Dream On: More Negative Alterations Depicting Dreams

Even though I’ve been insanely busy with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, I’m still producing work! I’ve been working on my dream series some more, manipulating negatives, and just kind of trying new things out.

(Shout out to all of my friends who modeled for me, and to my boyfriend for drawing a tiny little ship for me, and holding the scary lighter when burning the negative for the last one.)

So, how did I do these? I’ll tell ya, even though I’m risking losing my reputation as a total genius (or losing my delusions of grandeur.)

The falling one was all about timing and flipping the frame. Have a friend jump, and if you timed it correctly, they may look like they are falling off the earth!

The ship one was simple enough- a little ship was sewn onto the negative. You have to be able to draw really tiny (or know someone who can.) Or, an alternative could be to draw a ship directly onto the print.

That dark blob thing was just a three-second exposure of my friend thrashing around in a big poofy black dress.

Ah, yes. The girl cut in two. This one is really easy, if you have a splitzer. A splitzer is one of those tools Lomographers like to use, and I think you can buy one, but what’s the point in that when you can just make one out of black construction paper? Trace your lens, cut out the circular shape, cut that in half, and ta-da! A splitzer. To make a cool photo like the one above, have the splitzer cover half of your frame, snap the picture, double expose the frame (see google for how to do this with your camera,) and put the splitzer on the other side of your frame, and snap again. Cool, huh?

Nail polish and camera angles for the tree one. I saw someone do something like this somewhere (flickr maybe?) and I kinda wanted to try it. Throw some glitter nail polish on, and it looks like there are little fairy lights bobblin’ around.

The star one is easily one of my favorite because I’m a huge sucker for rainbows. This one took pre-planning, with negative alterations in mind. I took a star shaped hole-punch, a needle to scratch out the other stars, and star nail polish. Boom.

The bunny photo and the whale photo are just double exposures.

The last one was tricky. Again, I planned ahead with alterations in mind. My boyfriend and I took the negative and burned it, to make it look like he is running away from a burning frame. We used one of those long lighters to lower risk of injury, and burned it slowly. I played with the saturation of the burned parts in Photoshop, and that’s how that one was done.

I think we’re done altering negatives now for class, but man, I don’t think I’m done. I’m going to keep this technique in mind for the future. And, for the love of God, try this technique some time.

Happy Shooting!


Somebody, Pinch Me

My life has been ArtPrize this past week, and I’m SO okay with that. On Sunday, I had a lovely brunch with donors of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, where I met some wonderful people and was able to discuss my artwork with them.

But, really, I’m so excited it’s unreal.

On Wednesday, the opening of the competition, I went downtown and visited my work for a few minutes (I really wanted to check out how busy the museum was- it was busy.) I visited a lot of the venues in Center City and a few in Heartside, and man, there are so many talented artists! I was overwhelmed once more by how respectable this exhibition is, and how I’m surround by thousands of works by very worthy artists.

Also, I saw some cyanotypes. That is the sign of my people- they are around. Somewhere. But not lurking in the shadows, because, y’know, sunlight is needed for cyanotypes. Cyanotypes are pretty hip right now for photographers. We like to think we’re meta.

I keep expecting that I’ll get used to how crazy this whole thing is, but every time I start to feel even a tiny bit complacent, something cool happens. The other morning, I got called to set up an interview. And, a few nights ago, a friend of mine (thanks, Julie!) told me that my artwork was on the front page of the Grand Rapids Press.

My work.

On the front page.

Of an in-print newspaper.

Somebody, pinch me.

My work was also on mlive.com- I just keep finding out about these things second hand. It’s like I’m living in two totally different worlds right now: by day, I am a hard working student itching to graduate. By night, I am the artist who created Home Sweet Home.

There have been a couple blog posts about my work, but my favorite article was by Rachel Watson. Her post is a great read, so check it out!

I returned, once more, on Friday with a couple of friends, and I sat in front of my piece for about an hour, just watching people’s reactions. I had one guy standing right next to me, photographing my piece, and I chuckled a little because the artist was sitting right next to him, but he was oblivious. A couple people did double and triple takes, recognizing me, so even though I chopped all my hair off I guess I’m not as incognito as I thought I was. Darn.

The funny thing about this was I was actually waiting in line at my own piece, trying to snag a few of my postcards. And no one, except one highly observant lady, noticed. And, thanks to my friend (Caroline you rock!) here is photographic evidence, because I’m a photographer and I’m all about that sort of thing:

People were standing in line waiting to get at my piece. I got a bit teary eyed, because seeing all of these people really look at my work is a dream come true. And it’s all because I took a risk. And, on the bus, I talked to a lady who remembered my piece. This experience is truly rewarding.

So, yeah. If you’re around, be sure to visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum to see my piece (and vote for it!) Also, I have postcards for your enjoyment, and everyone loves postcards, so hey, incentive. I’m also on the front, and that face may be famous some day.

Go look at the art. Get cultured. Also, the food in Grand Rapids is amazing, and all the artists are fun and quirky. ArtPrize is from September 24th- October 12th. Don’t miss out!

Happy Shooting!

Cyanotypes are the Stuff of Dreams

I’ve been itching to make cyanotypes, like, poison-ivy with itching powder on top kind of itching. We experimented a little bit in class last week, and I had a bit of fun. I brought in all kinds of objects: flat, round, small, large, opaque, translucent… And the results make me want to do more.

I also brought in medium format negatives and color slide negatives. The medium format negatives didn’t come out, despite being exposed for over half an hour, but my color slide ones gave some results. And here is why: cyanotypes respond to the blue parts of the light spectrum, so the more an object is transmitting blue light, the better. My color slide negatives were tungsten film, so they already had a blue tint to them, whereas my medium format negatives were orange, hence the struggle. My color slide negatives sat out in the sun for a little over 20 minutes, and I found the images that were higher-contrast came out better than the ones that didn’t. I want to try medium format again, to try and see what is the sweet-spot for exposure time.

Writing about this made my heart beat faster. I can’t wait to make more! I have to make some that relate to my semester-long theme of “dreams,” and I definitely think cyantoypes fall into the dreamlike category of image-making.

Happy Shooting (or Cyanotyping!)

Perfecting Prints

I started playing around with my prints last week, and after getting nice results from altering negatives, I thought I would play with my prints some more.

Story time: I hoard craft supplies. Some would say it is a problem (I say it is a problem,) but people usually come to me, asking for x art supply, and whaddayouknow, I have it! I was looking at the baby doll picture and thought this would be great if I had googly-eyes… maybe I do have googly-eyes? Well damn skippy I sure did! Take that, doubters! Also, who said Lisa Frank stickers were only good for the 90s?

And yes, I have a plastic horse. Sue me.

And also yes, I have store mannequins.

And also yes yes, that last photo is an accurate representation of my life.

When I compose these images behind the camera, they look pretty surreal, kind of dream like, and when you alter negatives, the effect increases. But,you have to work itty-bitty with negatives. So working on the prints was cool, considering one googly-eye would cover an entire 35mm negative, but not a 4×6 print. Boo-yah.

Happy Shooting!


ArtPrize 2014!

I’m super excited to share that ArtPrize 2014 is underway and my series Home Sweet Home is exhibited the Grand Rapids Art Museum!

It’s been an interesting journey for me. In May, I figured I could give this whole ArtPrize thing a try, not thinking much would come of it. So I applied to a few venues, and the last one I applied to was the GRAM. I wasn’t sure if I should try and connect with them, because I mean, it’s a museum and I’m just a college student, but I figured the worst that could happen is they would tell me no.

And that didn’t even happen.

I guess I wasn’t aware how big of a deal this is. I know ArtPrize is one of Michigan’s biggest tourist events, and I know a lot of my peers go to it, but I never have. So when I was filling out a contract with the museum, when I was arranging drop-off times, when I was interviewed for the exhibition, when I was asked if it was okay for the press to contact me, and when I got the list of these dinners/luncheons with important people, I was honestly overwhelmed. I still am.

Also I got a cool sticker when I came to drop my stuff off. Stickers mean serious business.

Last night was the Grand Rapids Art Museum Member Preview. I was so nervous all week, I couldn’t sleep, and all day I felt sick to my stomach. I never wear makeup, and I wore makeup, if that puts into perspective how anxious I was about literally everything. I kept thinking about never-would-happen scenarios, and I finally relaxed when we got to the museum and saw my work hanging up in the gallery. Everything looked wonderful.

There were a lot of people there, more than I was expecting (I don’t really know what I was expecting anymore.) It was so surreal, watching people read my artist statement and then slowly take their time looking at my images, reading the captions, sometimes going back to look again. There was one gentleman who sat on a bench and stared for at least ten minutes at my work- that was possibly my favorite part of the entire evening.

Talking with people about my work was great, since I don’t normally get to do that outside of a classroom setting. So, having people recognize me from the photos and come up to ask me questions was fantastic. I got questions like, “Is this for real?” and comments like, “This must have been really emotional for you.” I replied yes to both. I must have said thank you hundreds of times last night when people congratulated me or told me they enjoyed my work. All of the stress leading up to last night was 100% worth it.

Another surreal event: seeing my name is HUGE letters on the gallery wall. When we walked into the first gallery and saw one of the artists’ names, my best friend says to me, “Your name is going to be in big letters like that.” That didn’t quite register with my brain until I saw it in person.

I really enjoyed seeing the other artists’ work, and it’s an honor to be in the same venue with all of them. I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest artist there, so to be included with these practicing artists is truly humbling and exciting. Each piece in the GRAM for ArtPrize is extraordinary, so if you plan on visiting be sure to stop by! ArtPrize officially starts Wednesday, September 24th, and goes until October 12th. Hope to see you there!

And, as always, Happy Shooting!

P.S.- Here, have a visual representation about how I felt after last night:

P.P.S.- ArtPrize is a contest where the public casts a vote for their favorite piece! To learn more about this process, please visit: https://www.artprize.org/legal/voting-rules


Bruh, that Water is Nasty

Today I continued shooting for my Dream series, which meant doing something weird, like taking my mother’s arm chair, cramming it into a jeep, and going to the beach that is notorious for being disgusting and un-swimable. Because, y’know, that’s my life. Two of my favorite boys were with me today, and we had a good time with this chair.

Ignore my awesome neon Crocs for a second and check out that water. Blergh. Art is suffering? So, since the water wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, I Photoshopped the bejesus out of it. And now it looks surreal, but nothing about this photo is really normal, and it is a dream, so why not have extraordinarily blue water?

Yeah, so, even though I’m in a film class, I had to take digital photos of this scene because if the film didn’t come out, no one would believe this was a thing that happened. I treated myself to some editing for fun tonight.

We did another photo, this time on a hill near the beach. It was another dream one, but I did some test shots on my digital camera.

So that was the photo part about our adventure.

Now I gotta tell you about the chair.

Kaiden drove us, since he is a saint and has a large trunk, ’cause his vehicle of choice is a Jeep. His trunk likes to be temperamental, but we got the chair in without any issues and got it out without any issues. Trying to put it back in the Jeep to go home was a different story.

Stupid trunk wouldn’t open. We tried for about half an hour, looking things up on our convenient smart phones. We tried a couple things, like pushing right above the hatch while trying to open, but nothing worked. So we tried putting it in the back seat. Ha, what a cute idea. So then we put it in the front, and it was the worst passenger ever and there was no way Kaiden could drive with that monster blocking his mirrors and blind spots.

So, what were we going to do?

I kicked the hatch.

Unfortunately, the trunk didn’t spring open, even though that would have been cooler than what actually did happen.

Mitchell did the aforementioned push while trying to open thing, and it was like a chorus of angels starting singing from heaven on high and the sun came out and birds were singing and everything in that moment was perfect everywhere.

Then we had to get the chair back out of the front seat. We cracked Kaiden’s windshield in the process. (Sorry, man.)

But we got that stupid thing in the trunk and that is the story about the Jeep and arm chair that were out to get us.

Happy Shooting!

Positives About Negatives

My negatives from my last batch of film have been altered, and they look pretty interesting! I’d say they definitely add more dream elements. Or surreal elements. Whatever. Check them out:

I’m pretty pleased with these. The option of altering negatives is a good one, because I was able to make the photos that I didn’t like very much (or just weren’t good compositionally/content/justplainugly.) I’m a huge fan of the ghost sequins and the inverted Lisa Frank stickers. The former looks straight from some bad acid trip.

Well, now I have a new hobby. Oops.

I have an assignment for next week where I have to think about how I’m going to alter the negatives while I’m shooting- so, I’m shooting to alter. Pretty pumped~

If you have access to a film scanner, try this out! You can use just about anything. I used nail polish, glue, tape, a hole punch, thread, I used a needle to scratch at the emulsion, and colored pens and sequins. Oh, and a fortune from a fortune cookie I’ve been keeping around for probably more than a year now. I’m not a hoarder.

So, yeah. Happy Shooting!


P.S.- Fun story about the ghost one. When I was little I had really awful nightmares, so my mom got me a dream catcher. It worked for a while until one night I had a really awful nightmare. When I woke up the next day, the dream catcher was in pieces on the floor. Spooky.

Dream Theme

Last night I was feeling crafty but I was sitting at my desk and my chair was just so comfy and getting up was the equivalent to scaling Mt. Everest I just kinda grabbed what was within reach and this happened:

I played around with my extra prints. I highly suggest you try this sometime, because it was really fun. The top one I used nail polish- pretty cool, huh? Check out your local dollar store or Poundland or wherever you live that has the equivalent of a dollar store and invest in some cheap sparkly nail polish.

These are definitely following my dream theme (hey, that rhymes!) I’d say they are even more dreamy than before… I wonder what else I can do in the future?

I’m filling up another dream roll this weekend, so that should be fun. I’m looking forward to exploring this motif further.

Happy Shooting!

From Monuments to Dumpsters (August’s Photos)

When I got home, I loaded my Fuji Natura Classica and started my “Carrying Around a Camera Everyday” project immediately. My suburban neighborhood was not as exciting as London or Ireland or Paris (or so I thought,) but hey, a photographer can’t snub picture opportunities.

So, here are my photographs for the actually-super-exciting-and-eventful month of August. Explanations and stories below.

When I was lamenting about how boring my life is in America, something big happened. I don’t know where you live, but if you heard anything about the flooding in the Metro Detroit area- that’s my life. That’s my neighbors. My neighborhood was one of the worst hit.

Our basement flooded- everyone’s basements flooded. We were lucky and didn’t lose much, but driving down the street and seeing all the ruined things sitting outside waiting for the garbage men to pick up… It was incredibly somber. The whole thing was heart breaking, but thankfully not many people were hurt or died. It could have been much, much worse.

So, I may not have been photographing monuments and cathedrals and World Heritage Sites, but I did photograph the antics of cleaning out our basement. And yes, those are my dresses hanging on the fence.

Other exciting things that happened:

  • I came home from London, went to take a shower, and there were doll clothes in the tub. Thanks, mom.
  • At our old house, we would hang clothes to dry on the shower curtain in the bathroom. Apparently basement ceilings pipes work just as well.
  • That doll appears again. Don’t mind the horse or the shopping cart- they’re part of the family.
  • I went to the Renaissance Festival and to a concert.
  • My mom is cool with cutting her hair with blunt scissors.

So, yeah. I may not be abroad, but life is still interesting. Next time I’ll think twice before complaining about my life being boring- this time it was a flood, next time might be the east coast collapsing into the ocean or something equally as devastating.

On that pleasant note- Happy Shooting!

An Attempt at Dreams

These next four months are going to be dreamy. Daydreams, dreams dreams, dreamy, follow your dreams, and even nightmares. You get it.

I’m going to be working on capturing images that follow this theme. For my first assignment, the goal was to take photos that correspond with the theme we had in mind, to start working it out and try to get our ideas out there. So, I tried. I tried really, really hard. Like, obsessed over a week and couldn’t stop writing in my notebook and couldn’t eat and couldn’t fall asleep kind of obsessed. Many questions plagued me: how can I break my usual aesthetic of whimsy to get dreamy? Is there a difference? Do I want to do dreamy, or are my ideas actually surrealist? When we are awake, are we asleep in the dream world? What is our purpose? Is there really a black hole at the beginning of the universe?

I tried a few different techniques, filters, and even a lens attachment to get some of these. Seeing them all together is pretty cool, but also makes me realize I have a lot of work ahead of me this semester if I want a successful series.

Okay, that doll. I know I should address it because it is most likely freaking a lot of you out, but- nah. I’m just gonna not say anything and let you decide why such a thing is welcomed in my house.

Oh, and I’m also glad my pro-fort-making-skills haven’t tarnished at all since my fort-buildin’ days.

Here are some bonuses:

My poor friend in the pool there is not a fan of swimming, and I guess what we were technically doing was water-boarding? So, I accidentally used torture as a means to get a good photo. I’ve done it all, folks.

Here’s to more questionable photographs in the future!

Happy Shooting!