Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Water towers

Peering over my open passport, the immigration agent carefully looked me over. "Why are you going to New York?" she asked.

"I'm going to visit some art shows," I answered.

"You're just going to look at art?"

"Well, I plan to take some photos of the city for my own art."

"You can't take photos of Montreal?"

"They don't have water towers in Montreal."

That's what I blurted out when I was unexpectedly put on the spot about my "aesthetic vision". And the agent let me enter the U.S. anyways.

Thinking back to that conversation, and sorting through the photos I did take, I realized that the water towers in my photos make for very good focal points: isolated cylinders perched like lonely, watchful crows overlooking a jumble of cubes and rectangular prisms.

I've started a new piece, based on one of my water tower photos. Who knows? Perhaps I'll make all four.

Of course I have made pieces based on Montreal photos too. What I need to do more often is get myself downtown with the single-minded purpose of finding interesting subjects for my work.

Here's what art quilter Leni Wiener had to say when she was asked about using photos to inspire her work:

"I always start with a photo because all the information I need is right there for me; I don’t have to figure out the perspective, the proportions or where the light and shadow would be.  Taking the photo into Adobe Photoshop and applying a cutout filter reduces the image into manageable masses of color.  I print the resulting “pattern” in the full size of the finished piece.  Fabrics are assigned, paying close attention to value.  Then I use freezer paper to cut out each piece and lay it in place like a puzzle."

You can find the rest of the interview with Leni on Deborah Boschert's blog. I'm a big fan of Leni's. I met her at the SAQA conference in Santa Fe this April, where she gave me a coaching session. Leni, a New Yorker, is unapologetic about using her camera, rather than a sketchbook, to make her art.

And if you can direct me to some water towers in Montreal, please let me know!

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