Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Illustration Friday and The Adventures in and How-to in Photographing Artwork

First, above is the painting I'm posting for my submission to "Illustration Friday." This week's theme is "stitch." I have a retro sewing machine set up in the studio that did the stitching on this mixed media piece. I find sewing to be highly satisfying because the results are so quick.

Now on to the horrors of trying to photograph artwork during the long Canadian winter. Yes, I know I could purchase lighting, make myself hot cocoa and do it like a sane person in my studio. I could even hire someone. The problem is, I confess (sob) to being an art supply junkie. I'm still hesitating to spend a minimum of $300 on lighting when that money could go into something new to experiment with.

My other option? Recently the temperature rose to plus ten and the sky was appropriately overcast, so I took on the dreaded chore. A grey day works best because the colors will be most accurate. A digital camera with 6 megapixels or higher is necessary for a quality image. After carting 18 paintings down to the first floor, I set them up in the most level place on the step in the backyard. I've been doing this for over a year now. It has its drawbacks when the wind blows (or even a breeze in the summer).

I've had plenty of paintings get pushed over by the wind and two disasters. The first was involving a tear in the canvass which had me inconsolable and in tears for an hour and the second was severe chipping of paint. Yesterday the paintings were falling over with aggravating frequency and I knew another disaster was sure to come. Rising frustration and anger had me scanning for another option.

Voila! Previous tenants had left a nail in the wall. I can't imagine why, but it's painted the same color as the house and looks rather old (these details are to prove that I didn't decide to bang nails into the back of the house myself).

This method has a couple of advantages. Obviously, no more falling over in the wind. The unexpected advantage was the ability to get the image so level. The biggest problem I've had with photographing my own artwork besides occasional glare, is when the image warps. Now I can make sure the painting is perfectly level (by placing a level on the top of it). I can align my tripod directly in front, and make sure the tripod is level.

No more warping. No more sneaky cropping in photoshop. The picture was perfectly straight. This is a big advantage if you have straight lines in your work. Warping makes it look like you drew them crooked.

Here's the finished photo. The painting is called "Subtile" (meaning subtle in English). It was in my December show at Moncton city Hall.

Now there's only one more problem. The wind chill factor. So far, I've been working at this for two days and I've still got seven paintings to go. I'm getting more resistant to finishing the job because of the cold, but since I can only do it on an overcast day (when not snowing or raining) the only choice is to get out there whenever the weather cooperates. If I get lazy and my website isn't updated until May, you'll know that the cold got to me. I'm holed up in my studio with a cup of hot chocolate like a sane person.


JO said...

gorgeous painting.

Kathleen said...

First, beautiful picture - it glows.

Second, re the $300 for lighting, you could use the same logic my sister applies to expensive clothes: cost per use. So it might be $300 you could spend elsewhere, but on the other hand it might be <$1 per project :)

I have to trick myself into spending money on things sometimes.

Stephanie said...

Your pieces are beautiful... they do have a wonderful atmosphere about them.

I sympathise about the photography, I *hate* photographing my own work and I suspect that's one reason I gravitated to medium which can be easily scanned, lol. AND about spending the money about lighting, I agree with kathleen about that. Think about how much it's really worth to you not to have to worry about the weather/wind/damage to your precious artwork ever again versus one shopping trip for supplies...

Shayla said...

Lol, you guys are right. I'm going to be an artist living with winter and rainy days for the next 40 years (hopefully more). That's roughly 15 cents a painting, not to mention a lot less frustration. Heh, heh, I've never had a problem applying that logic to clothes!

-David Poe said...

Beutiful work to photograph!

I remember doing this with Tungston lights to take slides, back in highschool. Once I found out, in college, how much all of it costs - I just shot outside.

Wonder walkthrough,t oo.

MiKa Art said...

Beautiful painting!

Great info about taking photo of art!!

Eric Orchard said...

Really lovely stuff, Shayla. Thanks for sharing this!

Alicia Padrón said...

Wow! I love this painting!!

Ella said...

Love the images! Wonderful colors and great use of negative space.

picciolo said...

hi shayla, thanks for leaving such a nice comment on my blog, I've just been reading yours and I love your paintings, I thought I had it bad taking photos in the winter in the drearyness of the uk, I'm glad the nail on the wall helped you with yours!
: )

constance said...

Shayla, your paintings are so beautiful! There's one, that you did that I especially love...under the post titled "Hello..." I was very drawn to that piece :)

Anonymous said...

'No more sneaky cropping in photoshop'...Hah! I thought it was just me!

You've enlightened me over the warping...I thought it was my camera...Will try your technique and see how it goes:-)