Friday, November 1, 2013

Focusing on Life :: Skulls :: Southwestern Style

This week Sally's prompt has a seasonal twist to it. She asked us to focus on: saints, souls, skulls or scares. And while sugar skulls are most popular this time of year, I've been playing around with another type of skull: Southwestern style. In my opinion, no one does it quite like Georgia O'Keeffe.

Georgia traveled from NY to northern New Mexico in 1929, and she talked about her love of the area saying “When I got to New Mexico that was mine. As soon as I saw it that was my country. I’d never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly. It’s something that’s in the air, it’s different. The sky is different, the wind is different. I shouldn’t say too much about it because other people may be interested and I don’t want them interested.”

Georgia was a photographer and a painter and you can see the influence of advanced photography (of the time) in her paintings. Her imagery is both crisp and surreal. She painted the subtle nuances of color, shape and light on her subject, in more than 900 paintings during her lifetime. 

I'm showing several images of my necklace to explain some of the things I'm learning as I use my new camera. The main reason I wanted the camera was to be able to get better close ups of my jewelry, and I also wanted to play with the focus so I could blur out the background as you see in this picture (left). I hung the necklace in a tree to create the green background. I have been trying all kinds of surfaces to get a completely white background. This is so that you can take the background out of the picture and have only the image of the jewelry. We typically use a white background for Bead Chat Magazine. I tried a blank white canvas, cotton, cheesecloth, even fresh white sand ... and most of these surfaces produce a bluish hue? You see this in the first picture (top left). For some reason the watercolor paper absorbs the light instead of deflecting it and gives the warm hue you see in the second picture (top right).

As for my necklace, Georgia was my inspiration. I wanted to get that stark Southwestern feel in my focal. I used a custom cut wood focal made by Edi Royer of Memories for Life along with some small wood feathers that I've had her make me before. A bit of simple tone on tone beading (the large rounds are howlite) to create the headdress on my skull. You'll see this featured next week in the November issue of Bead Chat MagazineI'm just giving you a sneak preview and some learnings on photographing. There is a big announcement next week, so be sure to look for it over at Creative Bead Chat!

26 comments:

Memories for Life said...

Oh wow! I am always amazed with what you do with my wooden pieces and this one is no exception! I love the beadwork around the skull and the hanging feathers. This is such a great piece Cynthia!

Christine Altmiller said...

Georgia...oh Georgia. Second in my art heart only to Vincent. What inspiration you had here! It is really clear to see where your mind was and who you were channeling. And the results are gorgeous! And, well, gorgeous. You certainly captured the SW/O'Keeffe vibe. What you did between the antlers to make the bail is genius. Did you add the black on the skull? Beautiful, Cynthia :-D

Duni said...

I love what you came up with using Edi's lovely wooden feathers and skull (don't think I've seen it before) Stunning piece, Cynthia!
I like playing around with different depths too :)

BeadedTail said...

Once again your creativity is amazing! Great job Cynthia! Love what you did with Edi's pieces!

Halinka said...

Hello,Cynthia:
Lovely Work with the native features.It looks fantastic,because the nice wooden skull needs the 'special treatment' and You have achieved the proper effect easily.I love this pendant very much.
Warm Greetings-Halinka-

LoriF said...

Wonderful work, and thanks for the hints on a white background...I'll have to try that.

Alicia said...

Gorgeous work - and story-telling, as usual! Love the depth of field on your new camera :)
For the perfect white you need to either (1) white balance your camera (check the manual on how to do it), and you'll need to do it every time you take a picture (every session), as the white balance will change with light and background; or (2) edit the picture afterwards. They both work (easier to go with (2) sometimes :) )

Sandi Volpe said...

Fantastic Cynthia, I love the way you always tell a story and your inspiration. Georgia was a one of a kind. I was born in New Mexico although only there for a short time, but it is a beautiful state. Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us!!!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

This is beautiful and just my style. I have always loved the southwest & have many accent reflecting this in our living room.

Sarah~Magnolia Surprise said...

Fantastic piece! Good answer to the prompt -- with Georgia O'Keeffe as your muse!

Magic Love Crow said...

Your necklace is stunning!! I love this kind of style!! A+++

Shaiha said...

What a stunning necklace and thanks for the tips about the photography. I am always fighting to get even semi-decent shots.

Patty Woodland said...

I loved New Mexico when we were traveling around. Your necklace is evocative of Georgia O'Keeffe's work. I would have gone there in my head even without your reference.

Adrienne said...

I've always loved her work, I remember studying it in high school in art class. Great shots of your piece, I think you nailed the last one!

Donna Millard said...

Love your creativity and originality. Saw this on FB somewhere and I though it was soooo cool.

thewovenspoke said...

Great work, love the skull necklace,

BIKBIK AND RORO said...

O yes, very Georgia O'Keeffe, one of my favourite artists. I love the bold spirit of this piece -- the person who wears it is strong and always seizes the day.

Beti Horvath said...

What a gorgeous piece!
Thanks for sharing it with us! You take on skulls and the work of O'Keefe are inspiring!

Islandgirl said...

I've been doing enameled copper cow skulls the last month or so... I'm cutting them out with a hydrolic press... need to do something with them before they take over the house!

Love your wooden one!

Shel said...

Very cool necklace. Living in the Southwest for as long as I have, I've got a bit of a fondness towards this style - what an excellent piece you created. Georgia's art is truly beautiful-thank you for sharing the information on her work - it's very interesting. I use PS elements 10 and create a layer, go up to 'enhance' click on 'remove color cast', and then move your mouse and click in a white, gray or black area of the photo and it adjusts the hue and takes the blue (or yellowish) tint out. Try that and see if it works. :-)

Janet Bocciardi said...

I definitely see the inspiration in your necklace, Cynthia. It's very wearable. (I'd wear it!) I like your skull better than the human skulls.

Becky Pancake said...

Great post this week Cynthia. Your necklace is beautiful. I can see the Georgia inspiration.

Alice said...

Gorgeous piece of art. I enjoyed reading about your inspiration.

Cindy said...

Cynthia, your necklace is stunning - I especially love the beaded detail. Your adventures in photography are off to a great start! The photo with the blurred background turned out so crisp and vibrant!

Miss Val's Creations said...

Love it Cynthia! Edi made such cool pieces for you. They look great with the beadwork. I love the photo with the blurred vegetation in the background. What a difference O'Keefe must have experienced moving from NY to NM. The landscapes are like night and day!

Marcela Gmd said...

Lovely!!!:)))
Besos, Marcela♥

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