Sunday, December 30, 2007

About time, eh?

I've decided to copy and paste the acrylic transfer procedure here from the sheet I give in the workshop I teach. Also, I am unveiling a medieval manuscript page that I photographed poorly. I really do have to figure out how to do it for my promo materials and honestly, it doesn't pay for me to purchase a scanner with a larger bed on it to scan in just these. Anyway, first the image. If you want to see the details, click on the image to see a larger version of it:

Now for the procedure of the image transfer:
1 – 16 oz. or bigger bottle of Liquitex Matte Medium
small bowl
Xerox or ink jet prints of photographs PRINTED IN REVERSE
Various size sponge brushes
Masking tape
Hair dryer
Sponge with rough surface on one side
Sheet of plexiglas larger than copies
Roll of Wax paper

Basic Procedure:

With masking tape, tape Xerox or ink jet print all around the borders on to Plexiglas.

Pour medium into bowl and with appropriate size sponge brush, brush on one layer of medium, spreading evenly onto entire print. Brush on in one direction only. With the hair dryer, dry the first layer completely. Brush on second layer in opposite direction of the first – so for example, if your first layer was brushed on vertically, apply the second layer horizontally. Dry that layer. Repeat this process, alternating directions per layer until you have the desired amount of layers (roughly between 8 and 10) and let entire thing dry overnight.

Once the layered image is completely dry, peel off the masking tape and place the image into a tray of warm, soapy water. Let it soak for about 5 minutes. Drain and slowly peel off the paper. Once the majority of the paper is off, take your fingers and/or the rough side of a sponge and rub off all of the remnants of the paper. This might take awhile, depending on the image. The more ink in the image, the more it adheres to the matte medium, and the stronger that paper wants to hold onto it. That means, using more elbow grease to get rid of all the paper. Once the paper is gone, place the wet image onto a piece of crinkled up wax paper and air dry. I usually place it face down where the edges may curl inward and lightly flatten it out. When the transfer is completely dry, place it between sheets of clean paper and place some heavy books on top to flatten completely.

So, as you can see, this is VERY easy but time consuming. Anyway, there ya have it....

Saturday, December 15, 2007

new update

Where to start? The month of December is just flying by. Hell, no, this whole year kind of did. Soon, it will be 2008. The idea never crossed my mind when I was a child that I would be alive to see 2008.

Well, let's see. I went to the Marian Goodman Gallery last week to see the Francesca Woodman exhibit. This was the gallery's second exhibit of her work and I was fortunate to see both. This second show was comprised of published work as well as work never before seen until now.......and with good reason. It was, what appeared to be test prints, reject prints, and stuff that was probably lying on the darkroom floor. Some of the pieces were ripped and torn. Some were printed badly, and then there was one with her usual drivel written on it. So, naturally, I had to ask what the prices were. They ranged from $25,000 to $38,000 for these small "vintage" prints. Vintage?! 1980 is now vintage?! Poor quality prints are worth $38,000 because this woman killed herself at 22. Is that it? What I laugh at are these photographers that spend years making the perfect print. There are web forums talking about concerns about archival quality and the different factors of print permanence. This has been going on since Ansel Adams, which, honestly, I am not so thrilled about myself. Still, as much as I love Francesca's work, I don't understand the money aspect. What irks me more is that even if she was alive today, she would not see a quarter of that money. Once again, this makes me question the art scene and the selling of art. When, if ever, does the fine artist really make a living at this? I believe it's strictly through commissions.

And speaking of commissions, I then saw an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Rembrandt and his colleagues that were acquired by the museum and presented in order of acquisition. Personally, Frans Hals' work was more appealing to me once I got past Rembrandt's beautiful 45 degree lighting on his faces. Hals' faces are so much more expressive in his portraits. His brushmark much more evident and bolder than Rembrandt's or even Vermeer's - though Vermeer's signature window light paintings are so atmospheric.

What really made me think about things was, when I sat for awhile there and stared at the art from a distance, I noticed compositional "flaws" in almost every painting. Honestly, I either wanted to crop or add to the painting to make it more interesting. Is that the photographer in me, the artist in me or just me being overtly controlling (in my mind anyway)? I wasn't in any way thinking to insult the work at all, but I just had the urge to shift things around on the canvases.

After I pondered that and left, I then caught a glimpse of 2 photo shows there that I was pretty disappointed in, and then the tapestry show that was pretty awe-inspiring, The weavings were incredulous!

Hehehe ok, so perhaps this post is sounding a bit too much like an art critique but I am just thinking out loud about what I saw.

So now that December is winding down, I have more free time. I need to finish up a few more Medieval pages, then, after receiving some wonderful advice from one of my former professors, need to comprise my traditional portfolio. All this before March.

A little concerned about March, I am. Finances are tight right now and I'm wondering how I will afford airfare and lodging for that......must apply for SOS grant.

Happy Holidays to all my readers and wishing you a wonderful ring into the new year :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

time gone by

My apologies for not updating in the last month. In between illness, I have been creating, I promise. I am working on my 13th Medieval manuscript page and it's looking good. There is one more month left of this year, then 3 months until Houston's FotoFest 2008. I need 7 more pieces completed before then. That is my goal.

I've been compiling quotes from people about my work. I am digging deep into the archives, as there were some interesting things said to me over the years. I didn't save them all, unfortunately, and wish I had. I am wondering if I should add some negative quotes in there as well. A fellow photographer once told me I should abandon
the idea of photographing myself for while, and "do other things". His speech ended with, "and aren't you tired of photographing yourself anyway?"

I look at his advice in a couple of ways. Yes, I do wholeheartedly agree that no matter what kind of photographer you are, taking some time out to shoot something other than your main interest, can indeed help you expand your mind, help you brainstorm, increase awareness of what is around you, get you inspired by adding new experiences to our life, or even help clear your head that when you do go back to your "thing", you can start refreshed. Then there is a danger OF abandoning your "thing" all together. Having said that, that can also be progression. If you do go elsewhere, then perhaps that is meant to be.

However, his last question was what irked me. Am I tired of photographing myself? Well, no. I don't do it because I am vain. I don't do it simply because I can't think of anything else to shoot. I do it because I still have so much to explore, to say. I want to be known as the artist that used herself in her work. I'm thinking I am a lot like Lucas Samaras who was known for using himself in so many different ways, techniques, mediums, even. A quote taken by The Getty Museum says" The persistent use of himself as a subject has led one critic to remark that 'Samaras's almost obsessional self-observation extends past narcissism toward a physical understanding of himself.'" This is what I wish to achieve eventually and an emotional understanding as well.

In my opinion, it also takes a very different kind of energy to photograph oneself. There is the need to be able to pre-visualize your composition. I have to rely on what I call blind instinct, because once I am in front of the lens, I only have a vague idea of what the end result will look like. I generally try to get the idea of what I had in mind in the first few shots and then I vary and improvise as I go. Sometimes, the variations work out much better than the initial concept, but coming up with the concept is essential. Then there are other variables. Adding another model or two, or three in the mix makes things even more challenging. Setting them up in place, giving them clear instructions on what I want - which sometimes I can't really verbally explain, and then making sure the performance goes as planned without, again, seeing it until after the fact.

The digital age can somewhat help see the end result more immediately, so corrections can be made, but I still love the anticipation and the magic of developing the film and seeing just what I caught. I have had rolls of film where the camera would move and cut off key elements of the image. As frustrating as that can be, reshooting can sometimes enhance the initial concept too. On the other hand, I have had rolls of film come out with exactly what I intended, (even if I questioned it while shooting). Call me crazy, but the entire process of photographing myself, despite (or in spite) of the challenges is so rewarding and fulfilling to me.

So again, am I tired of photographing myself? Absolutely not. If that time does arrive, I will go and shoot other things that move me...then again, I think I would end up working in a different medium all together.

Ahh, that's another post for another time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

early morning rambling

Yesterday, I discovered a book of Imogen Cunningham's entitled simply "Imogen!" Why oh why did I think this woman only photographed flowers? I guess I never looked into her further because those were the only examples I have seen over the years, not her portraits. Some of her portrait work is stunning, with the romantic sensibility I have. Anyway, as I looked through this small, wonderful book, I noticed she had some blurbs on the bottom of images with a story, an opinion or a feeling about that particular image. It sparked an idea.

As I am creating the medieval manuscript-like pieces, I noticed how well the photographs hold up on their own. What I want to do and will do, is publish (they have cheap self-publishing coompanies like a small book of the actual images used in the pieces with commentary under each piece, and exhibit it with the work, when I do have an exhibit of this work. I think people like to read things like that to get into the mindset of the artist. I know I do. I read Cindy Sherman's diary entries and realized that she writes a lot like I do, and it just made me feel better that my journal entries don't always have to be clear and concise or to make sense to anyone but me. On the other hand,, I read Francesca Woodman's writings and oh boy....I could not make heads or tails of her at all.....

I also would like to comprise quotes from friends and peers over the years on their reactions to my work. Not sure they would go in the book. Maybe just on my website, or maybe just in a journal that won't be seen until I am gone......we'll see.

I think I better get some breakfast!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Much better review

Check out the review from the NY Times:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sweet Sara

Ok, so, I am listening to Rush and having flashbacks of 9th grade.

I've been planted in front of my computer desk all day today getting CD portfolio packets ready to send out for Round # 3,9718189274 of gallery and museum submissions. I have also scanned a few images in to play with and here is one of my model Sara from 2 years ago. I think she is so beautiful...and doesn't she look like Sarah Brightman?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My first experience with encaustics

What fun! The encaustics process can definitely be a tedious one but I'm liking what it does. All of it involves heat. The ingredients are simple - beeswax and resin combined, pigment in wax cakes, cheap paintbrushes, and heat. You can also use oil pastels though they have to be mixed with the beeswax first (the pigment cakes can be applied alone).

You can use thin, handmade papers, thread, wire, feathers, hair, photos (naturally), and fabrics....I have seen sculptures made out of it but paintings moreso. Jasper johns is one of the infamous encaustic painters.

So, I created 2 pieces yeaterday for my husband's birthday. Here is a photo of the actual photographic piece:

First, I coated a gesso'd wooden board with the clear beeswax and green pigment. Each layer has to be fused together with a heat gun. Then I placed a sheet of handmade paper, blasted it with the gun, and then another piece of the paper and blasted it, to fuse it all together. The photo is an ink jet print that held up nicely with this process. Naturally, if you leave the hot gun on any surface for too long, you can burn it. This is especially true of the thin papers. Coating it with more beswax will allow you to lengthen the heating time. I "glued" the twigs on with the wax and then added shredded bits of paper around the border of the image and around the twigs randomly. I added a little gold leaf in there, too for a nice Autumn-like feel.

The second piece, not pictured here was just handmade paper fused to a canvas board with a poem I wrote for my husband fused onto that. I took more of the shredded paper that I used on the photo border and created a border around the poem to tie the 2 pieces together.

I've learned you can use canvas, but if you work large-scale, you would need a heavy backing because this process is heavy and will create a sagging. It's better to either work small or use masonite, plexiglas or other hard surfaces. I imagine all of the mentioned have to be prepared with a gesso first. When I feel that I resolved my Medieval manuscript series, I will begine working with this process. The initial set-up is pricey (the hardware) but I figure it can be my Christmas gift ;)

I am going back to my new friend's house next week to create another piece. I really want to explore my optons before I make the decision to buy the materials.

Friday, September 21, 2007


This review was in Newsday today about the Inspired Portraits exhibit up now. I'm not quite sure how to take this reviewers comments. Any thoughts?,0,3505839.story

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Today, I taught an acrylic transfer workshop to an undergrad student. We spent a great deal of time talking and she's turned me on to the idea of encaustics. The encaustic painting process consists of beeswax, resin and pigment. When I feel the illuminated book is complete, I want to go back to creating pieces similar to the Self Works on Paper series but thought of doing them large scale. Although, I am told, encaustic painting is not great to do in large scale, I can use ink jet prints (but not to transfer them), text, even objects! I may yet depart a little further into doing small, intimate pieces using handwritten text with my images. The student is going to teach me the process. It's amazing how artist converge and meet at different times, and sharing similiar sensibilities.

In the meantime, back I go to the illuminated pages. I have 10 complete and would like to make it a goal to have 10 more before March when I embark on Houston's FotoFest 2008. For those of you that don't know what it is, it's a fine art photography meeting place where curators and gallery owners from all over the world come and look at work. They offer feedback and sometimes exhibition opportunities. it costs a lot of money but I figure I'll do it this once, fro the experience, and see what happens. It is, in fact, an investment, isn't it?

In the meantime, I will post a couple of photos from a reception 2 weeks ago. Images from the Self Works series behind me. There is also a reception Thursday night at the Hillwood Museum of some of my older work. The Museum is located on the Long Island University CW Post campus in Brookville, NY and it's from 5-8pm. Hope to see some of you there :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

a bit about my past and present work

For those of you that know my work, I always work with romantic imagery, even if the underlying message is not so romantic. I have also been dealing with layers for many years. With the "She or Me" series, a piece of fabric was always present - this acted as my security blanket of sorts, since I was still not comfortable with my body. In some of the images, the fabric covered parts of me - a layer of fabric. In the "Shrouded" series, it was an obvious layering of fabric but the emotional layers are a little more complex. The" Art History Lesson" series used masks as layer components. Emotional layers became even more present and profound in the "Fragments of Being" series Part 1 and "Fragments" Part 2 used the physicality of paint over the images as a layer. And lastly, the Self Works on Paper series not only continued with the painting over the images but brought in a brand new technique for me - the acrylic image transfer.

Without getting into the process of the acrylic transfer in this post, I will just say that the end result is a translucent image. A friend of mine showed me the process. However, she took the transfers and mounted them to mat board. That was it. I raised an eyebrow and wondered why she would limit herself and the process to just a plain white piece of matboard. Why go through this lengthy process just for that? Then it hit me like an anvil on Wile E Coyote's head - I can mount them onto textures, painted paper, text...the possibilities are endless but in the end it's....another layering process! Duh, AnnMarie - your craving for doing mixed media has finally been made available for you to feel sated. Hence, the Self Works series was born.

That series, which at the moment contains roughly 23 pieces, is far from complete. However, as I was creating them, the natural progression led to something a bit different - "Penance" and "Weight of the World" were the last 2 pieces created and the borders started to take on an illustrative quality - almost reminescent of illuminated manuscripts. Taking a bit of a departure from the series, and moreso , away from traditional photography, I started looking into books on illuminated manuscripts. The Book of Hours, Catherine of Cleves and the Book of Kells all inspired me greatly. The details, the time consumed in each, the colors and especially the gold. Another thing I was attracted to was the religious imagery and symbolism. I am not religious - perhaps Agnostic is what closely defines my belief system, but I was raised as Catholic - more importantly - an Italian Catholic. For those of you that can relate, you can understand how religious iconography can't help but become imbedded into your brain. It aids as a dramatic element to my work, so why should I abandon it?

So, I went from the liberating, free process that was the Self Works series, to the tightly laid out, lined up, detail-oriented, and as-precise-as-I-can-possibly-get series that is upon me now, since over a year ago. This series is in progress and is yet untitled, but it is a book of sorts, of very real things happening in my life. The imagery is still romantic, and now there are decorative borders and text inked in gold that I have learned how to do (there is a small cheat involved - will explain at a later date). Still, each 15x11 piece is very time-consuming and very different than anything I have done before. One piece may take up to a month to complete. This is involving concept creating, writing the text (so far, all of the text has been my own, not quotes from poets, though I may use some in the future if it's fitting), layout, research of design elements, etc. etc. Sometimes, I create a piece around an image I already have, and some, I shoot the image around the piece.

Whew, ok....this was a long first real post, so the least I can do is leave you with one of the photos I have used for one of these pages. This is the image before I added a little Photoshop magic which will be seen when I post the final piece (probably a month or so from now as I am working on a different piece at the moment).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Introductory Post for just $9.95

This is nice. I have a weblog, or blog as we all call it on another blog site but I've decided to use this one strictly to post mainly about my art - news, ideas, musings, post new work, whatever it may be. I will link this site to my website so all of my "fans" and peers can read. Having said that, be afraid :)

As it is an early Sunday morning and I am still learning about Blogger, I will leave this post as an uneventful one. I will do my very best to post as often as I can, not to fall into the trap of "NOW where did she go?"

Thanks for reading :)