Sunday, April 12, 2015

Diversions & Distractions

This is the front of the notecard that arrived in my mailbox last week. Isn't it the loveliest thing for my god daughter to send my way and cheer my day? No artist attribution on this Tender Hearts Greetings card but it reminds me of paper collage. But it could equally be rendered in fabric applique. I particularly like the angling spirals of steam.

I've been relaxing in my deadline-less days, playing catch-up on all those things one sets aside when focused on completing a major task in a limited amount of time. It's reset mode when I look around to remember what was happening before and where I thought I was going after. And a time when I can indulge in a few diversions and distractions, some worthy of sharing. How about some quotations from an The Artists Magazine July/August 2104 interview with illustrator David Macaulay?

"You piece this thing together and every point of focus is an opportunity for discovery, for trying something new, or actually rediscovering something you did years ago that worked well then and would work well here, so it's not as if you're inventing new stuff; you just want to approach the questions with freshness even if the answer you end up choosing is actually quite familiar and comfortable. If you approach the question with a kind of openness, you know it's still the right choice even if it's not new to you."

This struck a chord because of my recent digging out of a group of journal quilts from 2007. There were two techniques used over and over that I haven't used for quite a while, long enough that I'd forgotten how much a part of my work they were at that time. One might say I'd moved on, outgrown them, headed in a different direction, but instead, I wondered why I'd strayed from them and why I couldn't pick them up again to use to great advantage. Macaulay's words told me I certainly could and possibly should.

Near the end of the interview, he made this startling observation about photography - at least startling to me, turning the usual comparison between drawing and photography on its head a bit:

"Drawing is the way to get behind things. A photograph is a crude representation; it might contain detail, but it won't help me or the reader understand the subject matter."

Since sketching is moving its way up my list of priorities as I find myself taking fewer photographs, this was an interesting thing to run across. Also makes me rethink my use of photo references which I have a tendency to stick too closely to if I'm not careful.

Enough "deep thought" - time to send you down a rabbit hole if you so desire and if you use Firefox as your browser. I ran across an add-on called Copyright Infringement Finder. It shows up as an option when you right-click a photo and sends Google image search into high gear, theoretically to track down websites using that image. It was an amusing way to spend some time, but it proved that there are severe limitations with search engines. I clicked on photos of my finished quilts as shown on my blog and many times Google did not list that link. Other times it might list someone else's blog link but I couldn't find my image there having been sent to the blog site and not a specific post. It did pick up two of my quilts being pinned in Pinterest. I already knew my Celtic Lone Star had multiple pins there - now I know the number of pins is well over a hundred. The other quilt, Brilliance of the Night Sky, had a single pin. Made me feel good that at least one of my art quilts caught someone's eye.

The search results also show "visually similar images" which is where the weakness really shows up. I gather it's mostly picking up the color palette more than image, many of the ones I tried showing me images looking a lot like oriental rugs.  In the example above, I'd say none of the "similar" images look similar at all except in color.

For one of my Wine Dark Sea quilts, there were a few that tried to match the squiggles in some way. Clicking through pulled up image after image, even a few patchwork quilt ones.

When I tried one of my Azalea Mosaic quilts, it sent me to a page full of actual mosaic tile options. For my fountain wall, it recognized it as a stone wall, as you can see in the above picture. I suppose that should please me as that's the effect I was going for!

This is the one that amused me the most. My Moon over Pend Oreille Lake brought up only images of blue jeans pockets.

To test it further, I had it search on a quilt I made from a book, following the pattern pretty closely and it didn't pull up any images even remotely close. No one else has made that quilt and posted it to the web, nor images of it from its book? I also tried my quilt inspired by a famous painting that I know is on the web, my version uncomfortably close to the original. Again, nothing close. Because I am obsessive about these things, I tried searching on the image of the actual painting as shown on my blog. Of the over 400 hits Google picked up, my blog post was not among them. Neither did my quilt show up in the "similar" images, though other riffs on the painting did. So I'm not sure how helpful this add-on truly would be in tracking down culprits infringing on your copyright. But I could see how looking through the "similar" images might give you inspiration and some new ideas - as long as you don't actually copy them. 


Michele Matucheski said...

Very interesting post, Sheila! Enjoy your time of no deadlines. Breathe easy and do what you're called to do, not what you have to do. ;-)
I'll have to try that Firefox add-on. Too bad it's only for FireFox. I'd like to have a tool like that for work purposes, too--but that's another story. I get that it has limitations--but I suspect it will get better as more programmers build the right stuff into it.

Michele Matucheski said...

I get the quote about drawing vs. photography. When you draw something, you really have to study it, and see it in a different way than you do with a snapshot. Still--I don't have the patience to draw most of the time, and mostly don't like what I see (lop-sided, out of proportion) I know it just takes practice in order to get better, but I'll leave that for another era.
And just watch your work at it instead!

Michele Matucheski said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Living to work - working to live said...

Sheila - great post. Thanks for that, and that gadget thingy sounds fascinating, if a little frustrating.

Lucia Sasaki said...

Hi Sheila!
How good to get news from you, and good news!
Thanks for share the picture of the card you got from your... hummm... relative? It is beautiful, it is a pitty that it isn't credited.
I guess that this author you cited is right about photos and drawings but in my case I take pictures of my trees, flowers, cats and butterflies on the run. No time for drawing here.
Thanks for updating!

Chris said...

Interesting add on for firefox. I found some of the same frustrations that you did. In addition I love how people pin and use your images on their blog and give you no credit. Mostly the things were pins and some gave me credit some did not. I guess a watermark would be a good idea for future images of my work. The biggest one pinned was my cardinal.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Glad you all found this interesting/amusing. ;-)

Lucia, I believe afilhada is what you would call my relationship to the person who sent me the notecard if I can trust the computer translator). So not a relative by blood but someone I've taken the responsibility for as if she were my own daughter.