Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

h1

Retro vs Contemporary Food Photography

August 28, 2013

The final week of the photo composition class I’m taking at the Genesee Center just ended, and our last project was to compose a photo series. The type of series was left open-ended: it could be repetition of similar objects, a chronological series documenting an event, a documentary of a specific place, or illustration of a general theme/idea.

Since I’m always photographing food for this blog, I knew I wanted to do something with food photography, but every idea I thought of seemed really commonplace. Food preparation steps? Nah, tons of people do that already and it’s not really artistic enough for where I wanted to go with the project. Photographing the same meal but in different styles? That seemed promising, but what sorts of food photography styles are there? Then suddenly I had it: I would do my project on how food photography has evolved over the past 40-50 years!

Anyone would notice at first glance that food photos from 1960s and 1970s cookbooks are glaringly retro, but what exactly makes them appear that way? (Besides the content of the food itself… oh man, so much jello. Gross jello. Salmon jello or mustard jello, anyone?) I went looking for scans from old cookbooks (finding this hilarious blog in the process) and came up with this list of common photography elements in the retro photographs:

Composition

  • Garnishes everywhere (parsley, radishes, olives, toothpicks!)
  • Busy patterns (wallpaper, napkins, towels)
  • Plants/flowers/candlesticks/saltshakers/random crap in the background
  • Small food (rice, vegetables) arranged in a tight, even circle around main dish (like pot roast or goulash)
  • 45 degree angle above food (generally no shots from directly above or on the same level as the dish)

Technical aspects

  • Deep depth of field (everything in these photos is in focus, no blurred backgrounds)
  • Sharp shadows under dishes from strictly artificial lighting
  • Low degree of contrast (no pure blacks or whites, everything looks a bit flat)
  • Warm tones

Now that I had a general idea of what would make a food photo look retro, I could begin my photo series. During the past week, I took two photos of each dish I made: one in a retro style and one in a contemporary style. I didn’t go out of my way to make any retro recipes (so no jello); my goal was to take the food I usually prepare and see how different I could make the same dish look just by changing the composition and lighting.

So here it is! I’m really happy with the way my series turned out, and I hope you enjoy looking at it just as much as I enjoyed photographing it!

Egg Noodles with Cabbage and Onions

CabbageNoodles_1965

CabbageNoodles_2013

See the rest of the photos

h1

Mayday Underground!

October 29, 2012

This coming Saturday (November 3rd), I will have a table in my third-ever craft show! This is the largest/most diverse one yet: the first was the Buffalo Small Press book fair, which was large but all book and printing related items, and the second was the Yard(s)Sale at the public market, which was very small.

Mayday Underground has been running twice a year for the past few years here in Rochester and I’m very happy to have been selected to participate! I’m also honored that one of my pictures was chosen to be on the advertising image (the skinny notebooks in the top right corner). :)

I’ve been working on some new book structures, and since the crochet skull motifs I made were popular at the Yard(s)Sale, I’ll have a bunch of those too. And Spirograph notecards, of course.

Please stop in and visit if you’re in the area on Saturday! And please share with all your friends/coworkers too. :)

Mayday Underground 2012

See what I’ve been making

h1

Upcoming art show

June 26, 2012

(Edited to add some more pictures)

This upcoming weekend I’ll be participating in my second-ever art/craft show. It’s here in Rochester rather than in Buffalo!

See what I’ve been working on…

h1

6x6x2012

May 6, 2012

Every year for the past few years, the Rochester Contemporary Art Center has put on a benefit show to raise money for the center by soliciting artwork donations from all over the city (and the rest of the world). They sell them for $20 apiece on a first-come-first-served basis starting with the opening night in early June. The stipulation is that each piece be exactly 6″ x 6″ so they can be displayed on the walls in a grid format (and believe me, they cover every spare surface in the gallery!). There’s no restrictions on who can participate, so they get everything from mixed media 3D sculptures to photographs to drawings by little kids. The variety is what makes it such an awesome show; I highly recommend going just to browse, even if you don’t intend to buy a piece.

5 PM today is the deadline for turning in artwork for this year’s show. I’d sketched out some ideas when they initially put out the call for works several months ago; I finally finished my three pieces last night and dropped them off this afternoon! After a lot of agonizing over how to make all my ideas fit together cohesively into a series (bookbinding! crochet! decorative paper! felted objects!), I finally decided on the caterpillar (aka centipede) binding as the central element in each piece. No reason you have to use it to sew signatures together!

Centipede I

Centipede II

Centipede III

I’m looking forward to seeing them hanging on the wall at RoCo alongside all the other amazing artworks!

See more detailed photos.

h1

Itty bitty books

May 1, 2012

Since the book fair in March (which was super fun, even if I didn’t sell a whole lot), I’m feeling a bit of a creative slump. I get up in the morning, feeling super motivated to clean! and crochet! and make books! and then… I have to go to work. And then in the evenings I get home… and I just feel like taking a nap.

But! The weather was gorgeously sunny this past weekend, and I had Sunday afternoon free! So of course I… stayed indoors! But I didn’t take a nap.

I made some mini books! :)

Mini books

They’re one and a half inches tall. So tiny!

Mini books

The book on the left is 7 sheets bound as a one-section five-hole softcover pamphlet. The book on the right is a 7-section one-needle coptic binding; each section has 3 sheets. These were so much fun to put together… I think I do better when I’m just messing around!

Mini books

One of my coworkers and I have been taking about a collaboration incorporating her metalwork with my crochet (and maybe some mini books) for some of the pieces she’ll have at the Clothesline Fest later this year. She likes skull and Dia de los Muertes motifs so I’m going to give these mini books to her and see what she thinks!

h1

I’ve been busy, but not with cooking!

March 21, 2012

With what, you say? Surely I still have to eat, and I certainly wouldn’t just start getting takeout every night, so where is the food? Well, I’ve still been cooking, but  I’ve been spending pretty much all my free time making handmade blank books for the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair! And crocheting, but that’s for another post (or ten).

Stack of books waiting to be bound

Stack of books waiting to be bound

This will be my very first art show, so I’m super excited but a bit nervous that I’ll have not enough/too much of one thing, or that I won’t have any sales, or that my display will be sucky, etc etc. But! I’m mostly excited and trying not to let perfectionism get in the way. This supposed to be fun, right? :)

Loop paper hardcover coptics

Small hardcover coptic bindings made with Loop paper

It all started last year when I realized that A) I was finished with school, and B) I had started a new job that had more regular hours (no more 9 AM – 8 PM on an alternating schedule). I could finally pursue the creative interests I had put in hibernation for so long! Hand-bound books have fascinated me for the past few years, and I had purchased the first three Keith Smith books on sewn bindings a while ago. However, I’ve always felt uncomfortable just diving in all by myself, so I signed up for the late summer session of Intro to Bookbinding at the Genesee Center for the Arts and Education, taught by Emily Sterling of Singletree Press (she will also have a table at the Buffalo show). The class helped me gain the confidence I needed to start pursuing more complex bindings, and I went on to take the advanced bookbinding class (and will take it again this spring as Emily will be covering some different structures).

Long stitch with chain

Softcover with tab; long stitch with chain binding

I think I’ve got a pretty good variety of different bindings at different prices – I’ve got a lot of small (4 x 5.5″) hardcover coptic-bound books, and a few each of the softcover long stitch and large (6 x 8″) hardcover coptics. I also have some mini skinny softcover notebooks that I think would be good for making lists, and then a bunch of small softcovers made from this super-cool vintage-y robot paper that I found at the art store!

Robot books

Robot mini-notebooks!

Skinny notebooks

Skinny notebooks

In preparation for later on after the show, I’ve finally opened up my Etsy store, also called Rats In Teacups. Once the show is over I’ll list everything else I have left and start working on some more ideas. I have the feeling this won’t be my last art show!

If you’re in the Buffalo area, please stop by! The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair is on Saturday, March 24th, 2012 at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum at 453 Porter Ave in Buffalo NY. It runs from 12 – 6 PM and is open to the public – no cost for admission. Hope to see you there!