And so it goes, obsessively, with this weekly visual prompt challenge from the Paris Collage Collective. I’m sorry if this gets to be too much, but given how many iterations I produce, there’s this need to document at least some of them here.
When I cut the male silhouette out of a magazine ad (above), by removing his knee, the lower shadow took on the appearance of a dress which, by association, transformed the dreadlocks into the knots and folds of a head scarf.
On an unrelated note, the other night when I couldn’t sleep I stepped outside and walked across the lawn to shoot the moon between the branches of our big black walnut tree.
Just as I reached out to open the front door, a man made his way along the street. Dressed head to toe in khaki, middle-aged, he creeped me the fuck out. I mean it was 2:30. Maybe I shouldn’t have read Stephen King’s The Outsider?
First I double-exposed this week’s Paris Collage Collective’s visual prompt (above) with the famous Angel Oak in South Carolina.
I liked how the tree layer turned his body to lace in places and grounded him in place. However, it was dismaying to see how quickly the figure resembled a hunted Black man, particularly when red showed up.
Which is why I went and grabbed some images of Alvin Ailey dancers. I wanted the exercise to remain joyful — the trap of white entrancement with Black pain too easily fallen into. (I’ve posted about this before). Besides, I think by now we all know that Black joy is a form of rebellion. Maybe the best form.
These quickly became cluttered. And the prompt figure in many compositions continued to look like he was fleeing jeopardy. Is it just me?
I then overlaid the image with one of my script quilts. The texture imparted was interesting and I may go with it some more, but oh boy, there’s another pitfall — white people overwriting Black people’s experience with our dominant voices.
I may be overthinking things this morning, she said.
In other news, after working from home since March 13, 2020, Husband went to the office this morning. It’ll be two days a week.
There he was, holding his flashlight to illumine his sock drawer, quipping, “See? I remember how to do this!”
Moments later: “This blows.”
Being thirty years married, it wasn’t the constancy of his company that pleased me so much as how by subtracting a two hour commute, he got a lot more sleep. That’s important.
Also pandemic related: Finn has to lose weight! Tony, the biscuit-generous mailman, needs talking to and games of “Find It” out back need to go on pause (that’s where I throw treats all over the yard and tell Finn to “find it!”)
And speaking of walking the dog (I was, wasn’t I?), my hips barely hurt this morning. I’m encouraged. Maybe adding two more stretches to my nightly routine helped.
I might follow along with Roxane Gay’s reading list for the year. One book a month. I ordered the first one, which is getting a lot of buzz and I really wanted anyway. If this effort is like others, I’ll last until April.
I’ve finally attended to the minutiae involved in being able to borrow kindle books from my library. What a gift! Using the Libby app, I can reserve books and then they show up in my kindle reader without having to go anywhere! Black Futures looks like a beautiful coffee table book, though, so I ordered a copy. Here’s the full list in case you’re interested.
In other news, “we” are installing a gas fireplace. This old house’s current fireplace is very inefficient and sucks warm air out of the entire first floor. Plus, you know, because of the mess and effort, we just don’t have fires all that much. We already have gas in the house. I can’t wait to be able to start a fire with a click of a button. Don’t judge me!
By “we,” I mean my husband, of course. We save almost two grand this way.
I just discovered an Instagram group — @pariscollagecollective — that posts weekly image prompts. I may take part (again — will I last until late spring?) Here’s the first prompt for 2021.
I’ve put together one of my digital-collage slideshows (one minute, below), but I intend to work with paper this week. And then maybe, using a photo of the paper collage, create more layered exposures with the Diana app — my preferred method.
Some of my faves follow. Some of you will recognize collage images embedded from the Collage Challenge with Acey a year ago.
Snow to begin before sunset.
* tattooed torso is a dancer from recent remake of West Side Story and featured in the New York Times. Cloaked Egyptian and other smaller white cloaked figure from National Geographic. Cloth is my own. Virgin from photo I took in cathedral in Assisi. Black woman looking at lens, I don’t remember — but very possibly Vanity Fair.
The primary design tool in my digital collage tool box is the Diana photo app. Pretty sure it’s free. It allows you to select two photos and then double exposes them with a variety of filters.
[My other heavy hitters are PicFrame — for making mosaics — and Hipstamatic — a photo app that applies a filter and a frame as you shoot. Many of the photos that I double expose through Dianaphoto were shot in Hipstamatic.]
This post will give you the basic skills to use the Diana Photo app. It is a ton of fun, addictive even. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
First, select two pictures by tapping the camera icons in the squares at bottom. The app automatically applies one of its filters. I’ll show you how to select a different filter in a minute.
Tip. If you’re like me and have 1,000’s of photos on your phone, you might want to create an album before starting. That can spare you a lot of scrolling.
If you find yourself intrigued by one of the two selected photos and want to keep it in place while changing out the other, lock it in place by depressing your finger slightly on the picture itself.
A lock icon will show up
Locking a picture allows you to audition how it will look with different pictures or filters or both. To unlock, simply hold your finger down on the locked image.
Next, select a filter. There are a couple of dozen. The variability of effect includes not just color and intensity, but also which parts of the photos are visible. Note that there is also a “no filter” option.
To select another filter, you can swipe left on the double exposure (without the filter grid visible) and whatever filter comes next in the app will be applied. In the alternative, you can hold your finger down on the double exposure and the black filter grid-menu will appear. Then tap to select. This latter method is efficient if you know your favorite filters. There are quite a number of filters that I never use.
To save the double exposure, simply tap the three connected circles ICON at the upper left. That will produce a menu for you to select where to put the pic. I always save to my camera roll, even if it will later go on Instagram or FB or wherever.
Below, find the same two photos with different filters. It gives you an idea of the kinds of changes produced by the app.
Directly below the double exposure, there’s a white dot flanked by plus and minus signs. An intensity slider. Hold lightly and slide left or right to dim or heighten the double exposure. I wish this feature was more interesting. A lost opportunity, IMHO.
Above left shows a fully dimmed filter while the right shows the button slid all the way to the right.
Another design tool is the swap. The selected pictures at bottom can be switched left/right by swiping left or right. This may produce radically different filter results (note, sometimes it makes little to no difference).
Dianaphotoapp has two ways of letting you make random selections. You can tap the dice at upper left and if no photo had been locked, it will select two photos from your camera roll. If you’ve locked an image, then it’ll only select one. I’ve read you can shake your phone too, something I’ve yet to try.
I love the dice function. Absolutely love it.
By using photos of collage or quilts, these pix gain a little artistry (IMHO). Also, when one or both picture is ALREADY a double exposure, some really quirky mysterious effects can be achieved.
That’s one reason why I use the hashtag #lostcountoftheexposures over on Instagram. I also always use #dianaphoto and #dianaphotoapp so that others having fun with this app can see.
Also, once in a while, the official Diana app account will feature one of my pix (last photo, below).
Opener: The Hanged Man was right to hand in the box of scraps I chose to rifle through. A suitable symbol for certain aspects of my childhood. Perhaps this explains my attraction to the cross as a symbol. I return to it again and again.
When I do this work, collage work specifically, the old crap has a way of showing up. I don’t apologize for it, though an uglier subject can hardly be conjured.
But it’s all so long ago and after so many hands and hearts offered one kind of healing or another, it does surprise me a little — the persistence of childhood trauma as a theme.
PS I did not sleep a wink last night which means I was awake at the time of the partial lunar eclipse in Gemini. The cloudy sky prevented any viewing. What wind and rain we had yesterday and through much of the night. A disturbance of the atmosphere!