Rfotofolio is pleased to share articles written by photographers.
Today we continue Notes from the Field by Liese Ricketts. 

All the arts have an important element of craft, apart from the aesthetics. It is that area in photography which deals with chemicals. camera usage, collage, all the nitty-gritty hands-on stuff. It is the physical part of the process; and, without question, the part I struggle with the most.

There are those who have finely developed motor skills, and those who have an infinite supply, it would seem, of patience. I am not of such ilk. I am OK in the darkroom but give me a pair of scissors or a sharp blade of any sort and I am a hazardous individual. In the kitchen I have cooked meals in which my own blood was a significant ingredient. My children would remark that my “lomo saltado,” a Peruvian dish of finely cut steak, potatoes, onion, and tomato was never as good in a restaurant. It was their mother’s hemoglobin, they claimed, that brought out the flavor.

When it comes to mixed media, which I love making, I am thoroughly inept. Indeed my great virtue is persistence, because I inevitably cut, burn, stab, or somehow bang myself so repeatedly that I have learned to incorporate my messes into the pieces themselves. My husband, whose manual adroitness is enviable, fears approaching me even when I am holding a garden hose that is on.

In winter I often work on bookbinding, clamshell boxes, and crafty projects. I do not enjoy the Chicago cold and neither do my cameras. So I hole up in my book studio or my upstairs mixed media room and play with dangerous tools. An awl, a needle, scissors, an exacto, even a pen are some objects that I employ, often damaging my epidermis. Yesterday, I brought the full force of the heavy blade on my large paper-cutter down on my thumb. Fortunately, I have fake gel nails that protected the nail and finger but the cuticle all around is black. Did I stop? No, I kept going. I waited until I stopped seeing stars, the thumping pain subsided, and I went right back to work, although the neighbors may have heard, from the open skylight, a few high-pitched expletives. They in all likelihood are used to it.

© Liese Ricketts
© Liese Ricketts

So, to readers who might share my want of dexterity, nobody may notice the scraps of skin, blood, or injury residue as part your work. They represent not badges of inadequacy, rather of perseverance and wherewithal. Brave Brits in WW2 said, “Keep Calm and Carry On;” such is my mantra.

Liese Ricketts
Chicago, 2016

To learn more about Liese Ricketts please visit her page,Liese Ricketts. 


2 thoughts on “Notes from the Field

  1. Liese, I share your ‘lack of dexterity’ in all things physical. I also love playing with mixed media, although I can only use the attic studio when it’s neither too hot outside nor too cold inside. So during the few months when it’s acceptable, I rush to do my cutting, glueing, waxing,n drilling, sawing, painting, and I’m always in a rush to get it done before the freeze or the heat wave arrives. But that’s just a poor excuse. In truth, I’m a klutz.

  2. How wonderful to find such a wonderful kindred spirit! Oh, and you have reminded me of the debacles with glue. I love your work now all the more for your dogged pursuit of the objet d’art. Best to you, Fran!

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