More than once I have had people cry when looking at one of my images. I have always felt that an emotional response to art work of any kind was a wonderful thing. I’ve had similar response to movies and even while reading, but never to a painting, photograph, or sculpture. I was fascinated to find that art historian James Elkins had actually examined the subject of crying in front of artwork in a book he titled Pictures and Tears (Toutledge, 2001).
In his book, Elkins writes, “Paintings repay the attention they are given”, “the more you look, the more you feel”. I like this notion and suspect that it is true. But how often do we actually spend time looking at one particular picture?
At a show this past summer, a woman came into my booth and then left. A little while later she returned to buy a canvas giclee of mine — Summer Breeze. She told me that when she left my booth thinking about this picture, she began to cry. She had to come back and purchase the piece. She told me that she didn’t know why she responded the way she did.
“Crying is often a mystery, and for that matter so is not crying” writes Elkins. I am still working through the book, I’m finding it fascinating. I don’t expect to find any ultimate answers as to why certain people respond with tears to certain art works. I am humbled however, that I have made pictures which have elicited such a response.
Summer Breeze is available on my gallery online HERE
I am introducing a new piece in my botanical series. This image was made using a vintage lens which is some 60-70 years old. I am using a collection of these lenses to achieve a softness and quietness in the images which matches my personal aesthetic.
As an admirer of Piet Mondrian, I am inspired by his work and philosophy. “Mondrian believed that art reflected the underlying spirituality of nature. He simplified the subjects of his paintings down to the most basic elements, in order to reveal the essence of the mystical energy in the balance of forces that governed nature and the universe.” I especially feel aligned with his philosophy that art reflects the spirituality of nature.
The clean geometry and basic colors of his work makes it dramatic and very appealing to me. In my image above, which I have titled “Balance of Forces”, I use the lines of the grasses to compose an image with parallel lines and triangular shapes to create a sense of movement and dynamic visual interest. I selected the background for this image first as it is of equal importance to the final result as the foreground grasses. I aligned the area of yellow wildflowers in the background so that they brought the eye to the top center of the image from which the lines of the grasses would then cause exploration throughout the frame.The yellows also provided nice color contrast to the blues throughout the image.
Available as a giclee on either photographic paper or canvas from my gallery on-line.
I enjoy hearing from collectors about how they live with my work. A recent purchase from my gallery online was for an image of a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. It isn’t a picture about the bird however. It’s an image about joyful singing on a beautiful spring day. After Donna C. from New Jersey received her matted pigment print she sent an email to thank me and to let me know “that beautiful singing bird is looking great in my music studio (where I teach voice)!”
In my work the content of the images are rarely what the image is about. I’m more interested in the meaning of the objects in an image, what they stand for, or the emotion they elicit. Birds may serve as metaphors for many things, but joyful singing certainly seems like a good one.
Looking at a picture like this one of a female cardinal, it is very hard not to attribute a human behavior to her. This beautiful bird with her glorious coloration – I mean look at those amazing “eyebrows” – is definitely speaking her mind about something, right? I don’t think we can help but see the image that way, it is human nature.
This new piece will be limited to 100 archival pigment giclee prints in the size of 8″x10″. It is available on my website HERE
I always appreciate a collector sharing a story with me about an experience with nature. Recently, a customer told me about her experience with a common bird — the American Robin. I have always been fond of Robins as a sign of Spring; I also think they are an attractive bird, and very much enjoy their melodious song.
Having had purchased my bird work before, this customer asked me about my experience with Robins. That request motivated me to reconnect with some previous images of mine. As a result, I am introducing two new prints. The first piece is titled Fruitful and is of a Robin sitting on a richly fruitful branch. The second piece is titled Easy Pickins which is of a Robin framed by the branches of a fruit covered tree. Click on the names above to see them on my website.
In both images, the Robin is the clear
visual element of interest. Both images are also about the bounty of nature which birds rely on to meet their needs. The Robin is not an exotic bird, it is however, one with which we all have some memory and relationship during the year. These types of relationships, the everyday experiences with nature, are our most important.
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.
It makes no sense at all to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts as the current administration wants to do. It does nothing to balance the budget. It’s purely being considered because of political reasons.
To be honest, I hadn’t realized just how little a budget the NEA was working with. I mean really, less than $150 million a year! To support the arts at a national level for such a paltry amount of money is a disgrace in itself.
Here’s some math I did. I found that 65 million voters selected Clinton for President last year. If half of those voters were to spend even $200 (two hundred dollars) in original works by contemporary (living) artists, it would equal well over $6,000,000,000 (six billion dollars!) in art sales this year. That’s only $200 in original artwork in a year! It’s good for people to have art in their lives, it’s good for the country economically, culturally, socially, and its good for contemporary artists.
I enjoy buying artwork for myself and gifts. I also appreciate it when I receive art as a gift.