Rebecca Solnit

Solnit was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a Jewish father and Irish Catholic mother,[3] and in 1966 her family moved to Novato, California, where she grew up. “I was a battered little kid,” she said of her childhood.[4] She skipped high school altogether, enrolling in an alternative junior high in the public school system that took her through tenth grade, when she passed the GED. Thereafter she enrolled in junior college. When she was 17, she went to study in Paris. She returned to California to finish her college education at San Francisco State University.[5] She then received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984[6] and has been an independent writer since 1988.[7]

Career[edit]

Activism[edit]

Solnit has worked on environmental and human rights campaigns since the 1980s, notably with the Western Shoshone Defense Project in the early 1990s, as described in her book Savage Dreams, and with antiwar activists throughout the Bush era.[8] She has discussed her interest in climate change and the work of 350.org and the Sierra Club, and in women’s rights, especially violence against women.[9]

Writing[edit]

Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper’s Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She was also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and is (as of 2018) a regular contributor to LitHub.[10][11]

Solnit is the author of seventeen books as well as essays in numerous museum catalogs and anthologies. Her 2009 book A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster began as an essay called “The Uses of Disaster: Notes on Bad Weather and Good Government” published by Harper’s magazine the day that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. It was partially inspired by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which Solnit described as “a remarkable occasion…a moment when everyday life ground to a halt and people looked around and hunkered down”. In a conversation with filmmaker Astra Taylor for BOMB magazine, Solnit summarized the radical theme of A Paradise Built in Hell: “What happens in disasters demonstrates everything an anarchist ever wanted to believe about the triumph of civil society and the failure of institutional authority.”[8]

In 2014, Haymarket Books published Men Explain Things to Me, a collection of short essays written about instances of “mansplaining.” Solnit has been credited with paving the way for the coining of the word “mansplaining,”[12][13] which has been used to refer to instances in which men explain things (generally toward women) in a condescending and/or patronizing way, but Solnit did not use it in the original essay.[14] Solnit’s book included illustrations from visual and performance artist Ana Teresa Fernández.[15]

In 2019, Solnit rewrote a new version of Cinderella, also for Haymarket Books, called Cinderella Liberator.[16] In this feminist revision, Solnit reclaims Ella from the cinders and gives both the prince (“Prince Nevermind” in her version) and Ella new futures that involve thinking for themselves, acting out free will, starting businesses, and becoming friends, rather than dependent lovers. As Syreeta McFadden argued for NBC News, Cinderella has long been retold, changing with the times and this was a much needed revision.[17] Solnit’s retelling is creative in that she uses the original Arthur Rackham’s original silhouetted drawings of Cinderella, but liberates her through research, words, and story.

Reception[edit]

Solnit has received two NEA fellowships for Literature, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Creative Capital Award, a Lannan literary fellowship, and a 2004 Wired Rave Award for writing on the effects of technology on the arts and humanities.[18] In 2010 Utne Reader magazine named Solnit as one of the “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World”.[19] Her The Faraway Nearby (2013) was nominated for a National Book Award,[20] and shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.[21][22]

New York Times book critic Dwight Garner called Solnit “the kind of rugged, off-road public intellectual America doesn’t produce often enough. … Solnit’s writing, at its worst, can be dithering and self-serious, Joan Didionwithout the concision and laser-guided wit. At her best, however […] she has a rare gift: the ability to turn the act of cognition, of arriving at a coherent point of view, into compelling moral drama.”[23][24]

For River of Shadows, Solnit was honored with the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism[25] and the 2004 Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology, which honors exceptional scholarship that reaches beyond the academy toward a broad audience.[26] Solnit was also awarded Harvard’s Mark Lynton History Prize in 2004 for River of Shadows.[27] Solnit was awarded the 2015-16 Corlis Benefideo Award for Imaginative Cartography by the North American Cartographic Information Society [28] Solnit’s book, Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises, won the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction.[29] She won the 2019 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in Non-Fiction.[30]

Solnit credits Eduardo GaleanoPablo NerudaAriel DorfmanElena PoniatowskaGabriel García MárquezVirginia Woolf,[31] and Henry David Thoreau[32] as writers who have influenced her work.[8

Huguette Calland

‘l love every minute of my life… I squeeze it like an orange and eat the peel, because I don’t want to miss a thing.’

See overviews and reviews:

Calland talking in 2009 about her work with rugs.
Calland 2013 interview in Detroit looks back on her life and family while she continues to work on her later more colourful textile work.

Fay Godwin

!! to update with my own detailed thoughts on Land, The Edge of the Land and Our Forbidden Land as I critique my own work in Assignment 5.

Publications

Fay Godwin (17 February 1931 – 27 May 2005) was a British photographer known for her black-and-white landscapes of the British countryside and coast. Her approach was very intuitive and felt that images where she had thought too deeply about composition and meaning had less ‘visceral’ power as a response to what she was seeing.

She was self-taught and her obsession with photography started with family photos and producing photo albums for neighbours. produced portraits and documentary work of factory workers. Much of the emotional charge of her images she attributes to difficulties in her personal life: traumatic marriage break-up, cancer and struggles to support her children that led her to throw herself into her work. She produced portraits of writers and also documentary work on factory workers. But it is for her landscape photography that she is best known.

Justin Jones overview of her work in the context of her life and politics . Discusses many of her iconic photographs. And what he sees as some of the gender dimensions of her work – though I feel some of these distinctions may be a bit exaggerated and not sure how far Fay herself would see her work in this way.

Landscape photography and activism

She was a very vocal critic of the ‘picturesque’ and her photographs aim to capture landscapes as they really are with all their historical, social and political complexity.

“I am wary of picturesque pictures. I get satiated with looking at postcards in local newsagents and at the picture books that are on sale, many of which don’t bear any relation to my own experience of the place… The problem for me about these picturesque pictures, which proliferate all over the place, is that they are a very soft warm blanket of sentiment, which covers everybody’s idea about the countryside… It idealises the country in a very unreal way.”
(Fay Godwin 1986 South Bank Show Produced and directed by Hilary Chadwick, London Weekend Television quoted Alexander 2013 p84.)

Comprehensive Melvin Bragg overview of her life and work from old TV programme. Discusses Godwin’s landscape photography in the context of conventions and innovation in landscape art and critique of ‘picturesque’. Includes many interviews with Fay herself on her responses to landscape and approaches to photography.

She combined her landscape photography with environmental activism against the ravages of 1980s Thatcherism and as President of the Ramblers’ Association.

Mavis Nicholson interviews Fay Godwin on the ‘In with Mavis’ program from 1991. She talks a lot about her photography in the context of her environmental activism, particularly destruction of landscapes because of building of the Channel Tunnel.
Selection of prints from the 25th anniversary of Fay Godwin’s seminal exhibition and book Land from the original exhibition. https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org…
Peter Cattrell worked as Fay Godwin’s printer. Interesting discussion of printing choices he made. And discussion of her last experiments placing objects on photographic plates as experiments. Also some interesting insights into her personality -as well as poignancy of her fragility, illnesses and death.
  • Rebecca the Lurcher. 1973
  • The Oldest Road: An Exploration of the Ridgeway. 1975. With J.R.L. Anderson.
  • Remains of Elmet. Rainbow Press, 1979. With poems by Ted Hughes.
    • Remains of Elmet. Faber and Faber, 1979. ISBN 9780571278763.
    • Elmet. Faber and Faber, 1994. With new additional poems and photographs.
    • Remains of Elmet. Faber and Faber, 2011. ISBN 9780571278763.
  • The Saxon Shore Way. Hutchinson (publisher), 1983. With Alan Sillitoe. ISBN 0091514606.
  • Land. Heinemann, 1985. With John Fowles. ISBN 0434303054.
  • !!Edge of the Land
  • Glassworks & Secret Lives. 1999. ISBN 0953454517.
  • Landmarks. Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2002. ISBN 1-899235-73-6. With an introduced by Simon Armitage and an essay by Roger Taylor.

Tessa Newcomb

http://www.thompsonsgallery.co.uk/artist.php/Tessa-Newcomb-330/

Paris

distinctive quirky illustrations: oil paint, watercolour, lithographs. Pencil on oil. Or pencil and watercolour.

I paint Paris how I want it to look. A Paris drawn from films, books, poems. Fewer cars, less noise and stress, better clothes, nicer notice boards – or that’s what I like to imagine. I use selective vision.

flat and skewed perspective. A lot of neutral pastel colours.

somewhat randomly inserted. Different sizes. Captions give title, medium and size – as if they are to be sold???

somewhat random text. In chapters, but without clear narrative. Little vignettes with illustration.

how I see paris

gold

glass

markets

spaces

dogs

doorknobs

Interview with Tessa Newcomb

http://www.bridgemanimages.com/en-GB/all-the-news/interview-with-tessa-newcomb

 

Colour theory printmaking to add

In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.

Albers  Interaction of Color 1963 p1

Key colour issues in printmaking

  • Tone is perceived first, then colours (yellow first), and then the image. This means that the underlying tonal shape structure of an image is of primary importance. Using flat primary colours will detract attention from the image – making colour the subject.
  • Hue is inherently problematic. The effects of mixing different pigment hues will vary depending on issues like transparency, saturation, value. Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour.
  • Optical mixing occurs as the brain interpretes colours, successive and simultaneous contrast. So perception of hue will depend on the relationship between elements in the composition.
  • Colour responses in terms of perception, meaning and emotional response is a complex combination of hard-wiring of human perception, biological variation (eg colour-blindness) between different viewers and cultural associations.Or use completely arbitrary colours to impose their own feelings and interpretation onto the image.

Basic Colour Theory

Colour can only exist when three components are present: a viewer, an object, and light. Our perception of colour depends on both physical factors relating to the way the eye registers light and more psychological and cultural factors that affect the way the brain reacts to and interprets colours and their relationships to each other. Artists and designers have used and experimented with complexities and ambiguities in interactions between physical and psychological dimensions of colour to portray emotions and question the nature of perception.

Physical properties of light

Light consists of rays of different wavelengths. When light strikes a surface, certain wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected by its pigments. Different combinations of reflected wavelengths form all the observed colours.  Although pure white light is perceived as colourless, it actually contains all colours in the visible spectrum. When white light hits an object, it selectively blocks some colours and reflects others; only the reflected colours contribute to the viewer’s perception of colour.

Prism: White Light and the Visible Spectrum

Virtually all our visible colours can be produced by utilizing some combination of the three primary colours, either by additive or subtractive processes.

Additive Primary Colors
Additive Primary Colours: Additive digital processes as in computer monitors add light to a dark background based on RGB primaries. All three colours make white.

Subtractive Primary Colors
Subtractive Primary Colours: CMYK.  pigment colours. Subtractive processes use pigments or dyes to selectively block white light. All three colours make black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naturally occurring colours are not just light at one wavelength, but actually contain a whole range of wavelengths. A colour’s “hue” describes which wavelength appears to be most dominant. The object whose spectrum is shown below would likely be perceived as bluish, even though it contains wavelengths throughout the spectrum.

Color Hue
Visible Spectrum

Although this spectrum’s maximum happens to occur in the same region as the object’s hue, it is not a requirement. If this object instead had separate and pronounced peaks in just the the red and green regions, then its hue would instead be yellow (see the additive colour mixing table).

Human perception

Biology of the eye

The human eye senses this spectrum using a combination of rod and cone cells for vision. Rod cells are better for low-light vision, but can only sense the intensity of light, whereas while cone cells can also discern colour, they function best in bright light.

Three types of cone cells exist in your eye, with each being more sensitive to either short (S), medium (M), or long (L) wavelength light. The set of signals possible at all three cone cells describes the range of colours we can see with our eyes. The diagram below illustrates the relative sensitivity of each type of cell for the entire visible spectrum. These curves are often also referred to as the “tristimulus functions.”

Select View: Cone Cells Luminosity



Raw data courtesy of the Colour and Vision Research Laboratories (CVRL), UCL.

Cambridge in Colour:  Colour Perception

Note how each type of cell does not just sense one colour, but instead has varying degrees of sensitivity across a broad range of wavelengths. Move your mouse over “luminosity” to see which colours contribute the most towards our perception of brightness. Also note how human colour perception is most sensitive to light in the yellow-green region of the spectrum; this is utilized by the bayer array in modern digital cameras.

Eye to brain

As light passes into the eye it strikes the retina at the back of the eye which consists of layers of cells including:

  • rods – that perceive black and white and allow us to see dimly lit forms
  • cones – that help us perceive hues. The cones in the eye only recognise red (long wavelengths), blue-viiolet (short wavelengths) and green (middle wavelengths). They relay these colour messages to the cones of the fovea, an area at the centre of the retina, whose cones transmit to the brain.

The brain then assimilates the red, blue-violet and green impulses and mixes them into a single message that informs us of the colour being viewed.

There are many factors affecting our perception of a colour, such as the surroundings of the object, its surface texture, and the lighting conditions under which it is seen. How much of a colour is used, whether it is bright, dull, light or dark, and where it is placed in relation to another colour are also crucial factors in our perception.

  • local colour: the wavelengths that are reflected by a surface under consitions of white light
  • optical colour: the combination of local colour with light striking it and other surrounding colours

 

Subtractive processes are more susceptible to changes in ambient light, because this light is what becomes selectively blocked to produce all their colours.

COLOR PROPERTIES: HUE & SATURATION

Color has two unique components that set it apart from achromatic light: hue and saturation. Visually describing a colour based on each of these terms can be highly subjective, however each can be more objectively illustrated by inspecting the light’s colour spectrum.

 

A color’s saturation is a measure of its purity. A highly saturated color will contain a very narrow set of wavelengths and appear much more pronounced than a similar, but less saturated color. The following example illustrates the spectrum for both a highly saturated and less saturated shade of blue.

Select Saturation Level: Low High

Spectral Curves for Low and High Saturation Color

 

Dimensions of colour

hue
A colour without any black, gray, white or complementary is called a pure hue and occurs in Newton’s light spectrum. Primary colours are those which cannot be mixed using other colours, secondaries the result of mixing two primaries and tertiary colours, the result of mixing secondaries with one of their adjacent secondaries. Broken hues are the result of mixing these pure hues with their complement to produce browns and greys.

However there is significant variation between colour theorists as to how they identify primary colours, and also between additive methods (RGB used where light is added and where white is the result of mixing all light wavelengths) and subtractive methods (CMYK and pigment mixing as in printmaking or paint where black is the result of mixing all colours).

Moreover pigments are rarely pure. The results from mixing also depend on the relative colour temperature of each of the colours being mixed.

value
Pure hues vary in value from yellow (lightest) to violet (darkest) This means that when mixing them it will also alter the value. If you squint when looking at two hues of similar value they will merge together. When pigments of equal value are mixed together this gives a darker value because more wavelengths are absorbed and fewer reflected.

Value changes convey texture, are used for shadows and form. Sharp contrasts in value produce the effect of precision, firmness, objectivity and alertness. Close values produce feelings of haziness, softness, quiet, rest, brooding etc. Dark compositions give feelings of night, darkness, mystery and fear. Light compositions of illumination, clarity and optimism. Middle values are relaxed and often go unnoticed.
Discords: when the value of a hue is altered by the addition of black, white or another colour opposite to its natural value order eg adding violet and white to make lavender.

intensity (also termed saturation or chroma) defines the degree of purity or brightness (as opposed to light) or how dull (as opposed to dark) a colour is. Pure hues are those where there is no black, white or complementary colour added.
When pure black or pure white are present they are notices before the other hues and colours present.
Pure hues differ in chroma strength – lighter hues have stronger chromatic strength.
Pure hues can be dulled to coloured greys through adding grey of the same value. Or mixing with complementaries to produce a shade.
Neutral greys can be obtained through mxing false pairs – orange and green, green and violet, violet and orange. But they tend to favour one of the parent hues and are less powerful than those made by combining complementary hues. They can also be produced through layering.
Intensity can create effects on objects in space.
– high intensities make an object seem large and pushes it forward in the visual field
– light pure values like yellow advance most on a dark background and least on a white background
– pure hues have a relative strength. if balance is required, they should be used in the right proportion.

temperature
Temperature refers to the warmness or coolness of colour.
– Warm hues are yellow, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, red and red-violet.
– Cool hues are

Certain colours relax us, others stimulate us.

Cultural factors

Memory, experiences and cultural background all affect the way a colour’s impact can vary from individual to individual.
Factors such as linguistic distinctions can even affect perception of colour – in some languages there is no distinction between blue and green and so although people can distinguish when questioned they do not make an immediate distinction. Even where colours are perceived similarly, they may mean different things – in Asian cultures white is associated with death. Red is associated with happiness and luck. In Western cultures black is associated with death and white with purity. Red is associated with danger and blood.

colour associations

influenced bybthe types of pigments available and their value.

blue   lapis lazuli for the madonna

purple   mollusc in ancient greece so royalty

ochres and earth colour

red vermillion  marriage and luck in asian cutures

black  terry frost absorbs all other colours. means a kind of depth. malevich black square

white purity. turns away other colours.

Artistic interpretations

Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour. Or use ciompletely arbitrary colours to impose their feelings and interpretation onto the image.

Colour harmony

In reverse order of contrast:

Monochromatic

a single hue with its tints and shades produced by mixing with white, black (or its complememtary?)

Analogous

three or more hues that are next to each other on the colour wheel. Analogous schemes are most emphatic when the common hue is primary. They are most harmonious when the middle hue is primary (eg red-orange, red, red-violet rather than orange, red-orange and red).

Double complementary

split complementary

Triad

equidistant on the colour wheel. These result in a dominance of warm or cool.

quadrad

where the hues are equidistant on the colour wheel.

Complementary

Colour interactions

Itten and Albers studied the interaction between hues and the ways in which our perception of hues and tones is altered radically by the other colours surrounding them.

Successive contrast
Simultaneous contrast

Vibration where certain hues meet.
Bounding with white or black.

Disappearing boundaries: where analogous hues meet
Dissolving boundaries: where broken hues meet
This can be used to create mysterious effects. Or combatted using sharp edges.

Discords play a supportring role – they are easily overshadowed by colours that are not discorded, but they stop the tendency of hues to spread visually. Large areas in discorded colours should be avoided as they weaken a composition. But small areas reduce monotony. Light discors also produce the best highlights (because they are unexpected and attract attention??) The discord chosen should be based on the primary colour closest to the object featured in the hightlight, or the next closest primary on the coliur wheel.

When colors or shades of grey are sequenced in a composition eading from ligt to dark or dark to light then the eye is comfortable. But when the esquence is broken eg gray background, followed by white then black then the effect is jarring eg dramatic skies. El Greco View of Toledo.

Rhythm, repetition and movement

Repeating colours can lead the eye through a composition and create a sense of movement.

Emphasis can be accomplished by using colour in a number of ways
– colour contrast: bright/dull, light/dark, warm/cool
– area size: large areas of a colour versus small
– texture: rough versus smooth
– use of arbitrary colour
– unusual detailing
– contrast with surroundings

Harmony can be achieved through:
– repetition
– similarity
– use of tonality
– surrounding a colour with a neutral colour

Inspiration

Impressionism
Pointillim
Fauvism
Expressionism

Alex Katz
Andy Warhol
Patrick Caulfield

In printmaking, particularly relief prints, there is clear colour separation on the printing plate. This can use either layering and mixing, or optical mixing through juxtaposition.

Useful links

Cambridge in colour – technical notes on colour perception, colour harmony and colour management for photographers.

Postcards

It is now quite some time since I received or sent postcards – most things these days are done by Facebook posts. I looked for postcards in East Anglia seaside towns like Aldeburgh but most were art postcards, no photographs. Even in Cambridge it is difficult to get ‘straight’ postcards. Most are tinted or artist drawings. I feel the traditional postcard is probably going out of fashion with technological change. On the Internet search for ‘postcards’ shows many sites where you can send off your own photos and get them produced as cards – this seems to be the growing trend. The other trend of for vintage postcards and art postcards.

Reportage Illustration

Reportage illustration as a distinct discipline is a form of visual reporting that covers everything from exotic locations to war zones, enclosed courtroom proceedings to public events. It shares many of the concerns of written journalism and documentary photography, but reportage illustration offers something additional to both of these practices. It provides a different way to understand a place or event; it is visual but it’s often more than just a snapshot.The nature and style of reportage illustration has evolved alongside journalism and the technical development of printing.

Truth in drawing is about trying to capture the essence of the situation, whether it’s an emotional truth, a descriptive truth, or trying to capture a particular dynamic or tension. Getting to the truth of a story might, for example, mean emphasising certain aspects that you want a viewer to focus on.

(Course Guide p45 my emphasis added – illustration is inevitably a subjective interpretation. The key issue is to be aware of that subjectivity and its implications.

Project 2.1 Drawing on the familiar: Aldeburgh

Project 2.2 On Location: Aldeburgh carnival

History of reportage illustration

Reportage illustration has a very long history – going back to stone friezes depicting rules and wars of ancient civilizations, tapestries like Bayeux Tapestries and medieval illuminated manuscripts. 17th century woodcuts were used to illustrate cheap publications called broadsides and later chapbooks or rags (named after the recycled fabric they were made from). These focused on murders, robberies and executions and provided grizzly depictions of victims and consequences.

By the nineteenth century news reporting had widened its scope and, with it, the breadth of material illustrated. As the market for newspapers increased the quality of the illustrations improved with the use of more expensive wood engravings and etchings. It took a while for photography to become integrated into newspaper publishing as a form of journalism, mainly because of the technical issues of printing photographs.

In Fine Art painters at the end of the nineteenth century painted social topics, for example:

Contemporary reportage illustration

Reportage illustration is still practised as a way of providing a viewpoint on hard to document events, from courtrooms where cameras are banned, to personal experiences such as travel that are difficult to sum up in one image. And to convey mood of a piece. Particular sources of contemporary inspiration for my work include:

Frank McMahon

L S Lowry urban landscapes for their perspective and stylisation

and stylistic possibilities of:

Graham Dean  watercolour

Franziska Neubert simple linocuts and woodcuts

Jake and Dinos Chapman: reinterpretation and reworking of Goya and other contentious issues.

Sally Pring for the flat colours

Olivia Lomenech Gill for her very diverse style with gouache, pencil, printmaking, collage

Practical Issues

  • How to draw something that might only be in place for a few moments? It takes practice to analyse a scene and commit the essential elements of fleeting impressions to visual memory, then make those impressions into an image.
  • Initially at least the aim is not to make a finished picture, but to capture information. Focus on the key elements – a person’s face and hands, how they’re standing, the dynamic of a group of people huddled together. You might also have to draw a lot quicker. You’ll need to do a number of drawings. Movements are often cyclical even for people. Decide when to do the background and when to do the people.
  • Interactions with the subjects – how to stop people being embarrassed or self-conscious See some of the hints in Urban Sketching
  • Many reportage illustrators include written notes with their illustrations, reflecting on their perceptions, describing dialogue, thoughts or events. This adds to the personal perspective and gives the drawings a sense of personal identity.
  • Final image: Mood, Media, Cropping, Colour etc