Art is not a sport…

I recently read a magazine article where the interviewed photographer equated his goals with those of athletes, that is, winning a championship. Having had some success in competitions, I have felt the satisfaction that comes with being recognized among the best image makers. But the idea of creativity being measured as we would winning a World Series, Olympic gold, or some other sports pinnacle, is not useful to me. I also don’t believe the metaphor even applies. There is no reasonable way to quantify the differences between artwork in a way analogous to batting average, or track speed. One could objectively measure artistic success by how much money was made, how many of a particular award was won, how many museum shows were achieved. But these measures too have elements of subjectivity associated with them.

Maybe more importantly, art is not something one should engage in for the purpose of “winning” something. Success has many definitions. But for me success has only one, being able to continue creating and living the life of a full-time artist. Something I’ve been doing in my way for 20 years now. This “success” has been possible not because I’ve competed with others, or won “championships.” My success has come about through the daily activity of engaging with everyday esthetic experiences and creating based on my emotional response to those little events. In fact I am very happy to totally reject the sports metaphor. For me, art isn’t the score at the end of a game, it is the score at the end of a life. The game continues until I’m off the field. At that point, I’ve already won.

Optimism and a “Wish”

I do feel that I am an optimist at heart. Not that I don’t worry about things, life, money, career, loved ones; but I generally think about the future in anticipation, not fear. One of the symbols of a hopeful, optimist belief, is the crescent moon. I’ve always been drawn to the moon in this form, not really knowing why. Partly, it may be due to pure aesthetics, but I am also someone who really enjoys the beginnings of things (my optimism at play I think).

This image, which I have titled “Wish” is a bit of a contradiction. It was made as a day was ending but the crescent moon speaks to new beginnings. I however, have always thought of night as a hopeful time, the preparation for a new day. So for me, there is no contradiction in this image. I chose “Wish” as a title as it speaks to my wishing for a bright new day to come with all the wonder of yet another beginning.

I made this image on our farm facing a back field which is separated from our property by a line of trees. I had to work quickly as I saw from our back window that the light was fading quickly. I selected an Olympus camera for it’s wonderful image stabilization ability as I knew I wouldn’t have time to set up a tripod; mounted an Olympus 12-100mm lens (equivalent to a 24-200mm in 35mm) for compositional versatility, and ran. Working handheld and zoomed to the longest telephoto setting, I pushed the stabilization capability to its limit. But it worked.

“Wish” is available now as a limited edition pigment giclee from my website HERE

Artists…… many hats!

As a full time independent artist, I wear a lot of hats (most of the time, I mean that metaphorically). This time of year the number of “hats” that I wear becomes especially evident. My primary job as an artist is to create, job one as they say. But as an Indi-artist, I have so much more on my plate (oops, wrong metaphor). This time of year especially, I am also a bookkeeper; IT guy; shipping and ordering manager (I even get Uline catalogs addressed to Paul Grecian, Shipping Manager), Marketing dept. (social media, newsletters, emails, blogging, etc.); art dealer (I do represent my own work after all and sell it directly to my audience); Planner (show schedules don’t happen on their own); the list could go on.

Being an independent artist, that is an artist whose sales do not primarily happen through a dealer, manager, and/or consultant, means doing all the creative work and running all aspects of a full-time business. It’s a lot of hats. Most of the time I feel I can wear them one at a time. This time of year a show schedule needs to happen (selection, applications), supplies need ordering (mat board, frames, paper, ink, etc.), images need processing, backing up, adding to my stock agency, tax numbers need putting together, and I can’t lose touch with my audience. Sometimes, hats have to be worn at the same time in a multi-tasking frenzy that hopefully sorts itself out by the first show (whenever that turns out to be because well, pandemic).

So if you ever see me walking around with a baseball cap, fedora, and who knows what else on my head, at the same time, just nod your hello to me; I know the hats are there.

Three Wheelbarrows of Concepts

This image really pulls together a variety of thoughts for me. There have been three overarching themes to my creative thinking: mindfulness, wabi-sabi, and everyday esthetics. You can even think of them as being three different wheel-barrels of concepts because each is filled with so much to think about.

For me it all comes down to experiencing the everyday visual world with an openness to seeing beauty and then creating with authenticity. My challenge is to not predetermine what I should create, or judge before I allow myself to explore.

With an openness to the world, I don’t know what images I will make, what pictures will result. And, in many ways that makes the process so much more exciting. As with most of my work in the last year and a half, this image was made on our farm (in this case, by the milk house).


Hot and Cold

I find myself drawn to ice in a way that is similar to my attraction to art-glass. There are many elements to ice that make it fun to work with. The natural forms it develops as a result of melting, wind, and other physical forces, is wonderful. The way ice reflects, refracts, and otherwise transforms light, is a never ending inspiration.

When exploring icicles visually, I look at form and light, but also background. Backgrounds are key to me in much of my work and as icicles are transparent, or at least translucent, the background becomes an even bigger consideration.

In this image I found myself annoyed by a distraction in the background. I had become very attracted to the form of two icicles hanging from our milk house roof, but there was a car in the way. Since I could approach these icicles closely, my first thought was to use a macro lens, but that stupid car…….

Then I thought about turning that problematic background into an esthetic solution. I changed lenses to a long telephoto and backed up. With my Olympus 100-400mm set at 400mm (equiv. of 800mm), I was able to isolate the icicles and also diffuse the background to just tones of color. The 800mm equivalent focal length allowed me to select the background precisely, and draw it forward into the image. The blue-gray color is from the body of a Toyota Odyssey, and the red is from the taillight.

Winter Sprout

This winter has certainly been full of snow, a real change from last winter. With all of the white stuff falling from the sky, I have renewed my Winter Bird Project started a few years back. In this effort, I have been working to create images which speak to the character of winter, and to the birds which spend that winter, at least partially, on our farm.

The project requires a lot of time watching and learning the various species behaviors. This year, we seem to have a larger number of Sparrows. In this image which I have titled “Winter Sprout,” a Song Sparrow peeks its head above the rim of a planter during a snow fall as if checking if spring may be near. The birds which stay locally during the winter will, by necessity, explore every nook for potential food.

I enjoy observing the behavior of the birds, all of them, but some just seem to have more interesting gestures than others. This Song Sparrow certainly caught my attention. It is hard not to ascribe some human motivation to its behavior.

Now available as a Limited Edition giclee in the Bird Gallery of my website – Here.

Barn Cats of Shady Grove Farm

I grew up in the city with cats. Now I live on a farm, with cats. Lots of cats actually. They were here before us and will probably be here after we are gone. They are a part of the land here. There are the cats that call Shady Grove Farm home, and others that just wander through.

Cats are fascinating creatures and for someone like myself with a degree in animal behavior, they may be even more fascinating. They are also beautiful and affectionate (at least a few of them). The cats are a part of our lives here. All of this is the subject of my first book — Barn Cats of Shady Grove Farm.

The book is an obvious extension of my art and just the beginning of a new endeavor, Shady Grove Farm Publications. More books under this new label will come from both myself and my wife, fiber artist, Linda Doucette.

The soft cover edition I have just released is 52 pages and chock full of wonderful imagery of cats and our farm. Available at my website now in two choices: you may order the book alone (Here), or a book/print package (HERE) which includes a Limited Edition 5×7 print of the cover image matted to 8×10. The soft cover edition is limited to 500 and will be signed and numbered by me inside.


Winter is the most unique season of the year I think. The cold, snow, and ice change the landscape in a way that is just visually distinct from the other seasons. While I don’t particularly like the cold, at least extreme cold, I do enjoy the simplification of nature that happens during winter.

One of the unique aspects of the cold period is the creation of ice. Whether it’s the freezing of pond, creek or lake, or the formation of icicles, ice has many properties that I find visually fascinating.

After a heavy snow, the melt water drips and freezes on our old house and forms icicles along a number of roof lines. I become engaged with the repetition of form of a row of icicles. Their linearity can be very harmonious.

But these ice sculptures are not static, they are fluid, literally fluid. When the sun hits them and the solid becomes a liquid, the drops form and create a constant patter on the surfaces they land. It has a regular beat to it. Also though, I find the circular drop shape a wonderful contrast to the straight line shape of the icicle.

In this image I wanted to juxtapose the round drop with the linear source. I needed a very fast shutter speed and some good timing. The deep blue sky background allows the drop to stand out. I also used long telephoto lens to isolate the icicles and drop (Olympus 100-400mm lens on an OMD E-M1X).

Winter Bird Project

Typically, my year consists of around 25 shows in which I exhibit and sell my work. Of course 2020 was like no other year, all shows were cancelled. While that has resulted in several challenges for me, time to create was not one of them. My wife and I were able to create more of a nature friendly setting for the wildlife that typically visits our little farm. Most of our land is wild anyway, but some of it is set aside as gardens and grazing for our alpaca. We did have one back grazing area that we no longer needed for the alpaca and so decided to convert it to a bit of a wildflower meadow and pond.

Our hope was to draw more birds, more butterflies and bees, and more wildlife in general. With this goal in mind, we set out to develop a space that would be an inspiration to our art making during all four seasons.

This winter is our first since beginning our project and of course winter has just begun. From my second floor printing studio, I can view the back field nature area we have developed. It is useful to be able to monitor how and when the birds use this space so that I can plan to be out there when activity is highest. Snow seems to have a great impact on the bird’s presence. After a 12 inch snow we had in late fall last year, I was able to work for several days in a row making images in our new setting.

This image is of a Song Sparrow on a berry laden branch with grass meadow in the background. I chose a spot that would put the background far enough away to create a clean backdrop. For the first time, I’ve begun working handheld and with great results. Working handheld allows me to respond more quickly and with greater freedom to create. It requires I work with a lens long enough for my visual goals but light enough for me not to tire too quickly. My solution is the Olympus 100-400mm on the Olympus E-M1 X. I can literally work for hours without inducing arm fatigue and thus keep from shaking.

Fall-ing in Love…..with Color!

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am having a wonderful fall.

I have no where to go.

I have time to create.

And the colors of autumn this year have been varied and intense.

Walks around our 7+ areas of fields and woods.

Walks down the road.

Drives of only a couple miles.

Working intuitively. Freely. With simplicity!

This has been my methodology.

I’m working freely. Emotively. Intuitively. Simply!

Mostly handheld. Always with just one lens.

It’s still just the beginning………

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