Everyday personal experiences with nature are the foundation to our larger appreciation of the world we live in. Recently a collector of my work named Sandy, shared a story of her affection for the common American Robin. She was interested in a piece that would celebrate her experience of caring for a Robin until it could fly away. I selected two pictures from my collection of images and offered her my first printing of either one.
Happily, Sandy selected a piece in a walnut frame that I will be shipping to her. Her choice was the image I titled Easy Pickins depicting an American Robin on a fruit laden tree. The price for the framed print which includes a nicely finished dust-cover on the back with a pocket for the Certificate of Authenticity, is $129.00. Visit my website for a full selection of available works by clicking HERE.
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.
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.
I’m currently reading two books on aesthetics which I find fascinating. I’m still at the beginnings of both books but already they have me contemplating the “why” of art more deeply. As an artist I create from a relish for nature, a relish for beauty, a relish for life. It is a consciousness raising experience and one that lifts my humanity. I respond to natural beauty through aesthetic experience and translate that into my own interpretation, striving to create something beautiful in itself. When I respond to a field of grass aesthetically, I’m not trying to recreate that field. What I am doing is trying to relate my unique aesthetic experience of that field to a viewer so that they may feel about it the way I did.
If I am successful with my creation then I have affected some response in the viewer which raises their consciousness and relish for life as well.
I had the good fortune to be able to spend some time with an artist friend of mine. She is a fabric artist, a visual artist. In our discussion I mentioned how sometimes my wife is jealous of the passion I feel about my medium and what I do. I love that feeling of passion I have for photography and the visual arts that I work in. Its a feeling I haven’t felt toward any other work I have done. My friend expressed the same feelings for her medium and that she has been on the other side of the issue, that is, being a bit jealous of someone else who had the passion before she found hers.
Then my friend said something that surprised me a bit. She feared losing inspiration. It occured to me that an artist’s biggest fear is really a loss of the passion and inspiration to create new pieces more than anything else. If we don’t sell our work we can still create it and work at finding our patrons. But to lose the inspiration and the passion is to lose the very core of our creative beings. Even if we were to continue to sell our work, the feeling of self worth as an artist would be gone. That would be very hard to take I think.