Sunday, July 15, 2018

Becoming


"A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others."
                                                   ~Salvador Dali 
Each summer the urge to create with my hands becomes very strong. I create with my eyes and my camera every single day while I am doing this 365 day photography project. As of this post I just completed Day 315. Truth be told, I am getting tired of it. The limitation of shooting for 365 days with only one lens, is getting well...limiting. But I am in the homestretch, I will finish this project on September 2nd. At this point I am unsure if I will start another 365 project or let it rest for a while.


I think the urge to create with my hands in the summer comes from the fact that I hate hot, humid weather, and even in Michigan we seem to have plenty. Also the sun shines so bright everyday that my time to photograph outside is very limited. The rest of my time is spent in the house. Having a clean house brings only a certain amount of joy. So instead I turn my attention to the multiple bare walls, being a photographer you wouldn't think this would be the case. And I do have some of my photographs up, but I want a little more variety than just photographs, and I have a hard time buying things when I know I can make exactly what I want.


For the perfect haven to create art each summer, I unscrew the legs from my IKEA farmhouse table, haul it upstairs to my porch, and reassemble it. I spend a tremendous amount of time buying and organizing art supplies so that I have everything I need close at hand. I roll my desk chair up to the table, put a coat of paint or plaster on a wooden cradle board, glue some collage paper down in various parts of the board, and then let it rest while I figure out what to do next. It rests all summer. Then in October I put all the supplies away, unscrew the legs of the table and haul it back downstairs. Another season of not becoming.


But this summer is going to be different. Maybe in part because I turned 50 in June. I spent my 40's learning, now I want to do something with all that learning. This year is also different because I found an on-line art class teacher that does more than show me how to create the assigned project. She also talks about her creating process, what of herself she infuses into each piece of art. Sharing her art philosophy has helped me to find my own.

The two art classes I am taking are: Poetic Plaster and Wax and Inspired Collage. The teacher that has inspired me is Petra Hrziwnatzki.


On Friday, for the first time ever I completed an art project from a class. While I still have miles to go before I am ready to open an Etsy shop, I have taken the first steps toward my dream of becoming an artist.

Confession Time: The blog post I had originally started to write this week was titled - Departure. I was planning on shutting down this blog. After six years of regular blogging it felt time to call it a day. But then I started Petra's class and I realized that just as she is inspiring me, my time of inspiring others may not be over yet. At some point in time, I will probably transition over to the blog on my website, just for the convenience and the quality that Squarespace offers. Some may not stay with me through the change, but that's okay, I would rather evolve and continue to change than stay the same to please others.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Real or Not?


At the beginning of May, my husband and I attended a Symphony Fundraiser. We do not belong to the high-brow club, but this is one event we enjoy attending each year. My husband's work sponsors a table at it, and we are one of the fortunate couples that are invited to share the table. Plus, anything to support the arts.

There is also a silent auction that is fun to peruse before the dinner and entertainment. Most items are beyond our budget, but every once in a while we stumble upon a treasure. Three years ago, we bid on and won two passes to the three summer plays in a nearby resort town. We have continued to buy the three-plays bundle passes since then, we love them that much.


This year we bid on and "won" two annual passes to the Muskegon Museum of Art. Before last year, I had never been to this particular museum, usually going to the big art museum in the city and bypassing the smaller one. But...I have been missing out. This museum is smaller, but it is also more intimate and the variety of exhibits is exceptional.

Tuesday, I finally had a free day to meander my way up to Muskegon and redeem our gift certificate so we can get our passes. It was a perfect day. Temperatures in the low 70's, blue skies, and a slight breeze. I may have made a few stops at favorite beaches along the way.


The main gallery had three exhibits: the first one was these life-size resin sculptures created by Marc Sijan. The attention to detail with the skin coloration, winkles, moles, the good and the bad skin folds was beyond words. I kept circling them, marveling at each detail.

The second exhibit was twelve photographs taken in the summer of 1951 by Dorothy Thompson with her Kodak Brownie camera of the Whiskey Ridge Raceway.


The third exhibit was of American Icon: The Art of the Motorcycle. I would never ride a motorcycle, but I do love vintage machinery in any form.

I was the only one in the galleries most of the time, which was pleasant and quiet, and gave me lots of time to just look.


The other gallery I found so inspiring last time, and felt the same again, was the gallery of paintings. To see different styles near each other gives me a clearer impression of what I like and what I don't like. The trick is figuring out why I am drawn to some and not others. These observations give me insight into my own work.

I can't wait to spend a year exploring the museum, and this may become just like those summer plays, a reoccurring adventure.

When was the last time you visited a museum?

End Notes 

My June filming project is coming along well. My prompts are keeping me on track. My 3 X 5 cards are my favorite way to be inspired daily.

I have decided to make a short film of each week, because we all know I hate long films. I have had a theme emerge that will be my slightly longer feature film for the month. I have missed making my films, so it was fun to put this first one together. As always, Findley tends to be the star of the film...


June Begins... from Sarah Huizenga on Vimeo.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Summer Projects


June 30 Day Film Challenge

I mentioned at the end of my last blog post, that I was committing to 30 days of filming for June with some fellow classmates of the Make Films: 12 course.

Determined not to fail, I have taken some extreme measures. I made a list of four daily prompts, compiled from four different photo challenge lists. This gives me a starting point for each day. I don't have to do all four, one or two are a great accomplishment.


I have written the four prompts on a 3 X 5 card for each day, and placed them right on my desk so I will see them multiple times per day. Usually by lunchtime, I have crossed one off the list, so the next day's prompts are moved to the front. This gives me time to dream up an idea for the next day.

I have also made a note in the app Evernote for each day with the four prompts. A reminder pops up every morning at 8 o'clock.

Most days I have multiple clips filmed for the day. This could present its own problem down the road, overload of too many choices or a five minute film.

Abandoned Artifacts

Each summer, I do some kind of photography project. Last year it was The Meadow, which extended well into the fall and taught me so much about photography, patience and good light.

June 2015

A few years ago,  I did a summer project of photographing items people left behind at the beach. This was before I knew to call this sort of thing a project. But I did find some pretty interesting things.


The other day as part of my 365 photography project, I posted a "find" on Flickr, where I am keeping my 365 photo album. One of the people that "follows" me reached out with a comment, saying she would love to collaborate on a project like this. So Kristine Ortega and I have decided to collaborate on the summer project Abandoned Artifacts. We are also inviting those who want to play to join us.

Fishing line

The rules are pretty simple.

  • Take a photograph of a "found by you" abandoned man-made artifact, preferable taken where you find it. But sometimes good light requires a mild adjustment :) 
  • Use whatever camera you have - phone, dslr, or point and shoot
  • Process however you want
  • Share it with us, and the story behind it, if you want. 
Fly in a bottle

Where you can share...
  • Flickr group - link is here
  • Instagram with the hashtag #abandonedartifactssummer2018
  • Pondering a FB group - trying to cover most social media.

By the end of the summer, I expect I will have a collection of mismatched sandals.

My goal with the project is to create a scavenger hunt for the summer. Something fun to build community, make new friends, share some stories, and get outside with your camera.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sense of Wonder


Lately, I have been reading a lot of photography books of the coffee table variety. By reading, I mean I have been reading the Foreword and the After Thoughts and the captions, but I have also been reading the actual photographs.

In almost every photography class or workshop that I have ever taken, the instructor recommends to "study the masters", sit down with other photographers' work. By studying others, I will find myself in certain aspects of their work. The problem is that I rarely found this to be true.

Before our vacation in April, I was at the library looking for a good book to take along. I decided to wander over to the non-fiction side, maybe find a book of poetry to bring as well. But instead of turning right to the poetry aisle, I felt myself pulled left to the photography section. I had been down this aisle before, and had even checked out books, but they were always from the "suggested" list of masters. They were usually returned before they were due.

Scanning the shelves, I decided to let Titles and Covers be my guide instead of suggested lists. The above book got me with both title and cover. This might be me.

The best part of this book besides the subject matter was that it was a collection of a couple dozen different photographers. I was bound to find a few that resonated with me. And I did, six of the photographers in the book had work that drew me in, and made me want to stay. Even the photographers' work that didn't resonate was helpful, because it showed me things that didn't speak to me or unsettled me, and I was able to figure out why.


The light bulb moment came when I turned to this two page layout. Photographer David Husom photographed county fair buildings in the 1980's through the 1990's. These two buildings couldn't have been more perfectly paired for me to analyze. While the one on the left had elements I liked: typography, painted white wood, and little pops of red. It is the brick building on the right that made me want to walk into the photograph and explore.


This one held me at arm's length. I wasn't close enough to catch glimpses of the inside to see what mysteries it might hold. There wasn't enough intriguing detail to make me want to stay. This was taken in bright sun, not my favorite time of day.


Now this one. First, I feel I am standing on the street right in front of it. The open doorway gives me glimpses of what's inside. I want to see what those windows in the back of the building look like. I imagine the light is amazing in there. The golden light warms the brick on the front of the building and reflects gloriously on those windows on the right. The design of the tile around the open doorway. The number 2. The Youth Cattle sign and the lightening rods that flank the sign. All of those details are a visual feast. Everything is very symmetrical, except for that lone bush on the left side. I feel calm, balanced, but also intrigued.

After this two page spread, I began to look at the remaining photographs with new eyes.

Here is a list of the other photographers in the book, whose work intrigued me:

What each of these photographers gave me was work that filled me with a sense of wonder. That's what I seek in other's work and my own, the ability to wonder.

Happenings

It has been a good couple of weeks away. We/I still haven't gotten everything done that we wanted to do. We got the 15 yards of bark spread. We spent a very hot Memorial Day weekend staining the deck. The kitchen flooring went in Wednesday, the kitchen feels so much more complete now. But there is still painting, drywall patching, and finding a new half bath vanity that makes me happy.

I didn't do any filming in May, after completing eight vacation films from April, there just wasn't the time or the desire to film more. But June shows promise, I am joining some others from the Make Films:12 course and committing to thirty days of filming. I am ever so hopeful that I won't lose steam on this.

I signed my husband and I up for a photography workshop in August - Abandoned Buildings in Gary, Indiana. Doesn't that sound like heaven?

I will be in and out this summer. Sharing when I have something of value to say. Otherwise, I will be around on Instagram and Facebook.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Hour of Homecoming - Part Two

You can read Part One of this post here.


It was easy getting in the car, it was fairly easy to drive now that windows were scraped free of ice, the hard part was deciding where to go. The abandoned, rural farmsteads of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that I always photographed where too far away to reach before the golden hour had come and gone.


I pulled out of the driveway, which way to go? I knew the way to the main road, but where might these other roads, roads that had their own ridge lines to follow, where did they lead? I knew I would be wasting precious golden hour time, but curiosity won out, and it's a peninsula, I wasn't going to get lost. Also, I had a whole week ahead of me, I didn't need to conquer everything in one day. All I needed to do was get one decent shot, and the pressure to create would be lifted.


Just as I suspected, all these random roads still led to the main road, and probably quicker than if I had taken my known way to it. Getting my bearings, I realized I wasn't more than fifteen minutes from the lighthouse that was at the northern tip of the peninsula. I never get to the lighthouse for golden hour, it is too far from where we usually stay, and to leave before dawn creates risk of a car/deer encounter, deer seem to be abundant on the peninsula.


So the lighthouse it was, and since it was still off-season, there wouldn't be any campers at the state park yet, meaning I would have the place to myself.  I had brought my tripod with me, just as I do on every trip north, but this time I was determined to actually take it out of the car. Self-portrait work can only be achieved with a tripod, and I was on a vacation of adventure and discovery.

Family collaborative vacation film - Day 2. Part of this was shot at the lighthouse in the evening...


Day Two - Leelanau Vacation from Sarah Huizenga on Vimeo.

End Note

This vacation has made me dig deeper into this place and my relationship to it. I have decided to take from my bookshelf an old e-course that I took in 2013 - A Sense of Place led by Kat Sloma. I have never completed the course, but I have all the materials. I am going to give it a try once again, maybe now is the right time...

I will be taking a short blog vacation. I need to put some time and energy into my website. Also the kitchen flooring will finally go in the end of this month, and I have some painting to finish before then, and there's fifteen yards of bark to spread outside... 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Hour of Homecoming


From the moment we came over the rise, on the roller coaster road that is M-109, in the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, I knew I was home. Above us stretched a bright blue sky, on each side of us were sun-bleached sand dunes with tufts of beach grass sprouting from them, and ahead of us sat the most photogenic weathered white barn I had ever seen.  I wasn't a photographer then, just a snapshot taker. I didn't know anything about good light or bad light, composition, POV, the golden hour, ISO; it would be another fifteen years before those words would enter my vocabulary. I just knew I had to get out and take a picture with my pocket-size Fuji film camera.


I have lived in Michigan all my fifty years, never living farther than twenty miles from my childhood home. Somehow though,  I knew that this "up north" place, three hours from where I grew up, was where my heart lived. For twenty-five years I have been trying to figure out what it is about this place, why it captivates me so. With each return, I dig a little deeper into it and into myself.


Our family of three opinionated adults and one sassy golden retriever, just returned from a week of vacation in this place of homecoming.


Vacations tend to fall into one of two camps for me. Either they are vacations of adventure, where I have to figure the place out, consult maps, make wrong turns, get yelled at. Or they are vacations of discovery, where the place is already understood and instead I have time and space to explore who I am in it.


We tend to stay in the same small area every time we go up north, either nestled on the edge of a small lake, or the edge of a golf course. This time, our daughter, one of the opinionated adults, convinced us to try someplace new, father north than we usually stay, located in the middle of farm country, open fields on every side, a step out of our comfort zone. This put me farther from the places that I always photograph, favorite places, another step out of comfort.


Having learned the importance of the "golden hour", I was up before the sun every morning. The sassy golden retriever, hearing the creak of the wooden floorboards, joined me. I would put on my winter coat, my warm paisley rain boots, secure my headlamp to my head, and open the back door to the frozen landscape. We would crunch through the refrozen snow, climb the rise to the west of the house, and wander along the ridge line. He would pretend to track wild animals until he finally did his business. Then, we would turn back toward the warm glow of the house so he could eat and return to bed with my daughter. I would make tea in the white mug I had claimed for the week, write in my journal, then gather my camera gear that was waiting by the door, and head out into the predawn light to scrape the ice from the windows of my car.

To be continued...

Part Two of this will be next week. I have too much I want to say for one post, and too many photographs I want to share. Until then here is a short film of our first day of vacation, you can get a good sense of the farmhouse and area around it.


Leelanau - April 21, 2018 from Sarah Huizenga on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Secret Life of Sadie Powers

Prompt: Citrus

August 2015, I participated in Susannah Conway's August Break, a published list of daily prompts meant to build community on social media. You were suppose to take a picture each day that somehow symbolized that prompt and then post it on Instagram or FaceBook. Always the overachiever, I decided to take the list and do thirty-one days of self-portraiture photography.

Prompt: Sweet Delights

My blogging adventure began after taking the NOW YOU e-course on self-portrait photography, that was six years ago. My personality is not one that should like being in front of the lens, although INFP's top two professions tend to be writer or actor...hmmm. I chose photography in the first place, for my life after work, so I could be behind the lens. But something from that very first class sucked me into this creative, alternate world.

Prompt: In the Distance

That August, I fell head-over-heels in love with the challenge of story creating, finding my best body angles, mastering focus, and scene set-ups. I gave the series it's own hashtag #herlifeinvignettes. I began to think of myself as a character.

Prompt: Notebook

One morning while writing in my journal, my character suddenly had a name...Sadie Powers. I have no idea where it came from. I don't know any Sadie's or anybody with the last name Powers, but Sadie Powers it was.

She seemed to come to me as a muse, a cross between my favorite great-aunt Viola and Vivian Maier, the reclusive street photographer, who I had recently learned about. My great-aunt instilled in me a deep fascination for an earlier age, a love for unique(old) places and things, hard-to-find treasures. Vivian's photographs emulated that era of curiosity for me. There are actually a lot of similarities between my great-aunt and Vivian Maier, both never married, both were devoted to children, both loved to travel, both documenters of a vanishing time through collecting memorabilia and photography.

Prompt: Two

Initially, I thought I was suppose to write a book about Sadie and her adventures. But, if I have learned anything about myself in the last two years, it is that while I am capable of writing, I am not capable of sitting for long periods of time at my desk. For over two years, Sadie has been patiently biding her time.

Since I began making short films at the beginning of this year, Sadie has snuck down out of the attic, ready to start her adventures once again.

The following is Sadie's film debut...


Idle Hour from Sarah Huizenga on Vimeo.


 It will be interesting to see how her story unfolds...

Prompt: Close Up

I have returned to prompt lists found on Pinterest, hunting down costumes and props, and developing the story.