Introducing………Jubilation

Jubilation

I am introducing a new print as part of my botanical series using antique lenses. This image of grasses, back lit by the sun, is rich with refracted and reflected light. The result is a very etherial image with circles of color, and joyful lines allover.

The circle is a dominant feature of this image, as it is in many of the images in this series. As a universal symbol, the circle has many meanings. It represents wholeness, the infinite, eternity, and timelessness. It also has reference to many natural phenomena such as the seasons, the movement of the earth around the sun, and of course the circle of life. It is a very powerful symbol used throughout art history.

I have named this new piece – Jubilation and it will be available in a limited edition of 100 total giclee prints on paper or canvas – HERE

 

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Listening to the Audience

At a recent art festival in Virginia, I met Judy. She entered my booth and was drawn to a canvas giclee that I had made of an image of grasses. The image is part of a series I began last summer using antique lenses adapted to new cameras. It is a very etherial series and one that speaks to my aesthetic. Judy was also drawn to a framed print from the same series which hung on my display walls. It was a picture of a meadow of daisies (titled appropriately — Daisy Meadow) rendered softly against late-day light and also made with one of my antique lenses. Daisy Meadow was the piece she wanted and she wanted it as a large canvas.

I took her order and as soon as I returned to my studio, began working on the new canvas image. I hadn’t had this piece done on canvas before but thought it would work well. In fact, I think this new series I’m doing lends itself exceptionally well to larger canvas giclees. Still, I was very pleased when she wrote to me after receiving her artwork. She told me, “it is absolutely the most beautiful picture!!!! I love it!.” In a follow up email, Judy speaks to the piece having “so much depth.” The picture is “soft and inviting,” she added.

I always listen to the people who purchase my work, they are my best source of feedback. From them I get insight into my work and even the business of selling art. It is the interaction with collectors that makes being a full time artist most fulfilling.

Daisy Meadow can be purchased as an art print or canvas giclee directly from my on-line gallery – here

Daisy Meadow

Readymades at 100 Years Old

I recently finished reading two books about Marcel Duchamp. The first was Marcel Duchamp, The Afternoon Interviews by Calvin Tomkins, and the other was Marcel Duchamp, Appearance Stripped Bare by 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 …………….

It’s Still Winter, so………..Ice.

river-dance
River Dance, (c) 2017 Paul Grecian

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

 

Frozen Still Life

dsc_0032I 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.

Images are Not “Captures”

There are many unfortunate terms used to describe the work and tools of photographers. They come from within the medium itself which makes them even more disturbing. I find the vocabulary especially problematic for photographers who work with the medium as an art form. A making of fine photographs requires a number of decisions about how a particular subject or scene is to be rendered in order to communicate what the photographer-artist wants to convey. The image thus created reflects a complex, although sometimes rather quickly considered, set of thoughts. Words like “shot” and “capture” fall well short of describing the process involved in the making of the art photograph.

As an artist, I am not “capturing” an image. The image does not exist out in the world only to be found and collected by the photographer. Images do not exist in any form in nature. Images are the unique creations of an individual artist and brought into being through their imagination and craftsmanship. I believe that what Jerrold Levinson (American Philosopher) wrote concerning the making of musical works applies to photographic works as well – that “they do not exist prior to the composer’s compositional activity, but are brought into existence by that activity“.

cedar-waxwings

 

Why Artists Create

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A Ripple, A Blade of Grass

Knowing why we do something can give us insight into what we are doing presently and motivate our choices going forward. I came across one explanation of why artists create the work they do which I find apropos. Artists, it is suggested, create works that help them fill in for something that is missing in their lives. I can see that explanation of motivation being true with certain works I make.  There have been times when I felt the need for more beauty, peacefulness, or simplicity around me. There are many stressors in life, and creating imagery that balances those stressors by emphasizing peace and simplicity seems like a logical explanation. These works then are expressions of that desire.

One piece that I come back to often when feeling a desire to unwind is titled A Ripple, A Blade of Grass. It is an image of grasses reflected in pond water in Acadia National Park . A minimalist image, it really only consists of lines against a monochromatic background. I find it both soothing and engaging though. The simplicity of it is calming, yet there are lines that create triangles (due to the grasses reflection in the water), a shape that imparts a sense of action. Also, the ripples in the water have created zig-zag patterns that serve as visual contrast to the straight lines and add a sense of tension through the implied motion. I applied a sepia tonality to the piece to lower the visual harshness of a stark black and white.

This type of imagery is not easy to make because as a result of it being minimalist, every element that is included becomes more important to the piece. Finding the right balance in a minimalist work is part of the challenge however, and for that I am often working from a gut feeling.