I received a super awesome treat in the mail this week!
Red-Blooded American Male photographs by Robert Trachtenberg
This book contains dozens of very skillfully-taken photographs of mostly celebrities, all of whom are men (there are a few women in a few of the photos with these male celebrities, but not all of them are even named). There’s no denying the care that has been taken to set up each photograph including the setting, wardrobe, pose, timing, and all the other things that go into taking a good portrait. Many have been set up to elicit surprise or laughter in the viewer (Jimmy Kimmel wearing a Daenerys Targaryen costume, Bill Maher in a friendly hug with a spot-on George W. Bush impersonator, etc) and some are just very editorial fashion shots. Some capture the thing that the person is most known for and some seek to show an aspect of their personality. I can’t fault the skill with which this aesthetically appealing coffee table book was put together, but I just can’t get very excited about a book that has the sole purpose of celebrating a bunch of hyper-privileged mostly white dudes. I get the feeling that it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but that isn’t successful for me.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books
Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe with Rob Sheppard
Each of the photos contained in this book was shot by Wolfe and is described in a few paragraphs. The camera and lens used is also detailed and a photo tip is offered related to the way that shot was taken. Each also includes a sentence or two in a section called the nature of the photo, many of which relate to the specific content of the photo, be it the location, an animal or person featured in the photo, or some other aspect. These are very much the type of photos you’d expect to see in National Geographic magazine and many seek to enlighten the reader about an environmental or other conservation-related issue. When I see photos like this that include people, I always wonder what permission the (Western, white, male) photographer had to be there, to be taking photos, and to publish those photos in a book that they will be making money from. Are the people being exploited? Some photos are taken in what appear to be very remote and in some cases environmentally fragile areas and I wonder what care was taken not to exploit the land. I didn’t find any answers to those questions here. Maybe it’s fine, but it would be nice to see more information about how those arrangements were made, or at least to know what protocols were followed. The book takes a more artistic approach so it’s not surprising that these details aren’t included, and it’s undeniable that the photos are stunning and expertly executed.
full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books
Here’s a much better photo of Modern Venus on display at Helios Art Gallery! I went in with the DSLR and of course managed some higher quality shots.
I am so honored that my art was displayed in this gallery! It made my Art Walk Central experience so much richer this year – big thanks to the folks at Helios for welcoming me, being interested to know more about the piece, and encouraging me in every way during every interaction we had throughout the festival. It was such a pleasure to be involved with such good people.
Overall my experience this year was a bit of an up-and-down. I had received a call from ArtReach informing me that my piece was in the judges’ top ten and I was both stunned and elated! But then when we attended the judges’ round table discussing their top picks, mine was not among them. I felt so embarrassed in that moment, even though as far as I know, K and I were the only ones expecting to see mine in the slide show. I am pretty sure that someone confused my name with the other art quilter from Mount Pleasant (named Ann, oddly enough) on their contact list and called me by mistake. The folks at ArtReach were extremely apologetic about it and really did everything they could to make things right, so I have no ill feelings on that front, just a little residual disappointment and embarrassment that I had to then tell everyone that my big happy announcement was the result of an error.
Listening to the judges discuss their top picks was extremely enlightening. It’s clear that they both appreciate fiber art, which is awesome (the top 10 had two art quilts, which seems unlikely to happen very often). They both also spoke a lot about political art and how much they value pieces that address specific current events (#blacklivesmatter and the Flint water crisis in particular featured in several of the top ten). For me as an artist, I think I’m less likely to address a specific event – I think that my work, so far at least, is less likely to be so direct and specific. I would rather address a theme or idea in less literal ways, I guess. I wonder if this is a current movement among art critics or in the art world in general? Or maybe it’s always a preference some folks have? I should ask the Art Assignment! It was also interesting to note that the judges seemed to be very in sync with one another – I don’t think I heard either of them express an opinion that the other didn’t echo. I wonder if it’s a challenge, when working in that capacity, to keep one’s own voice strong and distinct. It could be that they were just that in tune with each other.
I also quite enjoyed the artist talks that I got to attend. I could have signed up to do one myself, but I was so intimidated that I didn’t. Having seen some others now, I think that I could manage it, though I’m sure I’d still be quite nervous. It was reassuring/notable to me that the artists I heard all took somewhat different approaches to the talk – and all seemed to be equally acceptable. That gives me a bit more confidence for the future as well.
For now, I’m still working on the planning stages of my next piece, so I need to get to the drawing board for that. Once again, big thanks to everyone I worked with this year and big congrats to all the other artists!
For some reason the pics we took on our first visit didn’t turn out very crisply – I think that the overcast weather outside made the lighting weird or something. I’ll try to get some better ones!
Local folks, you can vote for me in the people’s choice contest! Register to vote at Art Reach or the CMU Art Gallery!
Lessons in Classical Painting: Essential techniques from inside the atelier by Juliette Aristides
This book is outside the realm of my expertise, but it appears to be a thorough guide to the elements of painting in the classical style. Throughout the book, concepts are tied to specific examples, and the print quality is excellent so it’s a treat to flip through just for the sake of admiring the art. Each chapter is supplemented with several step-by-step lessons. The book assumes that you know how to paint already but are looking to develop your skills in this specific genre of painting.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books
It’s done! I finished it just in time for the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show competition this weekend. 🙂 Whew!
The challenge was to incorporate their fabric in some way and to use the Fall Frolic theme. I used only a small portion of the fabric, but it fits with the overall vision I had and it counts! 🙂
The challenge fabric is seen here in the two yellow leaves. There are four of these leaves in the quilt (as there were only four in the fabric swatch provided).
I’m happy with my two witchy figures. I used different shapes (cut freehand) for their hair and used different embroidery on each of the two cloaks. Their cauldron is emitting smoke in varying colors which is billowing out between them.
I’m quite pleased with the techniques I used for the background – I think the sunset sky and land work well and the contrast in construction helps achieve the look I was going for.
If you’re in the area, please check this out (along with my Modern Venus quilt) at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Festival of Quilts this Saturday between 9am and 5pm in the middle school gym.
This weekend I focused a ton of time on my Fall Frolic quilt. The Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival is coming right up so I’ve got to wrap it up!
I cut out the very small pieces for the center of the quilt and decided that I wanted to use free form hand applique to attach them.
I did things one piece at at time for the most part, and just focused on getting things ON – I’m going to add more decorative applique stitches to some bits later on.
All this tiny stitching makes me VERY glad for the table top OTT light I picked up awhile ago. Especially since it was all snowy and gross all weekend and there wasn’t as much natural light as there usually is.
I’m looking forward to attaching the leaves soon!
Paris Street Style: A Coloring Book by Zoe de las Cases
The grown-up coloring book trend means that there is a coloring book for every interest these days, and this one will appeal to those who love fashion and Paris. The coloring pages feature garments, street scenes, buildings, and floral patterns in a style reminiscent of fashion design sketches. The book itself is petite compared to a traditional coloring book, and has a stylish gold-printed black cover – with elastic band to keep it closed and a satin ribbon to mark your page. The coloring pages are printed on both sides, so a non-bleed-through medium is recommended – colored pencils or pastels would be a perfect fit for these outlines.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books
My Fall Frolic quilt is continuing to take shape, slowly but slowly. This past weekend I worked on the witches.
I came up with their robe-shapes and cut those out freehand, and then half-traced half-sketched some Blythe heads for the witches’ heads.
These paper templates are really more to keep me in line while I’m free cutting – it keeps everything in scale – and isn’t a 100% pattern that I’ll follow for sure.
These witches are on a much smaller scale than most things I’ve done before, so the pieces are itty bitty. I kept having to cut them down to be the right size.
Because these pieces are so small, I decided to hand stitch them all in place.
As tedious a task as this could be, I actually really enjoy it! The early morning sun kept my work desk well-lit and I knocked out both faces in not very much time. I don’t know what it is about working with tiny things that is so satisfying for me.