The importance of the vintage photograph as creative resource.

 

There is no end to the inspiration I get from looking at vintage photographs- through immersion comes awakened imagination.

The central characters in my graphic novel are real people but as I am doing an artistic interpretation of real events, I revel in the freedom to flesh out the central characters using old photos as a starting point.

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There is no harm in imposing appearance and character on the brothers and sisters, so long as we regard this as a mere device for solidifying Will’s physical background.  We are entitled to visualize him as a boy eating, singing and sleeping in the house on Henley Street, and its convenient to have him surrounded by something thicker than swathes of ectoplasm with name-tags.

– Anthony Burgess, Shakespeare

A great source for vintage photos in Vancouver BC is Salmagundi West

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Molly- A Graphic Novel Trailer

Editor, cinematography: Julian Bowers

Writer, researcher, illustrator: Katarina Thorsen

    

NOTE: All photographs in my graphic novel research collection were purchased at a variety of places such as on ETSY, at Salmagundi West, Fort Langley Antique Mall, etc. They are all dated 1947 or earlier.

What is public domain?

Photographs taken in Canada in 1949 and earlier by a photographer or a corporation, as these lapsed into the public domain prior to Canadian copyright changes in 1998.

Corporate records and photographs created in Canada more than 50 years old.

SOURCE

Also check out: Canadian Public Domain Flowchart

Why use seemingly unrelated vintage photographs as sources for a true crime story?

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There is no end to the inspiration I get from looking at vintage photographs- through immersion comes awakened imagination.

The central characters in my graphic novel are real people but as I am doing an artistic interpretation of real events, I revel in the freedom to flesh out the central characters using old photos as a starting point.

IMG_2910

There is no harm in imposing appearance and character on the brothers and sisters, so long as we regard this as a mere device for solidifying Will’s physical background.  We are entitled to visualize him as a boy eating, singing and sleeping in the house on Henley Street, and its convenient to have him surrounded by something thicker than swathes of ectoplasm with name-tags.

– Anthony Burgess, Shakespeare

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Inspiration taken from the photographs of Vivian Maier

A great source for vintage photos in Vancouver BC is Salmagundi West

 IMG_2912

Molly- A Graphic Novel Trailer

Editor, cinematography: Julian Bowers

Writer, researcher, illustrator: Katarina Thorsen

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.

Weighted and achy heart today on Mother’s Day.  Missing Mom is an expected constant in my life.  But I am so blessed to have been loved so completely by her.  The pain now is, therefore, beautiful.

Revisiting some favorite photographs.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.  ~Tenneva Jordan

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Because you are
only
a seed,
chestnut tree, autumn, earth,
water, heights, silence
prepared the germ,
the floury density,
the maternal eyelids
that buried will again
open toward the heights
the simple majesty of foliage,
the dark damp plan
of new roots,
the ancient but new dimensions
of another chestnut tree in the earth.

From Pablo Neruda, Ode to a Chestnut on the Ground

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Watercolor. Quote by Lynda Barry

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Dealing with bullies, 1937 Norwegian style. My father recounts. #vintage #photography

Recall that I’m writing a book with Dad, about how he uses art to find purpose and meaning after his stroke.

I’ve pulled out old photographs and albums for him to peruse and the stories coming out are remarkable.

Me, on the left, my brother ,Anders, on the right, in Grums Sweden ca 1964.

I found Dad’s baby album.  Wow.

One recurring story that Dad has to tell me every time he is reminded of his childhood home (Sandesundsveien 43, Sarpsborg, Norway)…

… is the day when he was followed home by bullies from his class.

I always get reminded about the bullies when I think about that house.  I was about 7 years old.  Bullies followed me home after school.  I walked through my front gate and all of a sudden a rock landed beside me.  I saw red and ran after them and threw the rock and hit one of them in the back of the head.  When you get attacked you forget you are a nice little boy.  I was in a blind rage and it was a dramatic moment.  The kid had a huge wound on the back of his head and I recall that he was bleeding.  

I was called in to the school principal.  “What happened?” he asked.  I explained the whole incident and how I didn’t expect the rock to hit the kid bullseye in the back of the head.  The principal listened and understood.  I was not punished.  The bullying stopped after that.  

I found a class picture and Dad immediately pointed “them” out.

The tall one on the left was called “Big Red” and his little sidekick was a plump little shit whose name, I think, was Arne.

This photo was taken before the incident.  It’s like turning back the clock.  I remember that we were told to stand along the wall in the back of the school.  We were standing on blacktop.  

Dad, age 7

Life is like photography, we develop from the negatives.

Part 17 daily journal workshop. ALTER: to make different without changing into something else #arttherapy

Daily Journal Workshop:

Part 1 JUST WRITE

Part 2 DRAW OUT THE WORDS

Part 3 HEART

Part 4 SPILL OUT COLLAGE

Part 5 NAKED SCREAM

Part 6 INVITE ALTER STRETCH EXTEND

Part 7 ARISE AROSE IN 3’S

Part 8 SELF-PORTRAIT. HUMAN

Part 9 WORD CRAZY QUILT

Part 10 VINTAGE WORKOUT

Part 11 GESTURE DRAWING

Part 12 DEAR WORLD. SECRETS

Part 13 NEGATIVE – POSITIVE

Part 14 BE THE MAP

Part 15 GUEST SPEAKER

Part 16 COMICS!

ALTER: to make different without changing into something else.  

Let’s alter a photo as a metaphor for how we can alter and transform our thoughts into something quite different without changing our essence.

Sometimes I start the day absolutely terrified, full of anxiety and fear.  Taking time to address my habit of catastrophizing my worries, I can slowly calm down, transform and alter.  I can see new options, new ways of interpreting my worries, new ways of finding hope.  I’m still me, but stronger.

The original.
Photocopy. Cutout. Cut up. Glue down.

 
Transform and interpret!

 

My student, BHAIRAVI77, completed this exercise today, beautifully:

Check out her blog at: DRIFTER MADNESS

HOMEWORK:

Consider the word SURVIVOR.

RECOMMENDED:

Maryellen Groundwater has started the daily journal workshop!  Check out her progress here:

Part 11 daily journal workshop. Gesture drawing. Abstractions! #arttherapy

Daily Journal Workshop:

Part 1 JUST WRITE

Part 2 DRAW OUT THE WORDS

Part 3 HEART

Part 4 SPILL OUT COLLAGE

Part 5 NAKED SCREAM

Part 6 INVITE ALTER STRETCH EXTEND

Part 7 ARISE AROSE IN 3’S

Part 8 SELF-PORTRAIT. HUMAN

Part 9 WORD CRAZY QUILT

Part 10 VINTAGE WORKOUT

TODAY’S LESSON IS ABOUT ABSTRACTION.  [ab-strak-shuhn]

Recall my original tutorial on gesture drawing:

Part 1: INTRODUCTION

Part 2: GEOMETRIC SHAPES

Part 3: ADDING DETAILS

Part 4: ABSTRACTION

We revisit this exercise in today’s journal entry.  We will be finding the image inside a gesture drawing, thereby creating an abstract image.

STEP 1:

Make a gesture drawing.  On a blank piece of paper, doodle random lines.  Random, but with some thought!  Think opposites.  Do hard and soft lines.  Straight, zigzag, curvy.  Staccato, continuous.  Shapes, scribbles.  Just fill the page without thinking about WHAT you are going to do in Step 2.  Change hands.  Left hand.  Right hand. Turn the paper.

STEP 2:

Find the image in the marks you have made.  This goes back to part 2 of the gesture tutorial where you are looking for simple geometric shapes.

We’ll use the vintage photo from yesterday’s exercise.

Can you see similar lines and directions and shapes as in the photo in your gesture drawing?  This is not about realism.  This is about language of line.  Use only the lines you have!  That’s it!  YOU ARE LIMITED!  This will force you to change the way you approach form!  Do you see lines that somewhat liken the eyes?  The mouth?  The cheek? etc.  It’s there.  Believe me.  You’ll see it.

STEP 3:

Start adding details and shading and finalizing the form.  Blacken out areas.  Add lines if you need to, but just minimal.

STEP 4:

Use the words you pulled out of the writing in yesterday’s entry (Part 10).   Add these words onto your image.  This is a delightful way to create an interesting piece of art- works as a book cover, a movie poster etc., or simply a way to present poetry.

You create something quite magical.

Compare the two interpretations of the original photo (Part 10 and 11):

I tried this exercise on my art therapy students this morning:

Here’s the original drawing I demonstrated followed by the abstracted piece and student work.


 

   

HOMEWORK:

Write a secret about yourself on a piece of paper.  We’ll be incorporating into tomorrow’s page.

Part 10 daily journal workshop. Vintage workout. People watching. #arttherapy

Recall:

Part 1 JUST WRITE

Part 2 DRAW OUT THE WORDS

Part 3 HEART

Part 4 SPILL OUT COLLAGE

Part 5 NAKED SCREAM

Part 6 INVITE ALTER STRETCH EXTEND

Part 7 ARISE AROSE IN 3’S

Part 8 SELF-PORTRAIT. HUMAN

Part 9 WORD CRAZY QUILT

OK, let’s change things up a bit.  Today we will utilize the power of the vintage photography to boost our creative expression.  Vintage photos are a huge source for me in my graphic novel work and other art.  I have two favorite shops on ETSY for vintage photos:

I love ordering the actual photos, opening the envelope that just arrived in the post and holding them in my hand.  There  is something so powerful in looking at the original, wondering who that person might have been, and what journey the photo itself took.  It’s people watching, essentially.

I’ll use the following photo series, ordered from Classic Clancy’s, in today’s exercise:

If you have access to a photocopier, or scanner and printer, enlarge the photo.  This gives you more access to details and that way you can cut out the image and glue it in without hurting the original.

Start drawing from the original.  I can hear some of you scream, “I can’t draw!”  Yes, you can, my darling.  Recall part 8 and the encouragement and tips.

The master, Robert Crumb encourages you to exaggerate it a little bit.  Cheat it a little bit.  The tilt of the head.  The sneer.

Robert Crumb discussing using vintage photos with his son:

Tomorrow we will really be exaggerating.  For now, keep your eye more on the original than on your journal initially.  Let your eye wander over the photograph, and converse with it.  I’m using a 2B pencil.  Remember- there is no right or wrong way to draw!  ALL IS OK.  Be as simple or as complex as you want to be.  As crude or as detailed as you like.  The journal is your private place and space to play.

Now give the image a thick outline.

Write around the image, again stream of consciousness, reflecting on the exercise and the person in the photo.

After you have written around the image, draw lines between the lines of words for a visual effect.

And yes- pick out some words.  Let’s go diagonally this time.

Write them out.  Works quite well.  With a few tweaks, it could be a poem.  We’ll use the words in tomorrow’s “gesture drawing” exercise.

Homework.  Check out these recommended artists:

Daniel Clowes

Seth

Joe Sacco