Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. It's a journal of sorts. It gives me a place to show my work-in-progress for my painting and photography. Comments are welcome --- add one at the end of an entry or email me at BarbBlumer@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Photograph as Artifact

A new piece for The Observer entitled "The Priests"

As I get The Observer exhibit ready, I have been thinking about how the framed photographs are just objects, artifacts, that represents my "journey."

They are are the sum of my experience:  of exploring the initial idea, finding a meaty subject, starting the actual series, creating a working title for the series, then making the images with my camera, noodling the idea in my head, then selecting the images, pulling some in from the past, too, then editing them, working with them, creating a draft of a book to see if they "hang" together, then printing them small, putting them aside, coming back to them again, journaling about them (what am I really trying to say?), getting the final title for the series "right", then printing them again --bigger this time, asking trusted family and friends for their input, thinking some more, developing titles, selecting the "right" title for each one to aid the storytelling but not finishing the story, designing and producing and proofing the book, while making the final photographs, including matting, framing, windexing and reworking what doesn't look right even after it is all sealed up.

After all, a photograph is just a piece of paper hanging on a wall.

But it is the touchpoint where my work as The Observer ends and the "work" of the viewer as The Observer begins.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Observer Opening Push

This week is the "big push" to get my photographs ready for my exhibit, The Observer, at the Arnot Art Museum
I have to deliver them this coming Thursday, March 1. Just 4 days away!
The Arnot will hang the collection, thank goodness. And I am really looking forward to seeing how Executive Director, Rick Pirozzolo decides to present my work, since that is his expertise.

The dates of the exhibit are March 9 until May 4.
The opening event will be Friday, March 16 from 5 -7:30 p.m., along with Treacy Ziegler who will be in the next gallery. 
The hours of the Arnot Art Museum are Tues to Sat, 10 to 5.
The Museum is located in downtown Elmira at 235 Lake Street, at the corner of Lake and Gray Streets.
  • Exit 56 from Route 17 / I-86 (Church Street).
  • At the fourth traffic light turn left onto Lake Street.

Free parking is available at the rear of the museum building on Baldwin Street. Bus parking in rear parking lot (access from Baldwin Street) or metered parking along Gray and Lake Streets. Please enter through the front door, on Lake Street.
Directions (mapquest) can be found here. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On a Roll - "Yellow Tulips" Oil Painting

Yellow Tulips
18 x 14 Oil on Panel

Yesterday another painting sold at West End Gallery.  This time it was "Yellow Tulips," one of my larger paintings.  They said I am "on a roll."  I have now sold 4 paintings in the last month there.  That's pretty amazing for me, since I don't produce many paintings a year.  It is motivating to have your work sell.  Makes me want to get in the studio and paint!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Bon Voyage "Midday Sun"

"Midday Sun"
shown in its arched frame.
Painting is 3 x 2, and Frame is 6 by 4.

I dropped off this little painting at West End Gallery yesterday, and they notified me today that it had sold in less than 24 hours.  That made my day, and my week!  It is always exciting to see your work shown in a gallery, but it is even more exciting when a painting finds a new home.  It's as though it has been set sail.   


Monday, February 13, 2012


Ellis Island Ladies

There are aspects of being a photographer who works in public which make the situation dicey (versus in a studio where the environment is controlled).

Weather and lighting can work against you but most importantly, you want to be incognito.

If your subjects become aware of your camera, they will change their demeanor and often look into the camera, just when you don't want them to.  I didn't want these ladies, deep in conversation, to stop.

So, you have to be discreet and keep your camera out of view.  Then, when you see "it", you go for it. Yes, it sometimes feels like I am spying.  But these are public situations.  I am careful to avoid being intrusive.

Some people say that you have to get permission before you make someone's photo, and get written legal permission to use it.  That is if their image will be used in a commercial situation, like advertising, which I understand.  That is not my purpose, so I proceed. You are fair game if you come in contact with me.

But I digress.  The real purpose of this blog post is the write about the trade offs between being perfect in a photo -- i.e., in focus, perfect composition vs. the content.

I wish the image of Ellis Island Ladies was perfectly in focus but it is not.

In the Observer I am going for content, so I am having to let go.  Ego and control.  Two of art making's worst enemies.


Friday, February 10, 2012

More about "Wilson"

"Wilson" isn't just a rock.  He has a face.  He is looking at you.  He is observing you.

Who painted this face?  Why is this "rock face" there?  To entertain walkers going by?  To say a family with a sense of humor lives here? 

And I have given him a name:  Wilson.

The title of "Wilson" is a clue as to what I, as The Observer, saw.

But what do you, as The Observer, see?

This is the concept behind The Observer exhibit and book.


Please see the previous post for more background.

Photographs are Memory Vessels


It has been a long of week.  I have been going through my files selecting, and re-selecting, images for my upcoming photography exhibit, The Observer.  Over and over.  Putting some in and then taking some out.  Editing is hard.  Very hard.

Because photographs are memory vessels, it is challenging to find images that connect with viewer, independent of my own experience.

What do I mean by this?  Well, think about it, photographs trigger memories for us:  not only what we are seeing in the photograph, but where we were when it was taken, our feelings about the experience, that time period, etc. 

We like seeing images of our own experiences, but think about how boring it is to see someone else's family vacation photos.  We weren't there.

So, how do I as an art photographer create an image that says something interesting enough, is memorable enough, for the viewer to linger on it, to make a connection?

And how do I disconnect from my own experience of being there when I took it, and not let my feelings cause me to "force" an image into the mix?  

For example, I discovered "Wilson" on a walk in the neighborhood.  I wasn't out hunting for images.  I remember exactly where I was, how I knew to stop and take a photo (I do take a camera with me in my pocket or purse, just in case I run across something interesting), how I wondered about the family that made this rock and put in their yard, and how it reminded me of Tom Hanks' ball in the Castaway movie.

That's a lot of "stuff" that comes up for me when I see this image.  So, I have to try to look at it with fresh eyes.  Is a good image?  What is it saying?  Does it fit with The Observer concept?  Can I print it well?

In this case, the answer was "yes".  "Wilson" will be in the exhibit.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Upcoming Photography Exhibit at the Arnot Art Museum: The Observer

Upcoming Exhibit "The Observer"

This week I am busy working on my upcoming exhibit for the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, New York.  It will be shown from March 9 until May 4, 2012.  It is called "The Observer"  and consists of approximately 40 of my photographs exploring the idea of the observer becoming the observer.

Today the prototype of the book I made at Blurb showed up via UPS and it looks pretty good!  The picture above is of the cover.

I made the book as a way to look at the work to see if hangs together.  So far, I have chosen 33 images.  Have about 7 more to pick.


Monday, February 6, 2012

LIttle Gem: Hydrangea

Hydrangea - Little Gem
5 x 4 Oil on Panel

I had forgotten about this painting, which I completed last year about this time.  I was happy to see that it sold at the Little Gems opening at West End Gallery last Friday night.

Museum Notetaker (in the previous post) and Winter Barn (in the post before that) have also found new homes.

Back from a winter vacation, too, so I am refreshed and ready to do some new work.