Friday, 12 November 2021

Mirror Mirror, Matte Medium Transfers, Lomo Film Cameras, Proustian Computer Paper, GI Blues And That Kind Of Thing

Post it note-ness, camera am currently using and a piece  'Story Of the Past Part V - as on show as part of the 2021 Arts and Minds Network Online Exhibition (which can be found here ) and which was made using a photograph taken with the (very) lomo camera pictured next to it.

I am trying to live up to my promise in my last but one post that I would try to update this blog more regularly and so I tried to get back into my old MA habit of writing things that I had done, thought about or encountered on a post it note which I keep in front of my computer in my work room in the hope that will prompt me to write more regularly.

I also wanted to make sure that there was something up to date for people to read if they came here via my instagram account (which can be found here ) in turn via my inclusion in The House of Smalls current exhibition Mirror Mirror On The Wall which can be found here.  Plus one of the things I find the biggest compliment as an artist aside from someone wanting to buy a piece of my work and live alongside it in their home is that they want to go and see a space for themselves after seeing my images of it or hearing me talk about it or want to try out a technique for themselves. 

A couple of weeks ago I loaded a camera (the one pictured above) with film - 35mm ISO 400 b+w  Kino film from Lomography. I had primarily been using lomo digital over the last 12 months or so using either a kids watch camera or my non smart phone camera so I had forgotten how exciting it is to tear open the cardboard box, flip the plastic lid and get that faint chemical whiff from the unexposed film. I did however struggle a bit at first to remember how to load this camera - as it has no auto windo on features at all.  I'd forgotten I needed to pull out/up the wind on bit as well in order to fit the cartridge in. But after some fiddling and worrying I'd break a nail but I didn't I got the film loaded and I am currently on  shot 24 of a 36 film.

I decided to use one of my most basic film cameras that I bought from Primarni in the before times as I wanted something to use something with no electrics that only needed me to have wound the film on properly, enough light to make a picture, a press of the shutter and a wind on and was easy to fit in a pocket and light to carry round.

It has no film speed setting, is fixed not very sharp focus and the daft passion fruit pattern makes me smile every time I look at it. You can't do accidental double exposures with it though as you can only press the shutter once before you have to wind the film on. I forget how much it cost exactly but think it was either £6 or £7 and I have taken it out of  the waterproof casing it came with as I won't be using it underwater for the moment.  It was an impulse whilst standing in the queue kind of buy.

Tho I haven't used it underwater I have used it next to water - all being well  I will have captured with it views of the Seven Bridges Valley* near Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Meanwood Beck, the canal near Bramley Falls Park which I am looking forward to seeing once I've finished the roll and developed.

I won't be developing it myself in the garage aka pop up meth lab as a) it's far too cold and damp and miserable in the garage at the moment and b) despite my best efforts I always end up with either waterspots or cat hair on the negatives so my plan is to give it to someone far more competent than I am and hopefully I will have lovely clear albeit not very sharp focus negatives to then print from and make matte medium image transfers with. Plus I hate scanning negatives - it's one of the most boring processes in photography for me and if I can avoid doing it I will. 

I suffer from imposter syndrome at times when describing myself as an artist as I primarily use a camera as my paintbrush rather than actual paint and paintbrush, so in part to assuage this doubt I do use an actual paintbrush to transfer an image I have taken and printed onto another surface. The one above is a transfer onto canvas but I also use fabric of various kinds including poly cotton, muslin and coffin lining material.  The doubt re materials and methods used and a hierarchy thereof is not one I apply to other artists of any genre but I find it very hard not to apply it to myself at times. 

The transfer is created by painting a layer of matte medium (I use Windsor and Newton's Galeria range) on the printed image (reversed or flipped so that when transferred it is the right way round) - printed using the printer I have at home which is just an ordinary domestic use Hewlett Packard kind that I often find myself swearing at a lot. Once I have printed or photocopied the image and it's dried I then decide what surface I'm going to transfer it onto. I then paint a layer of matte medium onto both the surface and the image and then sandwich the two together making sure there's no air bubbles, letting it dry completely (usually by leaving it overnight)  and then wetting the paper and rubbing the paper away gently and hey presto the image has transferred itself...hopefully.

Sometimes it lifts off a bit, or has patches where an errant air bubble has escaped my attention but  I think this adds to it, making it more of an accurate material recreation of a memory which is basically what a photograph is. 

The more keen eyed amongst you may have noticed that the post it note, piece of work and camera have been photographed against a background of proper old school computer paper, the kind that has a smell all of its own, an ever so slightly furry texture, sprocket holes either side and numbered green and white lines, the green stripes being made up of 6 thin green lines.

This was the kind of paper I made revision notes on when I was studying for my exams and most proustian of all this was the kind of paper my Mum used to bring home for me when she was a cleaner at IBM back in the early 70's. On occasion she'd let me go with her and I'd sit and draw on it whilst she emptied bins and polished tables. A friend of mine had inherited a big pile of it from a relative who never throws anything away and kindly sent me a huge pile of it - it makes me smile every time I look at or write on it. 

Happy memories brought back as were the ones that watching GI Blues (1960) on Talking Pictures TV yesterday afternoon brought back. My Mum loves Elvis and had this album which she played on rotation with Johnny Cash's Live From San Quentin on a portable orange Dansette until early December when out would come Perry Como's Xmas Hits and an album of xmas songs by others including Andy Williams and which was probably some kind of K-Tel compilation. 

I'd forgotten how much I loved GI Blues as a soundtrack and I might have to ask Santa for a copy for Xmas...and by copy I do mean actual physical copy as although I do listen to some streamed music I'd far rather have an actual copy. Though as it's only an old secondhand copy complete with some slight scratch noises and hissing and creased cardboard cover that would make its proustian capabilities strongest.

Talk of the dreaded c-word (ie xmas) makes me think of the only acceptable xmas album namely the John Waters Xmas Album which is packed full of the most gloriously twisted and bizarre xmas songs ever. However despite the adverts assaulting our ears with xmas songs from before Halloween I won't be playing it until at least the start of December. That's a reasonable time to start playing that kind of malarkey I think - not months before. 

Thank you for reading. 

*misnamed as it only has 5 bridges apparently - I think I crossed them all on the walk and also got as far as Sam's Seat which has a beautiful view across to Ripon Cathedral in the distance.