Most creative projects begin with a launch and end with a finish that is well defined, like sturdy bookends. The renderings are usually planned for, created, delivered and the purpose is served. Done! But this collaborative photoshoot with Sarah Jane and multi-media/make-up artist, Zach Saen, was different. It was a game changer for me as a creative. I fondly refer to this shoot as “the gift that keeps on giving”.
Let’s roll back a few years.
I was once a biologist, who used photography as part of my everyday 9 to 5 gig. In the decade I spent “on the bench”, the 1990’s, I navigated the transition from using analog (35mm and Polaroid) to today’s digital format. I remember nervously handling one of two new Fujix Nikon digital cameras in the lab. Each camera cost about $20k at the time, weighing about as much as a newborn baby and just as awkward in grip!
As I started moonlighting on the weekends as a painter, I began expanding my photography use by capturing images for my artwork in 35mm. By the 2010’s, I was able to purchase my first digital camera, the one I used for this shoot, a Canon 6D. One thing led to the next, and I found myself being asked to shoot professional headshots, candids at friend’s gatherings, and dramatic figurative and still life shots for commissioned paintings.
In moving from shooting practical photography in science, to shots for making art, I felt a growing passion. Just as deeply as with my painting. I soon noticed how the use of one medium influenced and informed the process of the other. They now move with each other throughout the creative process in my work. This dazzling dance itself never ceases to set my senses on fire.
Arriving back to nowadays… When Sarah Jane asked me to be one of the photographers on this multi-purpose shoot, I immediately told her I was in.
Her main goal was to document her hard work on her post-pregnancy body building project. She wanted some sexy shots of herself through a visual concept that she designed. She also wanted to get promotional shots and video of hair and nails for the salon she works in (Vice Salon), and some product shots for other local creative merchants. My job was literally to show up and capture her with visual concepts already assembled. She had planned them by herself, and then enlisted fellow salon artists for hair, make-up and nails.
Sarah Jane is my sister, (as in real bio family Sis, and yes, we have lots of redheads!), but she is also a friend, a confidante, a muse, and one of the most creative humans I know.
You know the kind of human that can play guitar, write songs, form her own band, perform, sing, record, paint, design, run a household, while mothering two kids, ALL at the same time? When a multi-talented genius asks you to be their photographer, you jump. Your enthusiasm even drives you to beg your bored teenager to assist you in holding up reflector discs. But something unexpected happened. What took me off guard was loving the shoot so much, that it would expand my creative focus to include photography. Or that I would create a whole new art series!
But here I did and here I am. A painter turned photographer. Kinda…
It’s just that while I have picked up photography, I can’t stop painting. It’s as if these two mediums have become lovers, bound at the hip, always touching each other.
Here is how their dance together unfolded… As I reviewed and edited Sarah Jane’s photos, being a painter, I could see a lot of the shots as paintings in my mind’s eye. I was so excited over them, that I went straight to work on planning a painting from one of the shots.
Because the vibe of the shot had a vintage 70’s feeling to it, with the long flowing hair and striped bathing suited butt, I realized that vintage vibe meets modern world, meets impressionism, was where I wanted to go with this piece, as it blends a lot of stylistic elements I love.
I immediately started imagining that I could create a series of similarly styled works, using myself and others as the figures. They could all be a sort of “double exposure”, photography shots rendered in paint, but also released as art reproductions (archival prints of the paintings and/or prints of the photographs).
From the time I created this painting (in Winter of 2019), it took me this whole last year of COVID-19 to find a trusted and personable lab to produce the quality, archival art prints for this one. (Photolaboratory in Berkeley!)
I named the piece “Changing Tide” because even as I painted it, I felt a huge shift in my direction and a sharpening in my focus and voice as an artist.
It has taken me several years from when I did this shoot to reach a point where I have accepted my new creative fate. The transformation wasn’t fast or overnight. But the buzzing synergy of hive minds working together, mixed with the prickling sensory elements of the ocean, sun, wind and sand, informed my body. It planted a new seed. And like many other neurodivergent folks, it just took a few beats for that information to be fully processed in my brain, integrated throughout my being and finally take root. We kind of work on our own timelines that way. 🙂
I am deeply grateful these days as I release my new edition of “Changing Tide” prints, start the new art series, Double Exposure, and debut my new focus on photography (with some paint!), on my new website www.casslouise.com. I am excited to offer my clients this hybridized experience of adding a custom painting to their photography shoot. Find this customized “Shoot and Paint Package” on my Services page.
Thank you to Sarah Jane, Zach Saen and the other sweet humans in my life who keep showing up, kicking my ass and cheering me on. Their encouragement has made this arrival possible and journey *never boring*. Here’s to our changing tides, living on our own timelines, and making a creative process work!
The Changing Tide” (Double Exposure Series) Diptych Oil Painting
Vibrant shades of pink meet the subtle blue-greys of the ocean in this two-piece oil painting of a red-haired woman running in the sand underneath a pier. Painted on two upcycled solid masonite panels from a remodeled 1970’s building in the California Silicon Valley.
The Changing Tide” (Double Exposure Series) Diptych Print
Vibrant shades of pink meet the subtle blue-greys of the ocean in this two-piece (diptych) fine art reproduction of the original oil painting. A red-haired woman runs in the sand underneath a pier.