Photo Transfer Techniques for Painters
Instructor: Jeffrey T. Baker
1-Day Spring Workshop at OCAC
Saturday, April 13 | 9am-4pm
There are only a few spots left in the photo transfer workshop I'm teaching in Portland this spring. I'll be demystifying the various approaches to photocopy transfers while distilling ten years of trial-and-error into a selection of handy tips and hands-on activities suitable for painters and photographers alike. Read the full course description and register here.
Always photograph every work of art you make before it leaves your studio. Do not think that you will have the time or inclination to do this later. You won’t.
Why won’t you? Perhaps because you shouldn’t. You should be on to making new work and allowing the mental energy and time you have to be directed towards the present, not the past. That seems like the most pertinent reason.
Perhaps you won’t photograph that work because it is a hassle to pull it from its frame (and, presumably, reframe it). Perhaps it has already sold. Perhaps it was destroyed in shipping.
At this point you may be asking why you should even care about photographing every work before it leaves your studio. In my experience the reasons are far more practical than inspirational (although examples from both will be provided).
On the practical side of things, you’ll want the image so as to include it in your applications for grants and residencies. You will want the image to add to your website. While these arguments are lacking in glamour, their logic is irrefutable.
On a more inspirational note: you may want to reference the image in a future work. You will be working on this new work and realize that the older work (according to your faulty memory, which is the only record you have in this scenario) actually began some trope that is only now being made manifest as such in your newer work. The intrinsic value of that undocumented work has now just skyrocketed, and allowing it to escape your hands without a photographic record seems like the most grievous error you’ve ever made.
In short, do not allow your work to be previewed by collectors before photographing it. Do not let it be framed before photographing it. Do not let a single work you create reside only in your memory because your inability to access a reproduction will haunt you for years to come. Those works that get away will climb effortlessly to the heavens where they will reside as the finest works of your hand perhaps based solely on the fact that you have no way to refute their lofty claims without a digital photo or slide.
While you’re at it, I’ve also found it exceedingly helpful to record the following information about every work you photograph:
TITLE, YEAR OF COMPLETION
DIMENSIONS, FULL SALE PRICE,
More on the specifics of each of the above categories to come soon. . .
There are many who wish to be artists and many more who admire artists. For those in the former group I've decided to share a few reflections I've had regarding being an artist in the contemporary world (for those in the latter group, I salute you). Like most things in life, simple desire is not tantamount to success, so it is important to know what a life with art actually entails, and to understand what it is you are specifically looking for from a creative pursuit.
I believe that the single most important thing to being an artist, the proverbial stock to the soup, is receptivity. In order to be creative in any way one must be open to the inspirations and impulses that are at work in the world and in yourself. Now this isn't some vague prattle meant to skirt the nuts and bolts knowledge required to succeed as an artist; this is the very essence of why a select few are compelled to create as well as consume.
There is a huge difference to viewing your day as mundane or profound, and the truth is that most people struggle with breaking free of the mundane perception. By way of example, let me simply work with the present moment:
My legs are overly warm, which means that the computer in my lap is generating energy from the processing of billions of digits into information I perceive as pictures an words in a state of flux on a glowing screen. Countless electrical charges are firing throughout my body to indicate that my legs are both warm and under a bit of pressure from the weight of the computer which is under the influence (as all things are) from a gravitational force that holds the entire ever-growing vastness of the universe in some semblance of order. My heart beats without my registering it and my lungs are filled with a combination of gasses only made possible by the swaying greenery outside. A swaying greenery that, when stripped bare in the winter time, remarkably resembles the entire vascular structure of the circulatory system that delivers the life-giving gasses from the lungs through the action of the beating heart. I could go on, because I've only written one millionth of one second of possible perceived perception, but I think the point is clear.
The world, your world, is not mundane. Language and familiarity may make it so to aid us in keeping jobs, forming relationships, and communicating desire, but at no point in your life are you devoid of inspiration.
All of the successful artists that I know are interested in a wide variety of topics. Certainly they have their areas of special concern, but all of them value both ideas and experience. All of them remain open to questioning the boxes we draw around concepts, words, and perceptions. They play with the constructs of reality they were presented with in school and at home growing up because they recognize that, ultimately, the world is more full of what we don't know than what we do. In that regard, like scientists, they are pushing at the membrane of accepted perceptions. Unlike scientists, they may do it in a decidedly irrational or convoluted manner, with the success of the endeavor being measured more, to borrow a well-known cliche, by the journey than the destination.
Receptivity is a form of inspiration that I don't see discussed as much because it implies a more diminutive role for the ego than we are accustomed to granting artists. Certainly the state of receptivity is indicative of the personality at work, but the implication is that the world outside of the individual holds the majority of the mystery, and receptivity is simply a window to that awareness. This is somewhat counter to the rather heroic perception of the artist-ego as generator of mystery that has, for a variety of reasons too heady to enter into here, permeated popular perceptions of creativity since the Renaissance onward. To stand and honor receptivity is to state that the artist is not so much a force as a translator of force. It is to accept that even the creative life, when placed in the profound complexity of creation, is ultimately a very small one.
Nevertheless, I believe there is a profound satisfaction that comes from mirroring the magnificence of creation with individual expressions of creation. While some might say art is a type of tribute, others would simply state that the creative act strengthens one's receptive powers and thereby gives them an ever richer experience of life. Either way, it is important to remember that an artistic life is as much a relationship with those things outside of us as it is an expression of the personality within.
For over a decade Jeffrey T. Baker has explored the elegiac and sublime through his mixed media artworks. He harbors an unapologetic predisposition for the decayed and imperfect.
Presented here are his thoughts on artistic process, inspirations, tutorials, and information about related upcoming events.
Posts prior to 2011 visit Subjective: The Artful Life