Tag Archives: photography

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Photo by Yu Hashimoto

For the first few years of my life, I lived on the east coast. On almost every summer night, you could count on two things: humidity and fireflies (or, as they were called in Virginia – “lightnin’ bugs”). I’d forgotten just how beautiful those twinkling sparks of light can be in the night air, until I saw this photo series from Japan. Enjoy!

 

 

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Go Do: ARTS ADVOCACY DAY TOOLKIT

Today, the first day of spring, is also Arts Advocacy Day. In case you’ve missed it, the arts and humanities are on the chopping block in the proposed federal budget.

It comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that I’m a huge advocate for the arts. I found this link incredibly useful in that it offers a variety of ways to reach out, respectfully and thoughtfully, to your representatives. Your reps (remember, they work for US) need to hear from you regarding your opinion on matters that important to you.

If being in band shaped you into a better math student (and it probably did – they’re closely related); if being in theatre helped you overcome a fear of speaking in public; if sculpting helped you decide to become a mechanical engineer – then you benefited from an arts education.

If a play made you think, or a dance made you feel, or a painting made you question, or a symphony made you weep – then you have been touched by the arts.

If those things are important to you, your family, your children, your community, our culture and society, I urge you to connect with your elected representatives and explain specifically WHY it’s important that the arts remain a part of the federal budget.

There are a variety of links on the page that explain in greater detail what I’m talking about. Click on each one to gain a greater understanding of how the federal money is distributed, used, and matched.

Click here for the Arts Advocacy Toolkit.

Click here for Americans For The Arts.

!nsp!re – Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters @ LACMA

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Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the member preview for a new exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – GUILLERMO DEL TORO: AT HOME WITH MONSTERS. The exhibit focuses on the artistic life and influences of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak, Pan’s Labyrinth).

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Costume detail from "Crimson Peak"
Costume detail from “Crimson Peak”

For those who have read his book, “Cabinet of Curiosities“, this exhibit is especially thrilling. In the book, readers get a view inside Del Toro’s suburban Los Angeles home (named “Bleak House”). The home is packed with all manner of unusual oddities, props, artwork, and collections.

Satan and Death with Sin Intervening by Henry Fuseli
Satan and Death with Sin Intervening by Henry Fuseli

 

Arm of Hosts by Dave Cooper
Arm of Hosts by Dave Cooper
Illustration from "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark"
Illustration from “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”

In this exhibit, those collections have been placed on view for the public; and it is horribly magnificent. The show is not a retrospective of Del Toro’s work; but a look at his influences and inspirations. In keeping with that idea, the exhibit is laid out thematically. Paintings, drawings, maquettes, full size sculptures, and more bring Del Toro’s unique visions into full relief in this exhibit that surrounds and immerses you into one mans fever dream.

A Life-sized sculpture of Schlitzie and Johnny Eck, both by Thomas Kuebler.
A Life-sized sculpture of Schlitzie and Johnny Eck, both by Thomas Kuebler.
Life-size sculpture of Ray Harryhausen by Mike Hill.
Life-size sculpture of Ray Harryhausen by Mike Hill.

The work of many artists is on display, and its easy to see where Del Toro derives his inspiration.

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Sculptures by Mike Hill
Sculptures by Mike Hill

Taking its inspiration from the tone and architecture of Bleak House, the exhibit is housed in an architectural shell, with long hallways that twist and turn, opening into room after room. The walls and other elements are in muted tones of black, gray, and blood red. The use of rafters overhead is enhanced by lighting that casts shadows onto the ceiling and surrounding walls.

One room in particular is modeled after Del Toro’s writing room, in which a perpetual rainstorm falls outside the “windows” of the room.

007The exhibit is truly wondrous. It’s a through and detailed examination of artistic inspiration and process. A good example is that there are several of his notebooks on display. Since they could easily be damaged by the public, all the pages have been scanned and patrons can flip through them virtually on a touch-screen adjacent to the actual notebook. It’s a great way of revealing the artist while preserving the work.

El Velo Negro by Pedro Meyer
El Velo Negro by Pedro Meyer

I have only two small quibbles with the overall exhibit. The first is that it appears to have been put together quickly. The finishes on the display vitrines are somewhat slap-dash, with visible paint brush marks and drips. One would think that an exhibit with this sort of “draw” in the marketplace would have warranted a greater attention to detail. My other minor negative comment is that I would have loved to seen LACMA embrace a greater degree of theatricality through lighting and video. The black costume from “Crimson Peak” is especially poorly lit, diminishing its detail and beauty.

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003Finally, there’s also a great book/catalogue that has been published in conjunction with the exhibit (Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters: Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections). The book goes into even more detail about Del Toro’s process, journals, and inspirations.

The exhibit is on view through November 27, 2016. Admission is free to members (which I highly recommend by joining here) or with regular admission ($15) to the museum.

!nsp!re – Creative Traits

I’m not certain that I’ve ever subscribed to the belief that “creative” people are inherently different. For the most part, I agree with Sir Ken Robinson – creativity is nurtured.

That said, this is an interesting read, about 5 creative traits that most people won’t understand. I think one of the more salient observations is that “creative people see the world differently”. Whether that’s by nature or nurture is debatable, but I do believe it’s true. When one considers the paintings of Jasper Johns, the writings of Roald Dahl, or the songs of Nina Simone; what they share is a specific and unique perspective on the world. I would posit that HOW we see is the key differentiator between those who are creative and those who do not consider themselves to be creative.

One of the questions I get in workshops is, “As a creative, where do your ideas come from?”. To me, it’s not a mysterious process: It simply begins with seeing, but seeing in a way that filters the field of view through my experience, sensibility, and aesthetic. The design work that then emerges from that process is my own; even though it’s informed by what I’ve absorbed through art, architecture, music, and design. But it’s also more mundane than that. Inspiration is, quite literally, everywhere; from the way the light streams through the breakfast room window on a December morning, to the way the tomatoes are displayed at the grocery store; from the striking layout of a beautifully designed website to the repeating motif of a pattern in a hotel lobby.

EVERYTHING is input. Is all of the input valid? Maybe not for the project immediately in front of me; but ultimately, yes, much of it will be. The moment a creative loses their ability to truly see (and feel, experience, hear, and absorb) might as well be the equivalent of an artistic death; because that’s where it all begins. The challenge is to continually maintain that openness; that ability to look at the world with “new eyes”.

That’s the challenge I’m setting for myself – to do ONE thing differently each day to keep my vision fresh. Turn left instead of right. Take a walk during lunch. Watch my favorite movie on DVD in a different language. You do the same; and watch how your world can change.

!nsp!re – Photographer Bertil Nilsson’s Stunning Imagery

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British photographer Bertil Nilson was featured in this article from Huffpost Arts & Culture a while back. Bertil says that he takes his inspiration “from movement and the human form”. Collaborating extensively with dancers and circus artists in natural settings using only white and red pigments, he has created this series of surreal, wondrous images.

What speaks to me in these images is the athletic quality of the dancers; contorted in these unbelievable poses but captured as if they’re floating; their natural forms fitting into, and yet juxtaposed to, the natural form of their surroundings. The use of powdered pigment lends them an ephemeral quality that brings them out against the landscape. Captivating work.

Bertil’s site features both images and video of this beautiful series.

 

!nsp!re – Mother and Son Create Frozen Bubble Art

In honor of my friends over on the east coast getting hammered by winter storms, I’ll share this quick story from Twisted Sifter.

Photograph by Angela Kelly
Photograph by Angela Kelly

Photographer Angela Kelly collaborated with her 7-year-old son to create these beautiful photos. Her son blew the bubbles and Angela captured them as they floated and landed. Each bubble is distinct and unique; and the photos are wonderful.

You can see more of Angelas work on her Facebook page, her flickr page, her website, and at her Etsy store.

 

“I Could Paint That”

Wanted to share this brief, humorous article titled “12 Things Never To Say To An Artist” from The Huffington Post.

At the same time I was reading the HuffPost article, I clicked on the video (currently circulating) capturing U.S. Figure Skater Jason Brown’s performance. I posted a link on my Facebook page to share it because it is tremendously impressive.

What I find interesting when you compare sports to the arts is that there’s no equivalent phrase to “I could paint that.” The general public doesn’t look at Jason’s video and say, “I could skate that”. Or at a football game and say, “Yeah, I could’ve scored that goal”.

So why is that? Do we value athletes more than we value artists? It’s tempting to say “yes”.  Perhaps its easier to look at what athletes do and think it’s extraordinary. But I’m coming at this from an artists perspective, so it’s difficult to be objective. Many people take at least one art class in school (still, despite the insane levels to which the arts have been decimated from public education) and few end up on the football team, so does it boil down to that? Someone took one art class so they assume that gives them license to not only be an art critic but to place themselves in the shoes of the artist?

The equivalent statement that grates on me is, “That’s a beautiful photo. What kind of camera do you use?”

Scenario – You’re in a five-star restaurant. You order a sumptuous meal; a wonderful appetizer, an exquisite entree, and a spectacular dessert. When you are satiated, you ask to see the chef. He appears and you say, “That was an unbelievable, glorious meal. What kind of stove do you use?”

Doesn’t make any sense does it? The art of great cooking is in the mind of the chef. Selecting the ingredients, blending the tastes, balancing the flavors, and serving it just right. The tools rarely enter into it.

It’s much the same with photography. It’s not about the tools – it’s what’s in the mind of the photographer. The tools are necessary of course; but entirely secondary to the work of the photographer, which is seeing. Or, more accurately, seeing that which others don’t.

“I could paint that”.

“Yeah, but you didn’t. You didn’t pay for the canvas and the brushes or the easel. You didn’t work crappy jobs putting yourself through art school. You didn’t have endless fights with your parents about not having a ‘real’ job. You didn’t stay up all night, banging your head against the wall, waiting for inspiration. You didn’t spend gazillions on books, museum trips, and traveling to absorb the experience and influences that eventually work their way into the art. You didn’t do it because you’re too busy, or don’t have the time, or are uninspired, or worried that you’re not talented enough.”

Maybe the better question is “Why aren’t you doing it?”

So, next time you’re at an art show, an open market, or a craft fair and see something an artist made with their own hands and minds; please enjoy it and appreciate it (if it’s something that resonates with you). If you must say, “I could paint (or sew, or make, or shoot) that”, then stop, leave the market, and go straight to an art supply store, get the supplies and go do it.

!nsp!re – 12 Days of Cre8tivity: Colin Rich Timelapse Photography

Post 8 of 12 Days of Cre8tivity

Today’s share has been making the rounds of Facebook lately. It’s a timelapse video of Los Angeles that is simply beautiful. Having lived in the City of Angels for nearly 30 years, I can tell you it is an incredible place to live.

Colin Rich
Colin Rich

The city is bold, sad, and glam all at the same time. There are problems with gangs and drugs, not to mention a ridiculous amount of gridlock.  If, however, you’re tuned to the right frequencies, it’s also a borderline magical place to live. Perched at the edge of a desert, overlooking the expanse of the Pacific, it shimmers and sparkles at night.

Clicking the image will take you to the video
Clicking the image will take you to the video

Colin Rich has captured the spirit of what it feels like. An exhilarating, moving, sweeping, and creative timelapse, “City Lights” is a love letter to nighttime in the City of Angels. It is the third installment in the Trilogy of Light series.

You can follow Colin here, or on Twitter here, and on Vimeo here.