I thought I’d amuse myself and share my latest art studio escapades.
Having only recently moved into this house, my studio is still looking a little barren. I don’t have use for easels, drop cloths, trestle tables, racks of canvases and the like, so everything is fairly minimal and compact. What I do have though, is awesome floor to ceiling windows overlooking nice shrubs with a glimpse of the lovely skyline. A perfect place for Hazel and I to while away the hours.
There was always going to be a point at which I got out the camera and took some glamour shots of my “arty” things. In a delightfully unscheduled turn of events, that point came much sooner than I expected!
To my great surprise, Nancy from Art Lovers Australia contacted me and informed me I had taken out the Art Lovers Australia Artist’s Prize 2020! Woah whaaat?!
To help get my work out to a wider audience, I sell through additional channels like Art Lovers Australia. I was so happy when they recently sold the original of my piece,’This is not a drill’, an only too poignant portrait of a firefighter in graphite pencil, but even more happy to find that it was shortlisted with 100 others for their 2020 prize.
Nancy asked if they could run a feature on me and my work!
Me: “Wow, of course!” (came my reply)
Nancy: “Excellent. Do you have a photo of yourself?”
Me: (nervous laughter) “Oh ha ha no…I usually avoid photos!”
Nancy: “Um anything at all??”
Me: “Ermmm I’ll see what I can do…”
Photos?!!!! Nancy may as well have said I needed to depart to Jupiter because the aliens are missing their leader.
But being an ever so compliant ex-cracker factory employee, here I am. Pageant time!
Now anyone who knows me…likely doesn’t have a photo of me!! Thus is my elusiveness when I suspect someone will brandish a camera. Ask for a photo and I’ll tell you 53 ways you can get by without one.
This uneasiness stems from seeing myself as a dishevelled, discombobulated thing posing as a human. Does anyone else feel like this when they see themselves in photos? Don’t get me wrong, I love photography. In fact, great shots inspire the majority of my work. It’s the ‘being in them’ bit I don’t like.
But Nancy was right, this would help my portfolio. People need to connect with me. Put a face to the name. Now I won’t misquote Nancy. She clearly said, “professional photos”. But running out of time I felt DIY was my only option. So, I set my makeup gun to ravishing, waved a hand over my hair and donned something not too unlike an artist’s smock.
Then I….had a coffee, made some breakfast, checked emails, patted the cat, watered the plants, cleaned the bathroom, patted the cat again, rearranged the toothpicks, polished the silver. All the usual stuff to avoid what I had actually set out to do.
My assistant (my polar opposite) arrived on “set” early. Not one to miss a photo op, she promptly got things ready by laying a fine film of fur on all surfaces.
Various angles of DIY greatness were attempted, to no avail. I decided to make a desperate plea to Mr Slager for help. Being the tall Dutch type, he came to my rescue. Well, sort of.
What I learned
To paraphrase Austin Powers, I won’t pretend “I invented the question mark”. Clearly, I have nothing revolutionary to share to improve your photography skills. The internet is full of professionals ready to give you advice on that topic. But here is a synopsis of what I learnt:
- Google - Googling “ways to get creative with self portraits” etcetera helps with inspiration. Just don’t set your expectations too high.
- Self-timer - Know how to use your camera’s self-timer settings. Looking like a dishevelled crazy person as you run into frame at the last second only adds to the frustration of the exercise. A great way to get the camera to focus on where you will be sitting once the timer goes off, is to use a prop with similar dimensions to you. Naturally I chose a lamp.
- Working with animals - Remove all animals from set until you are ready for them. Understand that once you ARE ready for them, they will no longer want to be in the shot.
- Edit, then edit some more - Photo editing software is my friend when facial symmetry isn’t.
- Get a good camera - I would have to dispute most advice I’ve read and say that a really good camera does the work for you.
- And the number 1 tip – just follow Nancy’s advice in the first place and have professional photos ready for all occasions!
Have a read of the Art Lovers Feature Artist article to see which photo of me made it into the archives. The article also tells you a tiny bit more about the inspiration for my firefighter piece - it may not be what you expect! I do hope you enjoy the write up, or at least have a giggle at my expense.
Jokes aside, it was a fabulous honour to be featured on a platform where the directors (who look great in photos by the way) are solely dedicated to raising the profile of artists, helping them eke out a living through their art.
No longer can I say “this day was a total waste of makeup”. Today the makeup was very much worth it!
Wondering if you might get additional glimpses of rare Loch Ness photos of me? Subscribe to find out! But I make no promises.
Read Part 2 of this story here: How to be a professional artist - the day I headlined for Duran Duran