Take a photo…then “Imagineer” Your Own Reality!

I am not a” great photographer.  I respect photographers and know that getting the right image is about planning, timing, study, readiness, equipment and technical savvy.  These days, it’s also about editing know-how just as in the past it was also very much about dark-room know how.  Photography is art.  Photographs can be beautiful and complete as an art form. However, for me…photos are just the beginning.  That’s why I am a painter.

Yesterday I was in Siena.  A town behind a massive wall on a hill…a description which could fit many towns in Tuscany.  This one has the distinction of being the owner of St. Catherine’s head!  Oh, and her right finger too!  How grisly and medieval is that?  There she was today…what’s left of her that is.  Not to disrespect her or anything, but as far as I’m concerned, cutting off her head and putting her decaying face in a box for all to see is not necessarily respectful  When I go, close the casket and remember me as I was.  She was very important to the residents of the city and they claimed her as their own…however when she died in Rome, they kept her remains as relics and charged for seeing them or being blessed by them.  Citizens of Sienna staged a guerrilla raid on Rome and chopped off her head…and her finger (how random!) and then brought them back in a box to her home town.  And here she is to this day…

Siena is very hilly and filled with old buildings, gelato shops, lots of tourists and beautiful little vistas wherever you look.  It’s a great town to photograph and wander around, which is what we did today.  I was like a dog on the trail of a good scent…just following my nose (or in this case my eyes) from one thing to the next.  My new friend and roommate, Sally, was my partner in crime.  We stumbled upon a great site today with laundry on the line, shadows and cool architecture.  We stood there at the side of the road and drew it in our little pads…took photos and then kept on.

At one point Sally told me she had found a shopping mall.  I followed her in there and we saw lots of people but no shops.  We stumbled on some nice bathrooms, so we took advantage.  There were lots of bars to assist with mobility and pull chords for emergency on the walls…that should have been our first clue.  When we came out, we realized that there were all kinds of old people and nurses…Then it dawned on us…we had somehow found our way into a convalescent home!  We began laughing so hard and making fun of ourselves, but even so, I was taken with some of the cool faces and old people around us.  What was even more funny was that they weren’t moving too fast, so it made taking their photos easier. I didn’t feel comfortable taking obvious photos of the old folks, so Sally volunteered to stand in the vicinity of a couple of choice characters and I surreptitiously took these shots.

Photos are a very necessary part of my process.  They provide me with resources from which I can “imagineer” a painting.  For example, when we drew a spot on location I felt that it needed a point.  When you looked at the city landscape I had drawn, it didn’t seem to have enough life for me.  I decided it needed people to give it some life.  
It was time to use a photo reference.  I was taken by the story which was told in a photo I took earlier in the day.  The little boy blowing bubbles was interacting with an elderly man on the street.  Charming!  I decided that those two characters belonged in my drawing in order to remind me of my experience here.  They were not in the same place in the same time at all, but because I’m a painter, they ended up right where I wanted them to be.  Photos are the reference, but the fun for me is found in the the ability to create my own reality.
Finished Painting
“Bubble Boys”- Watercolor/Ink on Paper
As a PS to my previous entry…I found out that the very spot I climbed to get the photo below was a former celtic place of worship.  There are stone circles on this site and as I sat upon one of them I was visited by my little friend the fawn.  How cool is it to think that this ancient holy place gifted me with an innocent spiritual present?  That fawn symbolized innocence, vulnerability, and being present in that place.  I am even more convinced that he was sent as some sort of heavenly affirmation.  One more reason to love Tuscany!
Villa Casa Nova- Chianti
Watercolor/Ink on Paper

Rebecca Zdybel
Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor
Art Lessons in all media
Myrtle Beach, SC

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Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at RebeccaZArtist.com.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Keith says:

    I feel like I'm on vacation in Italy seeing all of your pictures and all the descriptions. It sounds like a real fun time!

    Yes…I remember visiting some of the reliquaries in Germany and Italy. Very weird places. The creepiest of all was The Capuchin Crypt in Rome. If you have a chance to visit it, don't. To this day, it still gives me the willies.

    I loved the story about the shopping mall / convalescent home mix-up. Funny!

    • rzdybel says:

      That moment was so funny at the convalescent home! Our first clue should have been no stores…our second clue might have been all the hand-bars in the bathrooms! lol

      Based on your experience, I'm avoiding the Capuchin Crypt when in Rome. Thanks Keith

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