Artist Masterclass is a series of conversations between myself and visual artist Sara Bloem.
CL: So how did the photo shoot go this past week?
SB: It felt so legit. The models were really fantastic people, everything went pretty efficiently, and I had snacks and a heater. Definitely felt like a professional one-woman operation. And I’m really thrilled with the material I got!
CL: I would be very excited, you got some really gorgeous shots. I think having all three models at once was the way to go, there are some interesting interactions between the models. The images definitely had an atmosphere to them which I think will greatly contribute to the final pieces.
SB: Yes, having the models interact more with each other was a spontaneous decision that came midway through the shoot. I actually wish I had done that earlier, but on the other hand, the only reason I thought of it was because all three models were there together. So yes, I think the smartest decision wound up being having them all there simultaneously.
CL: The sense of depth is so much more palpable when you have more than one figure in a scene. I especially like the shots where the models are overlapping each other, they worked out beautifully.
SB: I think so too! It creates more of a sense of community, rather than just having the models hanging out separately, like I just put them like stickers into the room.
CL: I’m super psyched for you, doesn’t everything feel so concrete now? It’s like you actually have something you can hold onto, instead of some abstract idea floating around in your head
SB: Yes! I think the problem now is almost that, inspired by the photos, there are almost too many directions I feel like I could go now. There are so many things that attract me in the photos, like the overlapping, and the power dynamics of the models interacting with each other. In the last two sessions I had them “help” each other get dressed. Sometimes the shapes of light and dark on their forms get quite abstract and I like that too.
CL: The shapes are stunning, and the clothing is lovely too.
SB: I also planned on collaging in Photoshop, which I will still do, but there’s so much already going on. I’m torn; I feel like I have to choose between focusing on the lovely abstract shapes that are happening with the clothing, or the interactions, or the collaging. I guess I really don’t have to choose, but it’s just so overwhelming and exciting.
CL: I would simply try all of those approaches! A little bit of this, a little bit of that, by actually doing each of those approaches you’ll figure it out. I also find that sometimes what I think is a great idea in my head isn’t actually a good idea in reality when I realize it. I think it will work itself out, just give everything a shot. Plus, who says you can’t do the abstract shapes and the interactions together? Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? These are very exciting compositions, I think they are by far your most ambitious pieces.
SB: You’re right, I just need to work it out more on paper. I wasn’t planning on taking my compositions directly from the photographs as they are now but taking different groups of figures and making collaging together an environment?
CL: That’s good, the less you can approach things verbatim, the better. I think it sounds like a great approach, you’ll be able to process and manipulate things more, which is exactly what you want to do with reference photographs. The further you can get from the references, the better. Manipulate, manipulate!
I think you’re doing so well. I feel like I’ve had so many former students contact me who are having a really hard time. I have two former students who contacted me recently, they’re struggling with depression, having no money, they don’t have an active studio practice, and had to move back in with their parents. You’re totally doing it on your own.
SB: Honestly though, I am so happy that I can check in with you on a regular basis. Without these nudges I don’t know if I’d be doing the exact same things.
Conversation #4: Taking Direction
Conversation #3: Preparations
Conversation #2: Logistics
Conversation #1: Solidity