After initial frustrating attempts at snowflake photography on my artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center, I finally got a snowstorm where the conditions were just right. It turns out that windy storms break up the snowflakes into little pieces and stick them back together in jumbled clumps of ice crystals. In the last week there was a singular day of soft gentle snowfall all day and I took over 300 photographs of individual snowflakes. I saw forms and shapes which I had never seen before due to the lower temperatures in Northern Vermont. I played with photographing the flakes in different states from the perfect natural forms and then with my breath gently I encouraged their melting and photographed their disappearance. I want use the symbol of snowflakes to express themes of the delicate balance of climate systems that are being disrupted. I plan to explore printing these image sequences using materials that evoke delicacy, preciousness, and fragility. I tried an experiment with a lace Kozo paper which had the texture of freshly fallen snow. I made a sequence of image transfers over gold leaf. I loved the results until I sprayed it with a preservative spray which greatly altered the appearance of the paper to more transparent and glossy. Above you can see the before and after results in the transformation of the paper surface. To get the look I am aiming for will require further experimentation with materials.
Living An Artist's Life
When I arrived at the Vermont Studio Center, I learned during orientation that this is actually the largest residency center in the world, based on the number of artists hosted every month. The lodging and studios are quaintly 19th century New England in style with a bit of rustic charm. The chef prepares nutritious meals and a sense of comradeship is beginning to develop among the artists and writers around the table at mealtimes. Around the table one topic of conversation has come to the surface several times; how to make good art both literary and visual. The themes of these discussions repeatedly come back to show up to your studio/workspace on a regular schedule even if one feels creatively blocked or lacking inspiration, eliminate distractions, quiet the voices in your head of self doubt, make a lot of work, learn from the work that is poor and build upon the work that is good, and mos of all do not give up.
Today it was about 10 degrees F and I spent most of the day outside trying to photograph snowflakes. I took one photograph that I like. The rest of the photos taught me that when the wind is gusting to 25 mph, the snow gets pulverized into little chips of flakes and sticks together in clumps, which makes it visually unattractive at the macro scale. I kept at it all day, fearing that I would miss a change in the weather, but was disappointed at the end of the day to have only one photograph. I will try again on another snow day soon, hopefully with less wind!