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.
I had a very enjoyable weekend in New York City exploring Chelsea galleries and visiting MOMA for the first time. A very action packed few days, I put over 20 miles on my sneakers walking from Chelsea to MOMA, and from Chelsea through Soho to Little Italy. My partner, fiber artist Linda Doucette, and I took in a variety of gallery exhibits in Chelsea and a couple of floors of the MOMA. I experienced my first Rothko in person, and this impressive Barnett Newman painting above. Abstract Expressionism is still a genre that I am working to fully appreciate, this trip certainly aided in that goal. A much more extended visit is needed I know.
It’s important for artists to get away from the studio and see what’s happening in the art world outside one’s normal sphere. The Chelsea gallery spaces were as impressive as the artwork. Big, white-walled venues where individual works were displayed in stark light, by themselves, not competing for anyone’s attention.
MOMA was packed on the Saturday we visited and that actually made me feel good. The diversity of the demographic of the visitors made me feel good too; lots of young people were among the throngs.
It was an inspiring few days and had me anxious to get back to my studio to start working on new prints and consider the making of new images.
Driving back from a show in Virginia last month, we passed by a section of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. It was snowing which made the scene along the river appear to be in a fog. The snow obscured the details of distant hills, and generally gave a soft feeling to the landscape. I made some mental notes about returning under similar conditions with a qualified camera.
After a few more miles I couldn’t stand it any longer and pulled over the first chance I got. I always bring a camera with me to shows in order to make new booth images for future show submissions, and to do some PR images for web use. So I got out of the van with that “show” camera in hand and figured I would do what I could. The camera is an Olympus Stylus 1, a small sensor camera with a very good lens and full manual control capability. I am a strong believer that strong images are made by artists not cameras, so I worked to create an image that conveyed the feelings I had looking out over the river.
I like the feeling of dimension in this piece. My eye travels first to the island on the left then to the distant island on the right, then toward the middle island and the distant hill. I converted the image to black and white as color was not relevant to my visualization, and added a subtle sepia toning. I think the image has a rather timeless quality to it and am quite happy with it. My 11×14 test print is very pleasing and so this image is available on my website HERE.