Thursday, December 31, 2009

As the end draws near

Of the year, that is. As I've posted before, this has certainly been a year of change. I feel like I've rode a train back and forth but every time I stopped and got out, I saw something different and interesting. I am hoping that next year is as interesting, if not more fulfilled. With my residency coming up in a few months, my trip to England in the Summer and hopefully some new contacts, I am excited to see what comes of these events.

As I dig deeper for more ideas for my work, I look to the Higher Powers for guidance. In the meantime, I want to wish all of my readers a joyful and prosperous 2010. Did we ever imagine that this year would come? I remember watching science fiction films as a child and thinking that by now, we will be driving, excuse me, flying cars of great speed, have robots for servants and do everything by voice-activation. I'm kind of liking that nature's roots and doing some things by hand is still inherent in many of us. That includes art-making.

Love to you all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

The faerie :)

Please go to my website, click on the faerie at the bottom of the homepage and reveal some new images. They may not be materpieces (or maybe they are?) but they are ideas that I wanted to record on film. Work will be added and subtracted as time goes on...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jaded? Yes I am...but

Artists, serious artists do not choose to be so, they have to be. As much as I would love to romanticize it, I can't. I knew I was an artist when I was forced to do other things (still am) but wake up with that hunger to create. Life gets in the way most of the time, money is always an issue, one cannot just wake up with a finished piece or even a concept and it can take a long time before anything really happens. It's a constant struggle and very little positive outcome. I tend to laugh when I hear art students talk of getting a Brooklyn apartment with 8 other people and how cool it will be to just get a shitty job and make art all day long. I laugh because I thought that at one time. We all do. Then reality sets in. Many people end up getting teaching degrees leaving no time to make art, or get so involved in having to make money to survive, that it takes time away from art making as well. I am there. I know what that is like!

The other problem is that making art and doing something with the final product are almost 2 entirely separate entities. Galleries are businesses. They are out to make money. They are only interested in what the clients are interested in. Most of the clients don't even know what art is so they look to the gallery owner for advice. Gallery owners are not always rich with art history knowledge just what the trends are. Many of them are only interested in the numbers or how to help clients match wall colors.

Having said that, one can't fault them for that - that is their goal....and once in awhile there may be one that is genuinely interested in promoting art of all kinds. Generally, though, those are the university galleries and some museums.

However, when it gets so bad that galleries have to look to gimmicks, then I throw my hands up and just step away from the whole scene.... Case in point -

I have a turtle now (along with my dog and 2 cats) and if I put Romaine lettuce on the canvas with some water, maybe he can make some leaf imprints......

Friday, November 13, 2009

Residency in March!!

I was just offered an artist residency for next March of which I accepted. The East End Arts Council asked me to teach a 2-day workshop on acrylic image transfers that we hope will run. After the coordinator and I spoke about it, she went to my website and fell in love with my work and called me back offering a week-long residency. The Council gives me an apartment and I have a week to print in their brand new darkroom, paint in their painting studio, have a mini exhibit at the end of the week along with an artist talk! The only downfall is that I don't get a stipend but if the workshop runs, I get paid well enough that will cover the time I will take off work. Either way, it is an AWESOME opportunity! I am so excited!!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New image

I make no apologies for the fact that I love romantic, mythological imagery. This might be boring for the contemporary art world but it makes me happy.

Since it's nude, I will just include the link to it that apparently, you must copy and paste because the "link" option is not working:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Childhood memories of cameras

I was on Facebook earlier and ICP (International Center of Photography) asked of its members "what was your first camera?" I wrote that when I was about 10 years old, I used a Kodak 110 camera and remember getting film for it at the local film shop. I remember complaining then how small the negatives were. I also remember a Polaroid at that time and then somewhere down the line I had a 35mm plastic camera with a manual rewind. I remember that rewind well because I couldn't figure out what direction I had to wind it and so, again, I asked the local film shop for help - which direction to rotate the crank and was frustrated with it.

In the 7th grade, I took my first photography course. I was terrified and intimidated of the twin-lens reflex that we used (I think it was a Yashica) and worse - the analog light meter that, to this day, I could never understand (Thank goodness for digital meters!). I remember the teacher not being much help either and after some other art and music classes, I set photography aside for awhile until I graduated high school...

But then, when I picked up my next first camera - the Pentax K2 for the first time when I was 21 years old, I was in love.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Before I copy and paste the post I have here, I want to let those of you know that I WILL be updating my website as soon as I purchase the new version of Adobe Dreamweaver. That should happen in about a month or so. My apologies but money has been tighter than usual as of late.

Onto the post:

Only a few months left until it is over and I am hearing a lot of people talking about it. It's definitely been an important year for me - I didn't say good or bad, I said important.

- I turned 40 years old. I don't look nor act it which I sometimes think is good, though I sort of feel like I need to be making a lot more money than I am. A 40 year old is supposed to be financially independent to some extent, shouldn't she?

- On that note, I can't help but wonder what would happen if, God forbid, The Husband couldn't work anymore, of is he goes before I do. I certainly could not take on the financial burden of a house in my current economic state. His response to that is that he is going to live forever. I do love that man.

- I've lost almost 100 pounds. That is a change all on its own. yes, I have more energy. Yes, I can fit into smaller sized clothing, which in itself is good because I have cuter options. I still don't get it though. I look in the mirror and I have no idea WHO I am looking at most of the time.

- The Weight Loss has affected my art positively. No longer is my work about society's idea of beauty, and body image. I have been able to move on from that topic since I feel it is somewhat resolved (I mean in my work).

- This was THE year that The Husband and I went in circles over the idea of having a child. It was probably one of the more important decisions we've had to make. Without getting into the whole reason, we've decided it best to just have our four-legged ones and not introduce another human into this world.

- And most recently, the death of my father. That change is still happening. I think back on my father though and have made some realizations.I guess I will just have to wait and see how much of his death changes the course of my life, if at all.

These days have left me with a feeling of malaise. I don't have the desire to do a whole lot outside of work and housework, which are obligations. I wouldn't go as far to say it's depression, but there is definitely a drained feeling. The one thing that makes me feel alive is the Autumn season coming upon us. It is my favorite time of year. I love the smell of the leaves, the early morning sun and the crisp coolness in the air. I also have to mention the love of not having the neighborhood children around as they go back to school!

I hope to return to the body of work in progress shortly. In the meantime, I have a title for the series - "We're Not in Wonderland Anymore".

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Nicholas Tornabene - R.I.P.

My father has passed away. He had been ill for quite some time. Well, he's been tormented all of his 72 years...He was physically abused, verbally abused and suffered with paranoid schizophrenia. He tried to be a father to the 3 of us, but wasn't truly capable of that. I didn't have much of a relationship with him, though I wish I had. He had an artistic side that was never nurtured. He did have kindness in him and I know my love for animals came from him.

He died in his sleep, though I don't believe it was peaceful. He was peaceful, however, when I saw him in the casket and I know he was at peace when he was laid to rest in the cemetery. While the priest was reciting the last prayers there, a strong breeze overcame us. I truly believe it was caused by the great wingspan of the angels flying over to collect his spirit and take him up to the Heavens.

I honestly didn't think his death was going to affect me as it has but it made me realize that deep inside, I did have love for this man.

Daddy, you can now be at peace.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the whole world

Of course I realize that some of these new images seem goofy in theme. I don't really care. Honestly, there should be some amusing elements. "The Frog Prince" was a perfect example and perhaps, this new one is as well:

This weekend, I will be making my way to Coney Island. I doubt I will be looked at twice in my get-up and maybe that is a good thing. I don't fit in but no one cares either....In any event, I just hope the weather gets a little cooler. I just want Summer over.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The latest

Thanks to Mr. Orville Robertson - street photographer extraordinaire, I found this location to be perfect for an urban shoot. What could be better than the NYC skyline?!

Friday, August 7, 2009


I have received more rejection letters from art galleries and other exhibition spaces than I care to admit. It eats away at you, especially when the work you show them is so personal. However, one needs to build a thick skin to it. First off, it's never personal. A gallery may LOVE your work but it won't necessarily fit into what they show. Also, in this economic climate, it is all about business. They need to be able to sell the work...for the most part.

There are places, though, that claim they just want to help the emerging artist - their mission is to do what they can. Sure. If your work is large-scale, color and pointless....ok, ok I am being very jaded here but look up contemporary photography and tell me the common denominator. Let's not forget the photographs of Diane Arbus-esque subjects staring down the lens like Children of the Corn.

This latest rejection was from an opera house upstate NY that has a gallery space and was looking for a solo photo show. According to them, my work didn't "fit their needs".

*cough* Huh?

Back to the gallery op websites.....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What a Tangent!

I always wonder what it takes to really feel like a body of work is complete. I know Time is to be considered. Work I created years ago that I thought was resolved; that I thought was even good, I look at with disgust today. I know that my work has matured a bit but what else? When does an artist really know her/his work is done?

I used to be asked why I don't just stop photographing myself and move on to other things. I've tried many times, yet I keep coming back to me. Must be a reason...

I will say that sometimes creating other forms of art give me a sense of freedom and playfulness but I never seem to be able to take what I've done there and bring it into my photography, and vice versa. My drawings are separate not just in technique, but in thought and approach. Here are 2 examples of recent drawings I have done:

I am proud of them because of their exaggerative gestures and expressions. I am excited to continue these when I can. And how different are they to my photography?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A few new images

Here are three images from last week's treks.

This first was out in the Hamptons. I rarely expect to find anything worthy of shooting whenever I am out there but this little place said something to me. If I feel removed from this time period, so does this shop. I felt at home on these steps.

These other 2 were in areas not far from where around my house. As I've mentioned in my previous post - herein lies decay among nature.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ramblings and How one shouldn't look any further than your backyard sometimes

As I scout out locations for this urban project, things I keep in mind are: how accessible is it to me, especially if there is a need to go back and re-shoot? How underpopulated is it so as not to call attention to myself? How urban is it? Is there any real significance to the relationship between me and that particular environment? Or simply, is it interesting enough for me to want to interact in it?

I noticed today that 2 out of 3 locations that I chose had nature taking over the ugly urban settings. Looking back on many of the images I already have, there is some of the same. It wasn't a conscious decision to pick those places but when I did, it felt right. Again, here I am, out of place with my surroundings, the way Nature was. Hmm... I like that. Perhaps, Beauty vs. Decay.

As for my own backyard - Our trip started out in the Bronx looking for a very specific location which we failed to find. Making our way back, we found 3 locations within a 5-10 mile radius from my home. I have complained repeatedly that I don't feel at home at all in the borough of Queens and doubt I ever will. Still, where else would I be able to find an environment rich in urban-ness? Coming from a suburb on Long Island, this, among areas in the other 4 boroughs is as ghetto as it gets.

So, here is a digital shot taken by my husband after I shot off a roll.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


With this project I am working on, an assistant is pretty much mandatory. Since I am working with a low-tech camera, there is no auto advance. In addition, the places I am shooting at are not exactly danger-free. It's been a challenge finding someone to help me between day availability and type of person assisting. For me, my assistant needs to be neutral in opinion of content for the most part. I do take some suggestions but for the most part, I just need the technical aspect dealt with. At the risk of sounding sexist, I prefer a male assistant for that safety factor. Someone with a sense of humor and a sense of adventure helps as well. I've tried getting local students but most have been flaky. My husband assists me when possible but that forces me into a one-day-a-week shoot. Right now, I am eager to re-shoot an idea. I have the time but he nor anyone else does.

On a good note, this project is going fairly smoothly even if the progress is a bit slow for me. If I haven't written about it yet, I plan to create a book through Originally, I was only going to make one of the Rabbitholes and Revelations series, but thought about the cost of the book and decided to make the book of a collection of images that work together from the outdoor nudes, to some of the art history images, rabbitholes and then the new stuff. Perhaps by the Fall, I will have it put together and published.

Now to just get back out there shooting.....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A magical turn of events

When I woke yesterday morning, I was prepared to go it alone location scouting/shooting. I was a bit frustrated with the harsh sun but was determined to find somewhere that the light was subdued. As I was prepping my equipment, a light went off in my mind - a male model that I use occasionally is the adventurous sort and has found several fitting locations for me in the past, plus I knew he had the summers off. I gave him a call and sure enough, he was available and knew of an area that he thought I would like. Like? I LOVED it. I am noticing with the Holga that I need to have more exaggerated light though, so I think when I am in a darker area next time, I will bring alone a flash. My Holga has a hotshoe for a non-dedicated one which I have. Still, I think these 2 images work. I may go back to do more shooting as there were more areas to explore. I should do it before the building is torn down, too....

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2 new images

My model C came through for me once again. We've been having odd weather this summer - so...much....rain! However, bright sunshine is far worse for shooting in so I had to wait for an overcast day that didn't threaten torrential downpours. Not only did I have to wait, but C had to be at the ready, which is tough for any model to be. Well, I have 2 successful images from that day:

Today, I am going to either scout out locations or attempt a shoot on my own. Not sure how feasible that is, but will try. Although the sun is shining, I should have no problem finding shade.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blurb here I come

My first book - self-published anyway. I am turning Rabbitholes and Revelations into a table top book. It's costly so I will be printing only one up right now but Blurb puts it on their site and people can purchase copies and I get 100% profit. I am really looking forward to this. Very exciting! I will more than likely purchase an ISBN number but right now, first things first. Will keep everyone posted on when it's complete.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mr. Colin Ford

Today I met with British author and photo historian Colin Ford. A nice gentleman who was nice enough to make time to see me and look at my work. I brought a few of my outdoor nudes, my whole "Rabbitholes..." series and whatever new work I have. As he warned me, he said he wasn't able to do a whole lot for me though he seemed to like my work. I asked him if he would be able to write something about my work when his plate isn't so full (he is curating 3 exhibits, one in Hungary). He said he couldn't agree to it right now because of how busy he is. I understand. His main advice is - what I have been hearing - to keep doing what I am doing.

Yes. Since 1995-ish, I have not stopped photographing. I won't stop now, especially with this project I am on. It is frustrating, though. A dramatic analogy - I feel a little like an adorable stray puppy that lots of people are passing up saying "you are sooo cute, but unfortunately, I can't take you home". I will still wag my tail, show the big eyes and stay hopeful that one day someone will take me home.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I've decided to give the old website a little facelift. I've removed all of the mixed media work and am only showing a few images per series of the work pre-Rabbitholes. It's not up yet - I will post when it is, but in the meantime, I have changed my News page and needed to put these images somewhere. They are important to me in that I don't seem to have many shots of me actually working. So for those of you that haven't seen these:

Monday, June 8, 2009

and that was today

Hot and sunny but I had my woodland creature with me so we had to partake on a journey. We danced in the "ruins" near Lefferts Blvd. We walked together down a dirt road behind some industrial park in Nassau County. Tomorrow, I have a frog to kiss and see if he becomes a prince.

It's great to be an artist :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Urban settings

As Summer approaches, I will have time to scout out new urban locations. I also have to thank my husband for being a terrific bodyguard and assistant as he has been and will be with me for my shoots. I have heard of female photographers that take risks in shooting alone on location and even I have a couple of times but I really don't recommend it unless you are in a highly public place..and then you might want to reconsider any nudity ;)

In two weeks, I will be back out in Queens, New York. I am looking at it from a different perspective than when I first moved here. I now see it as rich with decay, which is a good thing. Still, I want to explore other places as well. Other boroughs, and other states - especially New Jersey.

In the meantime, today was a wet and cold day reminiscent of some of the Seattle days. It shouldn't be, though, as June is only a few days away.

Did I mention how much I love Hahnemuhle's Bamboo Paper? Yes, it is made out of bamboo! I can now say I am doing my part in helping the environment :D

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Has Indeed Sprung!

The weather has finally turned to glorious. It is almost June, after all, but May has been a little too cool for me. I have been excitedly working on the urban project with the Holga and am really pleased with the results. The images are taking on a dream-like quality which is inherent of the Holga image. Now with the warmer weather and some free time, I will be able to really dedicate the time to this project.

I met with the owner of Wall Space Gallery in Seattle, while I was there and she liked the direction very much. She is really so sweet as well. It's nice to have someone in the biz to just chill with. For years, I (and I am sure many artists) place gallery owners on this deified pedestal when in reality, they are human like everyone else. There are some that are stuffier than others but *shrug* whatever. In any event, she has also told me that my work, including the Rabbitholes series screams alternative process. Yes..I know this. Michael Mazzeo said it, too.

Do I want to invest in the money for a UV box and chemistry to do this? Of course I could use the good old sun but it's never consistent and I may not be around during the day to take advantage of it. Besides, if I am going to be doing this for awhile, I may just want to invest in one. Then again, they are huge (unless I can look into seeing if there is such a thing as a small one?) and where do I put that thing? It would be nice to do a workshop in Cyanotype or Van Dyke Brown but they are way expensive. The Maine workshop is $1300, I believe. Ha ha! Anyway, I need to really research it. Cyanotype is one of the easiest processes and the chemistry is not ridiculously toxic....I will have to check it out.

In other exciting news, I will be meeting with Colin Ford in June. Mr. Ford is a British photo historian specializing in the works of Julia Margaret Cameron and Lewis Carroll (right up my alley!!!!). He has written and co-written many books on their work. If he likes my work, I am hoping he would be willing to write a commentary on it. My friend Joan thinks that I should make a book (blurb or such) and I could include his statement and that would be great to bring around to galleries. I thought that was an excellent idea. Now, let's hope I can get Mr. Ford to do this :D

Now off to scan in more negatives from Seattle. Hopefully I will have something here on my blog next post.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Inspiration but frustation

So in the art world, we know that the art galleries are in trouble so many are not looking at new artists and the ones that are, want something edgy and/or so magnificent which is difficult to find. Yet, I am still seeing so much crap out there. Go figure...

However, if I let that stop me from creating work, then I am not an artist. As I decide what to do with the "Rabbitholes..." series in terms of printing, the new project is looking good. Aside from a couple of images, I am shooting exclusively with the Holga

I am loving the dream-like quality of the images and the simplicity of the operation. I shot 7 rolls of film with it in Seattle and am in the process of developing it now. Images soon to come.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Until then....

Nikon FM2, Holga, and a Panasonic Lumix will all be in tow on my trip to Seattle. I plan to make this as photographic a trip as possible even if it's going to rain most days.

I am just looking forward to the escape away from work and home.

See you soon!

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Or so I hope. It's barely April and it's been raining quite a bit. Next month, The Husband and I are going to Seattle for our anniversary trip so yeah, bring on more rain!

Now that things are calming down a little on the job front, I've been able to focus a bit on shooting a new project. It started with a Holga but the other day I needed to use the Nikon for reasons I will give in detail. This new idea is pretty straight-forward. My images, according to many, are a throw-back to the 1800's albeit beautiful and strong. No contemporary art gallery wants to exhibit this work for fear of no sales. Not to mention that because I am not using vintage printing techniques, I am being snubbed. It's actually ridiculous, in my opinion because I still think my images hold truth to them regardless of printing methods. No matter.

I've decided to take my sappily romantic self and shoot in urban settings. I have been donned in a white velvet bell-sleeved Renaissance-inspired dress, wreath of ivy and my trusty white dove. We have started exploring areas of the city and I am wanting to look as out of place as I can in my surroundings. What I did do the other day, though, may be a little trite but I thought it was amusing. I hired 3 thugs to model with me near one of the local train stations. I also went to a few locations near my neighborhood not realizing how rich in atmosphere it really is. We'll see where this project leads. It's at least fun, if nothing else.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I have to say that at least I am getting positive feedback on my work. I am told it's beautiful. I am told it's well-executed, clearly focused (no pun intended there) and strong. However, basically, if I don't have full-color large scale images of mutated body parts or spread-eagled teenagers, then my work will not have a place on the walls of contemporary art/photo galleries.

It is frustrating to be a "throw back", but I am remaining true to my vision, even if that does sound pretentious.

Still, this frustration gave me a wonderful new idea for a series.

Stay tuned.....

Friday, February 20, 2009

an update

It's been awhile since posting. Working 2 jobs and trying to create art in between has taken up almost all of my time. No, I'll add trying to promote my work and spending time with my husband and my four-legged kids to that list. Well, there's been a bit of a cut in hours at one of my 2 jobs which hopefully will allow me more time. I've been taking the images from the "Rabbitholes..." series and transferring them to gessoed masonite panels, then painting on them. I thought this might be a simpler way of trying to convey an iconographic illuminated look that I've been looking for the past few years.

I've completed 2 so far and I like the look, so I will continue. I've decided to try a third color to the panel for some more depth in hopes not to complicate things. After all, the image is still the focal point.

I've also begun shooting with my new Holga, too. I have an old one that I've used maybe once or twice. I found the negatives from it recently and was pleased with the results. I opted for a new version because it seems to have been "corrected", meaning foam inserts have been placed inside to keep the film roll firmly in place - as opposed to having to insert cardboard. There is also a tripod socket in the new version. With the addition of a shutter release assembly, I am now self-portrait-ready! I just need this weather to warm up. I am really done with winter. I still have to develop the rolls I shot, and I am eager to see what they are like. For those of you that don't know what a Holga is, here is a link

There's a whole sub-culture of artists that use this "krappy kamera" as it's affectionately called and the results are exquisite! There's a poetic softness to the image because of the plastic lens and I am digging the square format.

A personal side note, though possibly related to my art making. After a recent doctor's visit, I have lost a total of 67 pounds since 2005. A majority of that weight was lost since April of 2008, though. Why did I? A diagnosis of diabetes (a second time - I had it years ago) made me get pro-active in doing something. I am going to be turning 40 this year and I want to do whatever I can to feel good for as long as possible. This may become a topic in my art making. I've spent all of my art career in handling my weight issues and now do I want to take on this one? Not sure. I will say this interesting tidbit though. I feel more self-conscious about my body now than I ever did when I even weighed my heaviest at 350 pounds (back in '96). I'm looking forward to seeing how things occur this year with this knowledge.

Back to work now. Will hopefully be updating this thing sooner than later.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My statement on Rabbitholes and Revelations

January 2009
Rabbitholes and Revelations
artist statement by AnnMarie Tornabene

In the last two to three years, I’ve had a number of profound changes occur in my life. Getting married is among these changes, and with that came about a multitude of emotional and psychological discoveries. There has been a fear of losing my identity; self-doubt was surrounding my every move and I started making poor decisions. Fairly rapidly, I felt like I was falling into a deep hole. I needed to get out, so I decided to take time to reflect and try to learn why these things were happening. I took a trip back to my childhood and started a quest to seek out what has happened, what I had and did not have, and what I wanted.

The “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” story is a theme that many artists have adapted in their work. As I saw where I was, I, too, made a connection to Alice and that proverbial “rabbit hole.” The story’s inspiration took form into some of my most fantastic and romantic tableaux so far. Since those elements are not unfamiliar to my work, creating this fairy tale imagery was intuitive. I see this series as an abridged version of my life’s journey thus far, with a door open to the next chapter full of new revelations.