Thursday, March 17, 2011

obsession and research

Comments from two different friends have been playing in my mind for the past week.
One comment was a sweeping statement about a "common" trait which artists possess; specifically the trait of obsession and it's positive aspect that fosters focus and determination.
The other comment was that I do not know how to promote myself and tend to discount all of the studying, learning, and research I do on my own.
These comments have me reflecting on the new things I have learned this past year, both as an example of useful obsession and, perhaps, some things that I must consider when promoting my constant research.

Wanting to stitch the panoramic photos from January 2010, I had to learn a couple more Photoshop tools, and was forced to reconcile with the fact that I am far better off shooting entirely in RAW from now on. I obsessed over image quality and adjustments throughout the summer, working closely with Mark Gibson from Maine. We shared knowledge and pushed each others photographic abilities for two months, spending many hours after work in front of computer screens critiquing our images.

As I began to print giclees on watercolor paper last spring, I started to obsess about color quality and accuracy. This opened my eyes to steps in the workflow that I did not know existed. Many late night print experiments, research on the internet, and reading technical manuals that were often written for someone with a better knowledge base than I had at the time, led to a satisfactory work flow (which THIS spring I am revisiting and hoping to fine tune).

This past spring was also when I finally was able to start experimenting with photo polymergravure. 20 plates and who-knows-how-many prints later I had to leave the press for a summer of work. This fall I returned to the process and have advanced to the point where I am considered a fellow printmaker (not a beginner) by other people using this process.

This past December, I used the sketchbook project from Art House Coop as an excuse to actually make a focused sketchbook about the Grand Canyon, then used that sketchbook to learn Adobe InDesign to lay out a book and find a way to get it published.
I used the Grand Canyon trip as an excuse to learn about HDR photography.
The micro contrast adjustments that can be made have given me some ideas about fine tuning the compensation curves for polymer photogravure (a process which I was determined to learn last spring).
AND, the impressions of the Grand Canyon have me obsessed about color accuracy again. I want to preserve the color impression that I had on that trip, not just relying on the shifted colors that a computer screen wants me to see.

I don't have a slick way of ending this blog post. (I'm glad it's only a blog post) Perhaps I have concluded that I'll continue to obsessively research, and that the obsession to do so is a positive trait.

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