Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SACRED Art Show... With Casey Larae!

It's so exciting to include a photographer in the art show! Here is the beautiful work of Casey Larae:

E: I love this so much. How did you choose these three images?
C: I chose these three images because they are what stuck in my head visually, Scarlett and her different connections - her horse is #1; her recurring nightmare and brothers death, #2, represented by being buried / sinking in the sand; #3, connection to a boy, Will.  These three seemed to give a good idea about what is represented in the book specifically focusing on love, fear & hope.  
E: Tell me about the process of a finished photograph—from snapping it to printing it.
C: This took a while to complete from conception to printing, arranging for a 17 yr. old hand model - a local relative, but both of us are without cars, me by choice her by situation being as she's 17.  So we had two shoot days as we ran out of light the first time as we were relying on public transit and had limited options for days/times to meet up.  I had already decided I wanted to keep it simple and just focus on a hand in each image, her hand in different vignettes so that's what I did, picking three significant connections or emotions.  When it came time to edit the images, I first tried a variety of sepia toned gradients and colors to try to evoke more feeling but after a several iterations I decided I liked the look of the images with a slight wash or faded effect so they are not vibrant & strong but more subdued and hopefully reflect a more hazy/dazed emotional state of mind.  I chose to print this piece on metallic paper so it has a strange, reflective & shiny quality, which I think inspires curiosity from a distance and helps draw viewers in.  
E: How did you develop your business? Word of mouth? Advertising?
C: I worked as an apprentice for a top OC wedding photographer for 4 years then when out on my own about 5 years ago.  I initially focused on weddings and pregnancy portraits, but I enjoy variety so have been shooting whatever comes my way since then.  If I had more of a focus I might advertise, but I don't yet want to be anchored down into one type of photography so all my business has been Word of Mouth.  Referrals are a huge part of me being able to do photography professionally, and I am so grateful to the people around me for keeping the cycle going.  I would love to do more editorial work and book covers, so I will be pursuing that this coming year and can't wait to do more fun projects more in line with the documentary style photography that I enjoy.

E: Who and what inspire you?
C: Go getters inspire me. How do they do that? Like Richard Simmons, where does he find his energy and gusto. I like it and his strong sense of self.  Random I know, but I just heard him interviewed and they told a story of him on a plane and how he shifted the energy of the plane, got everyone interacting and laughing... what a great strong being he is, positively affecting the space around him.  I of course love artists and musicians and photographers and writers, comedians especially - they put themselves on stage - open and vulnerable and honest.  As a photographer I think I could walk around all day every day and photograph anything in nature backlit, with light shining through the leaves or branches. This inspires me, makes me curious and yet serene.

E: What is a typical workday like for you?
C: It's improv every time. I have an idea of what I want to do, but no idea exactly what I will shoot.  I always use natural light, I shoot on location, no studio, so I only get natural--hopefully more genuine--images of people.  I try to create a calm and playful environment so that everyone is as at ease as they can be in front of a camera and we move, we walk, we play, we sit still once in a while, and I do my best to capture the essence of people in their environments.  
After a shoot I spend double the amount of time editing - the process of downloading the images, editing out those that don't work, then making any color adjustments and converting raw uncompressed images into JPG files for printing and sharing online.  I love playing with color or black & white or sepia tones to see what colors best represent the images, and once I get to see them printed I am so happy as I get to help people preserve a sweet moment in time. 

E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?

C: Professionally, I prefer doing maternity and newborn portraits, but I also shoot weddings and some family portraits throughout the year for variety and, quite frankly, to stay in business.   Personally, I have a few projects going. The one I have shot most is the 'Artist Process' series where I visit artists/craftsmen (focusing on handmade goods from Southern California)  in their workspace and interview them about their process.  I have posted them on my photography blog with all the other professional shoots so they are mingling among the clients.

Casey Larae
E: What advice would you give people who'd like to break into the art world?
C: No idea - I've heard work begets work, so work work work… and as an artist I like to think of it as play… so Play more.
E: Do you have a web presence?
E: If you could meet any character in SACRED, who would it be and why?
C: Will or his Dad - I'd enjoy a philosophical conversation with Mr. Cohen, but I'd enjoy a date with green-eyed Will.
E: That makes two of us.

Here are Casey's lovely images once again:

And if you're in the LA area, please do visit the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach tonight, November 13 at 7:30, to visit with the great artists who are being featured on my blog and to hear me read a bit from SACRED!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

SACRED Art Show... with Erin O'Shea!

Today I have the pleasure of sharing the work of the artist whose idea it was to do a SACRED Art Show in the first place! Erin O'Shea suggested we do a show and she introduced me to most of the wonderful artists whose work I've shared on my blog.

And here is the haunting piece she created:

Elana: Wow. Tell me how you came up with your vision for this piece.

Erin: I was really drawn to Scarlett's relationship with her mother, or her initial persistence in wanting connection. Her mother's way of dealing with tragedy is what sets the stage for Scarlett's experience.  I really wanted to show that Scarlett feels like she's just part of the scenery. Scarlett's form of self-destructive grief is overpowered by her mother's drug addiction, which permeates their home.  I wanted to capture the last time she stepped toward her mother and because her mother continued to choose pills, their home was full of her absence.  I also wanted the pills to look enticing, because to someone facing tragedy, escape in any form is tempting.

Elana: I know that you work in many mediums. Can you tell me about some of your favorites?

Erin: I love relief printmaking which is what my current portfolio is full of, but I also love watercolor and am trying to find my visual language in this medium.

Elana: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

Erin: Making the time to grow is the biggest challenge for me.  I could continue making work like the work I've already done, but there are other styles I have yet to birth and want to explore, but this takes extra time. Not just time to work, but time to play with my art. Which is difficult with multiple jobs and children and that feeling of guilt when you spend time "playing." It can be very counterproductive to feel like every minute should be spent being "productive." Honestly, the space between my ears is my biggest challenge!

Elana: Who and what inspire you?

Erin: My soul is inspired by time spent in nature, I feel like anything is possible when I've had quality nature time. So it's a priority for me to spend time floating, climbing, digging and hiking.  Artists that inspire me right now are Jen Corace, Nikki McClure,Yuko Shimizu and Tomer Hanuka. The palette for this piece was directly inspired by Tomer. They all have distinctly different styles and create incredibly beautiful work. Music is also a big part of my creative experience, and I love having the right type of music to support my studio time.

Artists who inspire Erin

Elana: What is a typical workday like for you?

Erin: Well, my three kids take classes two days a week and are home/unschooled the rest of the time. I also teach at a local college and the high school of the arts, so finding time to do my work is a challenge.  I fit in as much as I can in my studio on the days they're in school and I stay up late to work when the house is quiet. But Sunday is my holy day, as it's the only full day I have set aside for illustration. A perfect Sunday is breakfast with the Fam, then cycle to my studio and come back whenever I feel like it!
Erin's workspace
 Elana: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?

Erin: I'm working on a wordless picture book with Joel Harper that I'm very excited about. He has published an environmental children's book about ocean pollution, and we are now working on a story that encourages children to not only clean up their beach, but to make art with the trash they've found. I'm also a part of a fiber arts collaborative that knits and crochets large installations, so I always have something on my needles. I'm currently knitting large white "gauze" bandages for trees whose limbs have been violently removed.  That project it titled "Amputrees" or "Arborgeddon" Not sure yet.

Elana: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?

Erin: I'd like to know the answer to that too!!! I try to say "yes" to every opportunity that presents itself, as well as seek out locations for shows, participate in contests and attend publishing/illustration events.  For some it's a quick thing to be a success in this field, but I'm going at the pace my family can handle.  I'm usually fairly unsatisfied with how little time I have to make stuff I love, but I think that's part of being creative and always wanting to discover that next idea/project.  Being an active member of an artistic community is also very important and helps to keep me motivated, engaged and always learning.

Elana: Do you have a web presence? 

Erin: Yes indeed, I do: www.erinoshea.com.

Elana: If you could meet any character in SACRED, who would it be and why?

Erin: I would love to make and share a meal with Will's dad Martin. He was such a solid presence and I really enjoyed his whole character. I think I want to adopt him!

Here's a photo of Erin's piece in progress:
And once more, here's the final piece. Thank you so much, Erin!

Friday, November 9, 2012

SACRED Art Show! With Christina Forshay!

Lots of SACRED is dark and emotional... a good clue to its tone is that two Sylvia Plath quotes open the book! But there are light, funny parts too, and Christina Forshay has focused on one for her fabulous piece. Here it is:

E: I love how lighthearted and fun this picture is! Can you tell me why you chose this scene?
C: This scene really grabbed my attention because of its fun qualities. I always think I want to do a dark or serious painting, but my subconscious always seems to want to create the more lighthearted imagery first. 

Here are a couple of those lighthearted images:

C: Plus, this scene also totally reminds me of something my friends and I totally would have done in high school.

E: Really? Tell me about something crazy you did in high school!

C: In this scene, Lily is enjoying playing "secret agent" and hoping to not be spotted by anyone who might recognize her and Scarlett. Well, one evening, my friends and I decided we were going to go "incognito" to a fancy restaurant in Laguna Beach. BUT, to "up" the excitement, we created fake fancy names for ourselves and pretended like we were rich, fancy ladies with European accents sipping tea. It was pretty ridiculous, but a great memory nonetheless. I think my name was Mercedes for the night!

E: How fabulous! I would have loved to have joined in. Were you always an artist? Do you remember any one moment when you decided you had to create art?
C: I've always craved art. Since before kindergarten, one of my favorite things to do was open a brand new box of crayons. Nothing better than that "new crayon smell"! I was always coloring, or making clay creations with my dad, or drawing. From about elementary school to high school I thought I wanted to be an architect. But I realized at some point that architecture was too structured for me. Then, I dabbled in graphic design which was "ok", but still too structured. And finally, after a couple of years spent thinking that I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I finally listened to my heart and made the decision to major in illustration. So, some form of creativity has always been at my core.

E: Who and what inspire you?

C: I'm inspired by a lot of things: my kids, the morning sun glowing through my kitchen window, and even something as silly as watching that really big guy ride his really tiny bike down the street. And music. Music is always an inspiration for new ideas and almost always acts as motivation while I'm painting. For example, I listened to a lot of Edith Piaf while painting this piece. It just felt like it made the perfect soundtrack for this scene.

E: What is a typical workday like for you?
C: Well, given my family dynamics I don't have any kind of typical workday. It's usually just whenever I can squeeze in a bit of time here and there. I've got a son who just started kindergarten, a two year old, and a firefighter husband with a very crazy schedule. If I've got a deadline, my most productive time would be after everyone else is sleeping at night, which makes for some really late nights! I'm always trying new ways to find time to work during the day, but so far night works best.
Christina's workspace

E: Do you have a favorite type of art to create?
C: Fun, bright and colorful art naturally pours out of me. Cartoons were a HUGE influence on my creativity growing up and I think my art reflects that. I like to create visual worlds where I think, "I want to jump into this painting and live there!"

E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?
C: I've  got a picture book I illustrated coming out in Spring of 2013 called "Goodnight Baseball" through Capstone Young Readers. I also recently finished up some designing wine labels for a good friend who has her own vineyard. The past year was so crazy with illustration deadlines, that I'm currently taking some time to explore my style and get back into painting with actual brushes versus digital brushes.

E: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?
C: It is important to be brave and courageous. Put your work out there! You can't go anywhere in the art world if you are too filled with fear to show your work. We all have self-doubts, but we shouldn't be paralyzed by fear of rejection.

E: I agree completely. Also, do you have a web presence?
C: I do! My website and blog are at www.christinaforshay.com.

E: Do you have a favorite character in SACRED?
C: Oooh, that's a hard one! I like all the characters for different reasons, but my favorite has to be Lily. She is super confident and  comfortable in her own skin. I wish I had those qualities when I was her age. Heck, I could probably use more of both of those attributes now!

Me too. Once again, here's Christina's wonderful piece:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SACRED Art Show... with Annie Ruygt!

Today's beautiful piece comes from Annie Ruygt. Behold the fall beauty of her vision:

E: Looking at your Scarlett is like looking into my own imagination. Can you tell me about how you came to create this piece?  
A: The moment when Will and Scarlett first meet is quite beautiful and it felt like time stopped around me when I was reading that chapter.  I knew I had to illustrate it!  I imagined soft colors and whirling leaves.  I felt like watercolor would suit the moment just fine.
E: I’ve looked at several of your pieces, and many of them seem to share a certain sensibility, a kind of simple, quiet… something. How would you define your aesthetic? 
A: I like to think my art reflects a little magic, solitude, and reflection in each piece.  I love the feeling when you understand the whole world as you look up at the stars.  I try and add a dash of that into the illustration.
E: Who and what inspires you?  
A: I've been goo goo about quotes and poetry lately.  I love Mary Oliver, Mark Twain, and Maya Angelou.  
E: What is a typical work day like for you? 
A: I teach art classes 3-4 days a week, but I work on art in the mornings at my little white desk, sketching, painting, or just playing around.  I'm currently working on a couple children's book ideas.  I'll sketch, do some research, facebook, then sketch again.

E: Do you have a favorite type of art to create?  
A: There's nothing more fulfilling than whipping something up completely on a whim.  That's my favorite kind; the kind where it's truly inspired and as soon as the idea hits, I have to do it.
E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in? 
A: I'm doing all the posters and website graphics for my band, Good Girls and Smokers.  It's been fun branding the band and designing merchandise.  Besides that I have my two children's books that have become back burner regulars but I still love taking them out and working on them.  I have a hard time rushing the children's books I work on... they mean too much to me.
E: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world? 
A: I would only say-- if you love it, then make it a part of your life, have fun, and opportunities will surface for you.  
E: Do you have a web presence?  
A: I do! I have a website, blog, Facebook page, pinterest board, and you can find me on a few other business sites.
E: Do you have a favorite moment in SACRED? 

A: By far my favorite moment is the one I illustrated.  It was mysterious and electric!  I'm still reading SACRED, so I'm sure several moments will top that one soon, but until then, it's a lovely scene and it has left me wanting and wondering!

And here's Annie's SACRED piece once more. Thank you, Annie!