Is it fantasy?

Woman with Turquoise Umbrella

My daughter says that all my years of work in landscape photography and now encaustic leans into the realm of fantasy. I’ve been thinking about this. It is true that the initial photograph is only a jumping off point for me into a game a photo friend calls “improvisation.” Improvised photography?

The artistic training I did have was in choreography. I took a dance class for PE credit in college and ended up at The Juilliard School because I was making quirky but complete dances. I began to play around with movement right away well before I mastered dance technique.

I approached photography the same way and spent years trying to incorporate movement into my “still” photography. With a little help from a neutral density filter I developed a method for photographing trees that allowed the light to flow around the frame. I called it “camera dancing.” The resulting images were on the abstract side but I hoped they would convey the sense of a living spirit that I had always known among trees.

Which brings me back to my thoughts about fantasy. I could see that my images of nature were not realistic but fantasy didn’t seem to fit either. Then, it hit me. While the images might seem fantastical to others I was striving to show that sense of presence I had known since childhood, the hidden realities of earth and her creatures that had seemed like constant companions throughout my life. My images are a window into my kinship with the living planet.

Now with my use of beeswax, resin and oils I keep working to make my images express what I see even more. I take the output from my camera and spend many hours playing with it in photoshop until it seems satisfying. That becomes a canvas for wax and paint.

For the Giants in the Earth I learned how to manage composite photography in photoshop, adding several images together with many texture and color layers. I had never really worked with figures but these Ethiopians standing by the road spoke to me in their beauty, simplicity and struggle. It was their relationship to the earth that interested me. Through improvisation and intuition I built environments for them that seemed to fit. I don’t do this work by thinking, I play around until I hit on something I like. Then with wax and oils I am able to play around even more, creating characters who live in a world all their own.

So is it fantasy? I suppose so though I didn’t aim for the genre. My aim is always to find what feels true and right. Often, the story comes later. In future posts I’ll be crafting a story about my recent work not to explain it but to further build the sense of a world that is complete and natural.

Upcoming Photo Encaustic Weekend Workshop

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January 14-15, 2017
10 am – 5 pm
(noon break)

Adding melted beeswax and resin to photographs produces a rich alchemy of color and texture to create something new and often unexpected.
Learn the basics of photo encaustic. Explore pigment, collage elements, textures and photo transfer.

This course will cover studio basics, paper, panels, mounting techniques, encaustic pouring and painting using glazing, scraping, incising and dry brush techniques. Proper tools, studio methods and safe procedures will be discussed.

Cost: $240 + tax
Five panels and all supplies included.

New Grounds Print Workshop
3812 Central Ave SE,
Albuquerque, NM 87108

For Course info:
Carol Mell
(575) 770-0743
mailto:artist@carolmell.com

For Registration:
(505) 268-8952
director@newgroundsprintshop.com