Firstly, I would like to say that I am going to stick with the title “Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia And Strengths Of Recovery”. Initially I had some reservations about the length of the title, but I find that its appropriate as an anchor to the work which I have produced.
I would like to thank my tutor Jayne Taylor for the level and quality of feedback and interaction that I have received from her throughout the course. I would also like to thank the Open College of the Arts for the standard of the coursework, and for their excellent support and kindness with regards to the difficulties that I have experienced with my health, and the impact which this has had on my ability to study. If you are considering studying any of the creative arts, at foundation or undergraduate level then I would highly recommend the Open College of the Arts. You will not be disappointed. Although the OCA is based in the UK, they also accept international student. All of the courses are open/distance learning. Please check out their website here for further information.
There a few points that I would like to comment upon
“It was very significant that you allowed the strong autobiographical themes to emerge through your work, and the leap forward can be seen through your assignment output across the course. You’ve worked incredibly hard and have put a lot of time and energy into your work, and this is all very evident here – well done indeed.”
The coursework leading up to assignment three was a turning point for me. It was during this section that I began to explore how I could use photography to explore and express my experience of life. The course material gave me the opportunity to try the exercises in the style of different photographers, and I was able to create a mini photobook called A Hermits Journey, and a sequence called Sick of Bulimia. I gave of myself in both of these pieces of work, and A Hermits Journey was featured in WordPress Discover and received over 1,000 hits.
There were many bullet points relating to Jaynes perspective of the of my assignment in which she draws out my methodology and how thorough I have been with my preparation and progress. But I would like to comment upon this
“The use of your own self-portraits in the work shows immense growth in your confidence, both personally and as an artist, and this is heartening to see.”
For me to use self-portraits is a scary experience. I have been working up to this over the past two years, gradually taking more steps from using my shadow, the use of face masks, and now revealing my face. My reticence to present and exhibit this piece of work, but I do aim to exhibit my work, I have a gallery in mind, and I am going to need Jaynes advice on how to approach them. I believe in the quality of the expression and technique, and this work deserves exhibition. I am worth it, despite my fears of showing my face.
“You had some reservations about how to make the embroidered snake have the same visual impact as the other works – hopefully the Google image search we did has helped you see how a stronger silhouette might be all that’s needed to make this work. The important thing is to keep looking until you find an image you feel enthusiastic about working with. The snake image seems to have special significance, being linked to medicine and alluding to the transition from sickness into health – so take your time and enjoy it! (Might a gold thread work here, as a kind of alchemical effect, maybe?)”
In Native American Shamanism, the rattlesnake, called Utsonati, symbolises medicine, which I interoperate as turning poison into medicine. It would have made an excellent finale to the series. However, all of the embroidered animals so far have been flying animals, and I think it’s important to provide visual consistency, and the snake would offset this. So, I am considering embroidering a stalk onto the final portrait, with the stalk symbolising new life, and recovery from an eating disorder is in many ways developing a new life.
“Good documentation of your process all the way through. Nothing to add, except to say that the process is as important as the end result, especially while studying, so this is an excellent practice to maintain.”
The process is the most important part for me, and I love how an idea can change, alter and develop given time and space. During this assignment I have rarely embroidered for more than two hours per day, and I have had a break after the first hour, often a few hours before returning to the embroidery. When I begin to sew in the morning, I spend time looking at the developing artwork before stitching, and looking at the guide photo. I thoroughly look and see what I am producing. Without the seeing the quality of what I am producing would be diminished. Working more than a couple of hours per day would be unwise for the same reasons, because the level of focus upon the embroidery becomes too narrow and fixed.
The research was also important to me, and I have tried this exercise using three different styles, two of which have been a permitted collaboration which makes use of Laura Letinsky’s series Ill Form and Void Full. Although I have decided not to use them for this assignment, I will show them here at some point in the future. My research was thorough for this assignment and included exploring other photographers who work with hand stitching on photography, shamanism and the use of masks.
My ideas and research can be viewed hereas well as here.
Throughout this assignment I have recorded how my ideas have been refined as well as reporting on my progress and the processes. When I view fellow students work, I love to see the process of how they make photography, from the initial idea to the end result, which is often reworked. I have also had the opportunity to receive feedback on my progress from fellow students at the OCA London Regional group.
I have to be honest and say that I am proud of how much effort I have put into this assignment, and amazed at what I am producing. I did not expect this when I began this assignment. My sole aim was to see if I could develop a new technique to carry forward into the undergraduate degree in photography, and I was willing for this assignment to be a failure. It has been entirely the opposite.
Yesterday was my birthday, which I don’t normally celebrate. However, this year was different. My cousins L and G wanted to celebrate it with me, and I felt it was important to let them love me in this way.
We went to the London Wetlands Center, probably my favourite place in London. Here are just a few photos from the day out.
It feels like my mental health has been quite challenging recently. The paranoid thoughts and feelings have been a struggle, although shifting from intense paranoia, which is terror and panic, down to self obsession, which is accompanied by anxiety, has been a blessing.
Today has been better still. A day of relative comfort, peace and some joy, with a bit of anxiety in the mix.
I followed my morning routine, which includes my embroidery (the butterfly is beggining to pull together), and then I went to St James Park.
The amazing thing is that I have to wear these hideous hospital boots to protect the pressure sores on my feet, and the park was packed, and I was fine.
I took my Olympus OMD EM10 MK iii, with the Mzuiko 60mm f2.8 macro. I’ve come away with 3 photos that I like of a pochard, a red crested pochard, and my favourite was of the female red crested pochard. Very sublime and no red crest. I can’t post those as yet as my computers not up and running.
The wind was blowing petals and other bits of plants and trees, sorry I don’t know the name of these “other bits”. They kept getting stuck in my throat and causing me to cough. Here’s one of the little blighters.
Excuse my language. Richard tells me that I’ve got to get a grip on it, he also says that I’ve been cursing more since I quit drinking.
He was very sneaky yesterday, he said we were going for a walk, yeah, right into the middle of an AA meeting. Which is why I didn’t write my travel log yesterday.
How was AA, Interestingly they said its the first drink that gets you drunk. I shan’t tell you my initial response as it involves more swearing. I always thought that it was the 10th or 11th that got me drunk. But apparently if you can’t stop drinking once you’ve started then it’s the first that gets you drunk.
They said it’s a spiritual program, and the word God was used. Richard’s the one who believes in some spiritual energetic mumbo jumbo, I’m an atheist, so I was adamant that I can’t believe in a power greater than me. How can an atheist work a spiritual program? Well, apparently I can trust the power of the group, a bunch of sober people who most definitely drank like I did, and who are now living sober. Someone even said that I could use G O D as an acronym for Group Of Drunks. I can promise you I’ve turned my life over to many groups of drunks down the pub, in the army, at the football, so I guess I can turn it over to a sober group of drunks.
The crazy buggers even said keep coming back, there’s a turn up for the books. In my drinking most people (not Richard) told me exactly where to go.
Maybe I’ll do just that – go back to another meeting.
Today Richard and I went for an early walk to the Páirc Uí Chaoimh, where Cork play a game called Hurling.
On the way I took a photo of a dawn scene. I like the sky and the reflection, Richard liked the light on the building.
We were going to take photos of birds on the pond, especially the little grebe (those are on Richard’s camera), and the pond is next to the stadium.
I’ve had to look up the sport of Hurling, cos neither Richard nor me, knew what it was.
Hurling is a traditional Gaelic game that has been played in Ireland for over 4000 years. Players have a stick, and they can use that to hit the ball (on the ground or in the air), and they can also balance the ball on the stick and run with it. It’s possible to hold the ball and run with it, for a maximum of four steps, before they bounce it or pass it. The objective is to hit the ball between the posts, over the cross-bar for 1 point, below the bar for 3.
Quite a tough game to play and can get a bit rough from time to time. You have to wear protective head-gear as well. Maybe I’ll get to watch it one day. Sounds like a lot of fun. Here’s a link to the Cork GAA website.
The pond was dead relaxing. Mostly black headed gulls, a few swans, mallards, tufted duck and 4 little grebe. There were a couple of Herons nesting in the tree, and also what were either cormorant or shag. The colours suggested they were shag, but I’m no expert on spotting the difference.
Behind the pond is the River Lee, which runs into Lough Mahon and then out into the Irish Sea, Muir Cheilteach if you’re Irish. The River is vast and from dawn till dusk you will find people rowing on the river or jogging down the path. People on bikes cycle at the pace of the boats and shout at the rowers. That’s a job I must apply for. I didn’t get a photo of the rowers, but Richard took a final photo of me. Catch you tomorrow.
Brief:- Create a series of photographs that include deep shadow in much of the frame. You could achieve this by using a black backdrop or by exposing in high contrast light as in Part One Project 2 (Shadows). Choose about four final images. In Photoshop, place the images on top of one another and change the Blend Mode to Screen (removes the black from the image) of the images above the lowest image. Experiment with Luminosity and Color blending modes. You may also want to reduce the opacity of each image. Move them around with consideration for the sense of depth the image represents and try to create a final composite.
This has been an enjoyable exercise. You’ll be surprised to know that I followed the brief, and then deviated from it somewhat as well.
Lets begin with my favourite. For the first composite I have included three subjects that bring me pleasure, although for different reasons. They create a conflict of emotion for me as well, due to the negative impact that heavy industry and aviation have upon nature.
I broke from the brief for this, because I knew what I wanted to portray and the brief wouldn’t have got me there. The bottom layer was the bird, and I left the blend mode as normal, the second image is the coastal heavy industry at Tees Port, I altered the blend mode to screen, and the third is two aircraft from Armed Forces day in Scarborough, in which I altered the opacity. To remove the backgrounds in the second and third photos I have used the background eraser and changed the brush to Kyle Spatter Brushes – Spatter Bot Tilt. These are free brushes that I had previously downloaded. I progressively lowered the flow and opacity with the brush to try to create a more natural look. The final image is very small because the birds eye was such a small part of the original photo. It’s far from perfect, but it still says something to me.
The following two photos were made by following the brief, although I did find that I needed to mess around with the blend modes to get the effect that I found to be most effective. I will show the originals first, in order from the bottom layer upwards.
The above is my favourite out of five different attempts that I made from the same three photos. The church and the blue background appear as if they could be a stylised satin wallpaper. The bottom right looks a touch messy, but you know what, I like it. It has a surreal and smokey feel and the colour blends in with the blue. The difficulty was removing the obvious line over the vase, from where two layers were not aligned. I can’t remember which brush I used, and It hasn’t come out to bad here, except for the area below the vase.
This hasn’t worked as well. Although it isn’t obvious that I have blended the edge between two layers, it is clear that something has happened. The brush was meant to disperse and weaken the edge, which it has, but not my best work. If I could have somehow blended that edge more proficiently then the overall quality would have been pleasing.
A great exercise and one that I am very pleased to have given a go. It’s interesting to notice how I have developed with layering in Photoshop. More practice required, but I will feel better equipped and more confident with experimenting in the future.