During the pandemic shut down in Maryland, I spent late winter/spring 2020 stuck in a little studio apartment in Baltimore with nothing much more than time and lots of energy to create. My marriage had ended the year before, leading to a challenging but in some ways beautiful whirlwind that I was still trying to make sense of when 2020 hit.
So I took the whirlwind of time and energy and made some art. This piece was the first in a short series of digital composite images I created during that period. It’s a reflection on loss; specifically how loss can serve to clear a path for new growth.
I’ve always loved dried flowers – they’re “dead” but retain a certain beauty, their colors more subtle and the textures more complex. I started collecting dried flower bouquets from friends, which I took apart, selected the blooms that worked best together and taped into place for the composition. (If you’d like to see a time lapse of the process, check out this video.) Then I decided to hand paint a background (which is just insulation board from the hardware store) blue for an outside-inside feel.
Sometimes photography can be very removed from anything tactile, but I’ve always enjoyed adding handmade elements to my photo sets when possible – it feels more emotional and significant that way to me. It’s also just fun! These days I’m really interested in the combination of intentionally creating a scene “in real life” and then carefully adding detail work in Photoshop to complete the composition using a Wacom pen tablet to dodge + burn, clone, mask, and color grade. It takes hours but I love it, it’s the closest thing I get to feeling like a painter.
I knew I wanted soft, directional, painterly light so I set up a single large Photek Softlighter (with extra diffusion) image R, and a reflector image L. Getting the light in just the right place is always a little tricky for me, especially when you’re running back and forth from the camera to the scene using a self timer, but worth the effort.
Despite the obvious horribleness of the pandemic, I feel thankful for the time it’s given me to think about life and make art.
Thanks for reading, and if you happen to be in the Annapolis, MD or Greenville, SC areas you can see this piece in person at the MFA Circle Gallery “Digital Directions” exhibit and SE Center for Photography “A Woman’s View” exhibit.