I hope your summer has been a pleasant one so far. Here in the northwoods we've had a very green and coolish summer due to a lot of extra rain, but the last week or so has been unusually hot, and humid. Hard to work outdoors when the air is so stifling and the mosquitoes are (still) so plentiful!
I wanted to share a little inside peek at what sometimes goes into my Faerie House images like the ones on my Amber Lotus 2016 wall calendar. Because the calendars are a celebration of the best pieces of my work, sometimes a lot of trial and error has to go into creating these images. As my readers know, sometimes I make a piece on-site with materials I bring or find at the location. But for some creations I will make a faerie house (or parts of it) in my studio and then go out into Nature and finish it with "landscaping" and other details. Then I take my photos and if I can, I'll leave the piece where it is for the Faeries to enjoy if, and only if, the house was made with no materials that would be harmful to the environment (such as hot glue).
But sometimes things don't unfold that simply. Here is an example of what happened recently. I had an inspiration last year for a little stone cottage type house that I had wanted to make. I built some of the complicated bits in the studio (the door in the central tower, windows and roof structures) with the plan that I would build the rest of the stone house on site. This house was rather small however and several attempts to finish it in the field ended in less than desirable results. No problem. I went back to the studio with the pieces AND a bucket of stones and proceeded to make the house I had in mind only this time under more controlled conditions.
My goal was the then bring the house out and shoot it in a great spot I had found in a garden nearby, under a clump of Maidenhair ferns. I completed the house enough to do a test to see if it was going to work.
I also was concerned about the brown leaves showing behind the fern stems. When the sun did come out they were very bright and distracting. So there were several things that needed improvement.
I had another little tower addition that I brought out and put in place to extend the central tower a bit to give it a little more height in the middle. I also brought in more Hosta blooms to try and diminish the brighter sunlight section that was behind the ferns. Some bright vines were also added since the space was so dark and I hoped it would all be an acceptable composition now.
That worked a little better but still I was not happy. I realized that the added tower/room did not "fit" architecturally with the design of the main house as well as I had hoped. I also realized that the whole piece would look much better if I extended the central tower roof up to a coned peak and added a small port-hole window. I also wanted to add a bit more subtle sparkle if I could...the windows needed curtains I decided. Back to the studio I went!
More days and rain went by and my modifications were now complete. I changed the entrance feature to give it a bit more drama and sweep. I added a pointed, round roof to the central tower(with the porthole window as I had wanted). I also installed shimmery curtains that had a bit of sparkle to them. I used inverted poppy pods as "urns" that I planned would hold a bloom for a faerie-sized topiary to flank the new entrance.
I set the house out in the same spot once more and tested out the whole composition. I liked this look much better and set about completing the "landscaping". This time however, there were different flowers in bloom in the garden and no Hostas were left (they finished their blooming very quickly this year) so I selected what was on hand. Then I waited and waited for the sun, again (I wait for the sun a LOT to get these images!). This time, because the angle was slightly lower (it being later in the year) it tracked differently thru the tree canopy. A lovely bit of gentle spotlighting then occurred and I was able to get several good images before the sun tucked in behind the leaves (and plunged the house into shadows) once more.
So, to para-phrase Andy Goldsworthy: all this effort goes into a piece to make it look effortless!
Every house has a similar "story" behind it. I wish I could share them all. But for now, I hope this gives you a glimpse as to how these little creations sometimes have quite a bit of trial and error behind them.
Thanks for reading!