Archive for March, 2011
Last week, while on a field trip for a natural history course I spotted this clump of moss and just had to take a picture of it. Unfortunately the settings weren’t quite right on my camera, so the color got a bit distorted. But you can get the idea. I just had to take a picture of this moss because it’s so colorful! In this one clump, smaller than the size of my fist, you can see dark green, bright green, olive-green, yellow, orange, rust, and even hints of pink! It was a pleasant surprise of natural color diversity.
Seeing all the different hues in the moss reminded me of another natural source of unexpected colors: lichens. I always enjoy looking at really old rocks and seeing how many different colors of lichens I can find. I remember on my field trip I saw quite a number, but didn’t think to take any pictures. But I do have some pictures I took from my trip to Yellowstone. Just look at all the colors on these rocks! I can spy white, deep gray, orange, salmon, chartreuse, pale sage, purplish-white, and a brownish-peach. These rocks rival an artist’s palette in their variety of colors! I find it amusing that something so colorful, so decorated, goes overlooked and unnoticed so much of the time.
Wow, spring break is finally here, and I consider myself lucky to be writing this post. This has got to be the hardest semester I’ve experienced yet, and we’re not even finished yet. But we’re halfway done with spring 2011 term, and I get a week’s break to rest up. What do I plan to do? Lots and lots of art. So expect some fresh posts to arrive soon. But first, I’d like to write a little bit about recent events and how I managed to finish mid-terms.
As I’m sure you all know by now, the catastrophe in Japan has spurred outpourings of help from around the world. Here at C of I we helped out with creating a senbazuru: the folding of 1,000 paper cranes for luck, healing, peace, and granted wishes. Each crane was sponsored by a $1 donation and matched by Chevron:
“Members of The College of Idaho community participated in a Senbazuru fundraiser for the American Red Cross on March 18, 2011, to help citizens of Japan affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Students, faculty and staff folded paper cranes, a tradition known as the Senbazuru, which comes from an ancient Japanese legend that says a wish will be granted to anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes. Hundreds of C of I students, faculty and staff combined to fold 1,000 cranes and raise $1,086.58 for the American Red Cross, which will be matched by Chevron.”
A table was set up in the student union building, and I was able to help out a little bit with folding the cranes. I know (or knew) nothing about how to do origami, so it took some friendly coaching to do all the right steps. But by my second crane I pretty much had it down, and with several more cranes I committed it to memory. Boy was I excited.
It may sound strange, but I feel like I was rewarded for helping Japan out in this small way. During the rest of the week, whenever I was feeling particularly stressed and anxious about tests and papers, I took breaks and made paper cranes. It only takes a minute or two to make them, and focusing on each step of folding the paper crisply and precisely calmed my mind and distracted me from the panic. Making cranes became therapeutic for me. The little paper cranes gave me hope that I could indeed survive the challenging days of academic torture.
I really admire origami for several reasons. One reason is for the skill it takes to make multiple complex folds without getting confused or lost. Another is the ability to rotate the image within the mind three dimensionally and see how it will work from several different angles. (There’s a specific term for this skill, I think, help me remember if you know it.) I have the greatest respect for people who don’t need step-by-step instructions to create incredible paper masterpieces, but instead create their own designs from scratch! I had to start with instructions on paper plus a personal coach to finally learn how to make a paper crane. But somebody before me (probably years and years ago) had to come up with the first design for turning a flat square of paper into a three-dimension figure resembling a bird! I’ll try to update this post with website links to some original origami masters, but for now I’ll leave you with a tutorial for how to make the basic origami crane. I hope creating them soothe you as much as they did me.
I thought I’d post the final symbol portrait, in case anyone wanted to see it. Sorry about the general lack of posts. At this point in my life academics comes first, so I haven’t had the time to produce quality posts.
I struggled the most with the eyes. I always struggle with eyes. It’s hard to make sure they are level (or in this case on a correct angle). It’s also difficult to make sure the eyes (especially the pupils!) are pointing in the same direction. Since the eyes are gently downcast and not fully open, I struggled to shape the lids properly. The eyelashes also bring in further difficulty in this picture because they curl above the lids in some places while moving down and obscuring the eyes in other places. The right eye (viewer’s right) is slightly smaller, but it appeared that way in the photograph. Nevertheless, I don’t think I curved the lower lid correctly to match that of the left eye. I always spend a great deal of time on the eyes in portraits, for they humanize the image with the spark of life. We also automatically look into the eyes, making them a prime region of focus. If you get it wrong – even the slightest bit – it becomes terribly obvious. Eyes also vary greatly from person to person, and getting the eyes right is critical to capturing the personality of the subject, rendering them recognizable.
Other areas I struggled with were the nose and the cranial shape. In the initial drawing I struggled to shape the nostrils properly, but eventually got it down. Modeling with value helped a lot for it transformed the flat image into a three-dimensional object. As for the cranial shape, I’m still not sure about the forehead and back of the skull. I felt like the forehead of the original sketch was too shallow, so I lengthened it, but I’m not sure if I overdid it, or if it’s still too short. I’m also not sure if the back of the skull does not project out enough. It’s difficult to tell with the angle of face.
We’ll critique our portraits in class on Tuesday, so maybe I’ll recognize others strengths and weaknesses then and be able to better address my concerns.
For my Intro to Design class we’ve moved on to value, the relative lightness (black/white) of a color. Our current assignment is to draw a portrait in grayscale, using various symbols to create value. The strength, size, and proximity of the symbols control what value the end result is.
See how the symbols such as asterisks, smiley faces, dollar signs, swirls, Xs and Os determine the value of their respective sections? Up close we see them as individual pieces, but from afar we see the total image.
Boy, King Philip IV sure looks good for being 400 years old! He must eat very healthy.
I know this news is over a week old, but I wanted to share one particularly fun day I had last Wednesday. As I was walking back to the dorms from my class, I noticed a large cloud dumping a sheet of rain nearby. I went to my room and grabbed my camera, and headed out to try to capture the shot.
After I got to the front of the building I noticed some other nice storm cloud formations. I was particularly attracted to the contrast of one heavy, black cloud against the blue sky and fluffy white clouds behind it.
After taking a few snaps of that there was an ominous rumble – thunder! Disregarding all instincts to run from the trees and take cover, I instead continued to try to capture some nice cloud photographs. I was momentarily distracted by some really vicious looking thorns on a nearby tree.
It was just about then that the clouds began to dump hail on me! I skedaddled back to the dorms for a brief respite from the worst of the weather and double-checked that my camera wasn’t wet. As the hail gathered on the ground outside I noticed I was more than a little wet. Then, as I went back upstairs I ran into a friend who, by chance, was looking for me! She claimed she was looking for me because she knew I wouldn’t mind running around in the rain with her – and she was right! I switched into my rainboots and off we went, back out into the rain.
So we walked, ran, skipped, and maybe even danced a little bit in the rain. As we inhaled the smell of fresh rain (the hail had changed to rain) and relished the refreshing drops on our faces, it was good, carefree fun. Eventually I bid adieu to my friend and went back for my camera. I had spied some more beautiful cloud formations, and the puddles were making fantastic ripples from the still falling rain. I discovered my “continual” shot mode on my camera and spent a few minutes gazing into the murky yet reflective puddles.
I finished the afternoon – and the storm – rejuvenated and content, having spent some quality time with a friend, my camera, and Mother Nature, and I hope you enjoy the pictures I took and my unexpected adventure. May you all weather your storms and come out with rainbows.
Since my last post was about Ansel Adams, I wanted to share some photos I stumbled across today. I took these about two years ago on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. Talk about a place of beauty. Everything seems so pristine, it’s truly overwhelming. I experimented with the grayscale feature on my camera as I took some photos. I wanted to capture that Ansel Adams-ish feeling, and I think I somewhat succeeded.
Please note that on two of these photos I slightly manipulated the contrast to better imitate the vintage style of Ansel Adams.
One of my greatest sources of inspiration is nature. In a world becoming increasingly industrialized and fueled by time, I lament that so many people are too busy to open their eyes to the beauty of nature. One artist, photographer Ansel Adams, shared my love of nature and spent his fair share of time admiring it. Adams’s photography captures the feeling of the sublime in nature – the breathtaking enormity of the grandeur of the world.
I love his photography because of the crispness of the images and the rich contrasts of black and white. When I look at his photography I sometimes feel as though I am seeing the world for the first time. That feeling of stepping outdoors on a cold day, when the air is perfectly clear and frost is on the ground. Your senses are heightened to an unusual awareness of everything around you as the nerves in your skin tingle gently. As you inhale the freezing air gently bites, reminding you of the systems at work internally. Externally the air is still and quiet, the absolute lack of sound like a bucket of water dowsing you into alertness. It’s as if time stands still and the world has crystallized into a state of perpetual tranquility. That’s how Ansel Adams’s photographs make me feel.
If you use Google and customize your page, I highly recommend the Ansel Adams Nature Photography of the Day gadget. Each day a new Ansel Adams photograph is displayed on your iGoogle page. Sometimes they’re repeated, but all of the photography is so stunning I don’t mind looking at the same ones.