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Label: project inspiration

Wednesday 10th June 2015Summer Project Inspiration

The Spring rains are over, the flowers are blooming and the summer sun has finally come at last! Summer is one of the most beautiful times of the year and can be one of the most inspiring seasons of all (sorry, Southern Hemisphere! Check out our Winter project inspiration posts instead). After incubating ideas throughout the Winter and cultivating them during Spring, they can finally leap forth during Summer and truly come into their own.

Beyond the pure enjoyment that comes from being able to get outside and enjoy life, new experiences often stimulate new creative ideas, as many artists know. What might not be immediately apparent is that it's possible to use the seasons themselves as both project inspiration and integral parts of your projects themselves. Think about the characteristics of the season in the context of your chosen medium. If you typically paint watercolours, experiment with how the medium changes when painting in bright, direct sunlight - you may discover a new dry brush technique, or the fact that the paint dries faster may change the way you work. It might not be the best tactic for use when painting a still life, but if you're painting abstracts you may stumble onto something incredible.

If painting isn't your style, there are still plenty of ways to integrate Summer into your artistic practice. Summer is a boon for photographers of all types, but none more so than street photography, as the outside world suddenly seems alive with human activity. Even if you've never got into the style before, it's never too late to give it a shot (sorry, couldn't resist!). A fast prime lens can be had relatively cheaply (like the Nikon 50mm, which is usually under $100), and just go out and see what happens! Even if you don't live in a big city, there's usually something interesting enough going on.

No matter what medium you love, the goal is still the same. Get yourself out there, try something new, use Summer as a chance to re-examine your practice and your routine, shake things up and reinvigorate your creativity! Even if you don't get some incredible new style out of it, at least you'll be sure to have enjoyed your Summer trying.

Posted on June 10th 2015 on 02:22pm
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Wednesday 28th January 2015Project Inspirations: Working With Seasons

If you've been a regular reader of the inspiration posts we've made over the (has it really been years?) since this blog first started, you might have noticed a trend: we love the seasons of the year. The way the entire world changes itself somehow just seems like the most exquisite poetry in motion, even if it can be pretty darned cold and dreary by the end of Winter. Change is always good for inspiration and creativity, and having a world that changes around us so regularly can be a great tool for change in our own lives, if we let it.

But more than a source of happiness and inspiration, it's possible to use the seasons themselves as an integral part of your work. Depending on what media you work with, this might find its expression in any number of different ways, and the possibilities are only limited by your own personal sense of creative style and flair.

Our most recent suggestion was a project for the coldest days of Winter, taking advantage of how rapidly soap bubbles can freeze in extremely cold weather, and what you could accomplish with some macro photography, but that's just one of the ways that the coldness of winter can be used as a tool to inspire new projects. Anything that works with water can be changed by extreme cold, which of course suggests watercolour painting. Have you ever tried doing masking with ice? Though we have little experience with watercolours, you could probably have a fun afternoon messing around on the porch with an easel, experimenting with different ways this might work - sometimes, the most exciting discoveries are made by accident.

Following on the watercolour tangent, as Spring begins to grow restless waiting in the wings behind Winter's trailing edges, it might be interesting to experiment with abstract watercolours that are partially designed by rainfall. It would create an extremely unique look, and could probably be modified by a careful application of masking or other techniques that might adjust how water impacts the pigment on the canvas. Maybe even letting the eavestrough (or similar makeshift version of it) do the colour mixing for you - if different pgiments have different weights, they may begin to create some astonishing patterns.

These ideas might work for you, they might not, but the main goal is to get you to start thinking about completely unexpected ways to incorporate the year's cycles into your creative process and your creative work itself. Happy experimenting!

Posted on January 28th 2015 on 03:54pm
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Friday 12th December 2014Project Inspiration: Winter Macros

Winter can be a tough time for photographers. If you're used to working in a studio, then you might not even notice the temperature dropping outside, but if you're used to working outside of a studio environment, things can be much more difficult for you. As if humidity and temperature changes wreaking havoc on your camera gear wasn't bad enough, you've got frostbite to contend with as well! But if you bundle up properly, winter can offer a whole new range of special photography projects.

While you can see some truly stunning ice-covered landscapes and some equally evocative street photography if you manage to show up on the right day, one of our favourite winter photography tools is the macro lens. Everyone loves a snowflake, right? But once you've spent an hour or two photographing snowflakes, you start to see a bit of monotony - so let's take things to the next level. If you're just interested in the snowflakes, take some nice black paper, crushed velvet, felt - or even a black microfibre lens cleaning cloth - and let it cool down to match the ambient temperature, catch snowflakes on it, and snap away! That's all there is to it.

For something a little more advanced, however, we're going to need some supplies. If you've got kids, you've probably already got all the tools for blowing soap bubbles, but you can fake up some with a bit of wire and some dish soap if necessary. The key to this project is that the ambient temperature outside should be well below freezing. Take your soap mixture and bubble blower outside, and half-inflate a soap bubble, so that it forms a nice sphere but is still attached to the holder. If it's cold enough, the soap will freeze, and you'll wind up with a beautiful iridescent sphere that presents some beautiful macro opportunities.

If you're feeling extra ambitious, play around with the ratios of the soap and water mixture to find the best possible patterns, and consider using drops of food colouring or coloured light gels to adjust the final shots that you produce. If you get into the project, you probably won't even notice how cold it is! Just remember to keep tabs on your fingertips, since you can't click the shutter with frostbite!

Posted on December 12th 2014 on 04:50pm
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