Ramona Gillentine

“My name is Ramona Gillentine and I call myself an iPhoneographanatic.”

Thus begins the bio of Ramona Gillentine, Pixels At An Exhibition Featured Artist for June, 2010. You can find the rest of her bio right after my ravings here.

But before I go any further I’d like to thank Suzan Mikiel Kennedy for all the great images she shared this past month as Featured Artist. I know we will continue to see great work from her. Thanks Suzan!

The world of iPhontography, or iPhoneography, or iPhone photography, is a small one spanning the globe, comprised of fanatics obsessed with this new medium and, I like to believe, aware of most of the other fanatical and obsessive and brilliant artists out there, who are pushing the frontiers of this new medium forward rapidly.

So I was very pleasantly surprised when Ramona Gillentine of Tupelo, MS, home of Elvis, began submitting photos to the site recently. My surprise  turned into amazement as I  watched more and more of her work come in. I mean, what went through my head as I looked at her incoming photos was: “Where did this girl come from? How did I or any of my fellow fanatics not know about her?”

There are a number of artists whom I believe are really working hard in this medium. It’s obvious in their images: the vision, the composition, the color, the tonalities, the sensibilities, the beautiful use of apps to bring forth the truth of the image and, in so doing, revealing the artist behind the image.

Immediately, it was abundantly clear that Ramona was in league with the best out there: a unique vision, perfectly executed. Her images are at once quietly haunting, poignant, sensual,  capturing the mystery of stillness, conveying the ephemeral reality and magic of existence as if between breaths. Her composition is exquisite, the balance of light and dark in her black-and-whites bold and crisp, her color work adding to and building on the rock-solid foundation of her highly-developed craft.

Through some correspondence, I know that she does a lot of interesting app-work on her pieces. Things that never occurred to me, anyway. What surprised me, given the excellent composition of the images, is that she rarely crops a shot! She gets it right there;  as Henri Cartier-Bresson said,”If you hit the target, you don’t have to crop.”

I will publish an interview with Ramona about her techniques and influences shortly, so we all can learn more. Then I’m going to go back and interview earlier featured artists about the same. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before!

In the meantime, I think I should just let Ramona’s pictures speak for themselves, as well as her own introduction below. You will see that we are viewing the work of a fully-formed artist who hits the target every time.

Here are Ramona’s own words:

My name is Ramona Gillentine and I call myself an iPhoneographanatic.

I have been shooting iPhone photos for about two years now, but it has been in the past year has it become a serious art form for me. I come from a very creative and artistic family and have always been exposed to the arts for as long as I can remember. My mother was a painter and did photography. My father was so dedicated to his photographic pursuits that he transformed a closet in our home into a darkroom, where he developed his own photographs.

From the time I was very little, I dabbled with crayons and watercolors. I wanted to be a painter like my mother. I took up painting with oils at sixteen and painted for ten years. There was always something lacking in the work and in the process: it did not satisfy me. I could not get onto the canvas the exact visions and ideas I had in my head, but still I struggled on over the years in the hopes of finally “getting it” one day.

At seventeen, I came across an Ansel Adams book and fell in love with his work and with black and white photography in general. I quickly developed a new appreciation and interest in photography. I owned a Pentax 35 mm that I had always just used casually to take pictures of my friends and family. Upon discovering Ansel Adams, I started buying the black and white film and began shooting self portraits, flowers, and landscapes, but my efforts were sporadic and lacked focus. I still continued on with painting as my main art form, still trying to find my voice with it.

At eighteen, I got an iMac. My mother had been taking computer graphic classes at the University and introduced me to Photoshop and showed me a few tricks. I used Photoshop a good bit for a few years, creating collages using various pictures and had also created ideas for paintings. I had enjoyed and liked working on the computer and thought maybe I would like to be a graphic designer.

At twenty-three, I took on a manager position at the restaurant where I had been working for five years. The new work hours and stress absolutely drained any creative energy and motivation I had for my art. After two years of managerial nightmares, I quit and started a much less stressful job at another restaurant. I slowly picked up painting again but was just not getting much of anything out of it.

In 2007, I saw an iPhone commercial on television. I didn’t know exactly what all it was about at that moment but I knew that I would be getting one. I never felt so excited and thrilled about a gadget before. In August 2007, I bought my first iPhone 8 GB. It wasn’t until 2009 that I started buying and using camera apps. I remember the first photo I took and app’d using camerabag, I simply put the photo in black and white and then infrared, and my result was the Rainshield photo.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, I was so floored and inspired with the photo and immediately I felt a connection that was absolutely and completely satisfying.

That picture was the end of my painting and the beginning of my iPhoneography art.

After I got a good handful of photos, I went on to build a photo blog so that people could see and view my photos. I decided to name my photography AdoraFiora, a name I created, inspired from “Women Who Run With the Wolves,” a wonderful book I had been reading while going through a very slow and agonizing breakup of a long relationship.

The book that helped me reconnect with myself and find my balance. The author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., talks about “The Dual Nature of Women” and “two powerful feminine forces within a single woman” and that “the paradox of women’s twin nature is that when one side is more cool in feeling tone, the other side is more hot…when one side is more lingering and rich relationally, the other may be somewhat glacial. Often one side is more happy and elastic, while the other side has a longing for ‘I Know not what’… These ‘two-women-who-are-one’ are separate but conjoined elements which combine in the psyche in thousands of ways.”

I found this so inspiring that it gave me ideas for a series of photographs I wanted to do. I had the idea to name the “twin sisters”, Adora and Fiora, and put together they mean Beloved Flower. I liked the concept and idea of the name so much that I thought it connected to and was fitting for my black and white photography.

As of February 2010, I have been using the iPhone 3Gs. When I take photos, I like to frame in a composition with contrasting masses. They may be of things I see everyday or of a weathered crack in a wall that is tucked away in an abandoned alley. I like to capture images with contrasting elements, of light and dark tones, and with patterns and textures that people don’t always see with their eyes. I have had two photos published in a premier issue of a new local literary and arts magazine called SALT. I am hoping to soon have a show of my iPhone photography at a local gallery in my home town of Oxford, MS.