Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prelude to Spring

I was hoping that a blog would spur productivity, but instead I have found that I am just as adept at procrastination of a blog post as anything else. Currently, my sculpture class has been keeping me on the move. The class has been an onslaught of different materials, so although my mind has had to bend around different construction dilemmas, I haven't made much that I really like.

A project I finished a couple of weeks ago was the "Waiting for Forsythia" kinetic sculpture. These are hanging to the side of the front entrance to the art building. I spent most of the time trying to develop stands to hold them, and when this failed I had to hope that I could devise a way to hang them. As you can see from the picture, the hanging part was a success. And using fishing lure "barrel swivels," the pieces twirl very nicely with the slightest breeze. Now I only wish I had had more time to work on the forms.

The kinetic sculptures are irrigation piping covered in colorful duct tape. I had thought initially only in terms of circles--specifically the circles within circles. It was the night before the day of installation that I thought to try other configurations. And it was only by accident that a circle collapsed and turned into a wonderful leaf form. So there is much more potential to these materials than I was able to fully exploit. Ah well.

For our last project we were to take an object and negate its function by covering it with "tiling." Originally, the teacher had conceived of the project in terms of ceramic mosaics, but opened up the covering to anything. For my piece, I took a dead printer and covered it with pine cones and bark and planted a tree to grow out of it. So for the last couple of weeks I have been fighting a glue gun as I stuck pine cones and bark to hard plastic. I took it to class on Thursday thoroughly disgusted with it and miserable from the experience. All of the "sculptures" were put on display in the front display area of the art building, so I'll see what I think about it when I see it all again on Monday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Read the Instructions

This week is spring break so I have no classes to attend. I do, however, have some projects due when I return. First, in the computer graphics class we are taking a photo and changing six things. We will then make a poster with the two photos that becomes a game--find the six changes to the photo.

For this project I scanned my favorite Swiss Alps picture from over ten years ago when I went on a wonderful yuppie Swiss Alps hiking trip. I then made six changes...
Admittedly, some of the changes are quite obvious. I took out my fellow hikers. I added two swiss cows from a different part of the adventure. And most obviously, I added a picture of Tomba the cat from a postcard. Legend has it that this historical Swiss cat followed some mountaineers to the top of some mountain. Less obviously, I added a sky ride and the Matterhorn (which lives in an entirely different part of Switzerland). And the least obvious change was that I took a modest peak from the left side of the picture, flipped it over, and made it a peak on the right side of the picture.

Then I read the directions. I'm supposed to just use the elements within the first photograph and move two things, remove two things and duplicate two things. This makes for a much more boring photo...

The only changes I could keep were removing the hikers and duplicating the peak in the middle left hand side to make the right hand side peak. Then I took out the power line that was in the original photo, but barely noticeable anyway. Then I moved a bunch of flowers from the foreground to the left hand corner, and duplicated them and put them in the middle lower section. Yawn. This left another move...and the fussiest change...I moved the rocky ledge where the hikers were heading and shifted it down the ledge. I then filled that area with the digital equivalent of astroturf.

While these changes meet the assignment's requirements, the photo is neither interesting or funny. So now that I know the rules, I'll go find another photo where I can make the necessary changes and end up with something interesting and/or funny.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tommy Posterized

I am continuing to learn Photoshop and can see that a whole lifetime could vanish into that software. I had planned to postpone going digital until I became more proficient at drawing and hands-on artistry. But the lure of Spoonflower and designing fabric was too great. Of course, my attention has been diverted. And one diversion was making an image of Tommy after the Shepard Fairey poster of Obama. This version obviously doesn't have the same amount of thought going into it. All I did for this was run a photo of Tommy through a filter that breaks the image into a few relative values. I then used roughly the same palette of colors as the Obama poster.

There is currently a lawsuit about transforming the 2006 Garcia (AP) photo of Obama into the iconic poster. I thought a lot of the poster's power was in the use of color...not quite red, white and blue. But the experiment with Tommy suggests that a lot of it has to do with the original lighting in the photograph. And although I like how the lighting falls in the original photo of Tommy, it doesn't really work in the posterized image. So now I think the power of the poster was in the choice of photo for this technique. Which makes the lawsuit all the more interesting because the power in the choice of photo comes into play only in hindsight.

Friday, March 6, 2009

More Photoshop

For a sculpture assignment, I needed a box for teabags. I started with my favorite...Trader Joe's Pomegranate White Tea for my template. Then after a bit of tweaking with Photoshop, we have a new brand: Global Warming Green Tea. I printed all the panels on a cream cardstock and then constructed the box. I may never have to live in reality again.

Meanwhile, the quilt of valor, described in any earlier post, finally arrived yesterday at its destination of Fort Richardson Alaska. It took a while to receive a location to send the quilt. Apparently, a group of quilters are given the same location to send their quilts. I don't know how the quilts eventually get matched to individuals.

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Class Today

Here is another Photoshop project based on The Z Was Zapped. This is the F was Flocked by Flamingos. I used the same concept for a similar project in my drawing class last year. In the colored pencil drawing I had four flamingos in the audience as well as on the stage, and instead of a wood floor, the stage was black and white checkered linoleum.

Today my computer graphics class was canceled because of the snow. We only got a few inches of snow, but the forecast was for much more than that. The wind was also a hassle so right after the snow plows went by, the wind would cover the streets with snow again. So instead of working on Photoshop, I went out and shoveled the paved driveway before the snow could melt.

Meanwhile, Tommy the Cat is mending nicely. As I am writing this post, he is staring intently at the office wall. Since he is the cat with mouse radar, this undoubtedly means that mice are having a party in the walls. And it's not so much that Tommy is staring intently, but rather that he is listening intently.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Winter Wonderland

I woke up to a winter wonderland. Okay, more of a snow head fake. First, by 10AM I could already hear snow melting. Also, the snow didn't stick on the gravel road or the walkway to the house. Very civilized.

When I first moved to Wash DC in the early 90s, we would get some nice snowfalls each year. The year the government closed was the most memorable because the day the government was supposed to open, we got something like a foot of snow...the largest snowfall I had seen since moving to the east coast. That was the year my next door neighbor taught me how to cross country ski--in the street. So I ran out and bought my own skis...and we never had more that 4 inches after that.

When I first moved out to rural Virginia (in the foothills of the Blue Ridge), we had a couple of deep snowfalls of more than 6 inches. I did break out the skis, but in my rush, forgot some of the basics like gloves and how to release the boots from the skis after a fall. Oops. Since that first winter here, we haven't gotten that much again. Now, we're all about the ice.