes!

Here are some of the things I tried:



As you can see, many of the images are too dark. I purchased some studio lighting earlier this year, and I have yet to learn the trick of using them. Either my images are too flat, or too dark. I want them to look natural. Maybe my trick will be to go back to using only natural light...lol.

I did manage to balance five peaches (one is unseen in the sugar bowl), but I didn't like that image as well as my final selection. I want to post it here....all peaches balanced for a few seconds before falling on the table and floor.

I have been eating bruised peaches since I completed my photo shoot!

Monday, June 7, 2021

On Landscape Magazine Article

On Landscape Issue 232 - Sara Harley - The Trailings Project
I'm very honoured, excited, and basically just thrilled beyond belief to have an article published in the UK based On Landscape Magazine. You can read the complete article (including 16 photographs and approximately 2000 words) at this link:

https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2021/06/the-trailings-project/


 



Saturday, May 1, 2021

Exhibit Catalogues

The province of Nova Scotia went into a lockdown on April 28th to try to reverse the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and only essential services are open. Our public libraries are closed, which means my Trailings exhibit is also closed. But....you can view my whole project online! 

I compiled a guide as part of my project....part exhibit guide, part project history. I created a 32 page magazine and ordered some hard copies for sale. I also put the whole magazine into pdf format and into an easily viewable online magazine. Details about the process are below...but first...here is the link to view here:  https://my.flipbookpdf.net/exxim  Just click on the arrows at the top right of your screen to page forward and back through the magazine.

Exhibit Guide Sara Harley Trailings

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Exhibit Guides - Part 4 of an ongoing series about preparing for exhibits

I have only participated in two exhibits that included an exhibit guide as part of the experience, so I have very limited knowledge about this whole subject. 

The first exhibit guide was created as part of a group exhibit that my photography club put together in 2017. I was in charge of the exhibit, and took it upon myself to create a guide. This guide was not for the general public, but the participants all ordered a copy of it as a keepsake. I created the guide using a print on demand company called Blurb Books, and I selected an 8x10 inch trade publication to reduce expenses. Each page of the exhibit guide featured one of the participants, and included the image title, large image, location and date under the image, a brief description/blurb about the image, and the photographer's name and bio at the bottom of the page. 

The second time was a 2018 exhibit at Viewpoint Gallery in Halifax, NS. A juried group exhibit called Picturing Health, it included work by 10 photographers. The cover of the guide was simple, and included the exhibit title, one line explanation "A Group Exhibition Exploring the Relationship between Wellness and Creatvity", exhibit dates, participating photographers, and gallery logo. 

The contents of the exhibit guide consisted of:

- a two page introduction to the exhibit

- a one page note from the President of the sponsoring foundation

- each of the 10 photographers had a two page spread, with their images on the left page and a brief artist statement and bio on the right page

- one page with information about the host gallery and the sponsoring foundation

Simple, straight forward, and professionally put together, the exhibit guide certainly made me feel like I was part of something special.

When I was putting together my Trailings exhibit, I was originally scheduled to show the exhibit in two locations. In the first location, I would be able to sell my work and I decided to create an exhibit guide to give people an item they could purchase at a much lower price point.  

I decided that my exhibit guide would be more than just information about the photos in the exhibit...it would include background information to explain the whole project. (In case you haven't yet taken a look....go to the top of this blog post to click on a link and view it online)  It took many hours of organizing...and reorganizing...but I finally got the document to what I wanted.

Then I found out that my first exhibit location fell through due to some unexpected renovations. I wasn't able to sell the guides at the second location, but decided to order a small batch of magazines to sell myself and then created the online magazine to share my project with everyone who was interested.

And...I'm happy to say....I have sold all but one of my hard copies.  In a non COVID world where I could have had an artist talk with the public, I'm sure I could have sold many more. 

Would I put something like this together again? In a heartbeat. I love creating books/magazines..it's one of my favourite hobbies. 

Would I recommend other exhibiting artists to spend the time putting something like this together? Only if you are creating the exhibit/project guide for YOU and your own satisfaction. It's not a big money maker and the time invested in the creation of the guide could be spent in more productive ways if you're looking at it from a financial payback point of view.

One last tip - creating online viewable books/magazines. If you create your guide using Blurb Books, you can simply select the option for the public to view your book. You can select a few pages, or the whole book, for viewing. However, I didn't want people thinking I was trying to push sales so I came up with another option. I created a pdf of my guide, and then I did a search for "free online pdf to flipbook converter". I selected FlipbookPDF.net  and chose the free version. That means they "brand" your flipbook with their logo...no big deal for me. You can easily add your project title, select the "sound" you want when the pages are flipped (I opted for no sound), and then you get a link you can share.

Easy peasy.

I hope this gives some insight into exhibit guides. There is no right or wrong. If you're part of a gallery exhibit, they will look after everything for you. If you're arranging your own exhibit, it's your choice whether to have an exhibit guide or not....and what to include or not.

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Previous articles about preparing for exhibits:

1. Exhibits - Selecting a theme

2. Exhibits - Applications and writing statements

3. Exhibits - selecting images

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Also from the Trailings Series: 

Lacework 

Barely There, Water Dance, I'll Cry if I Want To - The passage of Time

Skeleton - not everything has to be beautiful

Friday, April 23, 2021

not everything has to be beautiful

Skeleton - Trailings Series - Sara Harley

I stumbled across this quote a few years ago, and it's still one of my favourite quotes about art:

"Art is not always about pretty things. It's about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected." 

- Elizabeth Broun, Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum 1989-2016

When I was selecting images for my Trailings exhibit, I went through many iterations. Indecision was my enemy, but I kept coming back to Skeleton. Should I include it? It wasn't the typical photograph you might see in an exhibition. But it called to me, and could not be ignored so it made the cut.

In some ways, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I look at it. It's not pretty and it's not happy, but it intrigues me. It draws me in and tells a story of vulnerability. Bare to the bones, the lack of surrounding earth strips the scene down to a sense of loss. Maybe not a happy story, but perhaps a story that needs to be talked about and shared.

People seem to be drawn to it, or repelled. That's okay! Any response is a good one.  I felt particularly gratified when someone saw the image without seeing the title and said "it looks like a skeleton". Yes! 

 

 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Newspaper Article - Trailings Exhibit

Trailings Exhibit Article Sara Harley
Progress Bulletin article, April 21 2021

If you click on the image above, you'll be able to read the article in a larger size format.

Free publicity is always great. I've done a few interviews over the years and it's always interesting to me how a reporter puts things together. Gayle Wilson wrote a lovely article about my exhibit, with lots of background information as well. 

And I didn't realize that I still use the word "neat", as in "it was neat"!  

From Google: What does neat mean slang?
Slang. great; wonderful; fine: What a neat car!