Coming up with ideas

I’m a wee bit upset today because the weather forecast is off.  I coated paper to print cyanotypes in hopes of a “Full Sun” day, and instead, it’s raining!  Not cool at all.  Just clouds I could deal with, but rain is a deal breaker.

So.  Plan B.  I’m staving off the housecleaning chores by wasting time on the computer.

Truthfully, I’m in a really good mood, rain aside.  I’ve finally come up with a wonderful plan to deal with my next big cyanotype project: the one with my grandmother’s photographs.  I have an odd little thought process that I go through to get a project going – it takes several false starts, a good deal of despair, and some innovative thinking.  I read another artist’s blog once that said she took about 2 years to cycle through a project.  I said !!!  I’m too impatient to do that.  She was a painter, if I remember correctly, so her work was a little more involved than mine. 

Since this is really more of a conceptual project, the most important thing I do at the start of any project is figure out what I’m trying to convey.  What am I really trying to say with this work?  It sounds odd to start the project with something of an artist’s statement, but that’s what helps me clarify my thoughts.  If I’m not sure what I’m trying to discuss, all anyone else will see is a confusing mess.  Of course, sometimes the final project is still a confusing mess, but at least I tried.

Once I know what I’m trying to say, I start considering exactly how I’m going to say it.  It’s not as simple as shooting a few pics and hanging prints on the wall.  There’s a fine line between visual understanding and cliché, and I probably veer into cliché far more often than I care to admit.  Add to that the limitations of an 8×10 format – I refuse to pay $40 per print + my own (expensive!) paper to get my local lab to print 16×20. 

My last oversized cyanotype project – the Verba series – used composites to get over that little bump.  Looks like I’ll probably need to do the same thing for this one, but I don’t want to repeat myself.  Making this concept work will take a good deal of photoshop sweating (anyone know an easy way to cut a photograph into bits and then print those bits?)

Back to the whole thought process thingy.  I spend days mulling over how possibilities, coming up with and discarding about 10 ok ideas before I finally hit on the one I really like.  I even had nightmares about it – a figure made of composite photographs loomed over me and wailed “why did you do this to me?”   

Now that I have the basic outline, it’s time to start the shooting/printing process.  I’ll probably change everything up once I print one or two because I run into technical snags or visual issues.  That’s ok – it’s part of the learning curve.  Hopefully by the time I get into the swing of things, the project will pull together and look halfway polished.


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