“I am..” a series about a feeling.

I published a preview on my facebook page about this series as I like to do to find out what people think. It didn’t take long to have people miss understand what the images were saying at all.  Some took it as I was just my condition while others just could not understand the concept at all. This is normal and I am glad people are talking about the image. That means I am doing my job.

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For those interested in why this series has come about in my mind please read the Medical Criminals post on this blog and for those who are interested in the things I hope to achieve in this series strap yourselves in and enjoy the next instalment in my mind.

This series has been a full on process for something I was hoping would be a smaller project. I was originally planning on doing it as close to accurate as I could to real life.

Lesson one was learned right here. Just because it is accurate does not mean you will create an effective image. For example the board is not held by the person in the photo but is off to the side. While this is accurate information it creates a sense of space from the subject and I didn’t want that at all. I want the disability to ‘own’ the person so this needed to be changed.

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Lesson two was a close second. It is much easier to connect with models than with real sufferers. I wanted this series to be made up of people who suffer the illness mentioned and a lot of the time these people are not comfortable doing this kind of project until they have seen all the information and proof pictures for such a series. They take care due to the subject but the effect is so much more powerful with a diverse range. Oh and for the record kids can be interesting to work with but having treats or toys for them to play with after the shoot help lots.

Lesson three came in post production of the pilot image. I started editing and then realised that my polished format on the last series should not carry over to this series. I mean how often do you see a flawless prison photo? There is always slight washed out or slight dark photo, there is often little consistency in the type of people in the images and lets face it if the people pictured were perfect they would never have been caught. So how can I show this in my images? How about a botch image? The lines are not straight or measured properly, they don’t match, the illness name has been added in post production and done clearly so you can see the lack of truthfulness in each image.

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The series is not about the truth or about what outsiders see looking at a person with one of these illnesses. This series is about how a sufferer can feel about their illness. I do know not all of us fighting invisible illnesses think we are seen like this however I do know some of us at times do.

I am risking doing negative things to my artistic merit doing these things in lesson three but I believe that these changes for this particular series increase the message I am trying to send. Any artist could do these things yes but tell me what other artist has already?

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Bill Henson, a Master.

I relate to Bill Henson’s work maybe a little too well. His work is almost magnetic to my subconscious mind and in being able to reach that could be considered dangerous. My mind was considered a very dark place for a long time and like many artists depression is a well-known friend of mine.  A particular picture of his that I become entranced in is Untitled #27 2007/08 Bill Henson

Bill Henson work

Bill Henson Untitled #27 2007/08

The minimalist approach to a lot of his works is characteristic of a coping technique taught to depressed teenagers. The aim is to teach the patient to see more positive things around them and less negative things. In this exercise you are to take a walk and only allow your eyes to travel between positive things. You simply ignore the negative things around you. Trust me this is not as easy as it seems.

Henson’s work takes the theory from the above mentioned coping technique into the artistic world by concealing the possible negative aspects or undesirable aspects of his pictures in black. The parts revealed are not violent and almost harmonious in their own rights. There is a serene sense of juxtaposition within his pictures. The color schemes used often convince the viewer that a darker sinister thing is brewing in the shadows but his image it’s self is calm and never violent to my knowledge. Quite often this dark color scheme is coupled with an intimate moment between people.

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2007/08

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2007/08

I love the way his images portray almost a painterly quality to them. The stronger and almost primal way the light dances on his subjects is hard to describe but can be likened to chiaroscuro technique used by painters and drawers in the early renaissance period. (14th – 17th centuries)  This technique in crux is simply put to be a small hole made into a piece of paper or cloth to project an upside down picture onto a canvas that the artist would trace the lines and shadows to portray a near life image.

I have dabbled in a lot art based things during school and even outside of school. Up until I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my mid 20’s I was very partial to having a pencil and sketch pad close to me.  This is a part of my life that I can’t escape from and nor would I want to.

So how could someone like me be comparing my own images to this great legend? I simply can’t begin to compare my work to the depth Henson places into his but I can become inspired by it and this I do. His lines and minimalist approach is amazing while his clashing emotions leave you coming back for more.  All your mind is doing when you look at his work is looking for the next part of the puzzle. Looking for what your mind thinks it has missed.

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2008/09

Bill Henson Untitled #8 2008/09

So the question is now what did you miss? The answer is most likely nothing at all. But can you be sure? Why not have another look just to be certain?

How many times did you go back to that image?  Three, maybe four? This is what I love about Henson. His way of implying that there is more there if you look again a little deeper.