Photography, Time for Art

Creating With Light and Memories

Preperation

 

Cyanotypes – Printing With the Sun 

Lazy summer days. These are the days I long for. Summer days hold the most beautiful treasures. Summer is slow and hot. Sometimes it brings the adventure of long-awaited vacation, sometimes endless days of boredom. And somewhere in between something magic happens. An unexpected new interest pops up.

Summer memories linger and stick together and ask to be seen and thought of in a different way. Those moments of lazy boredom mixed with adventure become inspiration for new creations.

Three summers ago I picked up a sun print kit when my family and I were camping along the shores of Assateague Island State Park  –a long and beautiful barrier island off of Maryland and Virginia, with wild horses! You may know her famous sister island from Marguerite Henry’s children’s book Misty of Chincoteague.

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Since that trip three summers ago, I’ve wanted to experiment with the sun print . The alternative photography process is called a cyanotype. Paper is treated with an iron solution which is light-sensitive. Here you can place an object directly on the paper and expose it to light, creating a photogram or essentially a negative image. You can also use  large format negatives to create a positive image.

For my first experiments I opted to order Cyanotype Paper from B&H Photo Video  and create my own photograms.

 

I grew up in the days of film and I miss creating this way. Photography in high school and college was a full hands-on experience in creating art. There was a slowness to the process which necessitated a lot of thought; selecting–and knowing–which film to use, loading the film into the camera, being limited to 24 or 36 frames, and thinking about each shot as a single image.

Once the shots were taken, a delicate and particular process began to even be able to see what you had selectively captured.

As I type this I can’t help but think of the time spent for a single image and how much I enjoyed that process.

The process of photography itself felt like a meditation in creation.

Now when I head out with my camera–whether it’s with my always-with-me and most accessible iPhone 7plus, where I share my photos on Instagram, or my Canon–I am no longer limited by the number of photographs I take. The way I interact with each image has a vastly different feel. I no longer spend this meditative time with a group of images, unless I am purposing to use them for a specific project.

A few weeks ago I found a local artist who was offering a workshop making cyanotypes. My summer start making sun prints had left its mark. I couldn’t wait to sign up and learn and create.

The process of creating cyanotypes brought back those memories and feelings of just starting out in photography.

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We mixed chemicals and waited.

I looked at each object I wanted to make an image of, I considered the paper I had and cut it to the size I wanted for each image, I brushed on the chemicals in a darkroom and waited for my paper to dry. I then composed my image in the darkroom before bringing my paper out into the sunlight.

 

I waited for the sun to expose the image and then brought the paper back into the workshop to wash and stop the developing.

 

This process was slow and unhurried. We met from 12-5. Those five hours flew by. I could have stayed in that space for hours more.

Now I can’t help but dream up ways to take over and convert a small portion of our own  house into a mini darkroom and get lost in the creative process of making more cyanotype prints.

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What is it that you love to create? The thing you could spend hours doing and it feels like no time has gone by?

 

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Books, History, Inspiration, Photography, TBT, TBTPictureBooks

The Photograph Keeper

Grandpa

This post is about photographs and a dress and book I recently stumbled across.

The Photographs

My Grandma had to clean out her home of more than 50 years to move into a smaller apartment. There were boxes of photographs in the basement and albums on book shelves and photos on the walls. I had a chance to go through some of those photos with her before she moved. My Grandma told me details about the events and the people in the photos and scribbled names in pencil on the backs for me. What a mix of memories –Great great grandmothers and grandfathers, cousins and friends, birthdays and world wars.

I took a box of the photos home with me.

Then it was my mother in-law’s turn. She took on the task of packing up her childhood home and moving her dad from Buffalo to Florida to live with her. She brought back photographs as well. More life, more memories, more family history, all told through little square and rectangular pieces of paper.

The Dress

The dress was my mother in-law’s first communion dress. She gave the dress to my little girl. My daughter loved the dress. She wore it around the house playing dress up whenever she had the chance. It made me happy her dress up play had a bit of family history woven in.

When we took a trip to visit family in Buffalo I knew I had to take the dress. I carefully packed up the dress in the suitcase. When we arrived I asked my husband if he remembered where his mom’s old childhood house was located. He did and I told him my plans.  My daughter put her dress on and we headed out for the adventure. I didn’t think about the people who lived in the house currently and what they might think. A slight overlook in my plans! I started to think of what I would say as I knocked at the door. Thankfully it was the middle of the day on a weekday. The family and most of the neighbors were gone. My daughter hopped out of the car for our mini photo shoot and I grabbed a few quick shots. I knew these little photos of a dress returned to place would be a sweet gift.

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The Book

I came across Girls Standing On Lawns by Maria Kalman and Daniel Handler in Anthropologie. Art by Maria Kalman, words by Daniel Handler and old photographs of girls on lawns. -I fell in love.

I immediately thought of the photos of my daughter standing in her grandmother’s dress on the lawn in Buffalo. I wondered about those photos my mother in-law had brought back from her childhood home…

 

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” One morning we found some photographs.

One morning these girls stood on lawns.

We  looked at the pictures, and we got to work.”

I think this is possibly my favorite compilation from the book-

“My whole life I have not known where to put my hands.”

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This seems like a brilliant solution to me. I think I would very much like to be photographed in exactly the same way.

 

I spent this past week at my mother in-law’s house. I asked my her about her old photos. I wondered if there were any of her in the dress on the lawn. I went through boxes full of photos. She asked if I wanted them. Of course! She said I was the only one who would be interested in those old photos.

I didn’t find one of her in the dress on the lawn, but I did find other photos. Here are a few of my favorites of my beautiful mother in-law, a girl standing on the lawn.

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I have a few old family photographs in frames. I think I would like to arrange the rest of my collection and put them together in a book from Blurb to pass down to my kids. I think this way they would be more easily viewed and enjoyed and not just stashed away in box somewhere.

What do you do with all of your old family photographs?

 

 

Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop

Cooking Should Be Simple

Grandpa

Pancakes For Breakfast by Tomie De Paola

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More wordless and wonderful picture books

I found this great school copy at a Salvation Army. It was issued as a textbook, but it looks like it was never read.

Copyright 1978 –The summary reads, “A little old lady’s attempts to have pancakes for breakfast are hindered by a scarcity of supplies and participation of her pets.”

I love how hard the little old lady works to get her pancakes, how as she gathers all the ingredients, you see her imagining eating her stacks of yummy pancakes dripping with fresh maple syrup. She gets so close!

The cute little lady on the cover perfectly matches the story from beginning to end.

I hope I have as much grace in the kitchen this Thanksgiving as Tomie De Paola’s little old lady! If my imagination of the perfect dinner goes terribly wrong, maybe there will be a neighbor close by…

“… I knew I was going to be an artist when I grew up, from a very early age.

And the great thing is I never changed my mind.” –Tomie De Paola from Artist to Artist

  • Check out this fun list of  more wordless picture books from the Eric Calre Museum of Picture Book Art.
  •  Wave, by Suzy Lee is another one of our family favorites. This is the perfect book for letting your imagination play along the shore when you’re stuck inside and dreaming of a day at the beach.

Do you have any favorite wordless picture books?

A Book Giveaway –Celebrate my Grandma Betty’s 90th birthday with Me!

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My Grandma Betty celebrated her 90th birthday this week.

To celebrate with her you can enter to win a copy of her devotional book, Dare to Live: Devotions for Those Over the Hill, Not Under It! 

If you aren’t a senior yet, this would make a sweet Christmas present for grandparents.

Head over to goodreads to Enter.  Entries close tomorrow, Nov. 22, 2013

Time for Art

Art Vs. Math

Don’t tell my kids, but I prefer art over math.

But they may already know that.

I try a positive approach when it comes to homework and study time. I really do. But I realized this week I may need more than a positive attitude.

My cute boy had two of his art projects at school chosen for two different art shows this week. He is beyond excited about it. And well, I’m pretty proud of him.

My husband and I met at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He was studying design and I was studying photography. It’s fascinating to watch our kids now enjoy their own creative process. We love seeing them create and draw and dream big things.

(Monsters with Dad inspired by Stefan G. Bucher’s Daily Monster and Africa for her Daddy’s trip to Liberia)

So where is the struggle? My son’s math grades this year. It’s those silly times tables. I feel a bit uncreative in helping my son learn his multiplication.

And then it hit me. The art! It could be natural. But maybe it’s learned.

Since my kids were tiny we’ve given them pencils, brushes, and watercolors.

We read stories and look at the art. And then sometimes we paint or draw that art together. There is always a supply of watercolor paper, paints, and brushes on hand. Bins of crayons and colored pencils are always full and out for use. They draw in sketchbooks at night in bed.

(Inspired from Tao Nyeu’s Bunny Days and Oliver Jeffers’ How to Catch a Star)

So, is that it?

What if I spent more time and detail and fun with numbers? Is it that simple? Should my table have a steady supply of math flash cards and calculators and um… numbers? Maybe my struggle isn’t as big as I’ve imagined it to be. What if I incorporate math into the everyday in a casual way like I do with art?

Maybe I should give it try.

For now though I’m pretty proud of my son. And so are his dad and sister.