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Mary Elizabeth Greene

Designing content for the web

I’m currently taking a web design class, which involves learning to code HTML and CSS. With the skills I am picking up I will now be able to design my own website layout to display my online portfolio.

This got me thinking…

While your work should speak for itself, you still need a well designed website to showcase it. If the website does not look very good, then you might not get the attention you’re wanting; ie: job interviews, freelance work, etc. You also need it to be simple and straight to the point. Personally, I like a clean and sleek look with a neutral color palette. That way, my work stands out.

One of my assignments for the course was to design a website for a fellow classmate. Here are some screen captures of how it turned out:

For this being my first website, I am very proud of the outcome. This experience has opened up a whole new avenue of design I hadn’t fully considered before. I can’t wait to see where this could take me!

Growing as a photographer

Ironically enough, my final project for last semester’s photo course involved me photographing someone cooking. And here I am again doing it for this semester’s photo class. However, I mention this because I think it’s an excellent example of my growth of photography skills. You can see that the first photo lacks good lighting and that’s because I wasn’t adjusting my camera settings properly for the environment. The second photo illustrates how I adapted to the lighting in the room and used a strobe to enhance it. I also have a better grasp on shutter speed, ISO, etc. It’s always exciting to realize that you’re growing as an artist and really absorbing what you’re being taught.

Side note: photographing food is fun, especially when the subject insists you try out what they’re making once you’re done.

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Artistic Inspiration: Bill Ray

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Bill Ray was a staff reporter for LIFE magazine. He travelled the world capturing images of major events, wars, and famous personalities. He has had work appear in many other major publications like the Smithsonian, Archeology, and Fortune. He also took the photos for 46 Newsweek covers. His speciality is portraits of individuals, families, and executives in their environment.

He has taken tons of photographs of different celebrities, including The Beatles, President Kennedy, and Frank Sinatra. The reason I decided to focus today’s post on him is because he took some of my favorite pictures of my favorite actress of all time: Natalie Wood. And what I love so much about these photos are the candidness of them. I think he truly captured her essence and personality quite well. They’re intimate without being intrusive.

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Painting with light

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I was in the sixth grade when I first painted with light. At the end of the school year, my honors art teacher rewarded our hard with with this fun activity. We went into the dark room and used different colored lights to create interested photographs. It wasn’t until years later when I was a freshman in collage that I experimented with this art form again. This was around the time that photography was a major hobby of mine and I was alone in my dorm room, bored. The above picture is the result of that boredom.

Light painting is a photographic technique that involves taking long exposures of moving hand-held light sources. This is used for both scientific and artistic purposes. This form of photography dates back to 1889 when Etienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demeny created the first known light painting, “Pathological Walk From in Front” (below).

This art form really took off in the 21st century due to the increased availability of dSLR cameras and photo sharing websites. I shared mine on flickr. Hopefully I can try this technique again soon.

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The gift photography keeps on giving

I’ve been studying the basics of photography this semester. This entails learning my camera functions, what settings create the best image, and so on. This led me to look through my Facebook albums and review all of my pictures from the past. When I was a senior in high school and into my first round of college (2008-2011) I was obsessed with photography. But in retrospect, I had no clue what I was doing. But, I still love a lot of the photographs I took in that time period because they allow me to reminisce about my past experiences. The images below are from a trip I took with a class back in 2011 to Greece. It was probably the best experience of my life thus far. And if I ever forget a detail, I can refer to my photos to refresh my memory.

With that being said, I truly value the photography skills I’m learning in class. And now as I go forward, the memories I capture can have an even better quality to them.

 

Event: ContraCola

On Saturday Feb. 18, the Emerald Ballroom hosted the ContraCola dance. Anyone interested in participating was welcome to attend. Dancers ranged from experienced to beginners. Stephanie Marie of Charlotte, NC was the night’s caller. Contra dancing is a folk dance made up of long lines of couples. And if you had a same-sex partner, neckties were provided to designate dance roles. For more information visit www.contracola.org

Abstract: The Art of Design

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When I got home today, I logged onto Netflix and saw they had added a new documentary series called Abstract: The Art of Design. I watched the trailer (below) and was immediately intrigued. Each episode features a different designer, illustrator, photographer, etc. Some I have heard of and others I have not. The creators of the series state that this is not like any other design documentary you’ve seen before. Each episode stands on its own and captures the essence of the subject featured. I can’t wait to dive in more and possibly post about specific episodes!

Judge a book by its cover!

I think this phrase has mostly been used to encourage others not to judge people based on appearances and not taken quite so literally. However, the literal thinker that I am, I always had this in the back of my mind when rummaging through a book store. But, I would always gravitate towards the aesthetically pleasing covers and then feel guilty that I broke this societal rule. I’m a strange individual, I know. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay to judge a book by its cover, especially if you’re a designer of sorts. Good design is ingrained in us, so why not choose a book based on it? With any book, you have to decided on your own if the story is worthwhile. The cover just gets you to page one.

Some of my favorite book covers include:

I also recommend all of these books if you haven’t read them yet.

Artistic Inspiration: John Baldessari

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John Baldessari in Venice, 2009 by Frédéric de Goldschmidt

If you read my introduction post, you will know that I have a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. While getting that degree I took a Modernism and Contemporary art class and had to choose an artist from that period to write a research paper on. I googled “contemporary artists” and discovered this guy: John Baldessari. After diving into my research I discovered just how interesting he is.

In 1970 Baldessari and a group of friends collected all of the artwork he created between 1953-1966 and cremated it. They then baked the ashes into cookies and placed them into an urn with a plaque that had the works’ birth and death dates on them. They also included the cookie recipe too. After this, his work took a turn onto the conceptual track.

Another of his famous works is his lithograph, “I Will Not Make Anymore Boring Art.” He had students write this phrase on gallery walls like punishment. With this, Baldessari pointed out how the rules of language are arbitrary and open to interpretation. He said his art was “what I thought art should be, not what somebody else would think art would be. You know, received wisdom, what you would get in school. And so a lot of my work was about questioning this received wisdom.”

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I abide by the rules, which in general is a good thing. But when it comes to art, I think it is necessary to take creative license. Baldessari’s work inspires me to do that.

I could write a 12 page paper on this man–wait, I have!–but I’ll stop here. I recommend watching this video promoting the art initiative, Pacific Standard Time, that features Baldessari and the actor Jason Schwartzman. It’s quite entertaining.

 

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