I am pleased to announce my new book of photographs, “Child Revisited”. It is a deluxe book, with images printed on high-quality paper and bound in bookcloth with beautiful dust jacket. I am very pleased that these difficult to print images have turned out so beautifully. The book is available for preview at the Blurb.com Bookstore. You will find “Child Revisited” and my other books by searching “engstad”. Enjoy!
- CHILD REVISITED | Nancy Engstad | Fine Art Photography
- The photographs in “Child Revisited” document the magic of dreams, art, and the creative life. Photographed over decades, the sculpture called “Child Revisited” first symbolized the interior landsc…, April 13, 2015
Perhaps it is Spring that does it. Perhaps just time itself with long days and nights. But at last there is a bit of optimism that perhaps the art will continue. When the “blank wall” appeared in the past some little bit of art was made somehow, but it has been a long drought this time. What seems to have happened is that I let the painting, drawing and any other physical, “manual” form of art-making go. Just turned the canvas to the wall, closed the studio door as well as that mental door through which ideas slipped into conscious awareness in the past. Even the dreams have been vacant of ideas or references. A true creative desert!
But holding onto that metaphor, an oasis seems to have appeared. The instant gratification of photography has proved to keep a path open. The subject has been with me since 2005. It is the sculpture made for “The Threads Project”, “Child Revisited”.
Let this post be a short one, to celebrate. I have written before in this blog and in the book “What The Surface Reveals: The Threads Project 2001-2007” about the significance of “Child Revisited”.
In the next few days the new book of photographs of “Child Revisited” will arrive and prove that a new chapter has begun. Once it has been reviewed, then more about the book and the photos. For now, an introduction~
The process of inverting digital photographs actually started when I was involved in working on my “Threads Project”. The amazing transformation of my digital “thread drawings” inspired me to use this process on some of photos and has indeed led to quite a body of work.
I have used the inversion process on photos taken on travels, such as to Paris. These photos resulted in a book ” The Other Side Of Paris” and “Sunlight And Shadow”, photos of the grounds of The de Young Museum in San Francisco. But I began some of the outdoor images back when I lived in the little town of Pawcatuck, Connecticut, which lies on the opposite side of a river and the Rhode Island town of Westerly. There I found a beautiful park designed by Olmstead, the same man who designed Central Park in New York City. My first printed inverted image came from these photos and are as delicate as watercolor.
But one of my favorite ongoing sites to snap photos suitable for the inversion process is, as mentioned in the last post, right outside my windows. Here are others from that vantage as well as one nearby.
The effect of the the time of day can be seen on the second version from The Patio Series. The image became nearly monochromatic as the sun slid behind the buildings. This view looks down into a small garden area between my building and my neighbor’s. The only manipulation of the photos is the inversion process which is very direct.More images related to this post can be seen in Pages and Posts on “The Threads Project”as well as those relating to the subject of inverted photographs and the books published at Blurb.com.
What a great opportunity to share one of my photos. In my mind, this image fits the definition of “delicate”!
This is an inverted photograph taken from one of my favorite places~out my bedroom window. Inverting the photo takes the image into the abstract.
WordPress’s invitation to post on the subject of “Silhouettes” has “forced my hand”.
Deep in the archives of photos in my computer reside those that I have been planning to use in an in-depth series of posts on this very subject.
While most of Webs And Threads has been devoted to drawing, painting, and other of my more “traditional” (for lack of a better word!) art practice, there also exists my work in photography. Most of the photographs published on this blog have dealt with investigations of inverted photographs. Two books, “The Other Side of Paris” and “Inside Color” document some of these photographic experimentation.
A few years ago I began taking photos “in the dark”. One series of these night photos features a kind of self-portrait.
Across from my apartment, just over a wonderful patio garden and in the shadow of two five-story avocado trees lives an elderly neighbor. His kitchen is lit with a bare bulb and he leaves this window uncovered. This intense light shining through my bedroom window created shadows of the blinds and led to experiments with my unfortunately inadequate-for-night camera. However, I decided to work with it the best I could and the resulting images are noisy but evocative. In fact, the grainy quality calls to mind the surfaces of some of my very early drawings.
Silhouettes have appeared in drawings very early on so it is not surprising that the idea took root in the dark as I saw myself cast as a shadow against the door of my apartment.
As mentioned in the last post, Italy is on the agenda, so with this post, just a taste of longer attention to these photographs.
NIGHT PORTRAIT II 21012
Merriam-Webster has a wonderful definition:
From the Middle English descripcioun, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin description-, descriptio, from describere.
“An act of describing; specifically : discourse intended to give a mental image of something experienced.”
This “act of describing” is a primary task of the artist. Whether the description is rendered in prose or poetry, in a play or film, in music, dance or in the form of painting or sculpture, we attempt to describe what we know, what we have experienced.
“Discourse intended to give a mental image of something experienced.” In the larger sense of “giving a mental image” we are free to express what we know in whatever way suits our intentions, our inclinations, and our skills.
As I continue my survey of work from the past decades I have shared drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, book-forms, and textile pieces. I have been fortunate to be able to express my experiences in poems and prose as well. I am able to use a camera to capture experience in my own way. What comes to mind is the question “Why do we choose a particular means, material, or form to express this experience?”
Early in the work for “The Threads Project” I made a simple textile piece. It came to be known as “Tender Threads”. This was a rather narrow length of white gauze upon which I unspooled plain white thread, allowing the thread to fall softly onto the gauze. I covered the entire surface and carefully sewed it in random places just enough to secure it to the cloth. The edges of the cloth were free, with fine fringes of the gauze’s threads echoing the carpet of loose white threads on the surface.
Some time later a neighbor inquired about my work and asked if she might see what I was doing. So we had an “art afternoon” and I shared some of the current pieces. When we came to this newly-finished piece her reaction was most unexpected: tears. But somehow I was not surprised. Beyond the immediate visual characteristics of this simple cloth and thread were layers of association that evoked deep emotion. Reflecting on this now I wonder if a painting or drawing would draw such an effect. Or words? I somehow think that perhaps only music would be able to draw a similar sensation of evoking memory in such a profound way. Perhaps the cloth holds the most elemental, tactile memories of earliest life when a sense of love, security, and our introduction to the physical world is formed.
I have seldom felt the need to question which form an idea would take to best express myself. Somehow the proper form has been spontaneously given, that is until I began “The Threads Project”. Within this work lay the question which has directed many artists of our time, and I put this in the simple way that I have approached things: “Do the material and means affect the meaning?”
It seems clear to me that they do. That is not to say that one way is right and the other wrong. We live in glorious times when the material used to express our experience can be as varied as our ideas….from the earthy, tactile, and sensual to the purest mental concept, we are permitted to describe in the way which most suits the idea and the intention. One needs only to turn back the clock a hundred years to see how unlimited the range of expression has become…the book and page, the canvas, the stage, the stone and metal, all these are joined by moving images, by electronic image and sound, by no sound or image at all. And all are permitted “to describe” the huge range of experience that is available now to all. We still have the museum, the white box of a gallery, the black box of the theater. But now the experience is far more inclusive.
In my special love of drawing we are now permitted to think outside those boxes. A drawing can come from fire, smoke, and rain. From drips and stains and scratches. And from thread and wax as well as the familiar pencil and pen. And each way evokes a particular response.
“The Threads Project” was begun to address the question of disparity between “fine art” and “craft” with my particular emphasis on textiles. In the course of exploring this premise the work has led me to want to understand the significance of the means and the material that we choose to express our ideas- our experiences.
It seems fitting then to ponder this question as I continue to “mine the material” and share my work, whether in the form of drawing and painting, or textiles, or photographs, or in the written word.
All are meant to describe in whatever form is taken.
Below, from 2007, a “self-portrait”….a shadow, insubstantial, captured by the lens and shutter, created only by the absence of light~
How amazing that this detail from a drawing from another decade echoes this silhouette idea~
Detail from “VISITORS” pastel on black paper
And the 1979 drawing in colored pencil takes this back even further~
SELF-PORTRAIT (RED ANGEL) 1979
The link, the unique sensibility of each artist, gives the point of view, the cohesive nature of a life’s experience. We can, at some point, take a moment to look back and see the path we have taken in our quest to describe.
A bit of news about my new book, SUNLIGHT AND SHADOW~PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE DE YOUNG MUSEUM, which has just been posted on the Blurb.com Bookstore.
While I have been busy with images and ideas in the fine art area I have also found great interest in the possibilities of digital photography. I started using the process of inverting the color in my digital images several years ago and have found that unexpected and wondrous things happen when using a computer as a “digital darkroom”.
Here is the cover of the new book. You can see a preview of it at the Blurb.com bookstore and, of course, should you wish, purchase it in one of three formats available. Enjoy.
And a peek inside~