The First Leaves of Autumn

We shared the brief but magic sun.  By the first leaves of autumn you were gone… Not until the rain has touched my face. Not until the first leaves fell from space.  Not until that moment did I see.  I never realised what you meant to me…..The Fureys

I’ve had a plan for a while now that I wanted to do the four seasons in a series of images.  I’d already done a spring setting which showed the lovely Kirsty sitting in a bath full of spring flowers with a corrugated iron backdrop called Wash Away the Day.  Where I live in the Blue Mountains, the trees are starting to produce the most magnificent colours with the beginning of Autumn so I was inspired to do the next image in the series which is Autumn.

So on Tuesday, I went out to the beautiful Collit’s Inn with my gorgeous model Rachael and my assistant extraordinaire, Kirsty.  The back of my little car was filled with camera equipment, candles, candle holders, ivy vines which had been painted gold and a myriad of other Autumn foliage.  We stopped at Blackheath on the way and gathered a few garbage bags full of fallen autumn leaves along the side of the road.  As I mentioned, the Blue Mountains is turning the most amazing colours at the moment.  The trees are a kaleidoscope of colour and the paths are carpeted in fallen leaves, so it was easy to pick up huge amounts of leaves without even being able to see where they were taken from.

Arriving at Collit’s Inn, we set about using the beautiful rustic bathtub that sits in their garden as a bench.  With Rachael sitting in the bath, we proceeded to cover her in the leaves and other foliage.  My mystical creative muse must also have been happy with the process as in the midst of a miserable day, the sun came out just as we started to set up which meant my lovely model wasn’t a mass of goosebumps from the cold.

After taking the necessary photos, everyone was still happy to keep going so I handed Rachael a red lace dress that I had put in the car, just in case.  I mean, why just do one theme when you have a model there and ready to go?  The red dress fitted beautifully so we went out in search of the local cemetery.

There was someone there when we arrived, so instead of disturbing someone visiting their loved ones, we moved on to another nearby cemetery.  I have the utmost respect for cemeteries and understand what special places they are, not just to the family and friends of those who had passed but also as a source of history.

We ended up at  Hartley Cemetery which is a lovely peaceful resting place and has many very old graves.  I’ve often called in there and taken a walk around the graves, reading about the people buried there.   We did a few photos there, one of which I posted yesterday, called Earthbound.   Just as we were heading to the car, the skies opened and the rain started.  We were definitely looked after by the weather Gods.

So here is the second in the Seasons in the Bath series, The First Leaves of Autumn.  I was a bit worried about trying to do something that could happily stand next to Wash Away the Day, as that image is one that I am the proudest of.  I have to say, I’m pretty chuffed with the way this has turned out.  It was definitely what I had in mind.  Now to start preparing for Winter..

The First Leaves of Autumn

 

Looking forward to Looking Back

The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come…… unknown

When I opened Facebook this morning, I had a memory pop up. I usually don’t pay any attention to them and very rarely share them as I think there is so much happening now that I don’t need to look back.  But sometimes a memory stops you in your tracks as it shows you how far you’ve come, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or in a skillset.

The FB post this morning was from the very first composite photograph I tried.  It was four years ago and I had just started studying Photoimaging.  We were asked to do a self portrait for a TAFE project called Me, Myself and I.  You’d think with my incredibly limited Photoshop skills at that stage that I would have chosen a simple self portrait wouldn’t you?  In fact at that time, even a simple self portrait was stretching my almost non existent skills.

Never letting it be said that I don’t like to challenge myself, I set about creating a photo about how I feel inside versus the face I show to the world.  This is such a simple composite but it took me ages and of course, when I look at it now, I cringe at the lack of finesse.  However, I’m also very proud of it.  Yes I could have taken a simpler option but instead I pushed myself well beyond my boundaries to try to achieve the vision in my head.

I still love the concept of this photo and maybe I’ll redo it or maybe I won’t.  But what is interesting is that my first composite photograph was one that spoke about the battle with my demons.  Four years on and I’m just starting to shoot for my very first solo exhibition which will be held in October/November this year. It too revolves around mental health and I’m so thrilled to have a group of people happy to open up about their battles too.

These next few months are going to be crazy busy for me and I may be quieter on here than usual.  Next week, I present my very first TAFE class.   Yes, I’ve gone from being a student at TAFE to teaching my own class.  I’m a bit nervous but very excited.  To make the year even busier (and more special) I have my first  much awaited and loved grandbaby due in a few months, I’m heading overseas just after that and then it will be full on with preparing for the exhibition.  I have between 30-40  images to shoot in that time and they won’t be shown until the actual exhibition, so it may not be all that easy to do lots of other work in between to put up here.

Hopefully, I’ll fit a few other images in between. But today, I’m enjoying looking back from where I started to where I am now and of course, the evolving is never over.  I’m looking forward to where this journey will take me.

Ole, Ole, Ole

One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is to bury strange jewels within us all and then stand back to see if we can ever find them….Elizabeth Gilbert

I watched one of my favourite ever Ted talks again yesterday.  If you’ve never watched a Ted talk, they are short snippets of inspiration from people from all walks of life and are easy to find on Google.  If you only ever watch one in your whole life…..make it the talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on the creative process.  It’s brilliant! If you watch it, you’ll also understand the title of this particular blog.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love amongst other books.  This book was snapped up by the film industry and made into a movie with Julia Roberts which I absolutely loved.  This particular talk references her success with this book but also her battle to come to terms with trying to equal that success.  But the talk is so much more than that.

The talk goes on to reference that inner something that creatives have that doesn’t feel quite human. That something special that helps you create a piece of work that you feel was inspired or guided by something greater than yourself.  Over the years it has been called a Muse or a Genius.  Whatever we call it, I’m sure you have all created something in your life that you feel you were merely a channel for.

I certainly feel that a lot with my creations.  Some I plod away and work until it comes together.. Other times, my ego and my conscious being seems to step aside and allow something much greater to take control of the process. Those tend to be the really special pieces.  Of course it’s me there.. and of course I took the photo with a plan in mind but suddenly that plan seems to be touched by a stroke of “genius” and the image then takes a shape that I couldn’t have possibly done while my ego was in charge.

I’m sure some people think this is a crazy notion but I know there are times that images or ideas have come from a place other than my logical brain.  The last few weeks, my dreams have been full of ideas, some weird, some fantastic.  I haven’t rejected any of them.  One I had is so weird that I woke up thinking, No Way.. that’s just stupid.. and dozed off again to be told again that I had to make it.  I woke up again and rejected it yet again only to doze off again and repeat the process another 3 or 4 times.  I finally gave in and said, yes, I will make it.  I told a friend about it and she felt that my Muse has a very warped sense of humour but that’s okay.  If I only ever created work that was safe, I’d never step out of my comfort zone, so against my logical mind, I will create the work and let you know when it’s done.

But it’s also been full of ideas whether they come in the form of a vision of the finished work or just a title and I’m absolutely loving the ideas (or most of them) that I’m being given. I think it’s happening because I’ve finally stop trying to be in charge of the creative process and I’m just going with the flow and allowing it to happen.  I’ve also been trying my hand at different types of art too, away from the computer.  These have been costumes and props for photo shoots but have become works of art on their own merit.  I honestly believe this has opened up my mind more fully to hear and accept the snippets that my Muse throws my way.

2017 is going to be my busiest year ever I think.  I have some work in an exhibition at the moment and have another 5 pieces I’m creating for another one in April/May.  I am currently planning my first solo exhibition which will consist of 30 – 40 pieces and have another series of photos on the go at the same time. Of course, the greatest and most exciting creation of all is happening in June when I become a grandmother for the first time. I’m so excited by that particular event that I can barely breathe when I think about it.

So in preparation, I am making myself a home studio at the  moment.  I don’t have a lot of room here but I do have a wall that is perfect to set up a backdrop. I’ll probably be quiet over the next week or so while that area is prepared and I start to plan for Christmas.  I’m hoping I’ll at least get a Christmas image done amongst the other chaos.  These are a few of the props I’ve been creating lately..

 

Blue Fringe Arts Prize 2016

The work of art is a scream of freedom…..Unknown

 

I’m feeling extremely excited and humbled today after winning both the Blue Fringe Arts 2016 Highly Commended Photography prize and the Blue Mountains City Council‘s Visual Arts Prize. I have to be honest, whilst I hoped to win something, I didn’t expect to take out those prizes with the amazing work that was exhibited. I was in awe of so many of the pieces. I’d like to share the comments from the judge of the Visual Arts Prize, Paul Brinkman who is Director of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.
“This work stands out for it’s careful composition and use of colour to highlight the different elements of the scene. The juxtaposition of the worn, old and weathered taps and backdrop with the fresh flowers and figure in the centre of the composition makes the image engaging and intriguing, as if the work holds an intriguing story. Both the thought that has gone into the composition and the clever use of the photographic medium make this the selected artwork for overall winner.”
To say I’m thrilled would be the understatement of the century. Thank you so much to the Blue Fringe Arts committee and volunteers who run such an important show every year and to everyone involved, from sponsors for their support, dignitaries for their involvement and honesty and of course, the other incredible artists who exhibited. And of course to Ron from Talisman Gallery- Hartley for being so supportive in allowing me to use his beautiful location for my image. Thanks to my sons and daughter in law who support and encourage me every step of the way. And last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to Kirsty Louise, my model, for being beautiful, inside and out and always being prepared to be my right hand woman on whatever project I think up.
Blue Fringe Arts present this exhibition each year to celebrate the creativity of people with a lived experience of mental illness. For those who don’t realise, I have complex PTSD and struggle quite severely some days with memory loss, anxiety and depression. When I went back to TAFE college to learn photography at the ripe old age of 51, I couldn’t have dreamed of completing a diploma let alone how creating conceptual and fantasy photography would allow me to escape the non stop conversation that goes on in my brain 24/7. When I’m creating, I am calm and peaceful. I never thought I could find this much peace and happiness but art has helped me to feel complete. What I do isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and sometimes not even mine but I create out of what is happening in my mind at the time. To have people say they love what I do is simply the icing on the cake for me. Thank you!

Now it feels real!

Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars…. Unknown

My last blog, I wrote about music and photos together and the impact they have.  I was making slideshows before I got sidetracked (and pleasurably so) by photography.  I love watching a story come together and memories being brought to life.  They tell a story.

When I was  young, I was obsessed with jingles and intro themes.  Oh the magic of the castle at the start of any Disney production or the roaring of the MGM lion.  I was rather in awe of the Columbia lady with the lamp and in later years, I fell a little in love with the boy and the fishing rod which lets us know that a Dreamworks movie is about to begin.

So, what does someone with a bit of a Hollywood, intro & jingle theme do when they want to add a certain something to their presentations?  They make some intros.  I had one made ages ago, which was the Disney opening but with my business name on it.  Of course I can’t use it as it is trademarked to Disney but I do love to play it occasionally, just to make myself feel good.

It feels a bit more real to me now. Not that I haven’t taken them seriously before because I absolutely put my heart and soul into every one I make but growing up with a fascination for all things Hollywood, it’s exciting to know that my slideshows will now have an opening sequence to them.  Besides, we are all stars in our own right and everyone’s story deserves a bit of grandeur, doesn’t it?

I’ve been busy the last few weeks working on a few ideas and will probably work on heaps more before I settle on just one, if I ever can decide.  Maybe I’ll give people a choice?  Who knows?  Variety is the spice of life after all.  Anyway, these are the two that I’ve made so far.  I wonder which your favourite would be?

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