Kinetic Energy

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Snow Cap – (c) 2017 Paul Grecian

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

 

It’s Still Winter, so………..Ice.

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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.

Chelsea and MOMA

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Barnett Newman. Vir Heroicus Sublimis. 1950-51

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.

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Chelsea gallery display 

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.

Susquehanna River Winter

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Susquehanna – (c) 2017 Paul Grecian

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.

 

Dollars and Sense

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.

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“.

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