Monday, June 20, 2016

insights about this year's work so far

This year, I have began to produce new images that are taking different forms than what I have been doing. After The Divine Journey series, I had no idea where I wanted to take things. One of the big fears of artists is the uncertainty that they will never come up with another idea or concept once they finished a series of work, however, trust me, the ideas come. And they come by working, not by sitting around hoping you will just be inspired. One has to "make stuff" and then one day, something will spark and soon another body of work is created. Well, with me, there has been 2 different bodies of work this year but I feel there will be a melding of the 2 because in some ways, they are coming from the same place - transition, transformation and upheaval, if you will. 

This is how it started. I wanted to make the images a bit ambiguous. As I have used myself as the subject for over so many years, I was tiring of the focus being about the obvious me. I wanted to finally have viewers look at my images more universally and without asking "is that you?" or comments like "you have lost so much weight/look since then" or "why do you look so sad?".

A side note about those last comments -  I am not sure viewers walking into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre or any other museum, looks at a portrait and wonders if the model was that curvy or skinny and...sadness? While that is not usually the emotion that I present in my work, how or why does a smile have to be something that makes a piece of art beautiful, thoughtful, or interesting? Of course, these are almost a part of every self-portrait artist's every day inquiries and I do take the comments with a grain of salt almost never responding to them.

So, I worked on this series and things evolved:

As I "finished" up the series, I thought to myself that there wasn't much more I could say with that at the moment...or so I thought. So, I photographed some more, with stronger lighting and contrast. And I looked at the original photos. This is me - AnnMarie - the classic beauty, that has the face of the Madonna. I can mimic all of the grace and composure of Old Masters paintings because I know how to do that.

And with the start of the previous series, I wanted to continue changing the way I saw myself in my work. It's always auto-biographical and so were these - so much has happened to me emotionally and physically over the last several years and I didn't want to "mask" that with creating romantic imagery as I always have...per se...I continued to conjoin, disfigure and morph myself using Adobe Photoshop - similarly to what the commercial world is doing with their fashion models and celebrities. However, I am doing it to show a diachotomy - the light, composition and poses are beautiful like classic paintings,  and the changes in me - sometimes painful, sometimes exquisite and wonderful seem, to what some of my peers have said to me, disturbing. Well, what is inside of our minds can be a mess and it's never one-dimensional. Throw in major life shifts and it makes things even more chaotic. So this is where I am headed now. They are still very much portraits - romantic, old Master painter-like with a twist. Too different from my previous work? Not at all. Braver, perhaps.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Les Médiévales de Provins

I am writing this here because this is my blog after all and it's the perfect platform to write about this. This past weekend, I attended my first "Renaissance Faire" here in France, specifically in the medieval region of Provins entitled "Les Médiévales de Provins" naturally. It was their 33rd year and it seems, going strong! This medieval region houses a castle and a square. On the off-season, of which I have been, one can see the modern shops around the edges but on this weekend, one could never tell. It looked and felt like the time period.

Let me write here that the faires in the U.S. are nothing compared to this and rightfully so. This is France - rich with the actual medieval history that they endured and experienced. The U.S. didn't even exist as such back then. So this was the real deal complete with historically accurate costumes, crafts, games, and even some of the foods. There were camps set up with fires going everywhere you looked and there was medieval music playing everywhere via many troubadours. A side note though - a Faun song DID play over the loudspeaker system in the square at one point and I squealed with joy!

There were knights, maidens, artisans and tribes and with that, came a huge focus in my experience, on the cosplayers, themselves. In general, they come in 3 different groups  - Professional:  the most serious ones who have the knowledge, the money and maybe even the craftsmanship to create true-to-history costumes. Intermediate: the ones that dress in any fantasy type outfit (but still take themselves very seriously) and when they hear about a faire of ANY kind, they will go in that outfit...even if it happens to be Link from Zelda. I suppose he can fit into the Middle Ages. ;) Amateurs: (where I fit in!) the ones that don't take themselves too seriously but dress to a certain point and know that they are wanting to fit in with the theme but they can't quite afford to do it the best way.

So, the first thing I did when I got there was buy a new chemise. I didn't think I was going to. I had my underbust corset and my antlers and what I thought was a fairly adequate top and skirt underneath but the minute my husband and I got off the train, I was inspired. I went into the first shop and saw a great one. It was a little expensive, which most of these things are, but it is so well made and something that I know will last years. I did end up tucking it into my skirt later on the day but sadly, there isn't a photo.

And then I convinced my husband to buy a little something so we got him leather wrist cuffs and they suit him, and the chemise he wore, perfectly.

There was so much to see and do here. In the U.S., the faires are pretty contained in a small area and here, there were so many alleyways and places that not only had the market booths, but things to watch. However, along the ramparts and in the square, were the 3 main events - the stage for band and performers and the areas for 2 spectacles - La Légende des Chevaliers and Les Aigles des Ramparts -the one we went to,  however it was all birds of prey among other animals shown.

And what a fantastic show! The price of admission in was almost nothing and we got there early enough to get second row so the birds were up close and personal as you can see. They flew right over our heads and in fact, a few times, the wings of a few touched the top of my husband's head. And the wingspans on some of them are enormous! I have a renewed respect for these magnificent creatures. The actors/handlers were great (though I didn't understand what they were saying) and you can tell that the animals are well taken care of.


And then I shot arrows for the second time in my life (the first was at a Ren Faire in Florida and received completely wrong instructions then.) We each took 5 arrows and with the help of the instructor at hand, I got a bullseye on the 4th try! Merida, no, but I can fantasize ;) Gilles tried and did alright but it was so enjoyable for both of us. We even received little diplomas when we finished.

 We did so much walking around and the visions around were so overwhelming at times so I admit, I was a little disappointed in that though I took many photos, I believe I did not capture the spirit of this event nearly enough. For example, there were craftsman and artisans there, including a woman that creates illuminated manuscripts but I didn't have a chance to photograph her nor spend enough time admiring her work (I caught a glimpse).  Here is another glimpse of what you will see:

So, with that we made a promise to go back for the full weekend experience next year.

For the complete album of photos, go to my Facebook page: It's a private account but I made the album public. Enjoy!