Independent Canadian book publishers working in Dominica, W.I. specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions, and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Archive for the ‘painting’ Category

Getting Lost in Venice

Venice in November was for us as fascinating and magical as in summer months. More quiet, sometimes covered with fog, it presented a different face than during busy tourist season. We were fortunate that after finishing photographic work for a client, we still had time to explore this amazing city. Here are a few of “our discoveries” about Venice we would like to share.

View from the famous Rialto bridge

View from the famous Rialto bridge

_DAG7869
_DAG7795

Although Venice is small enough to get across within a couple of hours, it is also one of the easiest cities to get lost. We were drawn into the maze of narrow streets and canals, some marked as calle, fondamenta or ruga or simply not marked at all. Getting lost in the tight lattice of  alleys in Cannareggio and Castello was a highlight of our Venice experience. The 118 islands that make up the city are small; space is very precious. Surprisingly, we encountered many private, secret gardens hidden behind ancient walls, tiny courtyards filled with exquisite plants, roof terraces shaded by pergolas and balconies full of greenery. Narrow windowsills made of stone displayed clusters of white and red cyclamens on almost every building we passed by.

_DAG7393

Acqua alta” – high water – occurs in Venice more often that we thought. It happened twice during the week of our stay. This temporary flooding is caused by exceptionally high tides, and it usually lasts for 3-4 hours. At that time, the most fashionable shoes are rubber boots, and you really need these to get across Piazza San Marco. City installs a network of elevated gangways for pedestrians when this tidal phenomenon happens. _DAG7512

San Marco Basilica

San Marco Basilica

_DAG7901

On Torcello

It is hard to believe that the island of Torcello was once a thriving centre of the whole lagoon even before Venice was built. Today, almost nothing remains of its former splendour. The major attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta founded in 639 with Byzantine mosaics, the oldest in Venetian lagoon. Torcello reached its peak in the 14th century, and was finally abandoned  as a result of devastating malaria. This quiet and peaceful island offers a perfect refuge from busy streets of Venice.

A traditional wine shop - bring your own bottle, and get a fine wine at a super-low price!

A traditional wine shop – bring your own bottle, and get a fine wine at a super-low price!

We hope you enjoy this short story by Margaret Gajek and photos by Derek Galon.
If you do, please share and follow our blog for more. Until next time! Ciao!
_DAG7344

typical Venice gift store window

typical Venice gift store window

Painterly – art photo series by Derek Galon

Recently, we posted photos and notes from various local gardens. To break away from these, here is our 99th post – this time about art photography and old paintings. For those enjoying our travel stories – we are just scheduling our next photo trip, and will be reporting from the Caribbean soon. For the moment, let Margaret – an art historian – tell about my recent art photography series “Painterly” from her professional point of view… Thanks! Derek.

============================

Photography and painting have been linked together and have influenced each other since the invention of photography in 1837. Early pictorial photography tried to emulate painting by emphasizing the “atmospheric” elements: using vague shapes, dimness of outline and subdued tonalities to convey a sense of mystery. Late 20th century paintings by Photorealists were made with technical virtuosity to emulate photographic images that were frozen in time, and these paintingscouldn’t exist without photography. These are perhaps the most different examples of a strong relationship between these two unique media that share many similarities.

Anatomy Lesson.  Image awarded with FIAP Ribbon at Solway Small Print Exhibition 2013, in UK. From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant , Tom Gore Gore, From lower left: Aleta Eliasen Dusty, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley Herman Surkis ,David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.  Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,  Jon: lighting master Derek: additional body fx Dusty: costumes Herman: deliver the liver.

Anatomy Lesson. Image awarded with FIAP Ribbon at Solway Small Print Exhibition 2013, in UK. On display in Black Box Art Gallery in Portland, Oregon, USA.
From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant , Tom Gore Gore,
From lower left: Aleta Eliasen Dusty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley Herman Surkis ,David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.
Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,
Jon: lighting master
Derek: additional body fx
Dusty: costumes
Herman: deliver the liver.

Derek Galon’s latest series of “painterly” fine art photographs draw inspiration from the art of painting in a new, creative way. His images are not a nostalgic attempt of getting back to the times when photography imitated painting. These are subjective and original creations drawing inspiration from famous masterpieces of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some refer to specific paintings: Rembrandt’s Anatomy lesson of Dr Tulp or a series of paintings, like bacchanalia by Titian. Derek’s images are a marriage between theatrical qualities of old style masterpieces (with subjects carefully posed and staged), and photography’s ability to seize the moment in time. These dynamic and arresting images portray a compelling narrative, every prominent element in a photograph serves to tell a story, a very different one each time.

When I studied fine arts, I was fascinated by old masters such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Titian, Brouwer,” says Derek. “After decades of photographing, working on complicated assignments, experimenting with lighting, and learning advanced computer editing, I decided I am ready to go full circle. I went back to fascinations of my younger years, creating a series of images in a painterly style. These are not copies of old masterpieces, but anhomage to their timeless excellence. My images take the essence of old canvasses – from early paintings of mythological characters, through masters of chiaroscuro, through romantic imagery of Pre-Rapahaelites – up to Surrealism.”

This version of Derek's Anatomy Lesson has an extra surprise in form of an iPad used by one of students (Derek playing the role himself).

This version of Derek’s Anatomy Lesson has an extra surprise in form of an iPad used by one of students (Derek playing the role himself).

Rembrandt’s famous painting Anatomy lesson of Dr Tulp was one of Derek’s early inspirations. Rembrandt’s brilliant group portrait was commissioned by medical doctors. Each of them paid a part of a fee and each expected to be depicted with equal prominence. Instead of featuring passively sitting or standing individuals, Rembrandt broke with tradition, choosing the scene where subjects participate in the action of a moment. Rembrandt’s revolutionary vision has a distinctively photographic quality: a photo-like dynamic scene with action frozen in time. Derek’s Anatomy Lesson relates to these narrative qualities of the masterpiece. Spectators eagerly leaning towards the corpse are in fact Derek’s friends from Victoria’s art scene, who helped him with production of the image. This is their portrait, executed with “Rembrandt style” chiaroscuro and “Rembrandt lighting” commonly utilized in fine portrait photography.

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.  Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres - medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and Gold medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley. All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres – medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and a Gold Medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.
With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley.
All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon, Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Derek’s Bacchus, Pan and Ceres is another complex image, full of compositional challenges. It is inspired by bacchanalia scenes painted by Titian for the palace of Duke Alfonso d’Este. Titian referred to these paintings as “poesie”, a visual equivalent of poetry. The scene on Derek’s photo shows a hedonistic, merry company of the wine god Bacchus, Ceres – goddess of fertility and agriculture, with Pan – the huffed god of wild nature and their friends. This mythological scene with strong erotic elements is also humorous and witty, it has a fun-filled touch to it, and a sensitively chosen colour palette.
Creating and photographing these group scenes has lots of challenges”, comments Derek. “Painters often interpret perspective or lighting rather loosely. They can bend reality to create most dynamic and impressive scenes. In a photo studio with a group of models, problems are many: unwanted shadows often cover people closely standing together, or sometimes the perspective of the background does not go together with dynamics of the front composition which may require a slightly different focal length. It takes forever to set the right lighting using many strobes, and trying to make it look very simple and natural.”

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes. From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup aleta, props - Derek, Costumes - Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation - Jon Hoadley.

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes.
From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup – Aleta, props – Derek, Costumes – Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation – Jon Hoadley.

One of the most challenging images to make was the Tavern based on genre paintings depicting scenes of everyday life, especially art of Adriaen Brouwer, Flemish artist of the 17th century. Brouwer himself felt very comfortable in taverns and often painted the peasant and “low life scenes” he witnessed. Like Brouwer’s work, Derek’s Tavern is full of movement and action. Portrait-like characters are engaged in complex interaction. Their faces are expressive, even slightly grotesque. Derek cannot resist in joining the merry company and playing a fiddle. His image is full of good-natured humour, and created with visible care for detail. The colour palette made of warm translucent browns and greys is well blended into the atmosphere of the whole. As Brouwer sometimes used his friends – painters, to model for him, Derek once again invited his friends from Victoria’s art photography scene to model for this image. One of the models actually depicts Brouwer himself, painting the vivid scene before him and clearly enjoying it.

The Knight Of Might with the fine Michael Ward from Victoria - model.

The Knight Of Might with the fine Michael Ward from Victoria – model.

While Derek’s Tavern makes you reach for a glass of beer, his Knight of Might stirs very different emotions. We see a gnarled man whose face is weathered, the skin of his face rough. Although his armoured body looks powerful and mighty, he looks exhausted, sensitive and vulnerable. He’s holding a lady’s handkerchief – is this the reason he looks so pensive? For how long he’s been separated from his loved ones, how much pain did he endure during his voyage? We’ll never know. Dark reflections of moonlight correspond with his brooding, inner landscape of the soul. This image was inspired by romantic paintings by John William Waterhouse. To successfully create specific mood and atmosphere of the image, Derek relays on models’ ability to deliver the best acting performance. Their creative output is vital to the success of the image. Here, Derek was aided by his longtime friend and a professional art model Michael Ward.

The Passing - Pieta. With Michael Ward and Stephanie Kingston.

The Passing – Pieta.
With Michael Ward and Stephanie Kingston.

Michael is also involved in another atmospheric image called The Passing – Pieta inspired by paintings of similar subjects by Michelangelo and Titian. Young woman mourning over the body of a dead man; his pale glowing flesh accentuates the feeling of sorrow and loss. The background of a derelict church reflects the feeling and mood of the piece.

Further exploration of darker themes brings Derek’s fascination with one of the most timeless and haunting Nightmare paintings by Henry Fuseli. Although having a different concept, also very Gothic and Freudian, Derek’s Monstrous Deception

Monstrous Deception - tribute to Nightmares by Henry Fuseli. WithBrandy Sapala, Derek as the monster, and Callum Shandley as the mirror reflection.

Monstrous Deception – tribute to Nightmares by Henry Fuseli. With Brandy Sapala, Derek as the monster, and Callum Shandley as the mirror reflection.

is equally scary. Like in Fuseli’s painting, the scene is made of gradual realizations; we need time to fully understand the horror. The young man kissing the girl is only a pretender. In fact, he is this shady monster-like creature who stares at us from darkness. His facial expression implies his annoyance with viewers for discovering his deception, while the lady on front of him seems to be unaware of it, falling into his trap. The scene is dramatically timed, slowly unfolding to show us additional, perhaps intentionally hidden details. Only 27 years after Fuseli painted his last version of the story, Mary Shelley wrote the famous piece of Gothic literature – Frankenstein.

Creating interaction and a narrative story in a similar way to paintings is yet another challenge. Old canvasses often have symbolic details and secondary interactions or meanings, which can be discovered as you take time to study a painting. Such multi-level dynamics require not only a fine planning and preparation, but also good acting skills of all the models, great concentration during the shoot and lots of patience. Many of my ready images are actually combined from best parts of several shots, like a jigsaw puzzle assembled of the most attractive elements picked from the whole session. Finely painted flying cherubs, angels, or special effects dazzling us on old masterpieces, require much planning and meticulous photo editing and I wish I could just paint them on my photos instead.”

Brown Over Green - Still Life. A tribute to paintings by Chardin.

Brown Over Green – Still Life. A tribute to paintings by Chardin.

Derek’s still life image Green Over Brown brings a different mood. Without the drama of other photographs in this series, it depicts a simple world of austerity and calm. You almost need to slow yourself down to appreciate it. Inspired by masters of still life, especially Chardin and Spanish “bodegon” painters, it shows the beauty of everyday objects that surround us. The items portrayed were selected not for their allegorical vanitas meaning but for their shapes, textures and colors. The objects are gradually emerging from the subtly toned background.

Pygmalion - a tribute to Jean Gerome, one of Derek's favourite old masters. Xevv McModel and Brandon L. - models, makeup/body paint by Aleta Eliasen, light consultant - Jon Hoadley.

Pygmalion – a tribute to Jean Gerome, one of Derek’s favourite old masters.
Xevv McModel and Brandon L. – models, makeup/body paint by Aleta Eliasen, light consultant – Jon Hoadley.

Jean-Leon Gerome, the prominent artist of Orientalism movement, was a keen follower of photography and adopted this new media for his work. He was an indefatigable traveller to the Middle East, frequently accompanied by a photographer. Gerome’s technique was of impeccable precision, and some of his paintings have almost visual reality and crispness of Photorealism. Derek’s Pygmalion drew inspiration from Gerome’s versions of the mythological story of Pygmalion, an artist who fell in love with the sculpture he created. The image depicts the moment when the sculpture of Galatea is brought to life by Pygmalion’s kiss.

For me, masterpiece paintings are the source of limitless inspiration. No matter how fancy our digital imaging will get, old canvasses will never stop thrilling us” – says Derek. Photographing architecture and landscape foran everyday living, I return to my world of art images like to my sanctuary, and I treasure every moment of this work. Now, with my art winning medals, getting internationally exhibited and sold, it gives me even more motivation than ever to continue.”

by Margaret Gajek, MA, writer, researcher, art historian, co-founder of Ozone Zone Books


All images copyright Derek Galon. Please respect our copyright. Thank you.

Derek’s art prints (limited editions and open editions) are available directly by contacting him at:
derek (at) ozonezonebooks.com  or from the Gallery Vibrante.Thank you, until next time – we hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, please FOLLOW us, click SHARE and show it to your friends.

Taken By Angels - Derek Galon's more contemporary, light-hearted and humourous image taking from old canvas masters.  With Michael Ward, Sharon Ace, Aleta Eliasen, Karissa T. and Jen Wright - models. Makeup - Aleta Eliasen.

Taken By Angels – Derek Galon’s more contemporary, light-hearted and humourous image taking from old canvas masters. With Michael Ward, Sharon Ace, Aleta Eliasen, Karissa T. and Jen Wright – models. Makeup – Aleta Eliasen.

Among the Ancient Gods (an art photo shoot)

Post contains some fine art nudity [partial nudity]. Be warned. 18+ only).
After all the editing work on the book “Bequia – the Feast of Colours”, I needed to unwind. The book went off to our printers, and me – as I often do in such moments – I decided for an art shoot. Such shoots where I can let my fantasy loose, help me bring back my balance and recover energy. As it happened, my friend and fantastic artists’ model, Michael Ward, had just recently suggested to shoot an image based on Greek and Roman mythology.

He had a concept for a large, festive scene, and I myself had already been thinking for a while of shooting a large group of art models. Such a shoot would bring new challenges and experience, it would expand my skills.

Pan and Psyche

Pan and Psyche

I listened to Michael’s story; a feast of Bacchus and his companions – some familiar antique gods and goddesses, perhaps Pan with his half-man, half-goat, panting presence… And definitely with Ceres – the Rubensesque, full-bodied goddess of fertility. These ideas began to roll in my head, and gradually I visualized the whole scene. Yes, it would be a festive group drinking wine, flirting and having fun (with Pan’s presence insinuating a note of erotic energy on the set). I decided to keep it in the style of old paintings such as canvases by Titian or Caravaggio, and so a Cupid seemed a nice extra touch. Light would be used scarcely, highlighting the most important parts of the composition, but letting the less important elements drown in darkness.

Margaret, being an art historian, quickly suggested some fine details for the image. Oranges and grapes, some primitive musical instruments, flowery wreaths. Now the image was fully developed in my head.

photographing Cupid

photographing Cupid

The whole shoot preparation unfolded under a lucky star – fantastic art photographer Jon Hoadley, a real master of studio light, offered his assistance, and Michael was able to get another professional arts model – Kim Brouseau, to impersonate Ceres. After booking all the other models, we went with Michael to Disguise The Limit costume rentals to find some props. Some models also helped with props – it was truly a nice team work.

Jon Hoadley contemplates Zen of Perfect Lighting

Jon Hoadley contemplates Zen of Perfect Lighting

When the day came – after setting the studio stage – we were ready to shoot.While Aleta Eliasen, my friend and fine makeup artist, prepared models, Jon presented me with his idea of lighting. It was perfect, and after some small tweaks and test shots, I was totally happy with it. The light seemed natural, toned in one part with warmth of a remote bonfire. While most important part of composition was lit rather brightly, the light softly blended down, to fade into almost complete darkness of the background.

We did some solo, duo, and trio test shots – which were so nice that I kept them as separate images for this series. Next, we had to shoot the Cupid. It was fun – if not really for the model – at least for those watching. Shooting Cupid separately from the rest of the group allowed me to freely put it in the best spot later, using Photoshop.

One of test shots...

One of test shots…

We were ready for the main scene, and it was sheer fun! The idea suggested by Margaret, to have cross-linked interaction between various persons, connecting the front group with the back, worked really well. Everyone got their particular tasks, and we went ahead photographing.

I used my Nikon D800 on a tripod, to keep the same selected crop, when capturing various poses and models’ expressions. Tethering it all using fantastic software ControlMyNikon proved to be of real advantage. Every smallest detail was controllable, the models had a way of seeing themselves perform, and I could quickly review all the shoots.

The scene we created needed two extra persons – a woman and a man. Aleta, our makeup artist, graciously decided to help, and turned herself into an attractive partner of Pan. I quickly decided to help too, and transferred myself into some drunk, rough character in the background. I bet all the models had fun seeing me running around half-naked, in a turban, back and forth between back of the scene and the camera set in front!

All in all – it was a very demanding project and a real challenge on many levels. Photoshopping it in the style of traditional paintings was another part of this fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it. And here it is – the final image “Pan, Bacchus and Ceres” having a good time with their guests. While trying to keep it in line with the old paintings, we loosened it up here and there with subtle additions of drinking glass goblets and an impressive glass bottle.

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.
All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking Dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

I hope you enjoy this image. If you do – the purpose of it all has been served!

Cheers!
Derek

If you enjoy this story, please SHARE it with friends, and FOLLOW this blog to get notifications on further posts.

All photographs copyright Derek Galon, please respect the copyright.
This image “Pan, Bacchus and Ceres” can be ordered as a limited edition signed print from Photo Art Gallery Vibrante, or as a smaller, open edition print from 1X.com

You can also see it in bigger size on 1X.
A separate story on art of Jon Hoadley was posted here.
An earlier story on working with Michael Ward (Knight of Might) was posted here.
My review of ControlMyNikon is here.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: