December 2, 2016

Sketchbook & Shifting Perspective

Not a keeper, but the best of this week's efforts will serve as visual reference for another attempt incorporating lights and a tripod for greater depth-of-field and warmer color.
One of the staples in my pantry is frozen shelled edamame. When I'm hungry and don't want to fuss with food preparation, edamame make for a fast, one-pot meal. Boil up some pasta, throw the edamame in the pot for last 2 minutes of cook time, drain, toss in butter or oil, top with walnuts and parm and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Done. Simple. Satisfying.

Being in a new place, the edamame in the freezer is from a brand I've never seen before. I took one bite of my simple meal and declared to the Hubs, "This edamame is awful." A second mouthful proved this false. It wasn't edamame at all, but lima beans. Lima beans in edamame packaging. Now, I like lima beans. But not when they're supposed to be edamame.

After this disappointing meal - I just couldn't rewire my edamame expectations to lima bean enjoyment - I sat with sketchbook in hand and pondered my creative practice. Or, more accurately, my efforts towards re-establishing a regular creative practice. And why I am struggling and floundering in my attempts to create a daily or weekly rhythm.

Then, a shift in perspective. Like cracking a nut and getting at the meat nestled inside. Brought on by contemplating my odd revulsion to the edamame / lima. Until now I have been setting performance based goals for myself rather than process based goals. And this just doesn't work for me. The expectations taint reality.

I've mentioned that I used to shoot a minimum of 2 rolls of film per week, that was my process, my rhythm. I took the film in for processing once a week and spent all day Monday in the darkroom making test prints of any of the shots that looked promising. Eventually, months in, I'd edit the stack of test prints and make large, final prints of the images that survived the culling. The process based goals were shoot 2 rolls a week, work in the darkroom on Mondays.

Now, with digital, I've been trying for one keeper shot per week. Which could mean taking a single shot or shooting hundreds of images to no avail. Working towards this performance based goal does not allow a rhythm of work to be established. It's disjointed. The expectation of producing a keeper takes the joy out of the process and stymies exploration and experimentation.

The instantaneous nature of digital photography, combined with my performance based goal, are to blame. When I immediately scrutinize each and every shot, I interrupt my flow. Jumping from shooting to checking the shot on the camera, from uploading to editing images on the computer, back to shooting... Well, it's the type of busy, disjointed "multi-tasking" that I abhor. Flitting around from one task to another isn't productive nor efficient. Frankly, it's death to creativity because the "busyness" prevents focus and sustained effort.

So, it's high time to switch back to process based goals. And pretend that my digital camera contains a really long strip of film that I access only once a week. A shift in perspective, a removal of expectations.

By the way, I had the leftover limas and pasta for lunch the next day. Combined with corn, it was akin to succotash on pasta. It was delicious.

November 14, 2016

Sketchbook 11.14.16

Are you sensing a theme here? White objects photographed in color. It's a conceit I return to often. Why? I'm not entirely sure. I suspect the reasons behind it shift from moment to moment. Currently, these clean, spare images offer a visual respite from the chaotic clutter that surrounds me as we continue to purge and curate our possessions.

Speaking of which, I just unearthed these doodles from February. Not only a nudge to resume my abandoned depiction of Isis; these stitches are also a welcomed reminder of a few magical days spent in the winter woods of New Hampshire last February, gathered with a group of creative, warm, open, and supportive women.

November 7, 2016

Sketchbook 11.07.16

Of the 43 shots I took in the past couple of days, all but one are definite scum off the top. Which, number wise, is pretty much on par with my film shooting from a decade ago. When in regular practice, I would shoot a minimum of 2 rolls a week, about 78 exposures. Of those 78, I would average 2 images worthy of final prints. So, 1 in 43 isn't too far off the mark.
I'm quite taken with this knot bleeding through the paint on the door trim. But I cannot get a compelling shot of it. At least this one, the best of the scum off the top of the knot series, eliminated the reflective glare in the semi-glossy paint. Still not happy with it, though.
 Moving on to the door itself. Another scum off the top shot, above. And below, the one keeper of the bunch.

October 31, 2016

Sketchbook 10.31.16

Scum off the top. That's what my artist friend Annette calls it, the work that one creates after a hiatus from one's regular art practice. Just like a sedentary body will experience aches and pains when returning to regular exercise, the unused artist muscle has to be re-trained. And the aches and pains are the scum off the top; the initial, clumsy works that must be slogged through to get to the good stuff.

While I recognize the need to re-train my hand-eye connection and ability to draw from life - to realize the textile works (like this one) that live in my imagination - I'm starting smaller. I haven't drawn since 1992. I'm not quite up to the intense exercise regimen required to regain my ability to draw. Instead, I'm easing into art exercise slowly by re-training my photographic eye and learning to adjust from film to digital. It's not going to hurt as much as re-learning to draw and positive results will be quicker to achieve. I'm going to need the positive reinforcement to get me through the scum off the top of drawing, folks.

October 28, 2016



A quick note - to anyone still out there - to say the Odd Bird has landed.
Since last I visited this space, we completed our home renovations, sold and donated a massive amount of furniture and STUFF, had multiple bonfires, sold our house in Ohio, self-moved to Philadelphia, and have recovered from getting all our remaining STUFF into our small 3rd floor walk-up.

While the downsizing continues, at least the kitchen window is is a restful vision.

July 7, 2016

On the Move

It gets worse before it gets better, right? I do believe we have progressed from worse to worst and are clear on the other side, working back towards better. My preoccupation, and reason for the silence here, is preparing to move*. We've been working to finish all of our half completed home renovations before listing the house for sale while simultaneously conducting a massive clearing out. Downsizing from 2,000 square feet plus a basement and a barn to a 600 square foot apartment with no storage space is quite the incentive to change my hoarding habits. While it is physically and mentally exhausting to sort through the accumulation of studio supplies and all the other stuff, I'm finally getting to the point where it feels liberating. I'd like to delve into this more, but I have a looming deadline. The realtor needs to get over here to take pictures. As the image above illustrates the current state of affairs, I need to get to it.

* I secured myself a membership to the Philadelphia Museum of Art before I managed to find an apartment for us in the city. Priorities, people.