Monday, April 19, 2021

Answering some questions

Off on a New Adventure by Sara Harley
Off on a New Adventure

A while ago Helen Eaton mentioned in one of her blog posts that my blog is one that she follows. She was asking her favourite bloggers to answer some questions. I use this blog for writing about my photography, but I thought it might be interesting to have a blog post that is a bit more personal.  Here are Helen's questions....and my answers:

Question 1: Silence, music, podcast, or something else when you create / work?

Complete silence! I love music, but I find it distracting when I'm creating :)  I don't think I have ever listened to a podcast. I'm a visual person, so prefer YouTube where I can view and listen at the same time.

Question 2: What's your favorite part of the process as you create / write?

All my troubles retreat when I'm creating....part of the reason I love what I do. Whether I'm out and about with my camera in hand, or sitting at my desk creating something on the computer, I become completely absorbed and everything that is going on (internally and externally) fades into the background.

Question 3: Where do you do your craft, and what's that space like?

I'm either outside with my camera, or I'm in my home office. My office is very small....7 feet by 8 feet. In our original house plans, the space was actually a walk in closet by the front door. I had the plans changed and moved the closet door to a side hallway and added a smaller front hall closet by the front door. Voila, a walk in closet became my office! It's snug, but I love it. I have a desk with computer and two monitors to create with. I have an old wooden tool chest that I use as a table for my printer. There are shelves filled with family photos, favourite collectibles, books that I have made, reference books, and books from friends (I love books!). And...two large bulletin boards filled with inspiration bits and bobs, and my own works in progress. My office is one of my happy places.

Question 4: How do you choose who to follow? (Blogs, Instagram, Facebook, etc.)

I have signed up to receive a couple of blogs by email, but apparently that won't be happening after June because I just received a notice from blogger that the "follow by email" feature is going away. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet and social media. On one hand, I find it inspiring to see what other people are doing. On the other hand, I tend to feel inadequate when faced with so many inspiring people. I spend less and less time following other people, and try to focus on doing my own thing. I dislike facebook and only use it when I feel I have to share a big milestone with my family and friends. Most of my internet time is spent scrolling through my instagram feed but I'm trying to break that habit as well. I subscribe and unsubscribe to accounts quite frequently. Currently I follow some photographers and some quilters who inspire me.

Question 5: Why do you write and post on your blog?    

I started blogging in 2007 when I owned a dog biscuit company. I sold the company in 2008, retired, and moved half way across Canada but decided to continue blogging to document our new life in the country. We moved into a town in 2015 and blogging went by the way side for a couple of years. I picked it back up again a couple of years ago to document my photography. I am fickle and am not a faithful blogger, but blogging helps me gets things straight in my own mind. Basically, I use my blog to try to inspire other people...and to keep a record of things I think are of value in my photographic journey.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The passage of time

Trailings series, continued

Barely There by Sara Harley, Trailings Series

Time can't be captured, but photos can tell the story of passing time. Photographing the same subject over months, or years, is a way for me to gain perspective. Nature has a way of teaching us that allowing time to pass can help us, and the cycles of life will ebb and flow. 

The three images in this post were all photographed in the same location, over a 2 month period. Barely There (above) was the last in the series.

The first in the series was Water Dance (below).

Water Dance by Sara Harley, Trailings Series

I stumbled on this scene by accident. I was looking for a gathering of trees with yellow fall foliage, part of a monthly project called Inspiration Collaboration that I work on with artist Helen Eaton. I wanted trees with yellow leaves as a response to her painting Aspens in Autumn. However, when I saw this scene it stopped me in my tracks and I forgot all about yellow. This photograph is full of colour and joy, a celebration of life. The leaves seemed to be drifting on the water in a silent dance, poetry in motion.

One month later, I decided to return to the same location and I photographed I'll Cry if I Want To (below). 

I'll Cry if I Want To by Sara Harley, Trailings Series
The party from Water Dance was over. The scene was more subdued but no less beautiful. The leaves had finished their dance and were submerged at the bottom of the stream. It was a grey overcast day and the rain was gently falling, nature's tears creating ripples on the water.

Three different photographs, three very different feelings, all from the same location. Some photographers search for new locations constantly, but I believe that some of my best work comes from places that I'm familiar with and can return to time and time again.

--------------------

Also from the Trailings Series: 

Lacework

 


Monday, April 12, 2021

Lacework - Trailings Series

 

Lacework by Sara Harley, Trailings Project
Trailings is now being exhibited, so I thought I would feature some of the photographs here.

Do you see beauty, or do you see destruction? 

I first saw these branches last year in mid August and I was fascinated with them. I thought they were beautiful and looked like delicate lace. A couple of months later, I was in the same area and took another series of photos. There were many trees in the same condition and the leaves were even more skeletal than my previous visit. 

Just a few days ago I was on the trail in the same area that I had taken Lacework. The sun was shining and the frogs were singing a beautiful chorus, but it will be a while before we have leaves on the trees. Apparently it's not too soon for the creators of the delicate lacework to be out in full force. I stopped in amazement when I saw them, not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands or millions of them!

Here are a few shots I took with my phone...the tiniest little artists you've ever seen:







Friday, April 2, 2021

Trailings Exhibit opened

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley
Trailings Exhibit - Margaret Hennigar Public Library

I spent part of yesterday morning hanging my Trailings exhibit at our local library. I had a few people who had asked for updates on my project (a result of asking for public involvement back in November...see this post for more info). I let them know I would be at the library, but I finished so quickly that I missed a couple of them who dropped by to see me in action. Oops. 

I had measured the space ahead of time, and had made a hanging plan of the order I wanted the images, so it was all smooth sailing to hang them. Planning ahead makes the job much easier. One thing I changed on the fly...I had planned to hang everything at the same height. I decided once I started hanging that...1. it would be very, very difficult to get them all at the same height using their wire hanging system...and 2. it would be much more visually interesting to have the images staggered. That decision made the hanging job so much easier!

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley
It's difficult to see in the photo, but there are a couple of things sitting on the shelves which are part of the display. I'll talk about them more in a later post....a comment book, and a couple of copies of a project guide I published that includes the images from the exhibit, as well as some details about the project.

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley

Friday, March 26, 2021

Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun by Sara Harley
Here Comes the Sun
I have been carrying a camera around for almost fifty years. I know. How can I be that old?

I was quite happy with my photography. I joined a photo club as a way to get to know some people after we moved half way across the country. I met some very nice people, and I learned quickly that I didn't know much about the technical aspects of photography. 

Truth be told, I am still not terribly interested in the technical side of things. I learned the "rules"...and then followed them faithfully for a while. A couple of "experts" suggested that sunrises and sunsets were unworthy of a serious photographer, and for a while I listened to them.

But wait. Why not try to capture a fleeting moment of natural beauty? I think sometimes the "experts" forget about the joy in simple things.

I live in a busy little town, on a street with very little charm. But every morning I stand at my kitchen window and look up the street. Every morning it's different and sometimes if you don't look at just the right moment, you'll miss something spectacular. 

I've been taking a series of these images since the beginning of the year....through the kitchen window with my phone. And these photos make me just as happy as the most artistic image I've been able to make.  Honestly, the simple beauty of a sunrise is a gift...and a beautiful way to start the day.

Through the kitchen window - selected dates January through March

 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Creating images in unexpected places

Lines by Sara Harley
lines
Quite often I write about creating images, and usually (for me) that involves what some people refer to as photo collage, photo manipulation, or photographic art. In a nutshell, taking a photograph and changing it so much that the original image has been lost. 

I do admit that I love creating something new using my photography as the starting point.

However...and this may surprise some people...I also enjoy straight photography...finding something interesting and capturing it. My favourite kind of image is something mundane, or simple, that a lot of people just wouldn't "see".

I found this one while waiting in the car yesterday. My husband and I had appointments for hair cuts, but due to COVID-19, we are only allowed in one at a time. Usually I read while I'm waiting somewhere. Yesterday I just sat and looked around. I saw something reflected in the passenger side mirror of the car and pulled out my phone. Click. Then I looked in my own side mirror and saw something I liked even more. You can see that one at the top of this post.

I love the organic branches of the tree contrasted with the straight lines of the wires, and dissected by the lines of the car window. Love.

And I love the fact that I am so easily amused. Who would have guessed that I would spend time taking photos while sitting behind the steering wheel of a car? I don't think I'll ever run out of things to be captivated by!
 

Monday, March 8, 2021

a thank you on International Women's Day

I received this lovely email this morning from PhotoED Magazine....how wonderful to be part of this outstanding group of women photographers!

PhotoED Magazine International Women's Day Sara Harley
recognition from PhotoED Magazine

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Where inspiration can take you

I never have trouble finding inspiration for my photography since I find the most mundane things interesting and challenging to photograph...dirty dishes, and light patterns on the walls and ceiling being a couple of examples. However, I do enjoy being "challenged" in other ways and Inspiration Collaboration is another tool in my inspiration toolbox.

February's inspiration image supplied by Helen was Pink Rose Trio. Roses are non-existent in Nova Scotia until sometime around June so I considered my options. I could create a new image by re-working some files from my photographic library, or I could shoot something new. I decided to buy some pink tulips at our grocery store...it's the time of year that local hot house tulips arrive. The only problem was...they didn't have pink! Well...in my mind, it just had to be pink in answer to Helen's painting. So I waited...and waited. Finally, pink tulips arrived in the store at the end of February and I got to play with my camera. Helen's painting was created with a palette knife and showed lots of texture.

I started with this:

Original photo

 

and my end result was this:

I wanted my tulips to echo Helen's roses, so I made a lot of changes to the arrangement in post processing. I flipped the image, I straightened the background tulip at the top of the photo, I moved leaves, I added a couple of textured layers. I cropped the image to be the same aspect ratio as Helen's painting, which required more moving and extending the bottom to create longer stems. It was a lot of playing on the computer, which most photographers would scoff at. But I find it sooooo relaxing and just love recreating photo image files....it's my way of painting.

But my story doesn't end here. I got to enjoy the tulips in my living room for a while...such a nice cheerful spot of spring during the long, never ending days of winter. And....then the tulips started to decay. And...then I got to play some more with my camera.

Tulip photo shoot
 

I didn't take quite as many photos as it looks like...half, in fact...there are duplicates of each image since one is a jpg format, and the other is a RAW file. RAW files contain a lot more information and are therefore better to work with when a lot of manipulation is being done. These photos were taken over two days, and four locations/different times of day. All but the last section were done with a white board in the background...which I found interesting because some of these backgrounds definitely look blue.

I can take a quick glance to see that my favourites are all minimalistic with a white or pale background. I have been working with some of the images and love the tattered, decayed look....much more interesting to me than beautiful flowers. I wonder what that says about my mind?

I'll be playing with these files for a while, but in the meantime here is Pink Tulip Trio - Part 2 (a "real" photograph with a few slight edits):

Pink Tulip Trio - Part 2


And...a good news story from a previous Inspiration Collaboration creation... I created Blueberry Love in January in response to Helen's Blueberry Muffin inspiration in January, and it sold at an exhibit called Palate, held at Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal.

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 and...how 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 order...glass, 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
Always

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

Photographic Art Frozen by Sara Harley
Frozen

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
Savour

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" list...lol.

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:  https://www.roundhillstudio.com/exhibit-gallery-2

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 nerves...lol.

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 me...no 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. 

Ideas...

- 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 news...one of my pieces at the Flight of Fancy exhibit in Dartmouth has sold.

Savour by Sara Harley
Savour



Saturday, January 23, 2021

Gallery Talk - Flight of Fancy


Artist Talk - Dart Gallery, Dartmouth NS
 

I was asked to give a "facebook live" talk at the Dart Gallery to promote my solo exhibit Flight of Fancy. I have never done one before and was a little nervous about it, but I thought it would be easier than talking to a room full of people so I agreed to do it. 

I didn't even lose sleep about it! (which is amazing) However, my own work is an easy subject for me to talk about. 

Here is the link if you'd like to watch the 20 minute video: https://www.facebook.com/thedartgallery/videos/1098059147283866

My friend Sybil (crittersnus.blogspot.com) dropped by after the filming was over. She shared this photo with me:

I had my eyes closed when the photo was taken so I didn't even see who else dropped by!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Flight of Fancy Exhibit


Flight of Fancy Exhibit - Dart Gallery - Dartmouth NS
Flight of Fancy Exhibit - Dart Gallery - Dartmouth NS
There is a theory that floats around that the more you think about something, the more likely it is to happen. I have been working on my upcoming solo exhibit Trailings, set to open on February 25th. While I have been pulling everything together for the exhibit, I have also attempted to write some brief "how to" blog posts about how to put an exhibit together. Needless to say, exhibits have been on my mind.

My blog series has been briefly interrupted because a couple more exhibit opportunities have some up. Maybe it's the law of attraction, but I've never before had three exhibits happening at the same time.

I dropped off four framed pieces at Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal on Saturday. They will be part of a group exhibit called Palate, which opens in February. More on that (maybe) to come.

And....a solo exhibit called Flight of Fancy is now at The Dart Gallery in Dartmouth. That came about because I participated in a group exhibit there in December and the gallery owner talked to me about having a solo exhibit of my work....which we pulled together just last week. It's not up on their website yet, but should be there soon. 

And...I'll be at the gallery on Thursday (January 21st, 12pm AST) hosting my first facebook live event. Yikes! I've never done anything like this before and am a tad nervous. It is a great opportunity...I just hope I can pull it off...lol. 

If you'd like to watch the facebook live event, here is the link: https://fb.me/e/jbKgJtw0z

Please keep your fingers crossed for me :)

Friday, January 15, 2021

Blueberry Love

Blueberry Love

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 a blueberry muffin. I was stumped for a while. I mean... as a photographer... where do I go with this idea? 

I thought about going abstract...with something blue dotted around the image. I have glass blobs that I used when I created stained glass window art. Maybe I could set them up somehow and photograph them?

I thought about baking some muffins and photographing them, but that seemed a little too pedestrian and not "inspired". 

I thought about finding another subject that was dotted with blue.

I thought about blueberries and our mutual love for them.

Then I thought about these:

About ten years ago, when I was creating window art, I had an idea to make a "kitchen window" using stained glass mixed with common kitchen items. I contacted an artist on etsy who worked with old flatware (I am embarrassed to say I have forgotten her name!) and asked her if I could order "flattened" forks. She sent me two forks and didn't charge me!  I contacted her a couple of times and wanted to pay her, but she refused. I never did create my kitchen window, but I use the flattened forks as wall art in my kitchen (and I try not to feel guilty that they are unpaid for!)

So...I have a fork with a heart and I have frozen blueberries. The light in the house was good (the sun was finally shining after one week of grey skies) and it was a good day for an indoor photo shoot.

When creating a still life, typically I have a general idea when I start and then I change things as I go. Pressing the camera shutter is part of my process. For some reason, I can't "see" the image without pressing my finger down...lol....I can't just look at it "live" and decide...I need to look through the frame of the camera. 

I started with having the fork and a blueberry on a cutting board (the wood tones of the board a nod to the colour of Helen's muffin) but quickly decided that it was too busy for me. I put them on a white piece of paper...then I added a second blueberry. (aside note - most people would probably photograph a plate or bowl full of blueberries but I wanted a minimalist look!) I added a third blueberry. Then I moved a blueberry to the centre of the heart on the fork. Yay! That was the look I wanted. Then it was just a question of whether to photograph the whole fork, or just part of it.

Another view of the final result:

Blueberry Love

I switched to a portrait orientation...I like how the middle blueberry looks like it's rolling down the wall.

Although this is a photograph (not manipulated other than colour saturation and sharpening, it feels like "art" to me. And that's as good as it gets for my personal satisfaction! 

Updated March 2021 to add: This piece was sold in an exhibit called Palate at Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Exhibits - Applications

Preparing for an exhibit by Sara Harley

How to prepare for an exhibit - Part 2: Applications & Writing Statement
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If you are answering an open call for exhibit, the application process is straight forward but not necessarily easy. It's straight forward in that all you need to do is follow the instructions laid out by the gallery who has sent out the call. Usually the gallery will want an application/submission form filled out, a list of works and prices, samples of work, and a CV or biography.

My advice in this case is....make sure you follow their instructions concisely and don't overlook anything they have asked for. They may specify the document formats (pdf, jpg, etc)....make sure you submit your information in the formats they have requested. And...don't send them anything more than they have asked for either. You'll be competing with other artists and an easy way to get your application put to the side is by not following instructions.

If you would like to exhibit your work at a gallery on your own, there are a few things you should pull together:

Artist Statement with head shot - In your artist statement you should include: what type of artist you are, what type of medium you work with, how you do what you do (noting any uncommon or important aspects of your creative process...things that might set you apart), and why you are compelled to create (what excites you about your work?). This should be concise and interesting....this is YOU in a nutshell! It should be about one paragraph, and shouldn't be longer than one page in length. Shorter is better...100 to 300 words was suggested by someone when I was researching this for my own purposes.

Series Statement/Exhibit Statement - 1 paragraph to 1 page in length, your exhibit statement should contain similar information as your artist's statement, but pertain specifically to your proposed exhibit. Who would be interested in seeing your exhibit? Similar to an artist statement, this should sound like you. I have read exhibit statements that totally baffle me! Maybe that's what galleries are looking for, but I propose that your exhibit statement should be in your own words...not bafflegab...and should entice people to want to see your show.  

Samples of your work with price list

Social Media Contacts - include a list of your social media accounts                 

Your contact information - this may be obvious, but should be mentioned :)

CV/BIO - mention your successes...newspaper or magazine articles, quotes from happy customers, etc

Even if you aren't planning to approach a gallery, it would be a great idea to pull this information together. You'll be ready at a moment's notice to respond to a call for a group exhibit. And....if nothing else, writing an artist statement makes you really think about YOU and what excites YOU. It will help get you focused on making the art that makes you the happiest.


Previous Articles:

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

2. Applying for exhibit space - writing an exhibit statement

Upcoming Articles:

3. Exhibit check list - things to remember

4. Selecting images for the exhibit - narrowing your focus

5. Creating an exhibit catalogue

6. Publicity

7. Artist Talk - yay or nay?

8. Asking for feedback/Public involvement

I'll try to get this rolling in the next few days....stay tuned!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Where do ideas come from?

Destination Unknown 2021 by Sara Harley
Destination Unknown 2021

It always interests me to hear about how something was created. What was the catalyst? What was the artist thinking? Knowing some additional details makes me appreciate the art just a little more. 

I made this image yesterday, but it was created from photographs I took in 2012 (hummingbird) and 2019 (teacup on book). I have been creating "photographic art" with birds for a couple of years but have almost always used crows. There are a lot of crows in our neighbourhood, and I find them fascinating, so I have many photos I can use when I want to create a new scene using my photo library and my imagination.

"Bird with Teacup" has been in my imagination for a loooooong time, but it's just one of those things that I've never got around to doing. For the past few days, I've been working on a presentation for my photo club about post processing...which led to me reviewing some of my creations from the past few years...which got me thinking about things I want to create.

And....also yesterday...I read a "call for submissions" for a gallery looking for "comfort food" art. I decided to submit a couple of images for this group exhibit and Destination Unknown was one of them: 

Destination Unknown by Sara Harley
Destination Unknown, 2019
This image has already achieved some success, as it was published by PhotoEd Magazine on the contents page of their Summer 2020 issue Photography + Healing

PhotoEd Magazine - Summer 2020 issue

But the story goes back a little further...

I had originally made a series of teacup photos after I received a prompt from a book cover company asking for...you guessed it...images of teacups. This one, as well as several others, was accepted by the company. Maybe someday you'll see it on a book cover! (note that there is lots of negative space, an important aspect for book covers that require space for text) 

Destination Unknown book cover by Sara Harley
book cover - 2019

So....those two events lead me down the path of looking at all my teacup photos from 2019....needing a break from creating a slide show presentation....deciding to do something creative...et voila, Destination Unknown 2021 was born. I do need to pick a better title. (if you haven't noticed, Destination Unknown is the name of the book that the teacup is sitting on...it was removed for the book cover image, but is included in the framed photo piece).

Some titles I'm considering: Tea with a Friend, Tea Time, Time for Tea....  Nothing seems just right yet. Titles are important to me. Any suggestions?