Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Trip to Amsterdam

My first trip outside the U. S. with my Polaroid camera was a week-long trip to Amsterdam. The trip was in November and the weather was a bit cooler than San Francisco. I was excited about the photo ops I'd find and I was traveling with a friend who was an amateur photographer. I find it's difficult to travel with someone who doesn't enjoy taking photographs along the way because we move at totally different paces—especially when I'm shooting with the Polaroid and having to manipulate the image immediately after I shoot. It's difficult for me because I feel rushed and it's hard for my companion because she's having to wait for me to finish what I'm doing.

While in Amsterdam, I learned that my SX-70 film wasn't as cooperative is it had been in San Francisco. The colder temperatures made my film set up more quickly and I wasn't able to move the emulsion around as easily. I found a German made hand warmer that solved my dilemma. It used small sticks of charcoal which would burn for about 2 hours. I would lite it first thing in the morning and put it into my coat pocket. When I would find a subject I wanted to photograph, I'd take the photo and immediately put the developing shot into my pocket to warm the chemistry between the mylar and film back. In a minute or two, it would be ready for me to "paint" on with my small sculpting tools, then I could move the emulsion around to get the desired effect. It was always magical for me to see how I could create a painting on this small photograph. People on the street would often stop to watch and ask me what I was doing. Great conversation starter!

Here are a few more fauxtographs of Amsterdam.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

San Francisco Scenes

They say everyone falls in love with San Francisco. I certainly did. I also became enamored with my 1972 Polaroid SX-70 camera—taking it with me everywhere to photograph the city's famous landmarks.

Life was good. I had at long last given myself permission to become the artist I always knew I was. Now, I just had to show the world who I was!

Before long, I had an artist studio at Hunters Point (formerly a Naval shipyard) and began participating in Open Studios, an annual art festival. I was excited to have my very own studio in one of the largest enclave of working artists in the country—and it was in San Francisco! Hunters Point had over 300 artists I was told. I couldn't wait to meet some of them, see their work, and become one of them. Little did I know that Hunters Point would be such a lonely place. I'd go for days, even weeks without seeing another soul stirring in my building. This was a place for artists and writers to find peace in an otherwise noisy and busy city; a haven to be alone and to create—not a place to socialize and pass the time with other artists. I know now that creating art is usually an isolated profession.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Welcome to fauxtographs

The word "fauxtographs" is a word I coined to describe my SX-70 manipulated Polaroid photographs because they looked like miniature paintings. As a faux finisher, I liked the idea of creating these "faux" paintings from photographs. To me, this particular technique gave me the freedom to be creative with a simple camera, a few boxes of film, and a few tools which I could readily  take with me on my travels. This equipment was easy to pack, didn't take up much space, and I didn't need power, water, or anything else to create my artwork. And, it was so much FUN!

I was living in San Francisco at the time and met several other artists who were using Polaroid films in creative and unique ways. Soon thereafter, I became a Polaroid Creative Consultant and taught workshops in the Bay Area. I took up photography to get away from sitting at the computer all day but soon found that I was scanning in my Polaroids so that I could print them at a much larger size. More to come . . .