Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trials and Questions

I have been trying a demo piece of software, a filter for photoshop and I am feeling a lot of conflict over using it. My puritan part says cheating, my efficient part say this is faster and 'I" am still in a muddle. I don't like my photos to look to processed, to saturated, to pretty. I am wanting something else from them. Some sort of truth, of spareness, where the technical side is not apparent, it just is. It supports the work but is not the work. The tulips from the other day [link here] are my case in point. Have I crossed over the line, are they too pretty, sentimental or nostalgic even? Tenderness and sadness is fine, sentimental is not. I wonder what it is about that word that makes it such a no-no in my work. A friend was discussing this same concern last week, is it a concern for you? Does sentimental in art make you uncomfortable?

unfiltered tulip


  1. The sentimental makes me very uncomfortable for my own work, so my question is do you like the result? I thought your tulip images were lovely, but if I put a different set of glasses on, I could say that the softly blurred edges are too easy an expression, too sweet. I suppose you'll have to keep working with the filter and see if you like the images it produces.

  2. Thanks Altoon, it's the to easy, to sweet that bothers me, I miss the challange of finding things out for myself when I work with my photos, why does sentimtental bother you in your work? Not that that is a word I would ever apply to it.

  3. I loved the first/top tulip photo the other day. Really just saw it as b/w with a bit of a misty look. The rest, however, were...well...sentimental as you say.

    At the time, I wondered why the filter had been applied (don't know its name) because to me your photos don't need such a treatment. And, I hate to admit, that once viewed, the filter demanded my attention rather than the tulips.

    Don't know if that helps. Hope it does. Enjoy, Jennifer

  4. Hi Liz, for me the difference between sentiment and honest expression is like the age old argument about craft V art. You are an artist - you express your craft as an artist - there is no doubt that if it feels comfortable to you as an artist, it will be right - use whatever tools you have at your disposal to enhance your artistc expression xoxxoxo

  5. On my degree course sentiment is an absolute no no!! I made some collagraphs last year based on a image of my mother alone on the beach - I had this same dilemma - lone figure in the landscape = sentiment etc etc... It's such a difficult one isn't it? For me it is being too involved with the subject matter rather than taking a more detached universal stance and finding the essence of what I want to say - this is the hard part of being an artist and not one that the general public tend to understand - especially the 'I could do that' brigade! Personally I loved the simplicity of the tulip images

  6. hi Liz I think that the sentimental is seen as being rooted in the weakly emotional and as an artist isn't it part of our raison d'etre to look at the real and how we interact with reality ? also the sentimental has been so over used in the mass media (films t.v. books etc) in such a way that it has become something that is schmaltzy and almost not meaning what it once did, it seems to me that it is very difficult to do a sentimental piece without it seeming lame, the unfiltered tulip looks great, it makes me think of decay and the fine line of life (but that may be my own personal weirdness lol )

  7. Liz, the sentimental bothers me in all work. It is a negative quality and here's an online dictionary definition that catches it nicely: "mawkish, overemotional, cloying, sickly, saccharine, sugary, oversweet; romantic, touching; informal slushy, mushy, weepy, tear-jerking, schmaltzy, lovey-dovey, gooey, drippy, cheesy, corny, cornball, sappy, hokey." And I would add, playing on the heart strings in an obvious manner.

  8. Hi everybody, first of all thanks so much for all your comments, it's really great to get so much feedback and sorry not to be able to respond sooner, a teaching day.

    Jennifer, thanks, you said exactly what my gut feeling was, top photo OK, the grid ones not so, so hard to see beyond the seductiveness of the new, in this case, filter.

    Noela, Thanks , especially for" if it feels comfortable to you". These made me feel very uncomfortable {which actually I often think is good for an artist, except I don't usually like it} but I couldn't figure out whether it was new work discomfort or bad work discomfort. Wish my body would writ me very clear notes.

    Thanks Rosie, that was certainly one of my discomforts, old teachings, assumptions and unstated but implicit idea about what art is/was/will be from collage days.

    Simon, thanks, love the weakly emotional, sounds like the victorian woman having the vapors, it's the word that is so loaded, and like Altoon I looked it up in various dictionaries and thesaurus, it's the manipulative part I loathe., but it's the word that came to mind when I did these tulips and hence all the questioning.

    Thanks again Altoon, after reading your list the word is much clearer to me, here in Quebec there is a great French expression "kitten", says it all


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.