While my phlox was in full bloom during the late afternoon my mini tree found its place.
The wonderful thing about the creative process is that one thing leads to another. After photographing the pants (see my previous post), my enthusiasm for making small sets was revived. I love miniatures. I collect miniature things. I've made miniatures for fun and with the intent of using them in photographs but for one reason or another, it just didn't work out. Getting the pants set up, lit, and photographed got my mind buzzing with ideas and the first thing I decided to try was.......
A tree. I pulled out a roll of steel wire, cut some lengths and started twisting. I twisted a trunk together, leaving loose ends for some massive roots that would stick out of the ground. The upper tree had loose wires that I shaped into branches and then added wires as I needed to shape everything. I headed to the craft store for some air drying clay to make the bark. It took a bit of work to actually form all the branches and shape the roots, then I I had to figure out how to make bark texture. After doing a bit of a search around the house, there was a plain old bic pen cap sitting right in front of me on the table that made a pretty darn nice pattern. Then it was a matter of letting the clay dry, painting, shading, highlighting and adding leaves.
Voila! My first tree! This is the beginning of a process - like I said, one thing leads to another. The swing needs a person so I am currently learning to sculpt clay so I can make a doll. I've already had "fails", and maybe it won't work for me; this is a stretch of my artistic abilities. But along the way I'm having fun exploring a new medium and a new skill. As Nicholas Meyer says, "Art doesn't just happen by accident. It is about pulling out new tricks and trying new things".
In general, I want to be like everyone else. I don’t like to be singled out or have any extra attention directed towards me. I am fine blending into a group, and will do my best to make sure I don’t stand out. But as an artist this is a bit of a conundrum because I absolutely don’t want my art to be the same as everyone else’s. My art needs to have a unique voice and stand apart from the group.
Recently I joined an on-line photography group. In January the group hosted a “Still Life Challenge” with cash prizes. As I was brainstorming I knew that I wanted to make something different; chart a new course for my photography and challenge myself. I made a pact with myself that my final image would be something that pleased me and would reflect me.
I really love studio photography, and my initial dream was to be a commercial photographer. I haven't tried any studio photography in…..well….years so this "Still Life Challenge" was a perfect opportunity to circle back. My initial concept was a fail. Rather than bore you with details I’ll just say that I needed a Plan B. Time was running out so I desperately searched the rooms in my house for a prop. What I came up with was weird and I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to work out but I set it up and took some pictures.
And what I came up with was…..different. I knew that I could proudly proclaim it as my own, and I had completed my goal of creating something that represented me. But I also new it was different so I was anxious about entering it. I perused the website to get a sense of what other people were entering. There were really beautiful still life images; some of them what you would expect such as fruits, flowers and wine; some were outdoor scenes that were carefully crafted to create lines and shapes. Mine was definitely not traditional and definitely not like the others.
It made me nervous. Why? I don't know any of these people. We all have names next to our posts, and some have photos next to their names, but I'll probably never see any of them in person. The bottom line was that I was in love with my picture, and I knew that I had done myself justice even if I didn't win. The deadline came, and I hit the submit button. Then I waited. And when the results were announced, I had won 2nd place!
That was amazing! Why in the world was I sweating it? It was really wonderful for my neurotic self to receive validation of my art...being different turned out not to be such a bad thing.
Here's the photo:
My Arlington and Memphis photographs are available in Arlington, TN at Classic Trends. You will find photographs in several sizes, some matted and some framed. I do my best to keep options available, but if there's something you want that you don't see, just let Lynn or LeAn know and I'll get it to you ASAP. Egrets and non-local photos are available through my Etsy shop: JenniferStepanskiArt.etsy.com.
Beginning in mid-February, my Egret images are being displayed in the lobby at the Germantown, TN library. Thanks to Christi Nini who gave me the opportunity!
These are usually hanging on the walls in my house, but its really rewarding and fun to see them on display in the public. I've experimented with different ways to display these particular images. Because they are "full frame", it is impossible to find pre-cut mats that fit properly. Most digital cameras take a photo that is 8x12 at full size. To make a standard 8x10 print, two inches have to be cropped off the length of the image. Most of these images just don't look right cropped... all of the information is important!
I finally decided to get some custom mattes cut and was able to frame them in a standard 16x20 frame. They looked good, but I still wasn't satisfied. Next, I tried canvas which looked fine, but again just didn't seem to show the picture at its best. Then came aluminum. I'd known about it, but it's expensive which is probably why I left as a last resort. However, when the aluminum print arrived and I opened it up, I finally saw the image at its best! It made all the difference. Aluminum makes the pictures seem so saturated and almost glow. I love aluminum! And I love all the prints hanging up next to each other.
If you get the chance to see them, I'd love to hear what you think!