Wednesday, 28 January 2015

'complete the piece' - an experiment at the School Creative Centre - on the theme of the colour blue

real art

I told you about the project at The School Creative centre to complete another artists's work. I was given this painting, with blue waves in real paint and brush strokes. What to do with it?

part of the incomplete painting

I had promised do do a drawing/painting.

Then I chickened out and took some photos of the paint.

...........and played around with them in Photoshop. Blue is the colour favoured by the artist that started my painting. She paints in blue and wears almost exclusively blue clothes.

I felt compelled to play with the colour blue, using digital technology to distort my photographs of the paint.

Blue, according to colormatters , a colour psychology site means;

Dark blue: trust, dignity, intelligence, authority
Bright blue: cleanliness, strength, dependability, coolness
(The origin of these meanings arise from the qualities of the ocean and inland waters, most of which are more tangible.)
Light (sky) blue: peace, serenity, ethereal, spiritual, infinity
(The origin of these meanings is the intangible aspects of the sky.)
Lapis Lazuli was a precious commodity in the Middle Ages , used by renaissance artists and exported from Afghanistan to Europe to be ground into the very expensive ultramarine pigment.

Ultramarine pigment
It was often used for painting the robes of angels and the virgin Mary.

I am not good at angels or virgins.

So I did squares and octagons instead.

I abstracted the paint using just the colours.

I then played around with grids from the paint and paper.

paint abstacted

I turned the blue squares into a T-shirt.

 the colours didn't look as vibrant as I had hoped. 

And then today, I felt bad that I hadn't finished the piece as promised. I don't have any paints, so I used my old chalks.

I scribbled and drew like a five year old child.

It was fun.

It was not impressive.

I was drowning, not waving..............

But the whole process had given me hours of fun, and really made me think, discuss and experiment.

So now, if you would like a T-shirt , I know how to make one.

Just ask.

And if you would like a very childlike drawing, I can probably oblige too.

All I will need is a blank piece of paper.

Paper whites

I think I like this one best.......

Monday, 19 January 2015

There were five in a bed...… on larking about, shoes and fashion photography…..

There were five in a bed

And the little one said, 'roll over'…….      

are the words that come to mind when I look at this image by Guy Bourdin, fashion photographer , (1928-1991).

His work is currently showing at Somerset House, and I can't remember when I last had so much fun at a photography exhibition.

Guy travelled around the UK from Paris in a cadillac on a road trip in the 70's to make images for Charles Jourdan, the French shoe designer.

The images that he made using a pair of mannequin legs were inspired, and make for an exuberant and amusing first part of this large exhibition.

He painted in his spare time, on  similar themes to those of his photographs. Ladies in underwear and intimate interiors, lounging on chairs.

My how fashions have changed in the world of underwear.

I can't say I am sorry not to have to wear a Playtex living girdle or equivalent as part of my under garments.

Anyone who knows me will know that I don't do shoes……….or handbags either. Most fashion photography leaves me cold. Not so with Guy's work.

punters at somerset house

Guy used polaroids to test his carefully composed scenes for light and structure in the way that current photographers might use their mobile phone.

His use of light and shadow was masterful.

He was quite good at making cine films too……….

The whole exhibition is beautifully laid out at Somerset House, and I went home completely uplifted by his sense of fun and stunning photography.

I'll leave you with some legs……….

and some more shoes.

Not a high heel in sight.

Visual poetry for photographers and leg lovers alike.

You can find out much more at 'Guy Bourdin:Image Maker'  on the Somerset House website.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

on crossing boundaries, keeping cheerful and mixing things up.

turbine hall -Tate modern

It's been a serious week.

Another very good friend diagnosed with cancer. 

A trip to Conflict, Time, Photography at the Tate Modern.

Events in Paris that shocked the world.

Sometimes it is less easy to think positively. Just back from watching 'The Theory of Everything' about Stephen Hawking at the cinema I feel challenged to do just that.

Stephen Hawking's quote......

 ' However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at,'......... 

was made at a time when he was unable to walk or speak, but had nevertheless gone on to write "A Brief History of Time". 

When I heard him say this in the film it really hit home. Packed an emotional punch.

It is a sentiment that feels important to hold onto when times get tough.

So now for some good news.......

  • While at the Tate Modern I watched a father walk his very small son all around the turbine hall to look at the strange red textile hanging. Small son enjoyed the echo in the hall and became quite vocal. It was a joy to watch, and when I offered to send his father some images he gave me his email address without question, and we communicated in a positive way. 

  • This week I have an exciting new challenge to participate in.

At  The School Creative Centre, Rye resident artists are going to pass a half finished piece of work to another artist for completion. This is intended to stir us up, shake us out of our comfort zones, and be good fun.

So all day I have been wondering how I pass a 'half complete' photograph to another artist. 

Options include giving a half developed roll of film, over exposing or underexposing an image to remove half the detail. giving an undeveloped negative, starting a collage out of old prints, and more.

But I have decided that the best way to fully participate would be to really get out of my comfort zone and do a drawing based on one of my images. 

The results may or may not be displayed here later...........

  • I am now the proud owner of a new scanner. Here I am in about 1970 writing my diary - no change there.........
the diary that got lost long ago....

I have hours of fun to be gained revisiting my photographic archives, but also wish to experiment with bits of nature.

dry winter hydrangea petal; scanned and photoshopped

  • I am learning how to composite ( make one image from multiple images) on my ipad. This with the help of 

I am always looking for ways to use my stone collection from around the world, so I made this image with one of my stones and the tree from my back garden.

They represent home and away......... two sources of pleasure. There may be more to come.......

composite image © Caroline Fraser 2015

Reasons to be cheerful?









and grass

in no particular order

and many more.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

the man with a tortoise on his head - on portraits and poses

I am returned from Vancouver; a visit to my daughter who is lucky enough to live with a view of the mountains and parks from her city apartment.

On the way back I slept as 2014 eased into 2015. Rudely awoken at one point by a very loud announcement that I should prepare myself for an emergency landing, adopt the brace position, and  find my life jacket from under my seat.

It brought home to me the recent loss of another airliner into the ocean, and gave me a small taste of the fear that must have been felt for those moments before lives ended.

Fortunately for us, as we were informed by the captain some 30 minutes later, this announcement was a 'mistake'. Someone hit the wrong button. We carried on cruising and landed without further hitches. My heart beat settled, and we enjoyed the rantings of a London taxi driver for another hour before finally reaching the peace of home.

I learnt from the taxi driver a few cheerful facts about recent events

  • the ebola crisis has arrived in the UK
  • 1000 refugees have been abandoned on a boat
  • 20 million pounds have been lost on Boris bikes
  • it is dull and rainy because of a warm front stuck off the coast of Ireland
  • Southampton beat Arsenal; not good news
  • shares in the Post office are falling steadily
  • buses now control traffic lights in London, and you only get 8 seconds on green.....
  • thousands caught out by snow in the alps
  • an airplane crash......

By the time we got home I felt that either he or I should be treated for depression. Nothing like starting the New year on a happy note.

But at least I have some photos to remind me of the good times we had on our holidays.

Portraits of ones we love. Moments recorded for posterity. Remembering the good times.

A trip to MOA ( Museum of Anthropology at the university of British Columbia) had a fascinating exhibition, 'Pigapicha' on the culture of studio portrait taking in Nairobi over the past century.

Pigapicha means 'take my picture'

Studio portraits change with the fashion, just as our clothes and hairstyles do.

Rigid formal poses loosen up and smiles appear over time.

So much of the story is in the eyes.

Frames and borders change with the times too, as do studio backdrops and props.

These ones below particularly formal.

What do studio portraits say about us?

Why do we make them when we all have cameras and phones with which we constantly capture our daily lives?

Which are the better representation of ordinary life?

Would you rather be photographed with a tortoise on your head and with your watch ostentatiously front stage, to show that you have a sense of humour and are wealthy, or with a warm smile and a 'natural' pose?

Backdrops also change with fashion. 

Would you like the alps behind you?

Or prefer to be portrayed sitting on a coca-cola bottle or flower?

Times have changed. Many of the Nairobi studios have closed down now, and these type of images are no longer popular.

My daughter gets married this year.

I hope she looks happier in her wedding photos than the bride below.