Experimenting with photography in Siouxland, Sioux City

15 Jan

It’s been a few years since I made time to sit down and do a little experimentation with my photography. And I am not talking about the technical aspects of what I do to capture images. I do that all the time.

When I shot film, I previously used a 4X5 camera to create portraits and landscapes. I miss printing B&W. Choosing soft or hard paper, dodging and burning for “real” to get a print just right. Sometimes using a toner to create a different outcome altogether. I also created Polaroid transfers onto watercolor paper. And occasionally used pastel pencils to add to the image.

So recently I picked up my pastels again and started using them on prints I made on watercolor paper. Both cold press and hot press. I even have some left over Somerset satin I previously worked with in creating images. When I lived in California I took an oil painting class with a woman who did some amazing work. I also learned some techniques from her using pastel chalk. Then I filed it all away, or rather became busy with work and moving for jobs and didn’t return to this creative outlet until now.

Working on creating pastel photographs, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Working on creating pastel photographs, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am by no means a painter, or a “drawer”, that is a person who uses pencils to create. I can not draw a straight line. And I think of my work as creating folk art than as a true painterly artist. During my classes with this woman who taught at a local college in California I expressed to her that because I was a news photographer I did not want to create realistic images with my work. I saw enough “real” covering the streets of Los Angeles and the Valley and other places. That painting was my way to personally get away from covering news. Seeing wildfires up close and personal and carefully navigating streets in South Central LA right after the Rodney King verdict and riots was plenty of news.

So it’s fun once again to pursue this line of creativity. I use images I have photographed and then printed on watercolor paper to work with. It is a bit of trial and error. I am not trying to create a real photo, but to give me “guidelines” to use as I apply the pastel and the image someplace else. I don’t draw, and I especially don’t draw straight lines, as I mentioned. So my images give me a place to start and then I let my imagination take over. The woman who taught the oil class I took liked impressionism and would always admonish, “More color, more color!” And so I try to remember that. Depending on the image I select to work with determines how I might approach what I want to do. And then there is the effort needed to “get beyond” the photographic images I created to take that image to another level. Not always effectively I do  believe. But I enjoy it, and it helps me continue seeing visuals in a new way.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


3 Responses to “Experimenting with photography in Siouxland, Sioux City”

  1. Angela Tague January 16, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Absolutely beautiful! My grandpa was a photographer, and my grandma would use pastels to colorize the old black and white portraits he’d create. This brings back so many memories! Keep up the creative work!

    • jerrymennenga January 16, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

      Thank you. I would love to see some of your grandparents’ collaborative work if you have any of them. It’s fun to venture into new realms and helps me when I go back out shooting as I look at scenes a little differently and wonder if any of these I encounter might work with pastels as well. So is it true, it’s about the journey and not the destination? Jerry

  2. Deborah Heaton January 28, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    The photos are lovely. I would be very interested in learning to do this. I love to draw, although I’m not good at it either, and pastels and water colors are favorite media of mine. What a great to have the best of both worlds.

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