Friday, July 1, 2016

Tread Lightly at Twilight

Tread Lightly at Twilight ©2016 - Twilight is absolutely my favorite time of day. The soft, diffused light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon and a few stars become visible has a magical quality not present at any other time. The rhythm of the day is fast paced and measured by the hands of the clock, but the rhythm of the night is meditative and measured by the movement of the moon. Twilight, or "half-light", hovers between the two signaling the death of the day and the birth of the night with all it's dark secrets. The background image of this montage was in reality captured a little earlier in the afternoon around Sergeantsville, NJ. I was fascinated by the tree whose trunk seemed to grow horizontal along the ground before swooping upward. The wire mesh containers behind the tree are probably corn cribs used to dry corn, but I chose to fill them with a murder of crows exiting into the sky. Clouds were added along with selected filters and texture to simulate that hazy, watercolorish time between day and night. The young lady from my vintage photo collection was actually climbing some steps carrying a basket of flowers, but I replaced the flowers with a candle to light her way and added some grasses and stones to her path in the foreground. Hopefully, she treads lightly through the gargoyles (trying to camouflage themselves among the stones) as she makes her way through the twilight zone to a romantic tryst.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Messengers

The Messengers 2016 - The background of this montage is a combination of two images of Green Sergeant's Covered Bridge located across Wickecheoke Creek in Delaware Township NJ. Constructed in 1872 and named for local mill operator Richard Green Sergeant, it is the last historic covered bridge in New Jersey. After being damaged in 1960, it was dismantled and replaced with a modern bridge; but, oddly enough, due to public outcry, the bridge was rebuilt from the original materials in 1961. The gulls are from a rather large flock I came across hanging out, not by the sea, but in the parking lot of Wegmans supermarket in Bridgewater, NJ. Many species have learned to coexist successfully with humans and are resourceful, inquisitive and intelligent birds. In Native American spirituality, gulls are regarded as spiritual messengers that indicate a higher communication with spirit guides is taking place. The "spirit guide" in my piece is a composite of three different women to achieve the look I envisioned. The body is one of my models, the face and hair are from two different vintage photos from my collection. The pentagram she wears at her throat symbolizes the five elements with the top point, the spirit, ruling over the other four; earth, air, fire and water. The circle encasing them all represents infinity and the cycles of life and nature. With the composition in place, I added color, selected filters and texture to complete "The Messengers".

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen ©2016 -  On a recent trip through the historic town of Princeton, NJ, I came across a beautiful old building (no surprise as Princeton has an abundance of them) but what most attracted me to this one was a magical, amber glow emanating from the iron gated doorway at dusk. Upon later research, it turned out to be Stuart Hall, part of the theological seminary of Princeton University. Built in 1876, it was named for the brothers Robert and Alexander Stuart, wealthy sugar refiners from New York City who donated funds for the building. After downloading the files, the color in the doorway reminded me of an idea in the back of my mind using an image of a cicada I photographed in my backyard during the seventeen year brood emergence of 2013. Several cultures, such as the ancient Chinese, regarded these insects as powerful symbols of rebirth. Looking down at the cicada, the top of it's body resembled the intricate bodice of a Victorian lady's dress with the same coloring as the doorway. The wide set eyes seemed to form shoulder pads while the wings formed flowing sleeves and a billowing skirt. I immediately searched my vintage photo collection and found a lovely lady that fit perfectly into the "cicada gown". I placed her in the composition, just emerging from the doorway, along with a crow flying overhead and a crescent moon reflected in the window. Selected filters,  color and texture completed "The Edge of Seventeen".

Friday, March 4, 2016

Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls 2016 - The title of this piece came from the 1966 novel by Jacqueline Susann, "Valley of the Dolls". Susann used the term "dolls" as a euphemism for drugs and how substance abuse is reminiscent of children clinging to toy dolls for comfort. It was the underlying theme in the pop culture classic about 3 women looking for fame and fortune in the entertainment industry and turning to "dolls" to deal with it's trials and tribulations. The background image is an abandoned building I captured in the area of the Delaware Water Gap in Sussex County, NJ. I was drawn by the weathered, pastel tones of paint and how the bare tree limbs on one side arched protectively over the roof. The building sat very close to a road, so for my composition, I added a pond of water with a cluster of trailing vines from Spotswood, NJ to the foreground. The little girl, with such a sweet expression, is from my vintage photo collection. The doll she is holding onto ( which I have to admit might be considered a bit creepy) is from an estate sale as well as the other dolls lurking around in the background and peeping up out of the water under the vines. The sky was rather bland so I added some clouds, a full moon, texture and of course, a couple of crows to complete the mood of "Valley of the Dolls".  

Monday, February 29, 2016

Along Came a Spider

Along Came a Spider ©2015 -  I discovered this wine glass lost and forgotten in the recesses of a kitchen cabinet. A resident spider apparently decided it was the perfect place to set up housekeeping, spinning a fascinating web tethered to the inside of the glass. Unfortunately, the spider's choice of real estate wasn't the best for attracting prey and it would appear he met his demise huddled beneath, waiting for dinner to be served. As I examined his creation, it immediately reminded me of a cow skull that Georgia O'Keeffe was so fond of painting and I knew I had to use it in a composition. After trying it in several different ones, it struck me that with this, simple would work the best. I placed it on a table in my studio in front of a window with streaming, afternoon sunlight that highlighted the web perfectly. I replaced it's deceased architect with the image of a spider from my backyard, added some texture and filters and "Along Came a Spider" was complete.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Different Point of View

A Different Point of View ©2015 - This piece began with a small, blue robin's egg found abandoned in the grass of my yard. I searched the area  for a nest it could have come from in hopes of returning it to it's owner but was unsuccessful, so I put it away for future use in an art piece. I've owned the bird's nest since the early 1980s when I found it tucked inside the limbs of  my Christmas tree one year. It's had a place of honor on every Christmas tree since. When I came across the old tintype of the lovely lady, I thought the nest would fit nicely in her lap as she plays mediator between the crow and robin, each having "A Different Point of View" regarding rights to the egg. The background started with an image of a grassy hillside with beautiful foreground flowers taken up north in Warren County, NJ. I added an interesting stone structure built into the side of a hill that I came across in the area of Stockton, NJ. The mysterious entrance was totally dark revealing not a clue as to what lay inside  (and a fence prevented any adventure in that direction) so I decided to use my discretion and add a moonlit scene of a garden path from Cross Estate Gardens in Bernardsville, NJ for yet another "Different Point of View". The crows, texture, selected filters and hand coloring were added to bring the final piece together.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"A New Leaf" opens at River Queen Artisans Gallery!

A Meeting of Minds

A Meeting of Minds ©2015 - This montage began with an image I captured in the area of Califon, NJ of a magnificent crow. He was perched on the gate of a large property and when I focused my camera on him, the resulting image had wonderful bokeh in the background. In photographic terms, "bokeh" has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light". It was softly out of focus with beautiful orbs of light floating all around. I added a field of swampy grasses with a few cattails from Warren county around Belivedere, NJ. In the distance, I placed a photograph I captured of the lovely Mansion Inn in New Hope, PA. Charles Crook, a local businessman, had the house designed and built for his wife in 1865. The intricate Victorian scroll work gives it a magical air that fit the composition perfectly. When I blended the images together, the orbs of the bokeh seemed to be emanating from the house like spirits dancing in the moonlight. Last but not least, a graceful dragonfly I found sitting atop a plant just outside my back door was added and, hopefully, is having "A Meeting of Minds" with the crow regarding sharing the dance floor.

Catch a Falling Star

Catch a Falling Star ©2015 - The camera is an amazing tool, but it can be magical when the unexpected happens. I was in Stanhope, NJ just around sunset one evening  photographing a flock of 13 vultures (6 of which are included in this piece). They were gathering in a cluster of bare limbed trees to roost for the night. When I downloaded the images, I noticed a streak of light in one just above the trees. Thinking it must be the trailing of a jet plane, I was surprised and thrilled when I enlarged it to see it was a round, glowing object with a faint, textured center. I had inadvertently captured a meteoroid entering the earth's atmosphere! Knowing I had to use it in a piece, I chose a background image of a sloping field with a wooden rail fence and lovely evening light from Stockton, NJ. I removed the tall, wooded area that was beyond the fence and replaced it with a sky of rolling clouds to showcase the star. I came across the little red tricycle at an antique shop in Red Bank, NJ. It was a little impractical to purchase as a prop, but I did sneak a couple of shots that turned out to be usable. I placed it, along with the young gentleman (from my vintage photo collection), and the landing vulture in the field. I then added color inspired by one of William Heath Robinson's watery, pastel paintings to try to attain the soft, golden glow that evenings have at the end of summer along with some texture from a daguerreotype. One legend has it that seeing a shooting star can mean bad luck or even death. Another says good luck and a wish made upon it will come true. I prefer to believe the latter and feel lucky that I was able to "Catch a Falling Star".