Archive for the ‘Art’ category

Not A Shutterbug . . . Yet!

May 21, 2010

When I was fifteen, I bought a couple of disposable cameras to take on a family trip to see family halfway across the continent. I took quite a few pictures, some of which turned out all right, many of which were quite ordinary, and the rest of which are hardly worth keeping, except as a reminder of where I started on my photographic journey.

After that experience, I decided I ought to study a little bit of photography so that I could at least take a decent photo when the need arose.

As part of my art requirement the following year, I did a semester on photography, learning about cameras, lenses, lighting, exposure, and shutter speeds.  I didn’t take it all in, too much information to get it all.  Too much information with too little experience to tie it to and make it real.  I did  improve my skills, but I knew I still had much to learn.

As I looked over the course listings at my college a few years later, I noticed a course called “The Photographic Vision.”  I wasted no time writing it down on my list of courses to take.  Besides fulfilling my art requirement, I hoped the course would teach me the rest of the things I wanted to know about taking a great picture.  You see, I had moved from wanting to take a good picture to wanting to take great photos.

I had to wait two years before I was able to fit the course into my schedule, so I finally took it in the fall of my junior year.  Mom and Dad had a digital camera by this time, which made the course much easier for me.  I only had to hook the camera up to my laptop, transfer the photos I’d taken, and submit them online.  I also had a chance to weed out the ones that came out funny and retake them at the time if necessary. 

I enjoyed the course immensely.  We not only learned how to take better photos, we learned about the history of photography and discussed some of the work of the great photographers.  I was thrilled when I finally was able to recognize the different types of lighting that one photographer used when setting up a particular shot.  Lighting was the biggest mystery to me when I first started studying photography in highschool.

My photography improved by leaps and bounds, and I have been able to use some of the things I learned from that course in other courses.  A lot of photography is basic to art: form, balance, contrast, and perspective.  I’ve also been able to use my photos in other courses, and here on this blog!  I am going to get myself my own camera, but for now, I borrow the family camera whenever I get bit by the shutterbug . . .

Here’s a smattering of photos, mostly from the class.

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From My Sketchbook

May 17, 2010

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t liked to draw.  I’ve come a long way since crayons and markers, of course, though I can still wield those with some pretty good results.  My early drawings tended to look a lot alike.  A tree or two with a bunch of flowers underneath, all very simplistic.  I remember watching other kids draw and picking up ideas for how to make my own artwork better.

When I was small, I would sit during the sermon on Sunday mornings and draw pictures on small pads of paper.  After the service was over, I would go give the best drawings to my best friends (since they were mostly among my mother’s generation or older, they had refrigerators to put the pictures on, and they did too).  That ended when I was about nine; Mom asked me to start paying more attention to the sermon itself, which I did, following along with the outline that Pastor W. put in the bulletin.  I remember some of the last drawings I did, and they were showing some promise.

In fifth grade Mom used Mark Kistler’s book Draw Squad for an art textbook.  3G and I did the book together, working hard to make our drawings better (yes, there was a tinge of sibling rivalry, but I forgot about it pretty quickly).  I was excited to be able to make boxes that looked like boxes and cakes that looked good enough for a wedding, and I finally figured out how to make things look 3-D, through foreshortening and shading.  My drawing improved dramatically, even when I was drawing from nature.

In highschool, I worked through a book on sketching and drawing which taught me an easier way to capture the essence of my subjects without the fuss and erasing which had characterized my earlier technique.  I went from being very particular about where each line went to a sketchy style which captured the spirit if not the exact reality that I saw before me.  For the most part, I prefer this style, though I still revert to the old techniques for some subjects.

My drawing skills come in handy now when I want to sketch out something which I am going to crochet, or to layout a painting project.  I’m not very good at drawing people, but I can do a credible landscape or sketch from a still life.  Sometimes I even try to draw a scene from one of my stories, but that’s another post.  I don’t pull out my sketchbook as often now as I once did, and my younger brothers are currently borrowing my set of drawing pencils, but I still like to draw when I get a picture in my fingers that begs to come out on paper.  Sometimes the result even looks like what I saw in my head!

Rocks and Boxes and Jugs (Oh My)!

May 11, 2010

Just to let you know, I’m not progressing through my hobbies in any particular order.  I’m just talking about the next one as it comes along, which is quite fitting, since I started many of these hobbies in the same way, as the opportunity came along.

Okay, so now I’d like to tell you a little about how I like to paint.  I have, on occasion, wielded a brush or a roller on the walls or siding of my house. I much prefer, however, to paint on smaller things.

We have pictures of me painting with water (you remember the old “water colors” that you paint water and it brings out the color on the paper) when I was four or so.  Besides looking cute back then, I was actually pretty good at staying in the lines, even with a paint brush.  Crayons are often hard enough, but a paint brush is that much longer . . . . Anyhow, we had some of the water color books, and Grandma kept a supply at her house, so I got plenty of practice!

Later, I remember finger painting.  Why is it that children like to get their hands messy?  I think I just liked the squishy feeling of the thick paint between my fingers.  I didn’t like just anything all over my hands, but I did like to get messy with paint.  I wasn’t all that skilled with making pictures with that paint, but then, who expects a Van Gogh from a six year old?

I dabbled a little in real watercolors in middle school, though I never went very far with it.  I liked acrylic paints better.  We got a couple of books by Donna Dewberry, showing her One Stroke Painting technique (video of One Stroke rose).  I liked that because it didn’t require me to think about which colors to do first, they were all on the brush at the same time.  The best part was that I got impressive results very quickly.  Once I figured out how much paint to load onto the brush (a lot), I could paint anything in the book.  I’ve painted some boxes with this technique.  My grandmother gave us a pair of stone jugs that were mustard yellow, but I painted them over with white and then put some pansies on them.  Now they’re a nice decoration on our back porch.

In addition to One Stroke, I also do some acrylic paint-by-numbers.  It seems odd that I like them because paint-by-numbers require so little artistic input from the “artist.”  For some reason, though, the rigidity of the lines and numbers does not bother me in this case, and I enjoy looking at the one on my wall.  I’m currently working on a lighthouse/seascape and a covered bridge/landscape.  Those two are for Sister’s hope chest and mine.

I also paint rocks, as you may have seen in my voicethread.  We got a book from the library that showed a variety of different things to paint on rocks, either as an accent to the rock or to make the rock look like something else.  I’ve done several door stops, paperweights, and other things this way.  Rocks are interesting because they come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes you have to look pretty hard before you see what critter is hidden inside.  The rocks around my house are quite diverse, but they all have a lot of potential . . . if only I had the time I could paint almost all of them.

When I have a paintbrush in hand, world beware!  I even take on rocks and boxes and jugs (oh, my)!

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