Getting ready for trading…

This Saturday I’ll be selling my photos at a craft fair for the first time, in my home town of Denton. It’s Denton Euro Festival time, involving live music, food, drink and a craft marquee…and I thought why not get involved and set up a stall hawking my wares? I’ve been on Etsy for a while but haven’t done any face to face photo selling before. But you’ve got to start somewhere.

I’ve just spent several hours mounting and bagging photos and generally getting very excited. I’m really pleased with how professional it’s all looking; the mounts I got are really nice quality, and I got some stickers made up with my website and name on which adds a nice touch to the back of the mounts. The mounts came with the right sized bags which are perfect and great value. I’d definitely buy more of those…assuming these sell!

I’m not really sure what will sell best so I’ve got a variety of mounted prints in three sizes including a few shots of different places in Manchester (I suspect they’ll do better than some of the more abstract work I have but we’ll see), and I’ve framed a couple of larger pieces on fine art paper. If they don’t sell, I’ll either keep them for a future stall or hang them up at home, so as far as I’m concerned, I win either way 🙂

Now I just need to work out how to display everything and how to price it. And whether to use a bit of behavioural science like a decoy or high anchor price. I say that, I’ve already framed a couple of prints with that exact thing in mind. Although I’m not sure I should be sharing my pricing strategy here…

If you’re local, pop along and say hello – it’s 12-7pm on Saturday in the centre of Denton. If not, wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes!

stickers photos

a portrait with a homemade pinhole camera

Ever fancied making your own pinhole camera and then taking and developing a photo with it? I’ve just got back from one of the ‘Thursday lates’ at Manchester Art Gallery, where I did just that – I  made a camera from a coke can, cardboard and masking tape. Love it!

Pinhole cameras work by allowing a small amount of light to hit the photo paper or film inside the camera (or can in this case). The paper is covered with a layer of crystals which are sensitive to the light hitting them, and the varying levels of light (i.e whether parts of the image are lighter or darker) react with the crystals to create an image on the paper. Because the hole is so small, the exposure time has to be quite long – the picture I took (below)  was 1 minute 50 seconds, and the first one I tried was 1 minute 30. With the first one I could have sat there for 10 minutes for a good exposure though, and it wouldn’t have made any difference, as the pinhole was blocked so no light got in – oops.

Once the picture is taken you develop the negative in a darkroom. The gallery had a tent set up for this and you could go in and watch your photo developing. The paper we used today – rather than film – needed a soak in a liquid to develop it, and as it’s soaking the image starts to appear, as a negative. Once it’s ready, you have to stop the crystals from reacting to the light by putting the photo into another liquid (two different ones actually), then drying it out. The photo just looked like a blob to start with and I didn’t think it had worked, but once it had been scanned into a laptop and inverted from the negative, amazingly I could see the outline of my shoulder and face. I turned my head half way through the exposure in the hope that I’d look like I had two faces, but I probably should have stayed still, I don’t think the exposure was quite long enough.

That said, I like the picture. It’s a bit odd, which makes it interesting. And there’s something quite exciting about making a camera yourself using such basic materials and creating an actual, physical photo with them. I rarely get my photos developed these days, and when I do – recently that’s only been when I’ve used film – it’s quite exciting picking them up and seeing how they’ve turned out. Creating an image like I did tonight is better as you get to see the photo  as it’s turning out, not just when it’s done. You really feel like you’ve made the photo, in a different way to shooting digital, or even film. It’s a bit of a gamble about whether it will turn out, it takes a while, it’s a bit fiddly, it’s not perfect, and it’s not predictable (at least, not until you’ve made yourself a decent camera), but that’s why it’s also so much fun. If I can suss out how to create a darkroom at home I’ll definitely try it again.

Another painting

I did another painting on Sunday.*

abstract art

I’ve been trying to work out what’s brought on the sudden painting thing over the last couple of weeks (the researcher in me trying to analyse myself, no doubt), and wonder if it’s the sunny weather – it’s been sunny both Sundays when I’ve painted, so there does seem to be a pattern so far. That and the fact that I’ve had a couple of blank canvasses doing nothing and waiting to be painted, although I’ve had those for months, so maybe it is the weather after all.

I was a bit stuck for what to do when I first decided I was actually going to paint, and sat for ages thinking about it, not having a clue where to start. Eventually I decided I just needed to paint something to get myself started, so I painted the background pale blue. From there I ended up free-styling a bit with various colours at one end of the canvas, ending up with a sort of grass effect. The ‘grass’ wasn’t particularly intentional, but it meant I could add a sky at the top, and a couple of white clouds to fill the rest of the pale blue space. I did the clouds with my fingers and there was something quite nice and free and childlike using my fingers to paint, so maybe next Sunday I’ll have another go at that. The taller grass ‘stalks’ are bits of paint I mixed with water and then blew across the canvas. I enjoyed that too, and I’m thinking next weekend might end up being messy if I have another go with a bigger canvas (I have a wall to fill upstairs)…

I’ve now run out of canvasses anyway so need to top up if this is going to become a habit. I’ve nearly run out of white paint as well; I’ve got through a couple of tubes so should invest in a big one. Might even treat myself to some new brushes…oo-er. Whether I bother might depend on how sunny it is though, if my theory’s right. Or maybe it’ll just depend on whether I can be bothered to go and buy some canvasses this weekend.

*On proofing this post, it occurred to me that putting this sentence as a statement, on its own line and everything, makes it sound like it’s a big statement. Maybe something important. Something foreboding even. It isn’t (at least, not to me, you might be afraid of painting or Sundays for all I know), it was just the first thing I wrote to get this post started today, but I decided I quite liked the dramatic effect so decided to leave it. (I like a bit of drama every now and again.)

Bank holiday artday

Rather than spend bank holiday Monday doing anything particularly productive, like cleaning or gardening (I did the front lawn over the weekend, and no-one really sees the back garden except the window cleaner, so that can wait), I thought I’d do a bit of art. I remembered I’d found a brand new set of acrylic paints a few weeks ago when I was tidying up and got quite excited about painting something, but had the same problem I usually do when deciding to paint in that I didn’t know where to start. I have some stamps from my late Granddad’s stamp collection which I’ve had a play around with art-wise before, and a bit of inspiration from Pinterest suggested I combine the paint and stamps by choosing a stamp and expanding the picture around it with paint.

Admittedly, this isn’t as intricate as the one I got the inspiration from, but  I really like the concept and think I’ll do more of these.

I also had a go at an abstract painting. I’ve decided I quite like acrylic paint, it was easier to work with than oils because it dries quicker – so if you change your mind, you can just paint over it. I used a lot of white though, so think a big tube of it would be a good investment for next time, I’ve almost run out.