Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings
[This post is an elaboration on the fifth, and last, point I made in my post of November 10, 2015
Five ways to raise your photo IQ (Interest Quotient)]
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
— Ansel Adams
Often at art shows, I get into conversations with patrons about what it is that I see in an image, what I visualize, what makes a “good” photograph, how does one know when a shot will be a good one… etc. There is no easy answer, only you can answer that, and only for you. If there were an easy answer, every car company would have a Mustang and no car company would ever have an Edsel.
While you are addressing this question of good-ness, of course you need to heed all the techy-stuff: Is it focused? Is it well-composed? Is it printed well, or show on the monitor well? Is the color correct? Etc. After these things are satisfied, good-ness lies entirely in the eye of the beholder — be that you or your viewer. And obviously, never will we all agree about this for any particular image.
In determining good-ness, I feel a good place to start is to ask whether this image has a sufficient “hook”. By “hook” I don’t mean a gimmick or a superficial visual element about which, after the first look, you might say, “Seen that. Done that. Move on, now”. But rather, a hook is the reason the image exists. It is the soul of the image. The emotion, feeling, or message of the image. It is the essence of the image, which will be re-seen, re-lived, and re-felt anew, with each viewing.
A hook can be just about anything. It could be the subject (Aunt Millie with her new niece); it can be an element within the image (unusual lighting or juxtaposition); it might be the more mysterious feeling or emotion it elicits. You decide what the hook is, but remember that for each viewer, the hook may be different.
OK, here’s another Ansel Adams quotation: “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer”. After all, we each bring our own set of life experiences and memories to the viewing and those ~different~ elements are what determine our individual take-away.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. Think about the various hooks in your images. How might they each, or the general concept directing them, be strengthened? Do they inspire concepts for other hooks? How might you capture this hook-concept; what imagery might facilitate that?
Comment about your unique hooks — we’ll talk about them and compare notes.
Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings // Kathy Lawler — Guest Blogger
Thar she blows!
— Artists at the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival
Yesterday we had a long drive; we were returning from Fairhope, Alabama where we participated in the Fairhope Festival of the Arts. The show, in its 64th year, is put on by the Chamber of Commerce. Fairhope is a charming town that sits on the cliffs and shoreline of the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Downtown Fairhope, where the show took place, is a quaint downtown with thriving retail, beautiful parks, and great restaurants.
Fairhope has a small town atmosphere, and what really struck us was the pride in the community that was shown by the show volunteers, the Chamber, and mostly the citizenry of the town. The town was so clean and inviting. We watched as people went out of their way to locate trashcans to throw their trash away, and to offer support to the artists at the show. We could all take a lesson in civic pride from Fairhope.
What we didn’t expect was the terrible winds and weather that we experienced.
Doing a retail show always has its risks but having winds of 40-50 MPH rip through the show was downright scary. We set up on Thursday night at 6 pm under a relatively calm sky. Then, at about 8:30 that night, a sudden and seriously crazy thunderstorm rolled though. For the artists already set up this quickly became a disaster – somewhere between 20-30 booths went down and far more lost their art. In some cases their art, as well as their booth, went blowing down the street.
When you have conditions like this, all the weight you have and can put on your canopy is likely not enough. It’s rather like being in a sailboat with really strong winds and yet you don’t want to go anywhere – it is an extreme challenge. We survived the ordeal intact; we had about 100 pounds in each corner and the display attached to the canopy as well. We had some poles on our canopy bend a little and a few tears in the nylon but we are very thankful to have such a small amount of damage. It was scary to realize we had been shoved 18” away from where we put the booth during set up.
The town once again showed its compassion the next day when citizens were coming up to us asking if we were okay and had our art been damaged and wishing us all the best. It was clear they were concerned for the show participants and their well-being. Thank you Fairhope!
For artists who are trying to make a living at shows, please support them with your dollars knowing that they often endure some very harsh conditions and still will smile and entertain you the next day. We always come home with new fun art and fond memories.
To all our patrons who supported the show and came out despite the rain and wind – Thank You.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What are your favorite Art Fairs? Have you ever experienced "less-than-perfect" conditions at a show? What was the most perfect and enjoyable show you ever attended?
Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings
Five by seven or eight by ten? So, which is it!?
So you have a square foot or two of wall space where you want to hang a piece of framed art. You visit a few booths at an Art Fair and find several images you like.
One Artist says, “this is an 8x10” so you know when framed it will probably be about 10x12 at its outside dimensions; perfect for your wall.
Another Artist says, “this print is 5x7” but you could swear it’s the same size as the first one.
A third Artist says, “this piece is 8x10” but you know it’s really more like a foot by a foot-and-a-quarter.
Are all these Artists from different planets?! No. You have just discovered the mysterious world of image/print size identification.
There are many ways that we ID a print’s size — some more sensible than others — and it also makes a difference whether we’re talking of just a print on a piece of paper or whether that print is already matted. Let’s start with just a print…
When speaking of just the print on paper — whether rolled in a tube or bagged with a backing board — the only consideration is the size of the actual printed area since that area will need to be either trapped with a mat or allowed to float within the mat cut-out together with some of the surrounding un-printed paper showing. So a 5x7 print has 5”x7” of printed area, an 8x10 has 8”x10” of printed area, etc.
BUT, when that print is matted (regardless of whether the image is trapped or is floating), there is another factor to consider… presumably it will be framed so it needs to coordinate with frame size designators. In the framing industry there is a coordination of mat sizes and corresponding frame sizes. An 8x10 mat will fit into an 8x10 frame — ANY 8x10 frame — regardless of the size of the printed image or the width of the frame stock. The outside of the mat is equal to the inside of the frame.
A 1”x1” print in an 8x10 mat [with a 1”x1” cut-out] will go in an 8x10 frame, even if that frame is made from stock that is a foot wide. Your finished Art piece will be 2’ 8” X 2’ 10” surrounding a 1”x1” picture — it’ll look ridiculous — but it will still be an 8x10!
Some people want to clarify — or confuse — the issue by saying, “a 5x7 print in an 8x10 mat”. To me, this is just unnecessary info/confusion. Very seldom is anyone concerned about whether their 8x10 matted piece has 5”x7” of printed area or 5.237816498” x 7.732943093”.
OK. So, now you know, but why do you care? Because when you buy un-matted or un-framed art, you will need to know what sizes of materials you’ll need to complete your artwork. The most economical deal for you will be, of course, to go with standard mat and frame sizing. And there are plenty of ‘standard’ sizes available. I use 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20 for any unframed work I sell so my patrons won’t have a framing headache on their hands.
I did an internet search and found some retail framing sources offering as many as 20 different ‘standard’ sizes, ranging from 3x5 to 30x40. Check frame shops and art/craft supply stores or do an internet search for sources for your requirements. Even if the art you fell in love with is an oddball size, not to worry. There are sources available that can frame virtually any size art. Search for ‘custom framing’ in your area to find a gazillion sources.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What is the most odd-ball sized piece of you have ever bought? Have you ever NOT bought a matted print because you didn’t want to mess with its odd sizing? What do you think of the aesthetics of prints matted with very wide mat borders? What about prints framed with no mat — with the image running edge to edge? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll chat about it.
Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings
“ . . . landscapes are a genre explored by many artists, so if you’re going to stand out, you have to do it really well – and these are landscapes on the highest level.”
— [art show] Jurors' comments about Ms. Gillmann’s work (Oct 2014)
I recently had an opportunity to view the Best of the Best — at a print signing hosted by Kathleen Best Gillman, a landscape and plein air painter from Burke, Virginia. Working in oils, acrylics, or pastels, she portrays scenes of tranquility, harmony, peace, purity, and grace. We purchased one of her works titled Glacial Moraine which reminded us of scenes we have vsited in the high Sierras in California and in the Cascades in Oregon; two places we really look forward to visiting again.
Kathleen Best Gillmann is a member of the Workhouse Associate Artists, as am I, and she recently agreed to let me interview her for this post to my blog. I had not interviewed anyone before, and had thought it would be so simple — you ask them stuff and they tell you stuff, just like every other conversation you’ve ever had, right?
Well, you tell me how well I did after you read this, my first blog-speriment in interviewing…
Q. What is “en plein air” painting?
A. Simply stated, plein air painting is painting (or drawing) outdoors; the focus of the activity being the outdoors – landscape, sky, plant life.
Q. The plein air painter will sit —literally— within her subject and paint what she sees before her. Do you ever paint from your imagination — portraying images from your visualizations in your mind’s eye?
A. Since I have so much training and experience in drawing and painting from life, I find it difficult to paint or draw exclusively from my imagination. I had one teacher at the Art League School who gave us an exercise: first, look at the model for 5 minutes. Next the model leaves and you draw what you remember for 5 minutes. It was not impossible, but it was a challenge — a good one. This is an exercise in drawing from memory. Occasionally, I paint or draw from my imagination. I think what we carry around in our heads — our imagination and visual memory — does effect what we put on canvas or paper.
Q. Do plein air painters finish a piece in one sitting or do you come back to a scene for additional sessions?
A. These days there are plein air events where a painter is expected to complete something very rapidly. Plein air painting almost demands that the artist work quickly or return to the location at the same time of day for several days or weeks in a row. Typically plein air painting results in smaller works that are painted in one sitting. Some artists sell these directly. Others use them as studies for larger studio works. Some plein air artists work large and complete large works in one sitting. It all depends on the artist’s skill, experience, and intentions.
Q. You’ve worked with several painting mediums — oils, acrylic, pastels — which do you find to be the most rewarding to your Inner Artist?
A. It doesn’t matter which medium I use, all can be satisfying to my inner artist. When I am planning a work of art, my intuition often leads me to a particular medium. I sometimes do a particular composition in 2 or 3 media for the experience of working in several media and because I may want to see what the differences are, aesthetically.
Q. If you had no obstacles, where or what in the world would you want to visit and paint?
A. I seek out the amazing wherever I am. Sometimes the amazing is climbing in a shrub in my own backyard — a chipmunk. Sometimes I seek it out by driving up a mountain — Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs, CO or to McCall, ID on Lake Payette or climbing up to the “Hanging Lake” not far from Glenwood Springs, CO. I’ve visited a lot of locations: many U.S. states, some of eastern Canada, many countries in Europe and South America. My bucket list of countries to visit includes Poland, England, Ireland, and Sweden because these people are my ancestors. I have an interest in seeing the Mediterranean — especially Greece and Italy —Japan, South Africa, more of South America, Israel, and some of the waterfalls and lakes in Africa.
Q. At the print signing you recently hosted, we saw your two cats, Snizzle and Fritz (what are their real names?). What is their contribution to your art — besides cat hair stuck to the work?
A. My cats, Feldspar and Galena, come into my studio usually with a demand — scratch my back, cuddle me, feed me, or let me out. So they provide constructive painting breaks or unwelcome interruptions. One time years ago, Galena decided to jump up onto my open palette. This created quite a commotion and messy feet and fortunately hasn’t happened since. I think we both learned a lesson.
Well, it seems Kathleen has her work cut out for her visiting, and painting, all those intriguing places! In the meantime, she is going to be the Featured Artist for March at the Associate Artist’s gallery in Building 9 of the Workhouse Art Center. Come see a fine collection of her work, titled Atmosphere, and visit the work of all our fine, Fine Artists.
The Workhouse offers many opportunities for you to expand your plein air experiences. We, the Associate Artists, are hosting a plein air session during the Workhouse-wide SpringFest, April 30th. Also, the Workhouse hosts a zillion classes all year long in all sorts of pursuits! For a downloadable PDF listing all these opportunities, go to the Workhouse website and in the ‘Classes’ tab click on ‘View Current Catalog’.
Remember what they say: The eARTh without ART is just ‘eh’.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What is your favorite mode d’art? How did you come to favor this particular method or medium? What would you like to try that you haven’t yet? Tell us all about it in the comments — let’s compare notes.
I am a Virginia-based photographer and gather my images while hiking in parks and natural areas here at home and in the locations I travel to. I also love to visit arboretums and botanic gardens to find unusual and exotic subjects.