Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Starting Line

Yesterday afternoon, I sat looking at my writing blog—specifically, at its header. It is probably one of the most boring headers I have ever seen. And for someone who claims to be an artist? Well, it’s just a little embarrassing...

I thought, Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a very writerly or readerly bit of my own artwork that I could incorporate into a header… fact, I have been tossing around the idea of doing something bookish for a while, but wanted dramatic lighting, and simply hadn't found any such light in my environment.

At that very moment I felt penetrating warmth on the back of my neck and an annoying glare caught the corner of my monitor. When I turned to the source, why, the sun, traveling its new autumn route, was doing something wonderful and I knew it wouldn’t last long. I tore downstairs, already planning the layout, and gathered up a few props.

So, I thought it would be fun to show you the process—this time from the idea’s inception, through the selection method, and then into the usual stages of painting. I have a specific objective here—to incorporate the completed work into a header for my writing blog—so that will influence which layout I choose, but I also want it to be aesthetically appealing as wall art.

Here are the results of about a half-hour of late afternoon sun, a camera and tripod, and a spark of inspiration. Out of nearly 4o shots, I chose 6 candidates. They are all subject to future cropping for the optimal composition.
1) I really like a few things about this one: the way the underside of the open page is lit; the glare on the glasses; the way the light catches the ear-wire thingys, and the coil shadow on the standing book. I also like the sliver of light that passes through the spectacle lens and hits just below the coil. Then there is that little bit of light that catches the two corner parts of the wood post. I'm glad I thought to clip the pen to the tablet, though I wish the nib were showing. I also really like the way the red shows up against black.

2)...again, the contrast of the wire against black, the coil shadow, but I also really like the way the sun hits the  nib, and how the other end of the pen is mostly in the shadow, but the clip is lit.

3) ...yes, the transparency of the paper, the highlighted wire...and the way the letters on the book end look distinctly embossed up close, and, the same bit of light on the corners of the wood post.

4) ...the prominence of the glasses and the simpler, cleaner layout. Also, the extended, balancing shadow cast at the end of the tablet. There are also some nice and subtle reflections on the wood post.

5) page again, glasses glare, and the way the erect book is half shaded, and I love all the squiggly shadows on the open page. It's also a simpler, less cluttered layout.

6) This is clean and basic. It covers both reading and writing. The red and green make a nice contrast. And I really like the scrolling print on the book binding, and the great shadow cast inside the coiling.

Any thoughts on which you like best?
Shall I allow my vanity to replace these obscure book titles with my own?
(And for those of you who really pay close attention to detail, Yes, the green book is the very same that my redhead is reading in Cool Grass and one you may not have seen, Summer Read.)

Next, I will post the photo I'll work from...


  1. Number 2 (although I like them all really.) And YES, put your book titles in. I love the light in all these pictures. I wish I knew more about how to photograph using the lovely light.

  2. Liza, I'm leaning toward...oh, you'll just have to wait and see...

    As for the lighting, I just set my digital camera for automatic everything. Apparently, the intense light shuts down the aperture so that what would have shown up in the background is almost entirely void of light. Its a nice dramatic effect.

    The big question regarding the book titles is, can I do it and make it look as if I didn't fudge it?

  3. I like number 1. It just feels warmer to me....more inviting.

  4. Really...#1?

  5. You know, Glenn, you could have been a little more brief by eliminating the '#' :)

  6. Those pictures are lovely! You'll come up with something really great. I can't wait to see!

  7. Thanks Michelle! I'm going to post later today...

    ...and I absolutely LOVE your #6 portrait! So glad to see it here!


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