Claiming Orson Welles as an influence is like claiming the Beatles as an influence- and they most certainly are an influence as well- but regardless of his well-known stature in pop culture, I wanted to write a short blurb singing his praises. My introduction to the great man was as the voice of Unicron, the planet-sized Transformer villain, as a child. Two years ago, Brooks Jensen of Lenswork compared the rich cinematography of Citizen Kane against an Iron Man film and realized he couldn’t remember a single specific scene of the Iron Man film, but could completely soak up Kane scenes. It was a necessary thing in black and white films to have superb composition, since special effects were primitive and color was not a compositional component. In a way, the old classic films were heavily into graphic design, a deep kind of design that functions as a storytelling device.
This year I decided to dive deep into Welles, so to speak. I watched the Third Man (which was not directed by Welles but features him as a villain), the claustrophobic and surreal adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial, The Lady From Shanghai, and Touch of Evil. Beyond the films I watched a documentary on his life, several interviews, and subscribed to a podcast featuring all his radio work.
The stunning scenes speak for themselves- images that are 1. memorable, and 2.serve the story. Any photographer would do well to take that lesson, rather than shooting or posting a shit ton of photos that don’t stand out as compositions. I also found inspiration from Welles’ refusal to work in the studio system, and his holding on to artistic integrity as much as possible. He refused roles based on his moral objections (such as a sadistic Roman emperor), but would do side jobs like the famed food and drink advertisements because it allowed him to make the films he wanted to make. Conversely, the films he did for corporations always ended up with loss of creative control- either take studio money and have his films dissected, or do side work and make what he really wanted to make. I also applaud his candidness about money, which is something many creatives decline discussing, as if they were just funded by magical elves or something and didn’t have to consider it when making their art.
Towards the end of his life he lamented his unfinished work, that he spent most of his life chasing money, and that films were an enormous undertaking with little reward. He felt he could have done more with his life, but “it’s like saying, I could have done more with my life if I hadn’t married that woman. But I loved her.” The movies were his girl, and he remained faithful to the end.
I have another solo show of my fashion/ model images at A. E. England Gallery in Phoenix. Opening is First Fridays, Oct 4th, and show closing is Third Friday, Oct 18th. It came up at the last minute but it’s a lovely space and I couldn’t be happier to keep showing my stuff.
Oct 10th I’ll be in Seattle and Oct 11-13th I’ll be in NYC. In NYC I’ll be shooting with my friend and one of my favorite muses, Anastasia Arteyeva, and also two new-to-me models, Desalle and Kacie Marie. My family is traveling with me and my children are mega excited about seeing the Big Apple.
After the trip and the show, I start several rounds of new classes and workshops through Chandler Recreation, Mesa Arts Center and Tempe Recreation.
October marks one year of my being a “working artist” and while sometimes it’s quite weird and scary, and you have to really hustle and be clever when no money is coming in, our lives are much happier and healthier for doing this.
My first foray into stop motion (discounting all those Lego movies I made with my kids). I love the technique, going back to my childhood watching Ray Harryhausen films and Mr. Bill.
There are several apps that make it very easy to do a stop motion video with your phone or tablet, but the key is having a bracket on a tripod that can keep your device in a fixed location. I made such a bracket using a versatile plastic called Instamorph. It comes in a jar of small beads that you heat up in hot water, and can shape into whatever format you can do in 4 minutes, after which it needs to be re-boiled to keep shaping. We inserted a $3 tripod nut and- voila- a DIY bracket. Probably not what you’d want in a hurricane but it’s stable enough to do studio/ at home behind-the-scenes type stop motion videos.
The final touch of the music is the easy part, since I create multiple tracks during any given week when I’m not doing other stuff. I fully intend on having a stop motion video for most shoots, whether it’s an art piece in itself or a behind the scenes thingie, it’s a wonderful ancillary tool.
Model Percolate and I shot some very moody, sparse images of her in her black latex inside a gallery, then we walked outside and saw how beautiful the sky was. Snapped a couple images in the burning August sun with normal suburbia in the background.
Between photography, music, ceramics and comics, I have to make choices as to how much time and energy I have for each. The hardest part of loving various creative mistresses is that even though it’s all indulging a muse, things can get compartmentalized – should I spend so much time working on music when it won’t result in another gallery show or etsy sales?
That’s why I appreciate artists like Doug Jeck, who is primarily known for his ceramics. I came across Doug’s work in a book called “Making Marks” by Robin Hopper, and the sample Jeck piece showed a photograph applied across a ceramic face of the photo’s subject, Jeck’s father. The combination of photo and ceramics is something I thought about but never fully realized. I had actually thought in the reverse- making ceramic pieces to photograph in a diorama, but I personally don’t have the patience to do diorama work.
Another of my favorite pieces involves a woman’s head atop the body of a sleeping dog, sort of a modern domestic sphinx. It’s lovely, primitive, mythological, silly, and something everyone can relate to. I love it.
Model Percolate shot mid-August in a latex suit and cat ears. She brought the bike, I used old Kodachrome slides found at my mother’s house as the backdrop. I absolutely love the fake backgrounds when people are “driving” in old films, or SNL’s “Toonces the Cat” scenes.
Many high end photographers use retouchers to polish/ shape their work and while I’m neither “high end” nor in the market for a retoucher, I do love it when I get to collaborate with another artist and they add on to the image once I’ve taken it as far as I can.