Monday, July 27, 2009

Still Working, Really!

As I wrote in my last post (was it really a month ago?) I am putting in some studio time this summer, but at a pretty slow rate. I was on vacation for a couple of weeks earlier this month, which I enjoyed greatly, although it kept me away from the studio. Now, I'm taking some lessons in screenprinting (which I somehow missed during my years in school), and hope to have something decent enough to post here soon. I've only made a couple of prints so far, but have more lessons Monday and Tuesday.

Meanwhile, here's a couple of small Van Dyke brown prints I made around the same time as the cyanotype on plywood experiments I posted about previously. These are vintage photographs that I scanned while dragging and sliding the prints around on the surface of the scanner. I made these scans over Spring break this year, while basically goofing around in my studio. I really wasn't planning on doing anything with these, but ended up liking some of them.

The photos came from two sources. One is a box of old photo portraits which has been sitting in a cabinet in the photo labs where I teach for as long as I've been working there (I'll be starting my ninth year this fall). I have no idea where they came from, and no one has ever expressed any interest in them, so I brought them home last year to keep them from getting ruined by splashing chemistry, and to do something creative with them.

The other source is more interesting. About a year ago, I bought a copy of the book LaPorte, Indiana. It was written by one of the people behind the wonderful Found Magazine. The book consists entirely of studio portraits dating from the 50's-70's from a portrait studio in LaPorte, IN. The book details finding dozens of boxes of these portraits in a diner in LaPorte, which now occupies the storefront formerly occupied by the photo studio. I was in LaPorte last fall doing volunteer work for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and made it a point to stop at that same diner. Sure enough, they still have dozens of boxes of old portraits, which they sell for 50 cents apiece. I bought a couple dozen of them.

These were meant to be test prints, just to test the negatives. My original goal was to try to print onto gold leaf, but my attempts were such a dismal failure that they went directly into the trash. I have a couple ideas to try along those lines, but haven't had time to follow through. I don't know if I'll stick with these images (Van Dyke brown on plywood could be interesting), but they might fit well with other ideas I'm exploring right now.

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