Looking Down The Path, I Knew It Wanted Me To Come Closer…

Copyright - Grant Waddell

I have always had a love affair with everything that wasn’t the city. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of city life – being able to get a six pack or jug of milk on a moments notice. But the escape is what I have always loved. As a child, I spent hours by myself in the woods feeling a deep contentment and inner calm that most children today don’t get to experience. I attribute this to my father, who loved the outdoors as well – camping, skiing, canoeing and small hikes.I was always off into the deep woods with an inner confidence and love that pervaded my being. At peace by myself – never lonely as I had the best friend I could have ever found.

This is where my creativity was nurtured. My mind was free to wander and dream. Walk among the trees, look up in awe at the mountains, the warm sunlight and the sounds of the wind and birds helped create visions that made me smile as I lay on my back looking up into the canopy.

But then things changed…

There was a point in the last few years where my life as I had known it collapsed out from under me. I fell hard. And when I came to metaphorically, I had lost that love and that security. Going to the mountains brought a sad feeling and as you can imagine, brought  unbelievable internal conflict. What the hell! I can still feel the openness, a yearning for the connection, but at the same time, a smothering pain that draws off the memories off a different time.

Creativity, unfortunately vanished to sadness and a deep depression that I never thought I would survive.

Up Heart Creek

What I was surprised at, was how I still felt the pull. 

Amazingly, I was compelled to go out again and again, to paint, walk, write, take pictures, or lay in a hammock and read. Like an old friend who takes your hand and says “everything is going to be ok, you can trust me”.

Trust now, is something I find elusive. But day by day, those I love most will still be there, coaxing me forward, those who know the deepest parts of my story, stand beside me. My defences are slowly coming down. My connection to my friends, family and the natural world are deepening thank God. I know it will take time, patience and a practice of active engagement to wear away the sharp edges of a story that will always be there. To allow myself to open up and allow an old friend back inside.

Sam Train Tracks

As an artist who has always loved the the spiritual nature of the landscape, I have a ways to go with my dear companion – to peel away this strange sadness and feel that innocence I felt not so long ago. I just have to keep moving forward. To keep painting, writing, and taking pictures.

Art, in whatever shape it takes will be the way I honour my relationships, regain the trust in myself and those things closest to me and make each day and each creation something I can be proud of and I can proudly say that after 28 years, I have started painting again. I am on my way!

The Farm

Playing around with 3D…

Modelled a bit of PVC pipe for a different project and was just fooling around with lighting etc. Always amazed at how similar these programs are to actual studio photography. For most, if not every tool I use in the studio, there are digital versions in the software. It makes lighting something pretty intuitive. very steep learning curve though!

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 2.10.07 PM Pipe From Above

Painting Retreat…

“Thats a thickener Grant, not a thinner” – Doug Swinton.

These were the words I needed to hear obviously, and after tackling my first painting from a photo Doug provided, it became pretty apparent that this was where I was messing up. I realized, that when I was painting before the long 28 year drought, I only ever used Turpentine, which is a thinner. When I decided to get back into painting last year, I bought all new supplies and was told to use Walnut Oil and other mediums like that to get the consistency the way I wanted it. So when I was trying to thin the paint, I was actually thickening it and well, making a goopy mess that didn’t behave the way I remembered at all. The painting that I blogged about back in November never made it past the initial first color pass. With a large “X” through it, it ended up in the garbage.

So Doug gave me a small 3″sq pic to paint and I had to complete it in 20min. Here’s what I came up with…

20 Min Study

I felt really good about it and Doug took and placed it in a frame and put it on the wall which is one of the ways he likes to show his students work to the others. Success!

Ok, then onto the next which was from one of my pics up in Sunshine Meadows. This one I did in about an hour.

Sunshine Meadows

Then this one inspired by another photo but I decided I wanted to add the dark drama to it.

Morning Light

And finally this one which was of the same creek but looking in a different direction. And done with a completely different color palette.

Elbow Lake CreekThe first three done on the first day and the last one done on the second.

Overall, I’m shocked at how fast it seemed to come back and how photography and Photoshop has had such an affect on the way I see and compose and problem solve.

I just need to start to gain a better understanding of techniques and particular behaviours of oils. A weekend with some great people, a great instructor and some much needed personal success.

Snoopy, and the Red Baron…

See the picture below…

When I was eight years old, I sat at the 1971 Arborite kitchen table, gold flecks on white with a two inch chrome edging. The chair I sat on was red naugahyde  with chrome tubular legs. My knees bent, sitting on my feet for extra height. A small 12″ television sat on the back edge of the table against the wall and Spider Man was on. The antenna pulled out and tipped towards the dishwasher on wheels that you hooked up to the tap. All of this over a stylish green flat weave carpet.

My mom had asked me to write Nana and Uncle Kieth a nice note which we did monthly and this time, I decided to tell them a story about Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Red Baron. I loved Charlie brown and Snoopy. How the Red Baron got in there, I’m not entirely sure. I gave it to my mom and headed out to play. This is the last I saw of it for 20 years.

I guess my uncle saw something in this picture that most didn’t. He took and carefully mounted, framed and hung it on the wall of his study soon after he got it. I didn’t see it till I visited Vancouver when I was 28. You could imagine my shock and surprise. He said to me he knew at that moment, that I was destined to have a career based on being creative. That he could sense the raw creativity that was within me. This was just after I graduated from ACAD in Calgary and moved to Vancouver to start my new life as a photographer.

This picture stayed on his wall for the next 12 years until he passed away from cancer and this framed picture from deep in my past, was one of the gifts I received and cherished as a birthplace for this long  and rewarding journey.

Thank you Uncle Kieth, for having faith in me and recognizing something long before anyone else could even imagine where I would be so many years later. I love and miss you.

In case you can’t read it…

Snoopy and the Red Baron

one day snoopy was sleeping wene he heard a noise. he said oh good grief weare under attacc. man the machine gun

man everything, then snoopy with out taking off his

pajamas. ran to his plane, and took off then

he was air born. then not noing that he had

got 60 belets in his airplane, and smoke coming

out of the back. he ceped on shooting and boom,

he crashed, right in his own backyard. he

woke and said Help Help. charlei came running out what

the matter thenjiusdkd

snoopy

am dead

cb

good greaf.

[Help Help] [am dead]

[what the matter] [good greif]

Snoopy and the Red Baron

Clarity…

Solid grounds not so solid. A false sense of safety gives rise to beliefs and expectations not supported.

You run and, with reckless abandon, play loose with your life because it will never happen to you. Until…

It’s completely unexpected. You never really see it coming. Never fully realize whats at work, flowing swiftly and powerfully and smooth. Eroding silently, the ground you stand on. Unseen…

Ripped from light, darkness pulls fast from below and all you’ve built drops into the blackest part of who you are. Falling…

This unwanted transformation is, just maybe……………… exactly what you need.

Because, as you lay in the dark amidst what remains, you become aware of the light that shines down into where you are, and looking up, eyes fixed, you see a bit of clear blue clarity above, that beckons you out…

to a new beginning.

The Train Part One…

Concept and Initial Lighting Direction

It started with an idea and an initial pencil sketch (which went missing) of a train chugging up a mountain side about to go over a trestle bridge. I thought it would be a great exercise to combine traditional photography of practical elements and 3D in a composite that would push my comfort zone as it were. So after visualizing what I wanted it to look like, I created a very rough model and landscape/terrain in my 3D software to see where the best realistic lighting would be (image below). I didn’t want the train to be in full sun because I wanted the lights and steam to be visible. So I placed the “sun” peeking over the other side of the valley so it’s shadow would cast just above the train.

B&W POV 2 Light test copy

Gathering the Elements

Next was gathering the elements to make the landscape that the train would be running up. Several trips out to shoot various cliffs, trees, and skies to add to the library and ultimately to the final image.

Cliffs 0015

Skies 0005

Cliffs 0043

The Train…

The train was a scale model I rented from a local model train shop. I shot it in studio in several sections since the Depth of Field was unable to hold through the length of the model. I took each image into PS to create one seamless train in perfect focus from front to back.

Model Train

The next element to create was the trestle in 3D and using the virtual camera, find the correct camera angle to match the position of the train and to blend it into the created mountainside. The rendered trestle looked like this…

TextureedC5 copy

And then what it looked like dropped into the evolving composite…

Train Sketch 2 copy

Next up (tomorrow) will be the final touches. Add the train and all the effects such as steam etc. Finesse other compositional elements and fine tune.