Thursday, March 19, 2015

This Week's Judge: Julie Moses!

I have referred to it as "DaVinci Disease".
The seeming inability to keep my attention focused  long enough to a particular interest or activity long enough to either complete it or to progress to an advanced level of mastery in said interest.
DaVinci had a well known reputation for starting projects and then abandoning them out of boredom or in pursuit of a new interest. Compared to what he did complete, he most likely left hundreds or even thousands of projects by the wayside. Still, in the process he acquired varied
 and numerous skill sets that very few of his peers possessed
 in their dogged determination to master a much narrower filed of study.

This being said,  my self-diagnosed ADD has led to tons of fabulous ideas for projects, 
but not many completed ones. I have also acquired many skills in very different and seemingly unrelated areas. What is really surprising though is how those skills really end up being related.
In my current position in children's ministry, I use almost every single one of those varied skills from writing, drawing, photography, event planning, social media, to sweeping a floor.

Today I wanted to share with you not a project,
 but a class I recently had the opportunity to participate in.
 I was beyond thrilled as this was the first actual photography class I ever got to take.
I knew that regardless of the subject, there would be something I could learn from it, 
some new skill to add to my quiver. 
Ready to shoot from my bow if it should ever come in handy.
Up until this time all my education was self-directed. 
Youtube, books, CreativeLive, and lots 
and lots of trial and error through practice 
were my only teachers.
There is a lot to be said for self-directed learning.
There is also a lot to be said for facilitated learning under the lead 
of an amazingly talented individual with a gift for teaching and motivation.

I found both of those attributes in Lucy Baber.
I was beyond blessed to get to participate in the last run of her class
at In Beauty in Chaos called
Creative Insight.

It is an intensive four week class. You will not be learning much in the way
of technical photography skills so it's more of an intermediate skill level class.
What you will learn though is a lot about yourself and why you make the 
artistic choices you do as well as how to deliberately make those choices to reflect
who you are as an artist and the message you want your viewers to see.  
This is a class that will really be all about you and what you bring to it.
Because of that, I will share quite a bit of the interaction between 
Lucy and myself. These interactions by no means will look like 
what you might have in the class
because what you bring to the table will be different.

This was my final assignment from the first week.

My explanation:
"This image serves double duty image as it is both part of the mindful eating exercise and an illustration of one of the ten truths about myself. I tend to be cool as a cucumber in a crisis. I also love the fresh smell of cucumber and how moist and refreshing it is. Almost like water with a bit of a crunch. I had a few possible images to choose between for the final. I ended up choosing this one as it was the biggest stretch of myself as a photographer. This is outside my comfort zone. I almost always have people in my shots, so photographing food and trying to create a story/connection with it was challenging for me."

Lucy's Response:
"Julie, this shot is so interesting to me, as the repetition of the strong circular shapes is so striking. It's also interesting to me that even though you describe yourself as "cool" as a cucumber...several of these cucumbers are actually sitting under a very warm-toned light source. I realize that was probably unintentional, but I want you to just sit with this feedback for a second to see if it resonates...

To me, it almost appears to be an army of cucumbers sitting on this plate. And they don't actually appear quite so cool and refreshing to me...they actually seem a bit "in your face" about their presence. Do you see it? The strong repetition, the fact that I can actually kind of make out tiny scowling cucumber seed faces, along with the warm light above them...actually make me feel a teensy bit defensive. I wonder if maybe your "cool as a cucumber" reaction actually has even more of a "crunch" to it than you realize? This is all completely speculation, of course, based on the image alone since we don't know each other very well. But does any of that ring true for you? If so, how do you connect to those statements? Is your reaction of keeping your cool in teh midst of crisis perhaps a protective mechanism you've had to develop over the years? To me, it's almost like they are lined up like the links in a suit of armor...

What do you think??"


Immediately, you see this class is different. Lucy's exercises and her responses are truly representative of the course title- Creatively Insightful.

The second week just got more intense.

My final assignment from the second week. 

My explanation;
"Let me attempt to explain the image and my thinking and intentions behind it. So often I feel like I am on the outside. A child all alone. It is not necessarily an uncomfortable place to be, as there is excitement in independence, but I wonder what is inside that I am being locked out of. It's a tiring duality of thinking hence the use of this pose and the use of in-camera double exposure. I chose to process in color because I think the yellow color of the house helps symbolize the idea that what is contained in it is either happy and bright, or something to be feared. the use of the hand to both cover and reveal the face was inspired by a self portrait by Lynzi Berg, and this is more of a self-portrait than a portrait of my daughter as I project my inner self and insecurities on to her, unintentionally. She simultaneously covers and reveals her face, never really showing her true identity or everything inside of her for fear of being misunderstood or worse face apathy and be ignored but unable to completely quell her voice and who she really is at the same time. The bright color of her shirt is another juxtaposition of meanings as wearing orange can mean you are bold and seeking of adventure, yet it is also a color of isolation, being my least "favorite" color in the spectrum. She is surrounded by darkness and fear of the unknown clinging closely to the door yet afraid to either go inside or to venture into the unknown of the darkness."

Lucy's Response:
"Julie, this is a phenomenal image. I have been thinking about it since you posted and there is just so much depth to it, I'm not sure I can even do it justice! The contrast of colors is what strikes me first. It's so interesting to me how you mentioned the pop of yellow being either "happy or something to be feared". It is a very strong color, so I do get that sense of tension you mentioned. It's almost like an artificial bright it hurts to look at. As a whole, this is an uncomfortable image to look at with the double exposure. I think that's a good thing though, because that helps to give it the meaning you intended. Her posture with the double exposure is so striking...without regard for the stories you've shared, if I were to see this without any other background, I might assume this child has been hit and is being locked out of the house as a punishment.  

Does that resonate with you? Do you think you have been punished? If so, who is punishing you? Who has locked you out? I'm also curious to know...what do you think you would *really* find on the other side of that door if someone DID let you in? Alternately, what happens in the morning when the sun rises on this little girl who has been locked outside all night?"


I know, right? Just when I though I was going so deep. She challenged me to go deeper.

My assignment from week 3

My explanation:

As I often do, I decided to combine several elements of things that I have been pondering and struggling with this week. I would like to say that I was in complete creative control of this image, but in fact my daughter just happened to be playing with the plastic bag in the tub and started doing this thing holding it over her face. At first I thought it was just just silly and would make a fun image for my 365 project. Almost immediately though I recognized it as being metaphorical for my experiences this week and edited it to represent that. 
The compositional crop is the golden spiral. It represents my dreams in that it it is often my anxiety and worries spiraling out of control that will either prevent my dreams or influence them so that sleep is not something that helps to restore me but 
add to the tension and anxiety I am already feeling. 
The viewer looks through the water bag to see a smiling happy face, but one that is also distorted though magnified at the same time. Being "under water" also symbolizes the idea of being suffocated but just as in dream suffocation is merely a perception and not a reality, so it is with the bag which does not actually interfere with breathing and can be removed at any time.. The texture, color, airy processing are meant to add even more a dreamlike ethereal quality. Because I dream in color I did not convert the image to black and white. It is dream and nightmare at the same time as most of my dreams tend to be. It is silly and scary all at the same time.

Lucy's Response:

"I love what you did here. You are doing such a fantastic job of acknowledging feelings and learning to embrace them in your images rather than cover them up. You are really digging deep and just sitting with the tension, which I think is fantastic. Very mindful. 

I also noticed that the eyes are covered in both your week 2 and week 3 images. Any underlying symbolism there? Is there something in your own life that you are afraid to "see"?"


Holy crap! I didn't even see (pun intended) the eye thing! Seriously it was like talking to a fortune teller. (Not that I ever have or would or believe in that sort of thing at all. )

So by the time week four came around, I was really reexamining a lot of things about myself and what I want to do and where I want to go as an artist. So week four ended up being the hardest week for me. In true DaVinci style, I didn't complete the final project. Or at least I haven't yet.
And in true great teacher style, Lucy is patiently waiting and supporting me until I do. 

I did finish the first part of the final assignment though, so here it is.

My explanation:

When I first read the assignment, I immediately had an idea 
that had to do with being tied up and gagged. The thing is that no one really gags me but myself. 
Though in today's world that has a myriad of platform for self-expression and free speech, 
we are more and more afraid of being who we really are and saying what we really 
want to say for fear of backlash and consequences. 
We are always offending someone somewhere.
 It can create an uncomfortable distorted sense of self that is 
so stretched that it is nearly unrecognizable and cartoonish though still hyper-realistic. 
The mirror of culture threatens to suck me in entirely.
 In this image I am also paying homage to classical art 
from the Renaissance daVinci to the surrealism of Dali. 
The image is heavily processed though minimally retouched and I am 
not wearing any makeup and this is my "I woke up like this" hair. 
The composition and crop is also based on the Golden Spiral which you can also see applied to the Mona Lisa.

Lucy's response:

JULIE! WOW!!! So well executed!! I love reading your thoughts and intentions in each of your images, and this is no exception! I absolutely LOVE that you pushed yourself creatively to create a piece of art that is so very unique. daVinci meets Dali???? Insanely creative! I am SO looking forward to seeing your "after" image so that we can dive into what each of these means to you moving forward. SO proud of you!!!!!! <3


So if you are ready to dig deep, and then dig even deeper. I highly recommend this class.
It just so happens, that registration is open right now to 
In Beauty and Chaos Forum Members.
For those not who are not forum members yet, you can get more info 
about when you can sign up for this class as well as other workshops Lucy offers here.

Julie Moses is an art teacher slash homeschool mom turned lifestyle photographer. 
She is also one of the founding Mavenistas at Snap Maven. She has four children 
ranging in age from 21 down to 4, so she knows a thing or two about 
the importance of capturing and documenting fleeting moments. 
Her five year old may in fact be the most photographed child on the planet. 
She also lives with her musician husband in the arid SoCal desert where
 he is daddy to their brood and witness to her unique caffeine fueled
 brand of klutziness known as “style and grace.”

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