30 September 2010

Why universal landscapes?

I call my rock paintings "Universal Landscapes" for a reason. Firstly, it sounds pretty cool, but there's substance to it as well. I think that pretty much every living person has taken a rock from someplace at sometime as a memory of that place. We can't help ourselves. Or, if we're anything like my son, or my mother-in-law, we attempt to take hundreds. We beg and plead with fellow family members to help with the collecting of the precious stones, weighing down their backpacks and pockets. Perhaps you are one such person? Maybe you have an awesome collection of stones that remind you of a place or places. If you are, then I'd love to hear from you. You see, I've photographed many of the rocks that surround me in the area in and around Vancouver, as well as on numerous trips, but I'd love to see rock collections from other places, and travel vicariously.

So, send me a photo of your rocks, and for a very reasonable fee, I'll immortalize it in paint on paper. That's how I've done all my other rock paintings: from pictures I've taken. (or my mother-in-law, and my own mother, and my son too) Here are some before and after shots (well, technically after and before, as the paintings appear over the photos)

As you can see from these photos, I appear to have a built-in saturation filter in my mind when I paint rocks. This is interesting, as I don't do it consciously. In fact, I actually see all those colours in those rocks, I just somehow over-celebrate them!

Now, I am a bit picky about the photography. Taking pictures of rocks isn't easy. Ok, its easier than taking pictures of children, because rocks move a lot slower, but there are other things to consider. Dramatic shadows are nice. Think about positioning yourself in such a way that you get good shadows. Get down there. Lie down if you have to. Take the picture from the rock's point of view—it makes it way more interesting. Think about composition: Is there an interesting focal point? Is there a good variety of sizes? Colours? Wherever possible, photograph your rock collection in its natural habitat, and then leave it there. I know, this is counter-intuitive to the whole idea of taking the collection with you, but think of the backs of family members' you'll be saving! However, if you have a big collection in a bucket in your garage, it will do fine as well. But don't carefully arrange your rocks—this never looks good. It always ends up looking posed, like those dreadful family portraits at Sears. Just dump them out and let chance do the arranging. You'd be surprised how well it works.

Happy rock collecting!