Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stick Ladies

 So, I went to a day-long workshop at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence with Cathy McLaurin (that could be spelled incorrectly, I never know with spelling.) Actually I took two of her workshops...and would like to take more since they are so far away from anything I ever think about, much less do...  It was quite easy to put aside preoccupations after the first ten minutes when I thought -- what am I doing here? I don't have time for this -- and realized that I'd driven all the way out there (without going on highways), paid for the deal and should just flow with it...

If I weren't so deadly wedded to so-called reality, I might have been an artist -- in the sense of making it up from interior promptings instead of picking bits and pieces from what's in front of me as a photographer does.

I hadn't imagined making anything I liked at the workshop, that wasn't a goal, but the stick woman was certainly acceptable. In fact, I like her.
And have started another couple. And been collecting a lot of sticks. Sometimes, especially after the hurricane, I fill the back seat with branches and withered leaves. Actually, I rather want human forms, if abbreviated, instead of bug-like stick creatures, so most of what I pick up isn't entirely useful. (I must say that my daughter was hardly pleased at this new habit...yet another thing her old mother is collecting, another sign of dotage?)

Now, should one of my rules be that the stick has to be the 'correct' form without breaking off bits? I allow myself to attach sticks, tape holding them in place, before I wind the yarn around that joint. That's okay. But what about the problem of a three-legged stick?

Every project has rules devised by the person doing it..nothing is entirely in free form.

One of my rules for my photographs was not cropping. Never cropping. Using the black edge when I printed because then, in those old days, it really meant having used the full frame.

Occasionally, now, I crop. Yesterday I thought about it and cropped the part of the kitchen from the right side of a stick lady photograph because the video camera I'd taken out to record the kittens Krissy had rescued, temporarily living on the back porch. But the game I played for years was -- no cropping. And I still think about it even when the photograph is hardly important.

And I certainly never saw color in the viewfinder of my Leica...I was seeing in shades and space.

Now, when I transfer my digital color photographs to black and white (as I'm doing for a book with recipes that folks are writing in Spanish in the Senior Center), they don't work at all. I know I could have taken a better photograph, meaning with black and white film.

(But I don't want to develop film or work in a darkroom. Besides, my beloved Leica had developed a habit of scratching the negatives unpredictably, a fact I hid from myself rather than solve it. And I still like taking images to keep myself from being bored, so.............I take a vast number of color digital photographs and my poor computer is exhausted from storing them.)
Anyway, when I get over this endless making-of-prints for the Chelsea City Cafe and the Senior Center, around 70 11x17 prints so far, far easier with color and digital prints, but still time consuming, maybe I'll do stick figures and then start on the Lawrence project. Or do stick figures while I work on that project. 
On to the next.


  1. the twiggy shook collection, just in time for Xmas.

    i love them, of course....

    and i would have loved the workshop, i'm looking it up...

  2. When is the reception at the City Cafe? Please let us know, and let sticks dance--as you do!

  3. thanks, thanks...
    Susan, a stick lady will come your way, someday...
    The workshop was on wrapping and slightly touched on weaving......sometime I'll try to find a figure that she showed, made by a homeless man in NY...I had no idea what she'd be doing when I signed in...but I like her style..and had the hope that I could work on the project that I showed in the newest blog...