Monday, October 20, 2014

Sculpting And Painting With Paper

I've been experimenting with paper arts and crafts for a long while, but lately I've felt like testing its limits, and making paper into more than just paper. I love the general medium because I can work with items from my recycling container, a couple discarded art magazines from the state library and an out of date encyclopedia. Not only are supplies cheap, but I'm reducing the amount of items (though small) that go into the landfill every year. I know, I'm taking items of of my recycle container, but lets be frank, not all of the items you put in "Big Blue" end up being recycled into pretty new materials. Its always better to reuse first, am i right?

I love creating fictional scenes, natural landscapes or objects out of these discarded materials. Its almost surreal transforming an old encyclopedia article about electronic engineering into a magical grassy landscape. Its these idiosyncrasies that keep flooding me with more and more ideas for projects. Currently I'm working on a free standing tree on a hill made entirely of rolled magazines and paper I made in a blender. I have ideas for combining broken electronics and paper, such as copper wiring and old cameras to make dioramas, with paper sculpting bring the pieces to life. Combining paper arts and discarded items into larger pieces, or integrating paper and sculpting into paintings has opened a whole new world of possibilities.

"Cattails" by Lisa Miller, 2014 - discarded books, magazines & acrylic paints, glue
"Siamese With Yarn" by Lisa Miller, 2014 - discarded book pages, acrylics

"Spaceship" -  by Lisa Miller, 2014 - discarded book pages, acrylics, glitter, glue

To follow more of my art, please follow my Tumblr page: Nature VS Robots

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Places To Take Your Own Family Portraits In Salem, Oregon

The Best Places To Take Your Own Family Portraits In Salem Oregon

or How to Avoid Bokeh Roulette

Saturday afternoon I was asked what the best places to take your own family photos in Salem were. I thought about where I would go if I were going on a photo shoot for a family portrait in early Fall and mentioned places with gorgeous trees and warm scenery. I suggested a few places; a couple that are a 15 minute drive outside of town but are gorgeous this time of year and my two go-to parks for central Salem photographic beauty, Deepwood and Bush Park. Then I went out to do some shooting myself and that's when I realized my mistake.

I drove out to Bush Park, staying on the NE corner, near Deepwood, and then crossing over into Deepwood Estate. I'm a member of Deepwood, like many other Salem photographers. It is my favorite place in Salem to take photos, hands down. The only downside is, it is everyone else's favorite spot too. When you go, a photo shoot turns into a game of "stay out of each others background." Or Bokeh Roulette, as I like to call it.

I was able to get some decent shots, but it wasn't the same as having the park to yourself, as I often do, on a weekday afternoon. However, if you are on a shoot with someone who has a 9 to 5, or even 3 to midnight M-F job, a weekday afternoon isn't an easy option. So after the stress of my favorite Salem parks, it was time to think outside the park box.

Here are the places that thinking outside of the box took me, plus some other potential family portrait ideas:

1. State St. - On one side is Willamette University's beautiful campus, on the other side is Wilson Park and the Capitol. There can be a few people here, but the good news is there are so many trees, plants, statues, brick walls, and waterways that you are sure to find a backdrop that is people free.
And if the university or government buildings look too foreboding for a family photo, aim for a fluffy sequoia tree or Mill Stream with its adorable ducks as the background. Or, wait until spring for the flowers to bloom. There is never a bad season (except maybe Winter) to take photos here because of the varied plants and trees and with two campuses to choose from you will not run out of backdrops for your photos.

2. Pringle Park - If you are at Deepwood and Bush Park and having no luck, head on over to Pringle Park for some peace and quiet (as long as a Frisbee game is not on). This little green space is near the hospital and it is conveniently situated by a trail that goes into downtown for further exploration. The park itself, is filled with lush greenery and is inset by lovely concrete bridge work from an earlier decade and Pringle Creek gently flows from downtown to the side of the park and eventually to Deepwood Estate.

3. Downtown Murals - There are beautiful green spaces in Salem & Keizer everywhere if you just know where to look. But what if you want color and a city feel to your photos? My second favorite place in Salem to photograph is downtown, and not just for street photography. Each alley-way has new and old art formally and informally installed as well as beautiful vines creeping up the sides of vintage brick walls. I remember using the vines in high school for practicing portrait photography. Find an alley-way you like, be aware of service vehicles, and shoot away. Each alley is unique. Pick one that best expresses your family's style.

honorable mentions.... Ankeny NWR View Point - Take Liberty all the way out South until you reach Ankeny Hill Rd (stay left for hill view, straight for wetlands) HILL VIEW: There is a view point just up the hill, with a giant Oak tree  (boo! it died) , (still) beautiful views and light. WETLANDS: There are several spots on Liberty and nearby roads with access to the wetlands area. On the left, coming from Salem, is the main wetlands lot.
I highly recommend timing your photo shoot for an hour to two hours before sunset on a day with low haze/dust and a couple clouds in the sky. You will not be disappointed.
Joryville County Park - is a beautiful nature hike, with many scenic areas to take small group photos both at the bottom of the hill and at the top. Directions: 14 miles out Liberty Road, then two miles to Jory Road, then one mile west to park entrance
Willamette Mission State Park - Is an expansive, but beautiful park out past Keizer on the Willamette River. It costs $5 for the day, but if you bring a picnic lunch and spend sometime exploring, it is well worth the cost. There are many beautiful areas to take photos. My favorites are the tree groves.

Related articles...

Salem, Oregon's Places To Photograph

Sun Rays
Bush's Pasture Park, Salem, Oregon - photo by Lisa Miller