American Tintype: “I found what I was always looking for.”

Do take a look at this fascinating and beautifully photographed mini-documentary by Matt Morris that provides us with a thoughtful and beautiful look at the old process of tintype photography (via PetaPixel). As an amateur historian who unsurprisingly also has a love for old things, tintype has always fascinated me—the photographs being little portraits of our own past. Now, at least one photographer has revived the process.

Isn’t that a wonderful documentary?

The part that really struck me most was when tintype photographer Harry Taylor mentioned the perfectibility of digital photography (having some knowledge about the matter, we’ll have to include film photography as well—this Hurrell portrait of a young Joan Crawford says much) compared to the fruit of the tintype process, which is so very detailed and…alive. A twenty-second exposure can capture a whole lot of life and spirit.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to look at old tintypes or daguerrotypes, the amount of detail is really impressive, and the monotone aspect of the images often makes them look borderline three-dimensional to me—such depth! Taylor’s tintype photos are much the same; you won’t be able to hide imperfections very much at all in them, but is that such a bad thing? Then again, because I’m a documentary photographer, perhaps that’s why “imperfection” isn’t so offensive to me—unless, of course, I’m shooting someone’s classic car for them (no one wants a dust or water speck in a picture of their ‘baby’!).

“Bananas Foster” featured in a swank atomic collection!

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One of my newer classic car photo releases, “Bananas Foster” (get a better look below), is featured in this really fantastic vintage-themed collection on ArtFire. There are so many other fabulous vintage goodies—I’m really pleased and proud to have my shot of a buttercup-yellow Bel Air included. A body could easily fill their home with swank 1950s atomic style by snapping up everything in this collection of vintage treats!

1953 or '54 Chevy Bel Air art photo

“Bananas Foster”
Hello, lovely lady!

While you’re shopping, do take a look at the latest collection I’ve whipped up—one that’s a tribute to autumn:

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Will you look at that!

I’ve not been able to whip up a collection featuring my fellow artists and vintage-lovers in a while, but put one together today that features man’s best friend, the dog. Well, it made ArtFire’s front page, and I’m tickled pink! Please pop over and take a look—there are all sorts of canine-related goodies I’m sure you’ll love, and you’ll be supporting terrific artists and designers I’ve befriended over the years.

Artists have earned payment: Please don’t rip them off!

I can’t claim to know all of the backstory, but this blog post came through on my Twitter feed yesterday. Its content matter—the morality of acquiring copyrighted material without paying for it—of course caught my attention.

Not only am I a photographer with quite a few friends and acquaintances also involved in creating and selling visual art, I used to be a singer before becoming ill; therefore, the issue of making sure we don’t muzzle the ox that treads the grain (a Biblical exhortation) is important to me indeed. As most of us sell our work online, we’ve all had our work stolen—used without our permission. This even happens to jewelry artists and others making handcrafted goods; they find their own photos used on other websites. Finally, we’re all familiar with cases where a large company steals the idea of a small artist—Urban Outfitters is particularly infamous for this.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter who does the stealing, or why: it is the artist—musician, designer, painter, photographer—who is hurt, and it is the artist who has indeed been denied payment for genuine work, labour, and talent. This, my friends, is simply not right (particularly when so many independent artists, myself included, are more than happy to consider swaps of goods in kind

John's Modern Cabins on Old Route 66

Menaced, Route 66

instead of cash). We all wish to be paid for our work, no matter what it is we do—and if we do work, we have earned payment.

Anyhow. The Trichordist says it really marvellously in a post directed toward NPR intern Emily White. White proclaimed to the world that despite only paying for 15 CDs in her life, she has 11,000 songs in her music library.  I heartily encourage you to read the entire post, but I want to share a few excerpts with you, my readers, here (mostly to whet your appetite for the rest; please note that I’ve added any bolding to the text in order to emphasize things that struck me). Though the post mostly concerns musicians, it could very easily apply to creators in all facets of art and entertainment.

Rather than using our morality and principles to guide us through technological change, there are those asking us to change our morality and principles to fit the technological changeif a machine can do something, it ought to be done. Although it is the premise of every “machines gone wild” story since Jules Verne or Fritz Lang, this is exactly backwards….The fundamental shift in principals and morality is about who gets to control and exploit the work of an artist. The accepted norm for hudreds of years of western civilization is the artist exclusively has the right to exploit and control his/her work for a period of time. …By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work. This system has worked very well for fans and artists. Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally. We are being asked to continue to let these companies violate the law without being punished or prosecuted. We are being asked to change our morality and principles to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.

There are, of course, people behind these machines: ripping music, stealing artwork. Few of us blame the spoon for making us fat, after all. Continue reading

Monuments and Memorials

As it is with social etiquette, so it is with memorials. An artist who sweeps away the traditional conventions for dealing with the great truths of life, death, and sacrifice, can only shuffle about in the cupboard of his own store of mental images.

—Michael Lewis

Lily; taken at Sewickley Cemetery, PA

Sewickley, Pennsylvania

One thing I simply cannot wait to sit down and enjoy with a cup of freshly brewed tea is Imprimis, which arrives free every month from Hubby’s alma mater. The subjects covered—just one each month—vary from art and architecture to culture and foreign affairs, and always pique my interest.

This month, writer and professor of art at Williams College Michael J. Lewis writes about the contemporary state of monuments and memorials. His thoughts were interesting indeed, and are certainly something artists should pay attention to, particularly as Lewis seems to actually have standards and we never know whom or what we might be called upon to honour. He touches on the obnoxious literalism of memorials today, an interesting discussion all by itself, but the first few paragraphs are what really stuck with me.

The entire article is worth reading, but here’s an excerpt that really got me thinking (all emphasis added):

As traditionally understood, a monument is the expression of a single powerful idea in a single emphatic form, in colossal scale and in permanent materials, made to serve civic life….

The spontaneous roadside memorials that mark the site of fatal traffic accidents are a relatively new phenomenon. As physical objects they are ephemera, but as a mass cultural phenomenon they are quite extraordinary, and they testify to a deep human need for memorials. It is a new form of folk art, and it is extremely conventionalized in its expression. For one thing, its repertoire of forms and materials is very narrow: crosses, flowers, hand-painted signs, and heartbreakingly, in the case of a child, stuffed animals. There is very little else, and no striving for originality. Their creators look for widely understood symbols, and they yearn for resolution and closure; they certainly do not aspire to an open-ended process.

In a way, these anonymous roadside sculptors understand what many contemporary artists do not—that monuments, because they are public art forms, must be legible. And this requires a great degree of convention. Thus most traditional monuments are paraphrases of a few ancient types: the triumphal arch, the temple, the colossal column, and the obelisk. Since the 1930s, it has been fashionable to disparage this as architectural grave-robbing, and to argue that we should create our own forms. But these forms are timeless, not simply ancient. After all, the arch is nothing more than a space of passage, made monumental; an obelisk or column is the exclamation point raised above a sacred spot; and a temple is a tabernacle, the sacred tent raised over an altar. These ideas are permanent, and it is not surprising that the one successful work of contemporary public art, the Vietnam Memorial, took its form from one of the most ancient—the mural shrine, the wailing wall.

…Frank Lloyd Wright found the Jefferson Memorial preposterous for its archaic expression. But true monumentality has little to do with style and everything to do with simplicity and grandeur of expression.  *

 

My opinion here is bound to be unpopular, but holding unpopular opinions is something I’m used to, so here goes.

Continue reading

New Collection

For some reason, I got out of the habit of making collections to promote my fellow artisans. However, there’s nothing like a little spring fever to give me a jump start! I’d really appreciate it if you’d pop on over to check out my latest collection of fine art and handcrafted goodies—and I think you’ll like it too, as it features the wonderful bee!

 

Gardeners especially are sure to like this one. Thanks for taking a peek at my latest curation, and I hope you find something you like for yourself!

Update:  This collection has been selected as ArtFire’s email collection of the day! You all must have raced over there to take a look! Thanks! Remember to sign up for the daily email collection—you could win $100 to spend in the shop of any artisan hosted by ArtFire, including the shop of yours truly.

Have a great night!

May already?!

Yes, me too. I can’t believe it. This is even more ridiculous since I’m a horse racing fan and this is, of course, Derby week. The first Saturday in May is a HOLIDAY in this house. I won’t even go to people’s weddings if it’s on Derby Day (so consider yourselves warned—I’m not kidding).

Anyhow, need a cute calendar? Something fun to look at? Hoping for May showers to water your veggie garden? Then pop on over to Wild Olive—she has a freebie for you!