Winter is a wonderful time of year to work with cardinals. The contrast between the brilliant reds of the bird and the clean whites of the background allow me to make very pleasing images. I am always trying to include a third element though, and in this case that third element was these blue berries. Red, white, and blue in winter.
Food sources are part of my strategy for working with birds during the winter. In addition to being a draw to birds, I like the visual element of small round shapes in an otherwise minimalist piece.
I am currently printing this new work to be matted to 16×20 inches, a standard frame size. I also offer the print framed with a UV-Protective, Reflection-control glass available on my website HERE
I recently finished reading two books about Marcel Duchamp. The first was Marcel Duchamp, The Afternoon Interviewsby Calvin Tomkins, and the other was Marcel Duchamp, Appearance Stripped Bareby Octavio Paz. Both were good reads although the Paz book was difficult going in parts.
Both books of course dealt with the important art history significance of Duchamp’s Readymades. I’ve struggled with my personal feelings about whether a Readymade is art, and from what I understand Duchamp did as well. But it does seem that 100 years later now, Readymades are at least institutionally recognized as art and artists continue to work in that mode. I remain ambivalent.
One of my fundamental problems with Duchamp’s notion of Readymades is the idea that selection alone of something by an artist is sufficient for that thing to be considered art. More confusing still is that for Duchamp the “selection” process had to be one of absolute indifference to the object, even to the point of employing methods of chance. If that is the case then their is no artistic intent, and for me that means there is no art. There is no human element to a chance selection process. One need only create a random number generator with assigned objects in order to create (or “select”) a Readymade. That is not a human endeavor and so not art.
Still, the concept of a Readymade is useful to artists and art appreciators in order to force some floor of thought to the question of “what is art?” I do feel that I have a clearer concept of art, and I understand the history of the question better. It may be though that the question itself is the useful part, and not the answer.
There are a number websites from a variety of sources for further reading on the subject. There is also some real misunderstanding on those sites which I find amusing during this 100 year anniversary of the Readymade.
If you walk into my booth at some future show and see a pedestal with what looks like an upside down, camera , signed …………….
The snow may be fading, but that leaves fields of golden grasses as backgrounds which I like just as much. One of my favorite birds, the Tufted Titmouse, is always an expressive subject. This one in particular has taken on a posture that suggests strength and confidence. The coloration of the feathers on the bird’s flanks is a wonderful compliment to the background grasses against which I composed this image. I’ve titled the piece “Rusty”. I wanted simplicity, but an image that still felt complete. There is certainly a Japanese influence here as well.
Textures too are richly rendered. The branch with it’s lichen and the bird’s feathers are both contemplative elements making the smoother background even more important to me. The print will be introduced as 6.75 x 9.7 inches and double-matted in Spanish White with ArtCare acid-free board for $54.00 ready to be framed. You can see it and my other work at my web site.
For 20 years, the North Penn Select Craft Show has been on my annual show tour. The show is this Saturday, March 18th from 9:30 to 4:30 PM at North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA. I will have a number of new pieces including several made this winter. The snow white background of winter simplifies an image, concentrating the visual experience and amplifying the importance of any element in the piece. The curve of the branch, the fanned-out dried grasses and the placement of the bird, these elements combined represent the total design of this image (titled Dark Spot). It is a minimalist approach, but it feels complete.
The posture of the bird expresses emotion in the same way that the posture of a person does. We can’t help but interpret animal posture through our only knowledge of posture, our own experience. The bird is looking to the left, gazing back, retrospectively. His body faces forward, tail relaxed, confident and secure. All of the lines in the image direct you to the bird. The gaze to the left is balanced by the movement of the branch upward and to the right.
This image was made with a Nikon D810 camera body on a Nikon Nikkor AF 200-400mm f4.0 IS lens with a Nikon TC2.0 III on a Gitzo tripod with a Foba Superball and Wimberley Sidekick. The bird is an American Tree Sparrow characterized by a dark spot on their breast feathers and a yellow lower mandible. They are attractive little birds which I have been working with for several weeks on the farm.
As a visual artist working with the medium of photography, I am always aware that I am translating a three-dimensional, moving subject into a two-dimensional, static image. What I try to achieve in my work is a sort of visual tension so that the viewer feels that movement is imminent or even actively occurring in the scene. I convey these feelings in landscape and still-life images partly through the flow of line and geometry. With wildlife subjects, I create images where the animal’s posture is full of kinetic energy. These images suggest, as Mike, who with his wife Debra collects my work, recently wrote to me, “that the life force will drastically change the scene in the next moment.” He continued, “Your pictures seem to capture that essence that no matter how we try to freeze life it continues to move forward….”
It is gratifying when a collector writes me words that affirm I am achieving my desired visual impact.
One of my newest images — Snow Cap — suggests this same kind of “subtle dynamic” as well. The Chickadee here is almost vibrating with energy it feels. These are the types of images that don’t stand still in our minds but relay a sense that the bird is alive in our presence. Having studied animal behavior my whole life from before college through the present, I know birds are a constantly moving power house. In many ways, the images I make are less about them than they are the human struggle in which we all engage. Without projecting our own feelings of empathy onto the bird, we would not feel the way we do about such images.
This image is available as a Limited Edition giclee print for $54. from my website – Here
March 1st, sure, but it’s still winter and I’m still thinking cold thoughts. So, I’m working on ice images again. This image was made along the shore of the Susquehanna River, as was the previous image I blogged about. For this piece, I composed for the sensual lines and their repetitive formation. The making of the image required that I work as parallel to the ice as possible in order to maximize the depth of field right through to the corners; that’s especially tough when working hand-held with the camera and lens. I exposed to compensate for the whiteness of the ice, and then developed the image to bring in higher contrast to the final rendering. Using a Nikon D810 camera with a Nikon AF 28-105mm f3.5-4.5D lens from long ago, I was able to create the image in camera with only minor cropping during development.
This image is about rhythm and time, and in an odd way maybe, also movement. It conveys a sense of time standing still, literally frozen, but beautifully so. My initial printing of this image is as a 9.75 x 13.75 giclee matted to 16×20. It may be purchased from my website here
I am in the unusual position of writing a blog entry in late February with the windows open and still being slightly warm in my studio. It reached the mid 70’s today in north central PA. But it is still winter and the visual stimuli that excite me about winter are still forefront of my mind. It wasn’t that long ago that I made this image even though the temperatures suggest it should have been months ago.
I’ve always enjoyed the visual aesthetics of patterns in nature. I work with them not strictly out of a sense of design but because shapes convey emotions. The same way that human posture conveys feelings, so do the curves, lines, and geometries that are all around us. In some ice forms, those curves, lines, and shapes can be very complex. As an artist I am working to compose an image that expresses movement, joyfulness, tension, harmony.
This image was made along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Using a Nikon D810 and an quite old 28-105mm Nikkor lens in macro mode, I isolated a section of ice and grasses frozen into a geometry that I found quite stirring. A small aperture created the necessary depth of field. This depth had to balanced with a sufficient shutter speed to hand hold the camera during the exposure. Because of where I chose to compose this image, using a tripod was not practical.