By Leti Wesolowski, contributor
Teri started studying photography in 1993. Since then she has won awards and worn many hats: dark room technician, studio photographer, tutor in digital art, gallery director and curator. At an early age, Teri studied dance and she was fascinated with the beauty that could be created so easily and the emotions that could be expressed in utter silence. She has always been naturally drawn to figurative images and human body abstractions.
Her digital art compositions start with one of her photographs as her canvas; a long process of digital manipulation takes place until the desired result is achieved. Currently, Teri has two series in production available at Commonwheel Artist Co-op: one is about the metamorphosis of a woman’s body and the other is a fantasy landscape featuring images of the burn scars left by the Hayman and Black Forest Fires of Colorado.
How did you get interested in photography?
My father gave me the gift of a camera when I was six years old. From then on, I was hooked. That little Kodak Instamatic went everywhere I did. Around the age of ten I saved up money and bought a Polaroid. Instant gratification!! I still have many of those old snapshots that I took and regard them as treasures, though the old cameras have gone, the way some old things do.
Where do you get inspiration?
I am inspired by books I read, films, and song lyrics, as well as the expected wealth of natural surroundings that Colorado provides me with. When I travel I am always observing people and their interactions, listening to their language, trying to immerse myself in their world. I often come back from an adventure with over 1,000 images captured digitally. I am more inspired to create in the Spring and Fall, my favorite seasons.
How would you describe your artwork?
I’m not sure my artwork fits neatly into a little box. The colors I use these days tend towards the vivid and bold. The landscapes I create are fantasy driven and surreal, as are my figurative pieces. But, I do have softer, quieter pieces that are usually nature-centric (focused on nature). I also have a good deal of abstract and architectural images, as well as straight landscape photography and photo journalistic images of my travels. What you will see for sale at Commonwheel is going to be 90% fantasy landscape and figurative digital art. It seems to be what people expect from me.
Tell us about your creative process. What is the visual effect or emotion you look for capturing in your compositions?
The creative process starts when something nudges my soul, whether it is a beautifully written line of poetry that moves me or the aftermath of a devastating forest fire. I then begin by trying to capture images that express what inspired me. The next step is importing the shots into Photoshop and layering them. A lot of trial and error takes place during creation. I may stop when I hit a wall, and work on another image for a while. I usually know when I’ve got it right. I then print a small test image to see if I’ve got the colors and levels right for output. The next step is feedback. I post images on line and pay close attention to other’s impressions. Usually it’s a pretty good indicator of how the general public will receive the piece (i.e. how well it will sell). I print my own giclees* prints with a Canon Pro 9000 Mark II printer using high quality paper. Lately I’ve been printing on Epson metallic luster photo paper. It costs twice as much as the traditional papers, but the results are so worth it. As for the metal prints, I digitally send my work out to a third party. I’ve only started producing them in the last 6 months, but I’m happy with the reception they are getting.
[*Ed. Note: “giclee” is a technology for fine art or photograph reproduction using a high-quality inkjet printer to make individual copies.]
Is there a photographer that you admire?
Most recently I have become a fan of the photography of Kristy Mitchell.
Long time favorites are Lee Miller (a fashion photographer turned war photojournalist), Richard Avedon, and Annie Leibowitz. Art that influences me is not necessarily photographic though, or even visual. I’ve been a longtime fan of Terri Windling’s playful fantasy watercolors, as well as her poetry. Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint are writers whose words fill my mind with strange and wondrous images.
What is your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement had nothing to do with prizes or publications, but when I was offered a space in an arts community to develop a photography gallery. I took the opportunity and ran with it. I did everything from the curating and advertising to mopping the floors. I loved it, often sleeping there. It was intense and supremely gratifying experience.
What is your favorite piece or your best seller? What is the story behind it?
My favorite piece is probably, “Metamorphosis”. It is the second piece I created in a series by the same name. It involves a woman metamorphosing into other natural elements. She sprouts wings and scales, in this one, gazing up at an infinite star speckled sky. The inspiration in this series was actually myself, as a 50+ year old woman whose body was undergoing rapid changes, some expected, some not.
My best sellers are the first three pieces in my fantasy landscape series that were inspired by the burn scar from the Hayman and Black Forest Fires.
I pulled the titles from favorite books: “Elsewhere”, “Neverwhere” and “Somewhere in Time”.
What is your favorite quote?
"Fantasy is a different approach to reality, an alternative technique for apprehending and coping with existence. It is not anti-rational, but para-rational; not realistic but surrealistic, a heightening of reality. In Freud's terminology, it employs primary, not secondary process thinking. It employs archetypes, which, as Jung warned us, are dangerous things. Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity than naturalistic fiction is. It is a wilderness, and those who go there should not feel too safe." - Ursula K. Le Guin
What’s next for you?
Next month my partner and I are taking a trip to Portugal and France with an end cap of a couple of days in London. We will be visiting friends and family and doing some exploring on our own. My imagination is always triggered when he and I are abroad. Who knows what inspiring moments will occur. I am continuing to work on my fantasy landscape series and I am gathering images for a show in the Creekside gallery later in the year. The show is called “Through the Looking Glass” and it will feature images inspired by fairy tales, fiction and mythology.
Teri’s photographs, prints and cards can be purchased at our shop and on our online store. Visit the shop to get 10% off all purchases of Teri’s photography during May.
She offers multiple print sizes, framed and unframed, printed over metal, or on Ultra-Fine Mat paper over laid with acid free white mat board.
You can also find more of her work online on Etsy (NeonMermaidPrintShop.etsy.com) and you can follow her on Facebook (NeonMermaid PrintShop), Instagram (neonmermaid9), and Twitter (TeriRowan51)
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