Monday, November 30, 2009

Arting with Gravity

Just Hanging Around, digital photo

While others were shopping, diligently working on paintings, or decorating for the holidays, I was playing with a tangerine bag. It began several weeks ago when I didn't cut the bag into pieces (for animals' sake) and left it lying on the counter. At first, I thought it might make a nice hat--with that little tassel. It did; I looked a bit like an old elf and considered wearing it to holiday parties. I then noticed the similarity between frozen turkey breasts and heads. I thought it might be cool to take a photo of a head in the bag. The memory of a photo--Mussolini hanging upside down--brought gravity to mind.

After several days I had a plan. I would wait until my husband was out of the house (explaining my project would have been impossible and I didn't want an audience). I chose a small Danish leather-topped table; I moved the dining table to make sure I had enough space, set up a light, set up the camera--a cereal box stood in for my head--and I lay across the table. Anatomy (and a couple of fused disks in my neck) made it impossible to get all of my chin below the table top. With my left hand holding the bag tightly behind my head, I snapped the shutter with my right and waited in place for the timer. In some photos I forgot to remove my glasses (they were hanging on my forehead); in some I inadvertently used the flash (I wanted shadows); in some I am without the bag (I look like a gray-haired Dracula); and in others I am laughing too heartily.

I chose a photo and with Corel Photo/Paint was able to remove my arms and the table legs, clone my missing chin, enhance the turkey-look of the skin, and add the carrying strap. I think the contraption on the right represents a scale--$2 per lb. Lesson learned: If you're in your sixties and want to hang upside down, a net bag is handy for holding face parts in place. Gravity is awesome.

I am usually very serious when working on a painting. Playing with digital photos is just great fun; I don't think of it as art but as "arting around." I'm still looking for a model.


  1. Having fun is 99% of the reason to even do art, at least as far as I'm concerned... I wish I could have been a little birdy on the window sill while you were snapping those shots...oh the joy!

    In your "arting around" you have stumbled on to the way I compose most of my paintings anymore. I work out most of my compositions in Photoshop before going to the canvas. That way, instead of having millions of scraps of paper and canvas laying around I only have thousands of electronic files stored away. I've been thinking about one of these days posting one of my progressions from start to finish - showing the photos and sketches I make and manipulate in Photoshop all the way to my completed canvas... We'll see...


  2. It was late in the day and I considered--for about two minutes--setting up on the front porch (only place with good available light). I didn't want my neighbors calling the rescue squad or the guys in the white coats.

    I photograph my paintings when I'm almost finished and check them in various programs. I've never actually used the computer as a first step. Something to think about, but I enjoy painting without a plan. In fact, I think my whole life has been without a plan.

    I'd like to see how you work from start to finish.

  3. In my wildest dreams I wouldn't have come up with this! I can see how this sequence played out and I'm laughing to myself. Isn't it interesting how one thing leads to another? My definition of creativity is being able to see the ordinary in new ways. You're creative, HW.

  4. HW - This is great! I love your sense of humor but also this most original and expressive outcome. This would be a great painting, too. You've really tapped into who you are, what makes you unique, and it's wonderful to see what you create!

  5. Margaret and Kathy, I'm glad you saw this as creative. To me, being creative is imagining something; then being able to reach it--by painting, sculpting, building or photography. At some point, I probably will use "the turkey" as part of a painting.

  6. oh my this is so disturbing! That is why I LOVE it so much. Fantastic! I would so love to work like this--I am so conventional. sigh. You have my utmost admiration.

  7. (Margaret Ryall, whose blog is Painting On, left a nice comment which I was unable to publish.) It was from Dec. 1: "In my wildest dreams I wouldn't have come up with this! I can see how the sequence played out and I'm laughing to myself. Isn't it interesting how one thing leads to another? My definition of creativity is being able to see the ordinary in new ways. You're creative, HW."

  8. Celeste, thanks. This was great fun--my husband hasn't seen it and my kids will be slightly embarrassed but not surprised.

    I've been silently following your blog for a while. I love the "painted over" ones and the Redhead caught my eye. Long ago, I was one; perhaps that contributed to my being slightly off-plumb.

  9. This is great!! Cracks me up! Very imaginative!
    I was laughing while reading it, plus admiring your thinking and your process.

  10. Indigomar, I guess we could all use some laughter with the holidays approaching. I'm glad you survived all those beautiful Thanksgiving desserts.

    (Now I'm thinking--if I have a Santa hat lying under my turkey head, this could be my Christmas card!)

  11. Very surreal! I have Corel's painter but have not tried anything this ambitious! Oh, after all are talk about art history and art movements, I ought to be more careful about terms. Hmm. While this has a dream-like quality, I'm not sure it's irrational! I had to look up the definition. This is exciting!

  12. Hi Peggy, Kathy's blog has me wondering about art history and art movements--and reading when I should be getting ready for the holidays.

    My first computer came with a basic Corel program which I enjoyed. Several years ago I ordered the photo/print/draw 12; playing around with photos is great fun. One day, I might actually read all those instructions. I'll see you around the campfire.