I have been again taking pictures but I have done a new painting, a new mixed media and have the base sketches done for the 4 panel painting set I am starting. I will need new paint to do those and a larger space than I have right this minute.
Well this week has given us about 1000 new photographs and a series of sketches and tests for a set of larger paintings I bought canvases for this weekend. I will come back and add plant names and comments on these after I ask someone from Peckerwood Garden where I work what the plant names are. The several varieties of magnolia, agave, and azalea were heavily featured in the most recent set of images.
I have been woefully lax in posting to my site and updating.
I have been working on several projects but what I have done most of is photography. I have not had a reliable way to get images off cameras and onto the right computer to access my site since I started this new job. I think I have worked something out and I hope to update things and work on my online projects more consistently, not just my art projects offline.
I have started new paintings in oil and acrylic and I have ordered a pocket set to do a painting journal in the field. I have also started a new art installation wall in the house and we have new plantings in our home garden.
For now, let me share a couple of pictures I took today with our new work camera. These are partially for an ongoing project here at work and partially for me. the Feature is an Oak I just love. The others are of blooms in the garden right now. The dark magnolia are just amazing.
I need to get back to posting things as I do them 🙂
In the meantime, let me share some of my more recent work over the next couple of weeks. Several of them are posted on my new Etsy store, which was one of my current projects.
The above mini painting is a 4×4 canvas acrylic based on a close up photo I took some time ago. the initial sketch on the canvas was only the barest approximation to get me started. the piece developed from there into one of my favorite of my mini paintings. I hope you enjoy it also.
Another of the collections from this week. Assuming my computer lets me load it this time.
One of the things I studies in college was Interior Design. I have been considering a couple interior design projects in Steampunk. Today has been very long so I am going to share a few of the ideas I have looked at this week in that area. Many of these are images I got from Secret Garden on Facebook, others from gaming sites. I did not take these photos and did nothing to them, they are property of other artists, I am sharing them as part of developing a foundation for a Steampunk design. Much of it would obviously need to be custom, but then I wanted to consider multiple price ranges and skill levels. I would want to have readily purchasable options, custom options, build-able options, ways to alter accessible or current items, and ways to use different types of spaces. This is obviously not a one day project, but would be a good series.
I found a bug that is almost a dragonfly the other day and want to cast him in metal, not having the equipment right now I have been thinking of some ideas to do with it. This prompted a couple of dragonfly images. Today is the first step, tomorrow is based on this base but with a more detailed background story visible in the image.
I am going a bit different direction today; I updated my site, submitted it for publication on another site, and am evaluating why I am doing this and why I chose my topic. If you have read my updated about section some of this may be more clear if I miss a connection. My mother, my life, my husband, and my stress were the major proponents in me beginning this.
1. Technology. I have learned to work a blog, as mom tried to get me to teach her for several years. I am also learning new programs and styles. Research, of historical and potential technologies is obviously a major part of this and many of the pieces include significant research that eventually leads to me writing an essay. Technology is fascinating to me in most forms, modern, antique, old, future, potential, fictional, and speculative. I like cutting edge, out of date, practical, and simply aesthetic – it all has appeal. I restore motorcycles and do artistic ventures of a wide variety of forms, many involving technology from various ages.
2. Insomnia. Lack of sleep is high on my list of problems with having a job, working at home, and doing a project every day but it is nice to have an accomplishment at the end of the day. Insomnia has, over the years, helped my creativity, and hindered it. I have many great ideas but often lack time, awareness, tools, place, or health to work on them or finish them. Somehow Steampunk is one of the things associated with sleeplessness for me – books and video games maybe, imagery maybe, research projects possibly, I’m not sure.
3. Relationship. My husband is both supportive and suggests sleep instead, but he has been a huge help and I think this will prove good for us. He also frequently has ideas on how to turn something into a smaller size or staged project to meet my deadline. One suggestion was the mini canvases at Hobby Lobby. He is also a major active person in Steampunk, but has a very different approach, view, and concept of Steampunk. This byplay of views and information is very helpful and engages us when we are busy. This was one thing that prompted my evaluation and research of the various views on Steampunk and why they vary so much and are so strongly embedded.
4. Evaluation. A requirement to finish a project each day requires constant rethinking of my concepts on the subject, my art, what fits, how to do something, why to do something, and what I think about. Evaluation of Steampunk and the total genre allows a thorough evaluation of all areas of my creative approach and my work. I am evaluating the history, the culture, the style, the art, the technology, the fashion, the people, any aspect that strikes my heart, mind, or work.
5. Meditation, focus, creative development – very connected things in this project. Years ago, I meditated regularly and actively worked on my focus. I have moved a very long distance several times in the last year and was feeling very loose and unstable. This gives me a combination of things to help that: a focus, a constant sense of accomplishment, a steady cord, visible development. My art tends to change significantly when I move and having moved quite a lot, I was feeling displaced and am needing a chance to develop my identity, style, strengths, ideas, and courage as an artist. This focus is on a topic, a project, a short term and a long term goal, and a commitment. My art develops as I use it, learn new things, research, and try things. Doing a project every day allows me to try things I might have put off or not done.
6. Learning. I am developing a deeper understanding and relationship to my topic: Steampunk. I am a researcher at heart and am learning art forms, history, materials, culture, people, and more. I have been a great subject of study for myself. Steampunk is a fascinating culture with rich history and development. The current and future state of Steampunk is an intriguing study. Beyond that you have the study of the actual periods, the period works, the speculative works, the social and historical evaluations, the relative connections, and the spin-offs. Steampunk offers art forms, technology, research, and ideas galore.
Stress. Life is very stressful right now and the ability to turn away from that and have something guaranteed to be there and to have an accomplishment means a lot; even when it leaves me tired and irritated with the piece. This project produces great stress when I am way to tired and trying to work with tiny gears or found objects, or I am researching a topic I planned on being a quick essay and has extended to near midnight. Working too many hours then expecting myself to be creative is not something I ever considered a good idea but I am finding that the key is to just start. Work on this, the rest will happen or it won’t.
8. Acceptance. Learning to accept things not going as planned and how to deal with overestimating what I could get done is good for me. I am still working on this, but see a difference already. (The corner shelf painting image is an example, I vastly overestimated the time I needed and the time I had, I was not able to finish and had to decide how to deal with that.) Research, art, technological projects, missing tools, lack of materials, so many things can go wrong. Steampunk tends to include many aspects, parts, information,detail, and materials that I may not have or may not have time for – how do I work with that? I am learning. This is good for my balance and focus on the now not later or before. Just work and think about the rest later.
9. Input. Outside input and comments are hard for me to accept on my art. There tends to be a lot of me in my work and a comment that feels negative I do not respond well and considering at the time how to respond does not happen. Should I be accepting, open, angry, questioning, cautious defensive, disregard, consider, evaluate, or respond? I am having to learn this now. This also causes me to pay attention to my comments more. I intend to return to more frequent commenting on interesting posts as I work into this and figure out the scheduling or pushing…something. I know input is good for art and creativity, even if many people say otherwise. You don’t have to act on it, but strengthening your understanding, emotion, and your view of it helps you. A one sided perspective is not a long lasting focus – it becomes very flat and tired. Working from one perspective itself is strengthened by knowing the other perspectives. We learned that in writing classes – to know your argument, study the opposing arguments, really understand and be able to argue for their side to effectively stand against them. Sometimes, as in my study of Steampunk you simply develop or alter your view of the subject, but that depends on many factors and is unlikely to happen if you were not open to that when you began.
As I go I intend to answer the major questions Who, What, When, Where, Why, How from multiple perspectives, directions, and focus regarding Steampunk. Today was a personal look at me, Steampunk, and this project, I could continue for some time, thus will just send this now and hope you like it.
Photography and Victorian science is on my mind this evening. My curiosity arose initially on the subject of how photography impacted science of the age and expanded somewhat to how it impacted both culture then and our view of the age. ”
“Any dodge, trick and conjuration of any kind is open to the photographer’s use…. It is his imperative duty to avoid the mean, the base and the ugly, and to aim to elevate his subject…. and to correct the unpicturesque…..” Henry Peach Robinson
Two primary directions of thought seem to stand from the period regarding photography and it’s use when you are not looking at those simply opposed to it’s use in the area under consideration. One is seen in the quote above and relates to the artistic form and use of photography designed to please others and trick the eye. The other is one you see more in scientific arenas both formal and in the large amateur practitioner field of the time, though mostly concentrated in upper class groups. Bacteriology owes much of it’s development and direction to photography. Naturalism and the natural sciences that impacted many fields and aspects of life both owe a great deal to photography and by means of photography they impacted many fields of study and development. Meteorology in Europe found direction in photography and those looking to find technological answers to society’s ills found concrete images of their issues. By the end of the century, cameras were widespread and in common use. Many of these layman images were used in scientific studies such as meteorology, naturalism, and social and criminal studies.
“To understand the special burden of representation borne by photography as a witness in meteorology, however, we must reflect not just on the parallels that Victorians invoked between scientific photography and legal witnessing, but also on the impact of transformations in meteorology…” Victorian Science in Context edited by Bernard Lightman
My readings indicate several factors as dominant in the impact of photography. Accurate representation free from artist interpretation and viewer skepticism allowed experiments, observations, images of life, and models to be shared across distances and with many people. They also allowed a view that was held to be more trustworthy and true to life than even the human eye. Acceptable in life and word seems drastically opposed to what was acceptable in photography of the time. Victorian erotica and pornography stands beside a culture that held and taught such strict codes of social conduct whole languages of innuendo, plants, and fans grew. Courts accepted photographic evidence and many researchers used the images.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 saw a major explosion of photography and its impact as it showcased the new development of visual arts. Queen Victoria herself was the first monarch to be photographed and families began to more commonly have photographic family records. Families at more levels of society could have photographic records, when only limited access to good painted records existed. As photography spread, this grew increasingly true. Thus we see one area the spread of photography impacted science in culture simply by involving the middle classes. One no longer needed to be specialized to contribute or to see the results of another’s work, they simply needed to have access to an image and/or a camera. Combine this with the spread of individuality in backlash to religious and other wars that were devastating to middle and lower classes, with no regard for them whatsoever, and you see potential for a vast explosion of ideas and information distribution.
Steampunk is a culture based on the explosion of creative scientific ideas and the individualistic willingness to try and to experiment. Even before photography became widespread, the use of imaging technology was there and having the beginnings of this very change. Suddenly there was a known, concrete method of accurately recording and sharing images of how things really looked. Think of the impact on the minds of a frustrated populous on the edges of an explosion of ideas all boiling over. Obviously, a major change occurred in impact when photography moved away from exclusively prepared, considered views and images into the frozen moment as it happened of the cameras released late in the century. Even as a prepared piece or time consuming process, images returning from abroad and published in newspapers and magazines captivated the mind of much of the public. Archeologists, Trade expeditions, military excursions, and expeditionary hired someone often at great expense to document moments or discoveries of importance and return them from across the empire to England. These came accompanied by letters, artifacts, prisoners, animals, drawings, and verbal descriptions. Emotionally and mentally the world was both much larger and yet smaller than a few years before. Faraway places in the empire became more real, thus ideas from there or from the idea of there also became more real. We now look back on these descriptions, on the authors that inspired us and our mind connects images from the time and drawings from and about the time to those words.
Early exhibitions such as the one in 1842 spread the artifacts and descriptions of China but one cannot help but wonder if the much greater impact of the Japanese culture on the period late in Victorian age was related to the emergence of improved imagery. Many people relied on the drawings and reviews of the early exhibitions to learn what they brought. China was seen as to far gone from their period of greatness and held no appeal for a populous bound into rapid and unceasing development at all costs. Japan, on the other hand was only recently out of their high point and embraced the Western 19th century. This leaping headlong into the period and technology was appealing to the sentiment of the time. These exhibitions were becoming extremely popular and very well visited, thus they led to the Great Exhibition we all know. This would be the place that allowed the explosion of photography by showcasing it with the greatest technologies of the time and the best developments of the time. Many people when they think Victorian age, thing first of the Great Exhibition or the period right before or after that when so many of the technologies loved by the Steampunk world emerged.
All photography done by me. All images property of Bethany Jordan, as always. thank you.
- The World of Francis Cooper: Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania Photographer
- By Jay Ruby