Saturday, August 3, 2013

Restoring artistic credibility

"Clouds are rolling through these skies in fifty thousand shades of gray."

Well, it's official. I hosed up the photo specs on my bead submissions. I can even truly say it was inadvertent. I took the photos with my camera at a 3MP setting, but between cropping them and not completely understanding my photo editor software, I uploaded each if them at less than the minimum 1MP requirement. In fact, the call for entries requested photos between 1MP and 50MP! Mine were all in the 850KB range. Bollocks!

Neil gave me the high sign when I told him, as if my artistic credibility had been restored implicitly, but I still feel heart-heavy and stupid to boot. I could have tried a little harder. The last book like this, 1000 Glass Beads, was published in 2004. This will come out in 2014. You can do the math on when the next one is likely to happen.

It's been three days since the results of the Lark book jury results were posted and started leaking out. The book's working title is Showcase 1000 Beads. Not Showcase 1000 Glass Bead. You can even pre-order the new book now.

Here's the Amazon description.
Celebrate the innovation and creative inspiration of contemporary beadmakers from around the world! This gorgeous volume in the popular Showcase series presents 1,000 unique beads, all handcrafted from a dazzling array of materials—including glass, polymer clay, ceramics, metal, paper, fiber, plastic, wood, and stone. Each one is a magnificent piece of art, whether on its own or in a piece of jewelry or other ornamentation.
It's entirely possible that there will be only a couple of hundred glass beads, and since some artists have had fom two to four beads accepted, there could be as few as 100 glass beadmakers represented. Not to mention that all handmade glass beads are not lampwork beads. There are fused beads, kiln-cast p√Ęte de verre beads, cold-worked beads, seed-beaded beads, not to mention off mandrel boro pendants.

Controversy rages, on Facebook and on the Lampwork Etc. forum and probably every other glass bead forum on the web. Maybe rages is too strong a word for most of the commentary, but there are people ranting on both sides of the issue. Some are crying foul, throwing the favoritism flag, claiming that politics ruled the day. Others, mostly those who had beads accepted, are defending the jury process and dissing those who question it.

There's a lot of cross-talk about photography, some from others in the "I didn't understand the photo specs so my beads were dead in the water" camp (except that I'm holding my tongue for a change). Some insist that professional photos are the only way to go, although I've seen professionally photographed beads that were declined, as well as photos of accepted beads taken by the bead artist.

One thing is clear. Professional photos or not, the Lark book selection process was a photo contest as much if not more than a bead contest. (I still keep thinking of it as a contest.) I have a good eye for photo composition, but I'm an ignoramus about technical photo quality. I showed Neil a photo of some pretty beads that didn't make the cut, and he immediately said they were out of focus. I didn't see that.

Last night I went through the 2004 Lark book, 1000 Glass Beads. I tried looking at the photos, lighting, background, props, composition, although I kept getting distracted by the beads. On the whole, I was struck by how ordinary some of the beads are, albeit some are spectacular, as well as how unremarkable some of the photography was. Many photos had the standard boring gray gradient background. Some seemed very dark. Almost all had photo credits to someone other than the artist.

Obviously I'm clueless about what makes a great bead photo, which is why next time I'll invest in professional photography.

And now I think I am done talking about this. The issue is going to hang around for a while, but maybe I can stop worrying it like a grain of rice stuck between my teeth.

And in a wee bit of cosmic irony, the editor of the Soda Lime Times contacted me and asked for pix of my beads using foil or aventurine for the September issue. I sent her several, including two of my Lark entries. I may even be one of the featured artists, not just part of the eye candy section.

Something else nice happened. I'm an "artist on call" for Beads of Courage and for the first time I was called. Beads of Courage occasionally posts a list of "Dream Beads" which are special request beads for some of the cancer-fighting kids. This is what BOC says about the program.
Each child gets a postcard that says “If I could have my Dream Bead it would look like:___________________.” Beads of Courage collects the cards and then tries to match each request as closely as they can. Some of them get pretty detailed and it can be a real challenge.
By the time I checked the website, only two bead requests were left, and I was so happy that one was a bead I thought I could make a good job of.

Here is the request.
Robin sitting on a twig looking towards brightness out of cancer perched on one leg
And here is the bead I made. Front and back



I also made this bead. It's a little bit off kilter but I like the possibilities.


Plus this one I made as a Halloween themed-bead for today's Glass Beads Daily.


And this afternoon I have my volunteer orientation with Sugar Land Animal Services. I'm looking forward to signing up for cat grooming and playtime.

I've begun to wonder if stepping away from the torch more will help me find new perspective and jump-start my imagination.

Because something tells me, that muse is around here somewhere. If I slow down, be still and just sit with my creativity conflicts, maybe she'll slowly re-emerge. The way Zamboni comes out from under the sofa when he feels comfortable with whoever may be visiting the house.

One paw at a time.


"Rainy road into Atlanta, time is truly crawlin' by
Drops of rain on my side window, nothin', nothin' on my mind
Driving through the old horizon though it never seems that way
Clouds are rolling through these skies in fifty thousand shades of gray

Always on the move is a mesmerizing groove
It's a quiet call, it's a trance to fall into

I don't know where the winter went, but summertime is closing in
If bloom and shoot is what they meant, I'd say the south just rose again
How beautiful these roads I wonder, all these towns I'm passing through
Oh blessed is this weary traveler, finally coming home to you."

[Cheryl Wheeler]

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz