Earlier this month I spent some time in the home studio of collage artist Susan Adame. She wanted some images that showed her in her work environment, and I wanted the chance to learn more about her creative process. It is such a pleasure to spend time with people who love what they do.
It is easy to understand how time might slip away from Susan when she is working. As she shows me the various materials she uses in her collages, her fingers linger over textures and designs. Every element in a piece is carefully chosen. The papery skeletons of real leaves might almost disappear into the collage, but they are there for a reason — “a little reward for getting up close and really looking.”
Susan does much of her work standing up at her drafting table. Her layered pieces begin with a watercolor wash on beautiful fine-art Arches paper. Then she adds color, texture, and pattern from the most surprising sources, like manuscripts from Buddhist monks and letters meticulously penned in French script. Susan intends her art to be soothing. “I knew I didn’t want to just decorate people’s homes. I want the pieces to have a positive influence.”
Often Susan has a special assistant.
Kayla is one of my favorite dogs. She is so smart!
Thank you, Susan, for letting me spend this time with you. You keep working and I’ll just slip away quietly.
Don’t worry. This one won’t link to a gallery.
One of the things I neglected to do on this tour was to take many pictures of my tour-mates. Not so, Doreen Kline. Doreen is a fantastic boutique wedding photographer based in Florida, and she understands the stories that the “regular” moments can tell. She was kind enough to send me a CD that contained the following images of me. Since I’m almost never in front of the camera, it was really fun to receive these. I thought I’d share.
You can see more of Doreen’s work at Marco Island Wedding Photographer. Please do visit. You’re in for a visual treat.
Back to Venice. Did I mention it snowed one day? It was spectacular:
Protecting my gear came before vanity. Clearly. Here I am with Brett, Celia, and Scott:
These next images remind me of a story. We took our daughter Grace to Disneyland when she was five years old. It was the perfect age for her to visit the Magic Kingdom and she was pretty much beside herself with the wonder of it. Sometimes when she would spot a Disney Character she would stop in her tracks, put her hands on her five-year-old hips, and get a look on her face that said “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
Being in the gondola with Cindy in her Carnivale costume? Yeah. Kind of like that. (See Venice, Part Two for photographs of Cindy.)
After the gondola ride, we convinced a stranger to take a few shots of the whole group. We’ll always have Venice.
Okay, then. Back to reality. The next blog post will be about images taken in this time zone.
What a wonderful way to experience Carnivale! The sunrise shoots were nothing less than magical. We would arrive at Piazza San Marco when it was still dark. As the sun came up, beautifully costumed people would appear, ready for their close-ups. These “models” work all year on their costumes and come to Carnivale expressly to be photographed by serious photographers. And even though there are many photographers about, it bears no resemblance to the madness of the square in the middle of the day. When you are there, you feel like one of the cool kids.
Over the week we were there, the models appeared in various locations. One afternoon they were across the water from San Marco outside of San Giorgio Maggiore Church. On Tuesday they took over the colorful island of Burano. (I have to wonder how the local residents feel about that.) On another day, scores of them gathered at the Arsenale. That was pretty much a jaw-dropping experience. Everywhere you looked, there was another elaborate costume and beautiful mask. One of the people on our tour referred to it as “the Easter Parade on crack.” That’s a pretty good description:
We saved the best until the end. On our last full day in Venice, we were able to spend some quality time with Cindy, a friend of our tour leader who comes to Carnivale every year. Up until then the muffled voices inside the masks all spoke Italian or French. It was almost shocking to hear an American accent. We rented gondolas and Cindy draped herself across the bench seat of the one I was in, staying in elegant character. I had several “I can’t believe this is happening to me” moments as we glided under bridges and out into the Grand Canal. Cindy giggled behind her mask. “Isn’t this just more fun than a person should be allowed to have?” Yes, Cindy. Yes.
This is one of my favorite images from the trip. It combines old and new Venice, the mystery of Carnivale and the mundane in a way that makes me smile.
I think I’ll be smiling about this trip for quite some time. I was a bit overwhelmed photographing all these models. It’s hard to concentrate on composition and all the decisions that go into making a good image when you are busy pinching yourself. I did my best.
You can see more of the costume photographs here. I know there are way too many, even edited down from the hundreds I shot. I may need an intervention.
What an amazing experience. Nine days in Venice at Carnivale with the express purpose of making photographs. I have never been on a lengthy photo tour before. It was exhilarating, exhausting, and a whole lot of fun.
We had sunrise shoots in Piazza San Marco, evening shoots near the Rialto Bridge, a boat trip to the colorful island of Burano, high tide, and snow.
Here is my first batch of images. Apparently I can’t get enough of gondolas and lamp posts. I tried to edit these down to a manageable number that won’t make your eyes glaze over. I may have failed.
Up next: Carnivale costumes. Oh my goodness.