Can Play be a Pathway to Knowledge?
By Margaret Vickers
As artists how our art is presented is important. The June general meeting of the Lane Cove Art Society centred on how best to photograph an artwork. Linda Gleeson, one of our very hard working members demonstrated how to use an iphone to photograph an artwork. In the latter part of the presentation, Annie Pavlovic our energetic President complemented Linda’s talk by discussing the importance of varnishing and glazing an artwork to produce a professional result before the artwork is photographed.
Initially Linda stated that she was not a professional photographer. Nor was her sight at its best having had recent eye surgery. Still, she forged ahead and delivered a wonderful demonstration that was relevant and so practical. Linda’s aim was twofold. Firstly, Linda wanted to demystify the process of obtaining the best photos of an artwork. Secondly, we were all encouraged to put the theory into practice. Using our iphones we were guided to photograph artworks that Annie Pavlovic had placed around the room. We were encouraged to play with so many symbols on our iphones which may have been used for the first time! Experimenting was urged with cropping, colour saturation, exposure and warmth. Hands on play educated even the most technological inept user. Linda’s openness and warmth produced very positive outcomes for all present.
The initial part of Linda’s talk centred on setting the scene to obtain the best photograph of an artwork. You need good light but if there is too much direct light then it can wash out the photo. Try taking a photo of the artwork in different parts of a room to see where the best result occurs. Sometimes artificial light is satisfactory if there are no shadows. It is better to photograph a work before it is framed with glass as reflections will occur. When taking a photo of an artwork do not enlarge the artwork as it impacts on the pixels of the image.
Practical points were covered. When you are actually taking a photo it is better to turn off the flash and the live symbol. When you crop a photo ensure that all the frame has been removed from the image. To adjust exposure, colour saturation and warmth one was guided to go into edit and click on the appropriate symbol. Importantly, the aim is to replicate the artwork so that it is true to the original work and does not enhance or manipulate it by the iphone. Linda successfully achieved all of her goals. Through her guidance Linda displayed how effective an iphone is in assisting the artist to photograph their work professionally without changing the authenticity of it.
Annie then discussed the importance of varnishing and glazing an artwork. Whether it is an acrylic or an oil painting Annie always takes care with the final stage of an artwork as it gives a better result when it is photographed. To varnish a work Annie uses either satin varnish or beeswax. The former can be painted on a canvas that is laying flat so that drips do not occur. There are several brands of satin varnish including Matisse and Atelier. If beeswax is used then this soft wax is applied with a soft cloth and polished off. Both these methods are used “to liven up colours and to produce a soft effect,” remarked Annie. A varnish results in no glare occurring when a work is photographed. A second way of injecting “life” into a work is to use a glazing technique. When transparent colours are painted over opaque colours they immediately “ enliven the whole painting.”
In the final part of Annie’s presentation she mentioned how informative and entertaining podcasts can be about aspects of art. She specifically mentioned two podcasts worth tuning into namely Art Wanks and Talking with Painters.
Linda and Annie delivered a very enjoyable and informative evening of art information. A wealth of knowledge was conveyed to get the most professional and authentic photographs of an artwork. Play certainly gave a concrete pathway to obtaining valuable insights about how to best photograph an artwork.