Posts Tagged ‘painting

27
Sep
10

Thinking of layers

“We see things not as they are. We see things as we are.” — Anais Nin

This quote mirrors my thought that “we photograph as we are”.  As I am preparing to depart for a long trip through Eastern Europe, I am thinking about who I am and how that will manifest in my photographs. Because of my long interest in the history of World War II and the resulting human and cultural destruction, I will be visiting a number of areas that were filled with violence and hate.  This energy is the opposite of what I try to photograph.  So who will I be, and what photographs will I make in these locations?  The short answer:  I don’t know.  The deeper thought: I suspect that I will excavate a few layers in my seeing and in my soul.

In preparation for the trip, I’ve been doing some housecleaning of my files.  I came across two images from last fall….images I failed to appreciate at the time so they were marked for deletion. Looking at them now I find that I am enjoying the motion and the layers in the images.  The concept is not new, but I like the way the abstract nature brings forward the structure that underlies the scene.  In the second image I can sense a bit of the style of the brushwork in Cezanne’s series from Mont Sainte Victoire. Recognizing this prompted me to look again at an image of a reflection from later in that same fall. In the reflected image I had immediately recognized the resemblance….why hadn’t I seen it in the earlier images?

My thought is that we see things differently as we grow, age, change, mature….or perhaps, excavate layers.  I’m looking forward to fall as it is my favorite season.  This fall promises to be memorable.  The quote that opened the blog post has especially poignant meaning when viewed through the lens of history, especially the history of human conflict and war. I hope you’ll check the blog for images and the archaeology of my trip.

29
Jul
10

Please remove your shoes (I’m not talking about airline travel)

“Earth is crammed with heaven, Every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

After three months of near constant travel and work I am back in Seattle for a week to catch my breath. I have a lot of work to complete and great events on the horizon, but I am going to stop for a bit and reflect on the heaven and bushes afire that I have seen during my latest travels.

The heaven brought forth was the meeting of dear friends in several spots in Europe.  I am so fortunate to have met and come to care deeply for people in many different places. Traveling to see them along familiar rail lines or unfamiliar highways through ripening summer fields was a source of great joy to me. Creating new memories while laughing, dining, or walking together will keep  us in an embrace until our next meeting or even if we are never to meet again. This, along with a few photographs, is my sustenance. The heart holds joy and after a while, will release suffering.

I often visit museums to see the same paintings time and time again. Viewing The Sower and the Place du Forum and one of Vincent’s self portraits with those piercing blue eyes felt just like greeting old friends, or perhaps the echo of those meetings…with a touch of wistfulness and the longing to talk again.

Van Gogh's self portrait from 1887

I had the great pleasure to see several really fine exhibits and one new (to me) museum.  In London I went to the brand new show at the Royal Academy titled Sargent and the Sea, and saw the Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum. Sargent and the Sea was a particular joy as it showed the artist in the beginning of his career, with paintings that exhibited vigor and freedom, what one might expect from a young man visiting seaside resorts around Europe. What was entirely unexpected was the quality and maturity of the work.  While we might be familiar with the glory of Sargent portraiture, the mastery of his early compositions is stunning.  The texture of and reflections in the wet sand that he created made me want to take off my shoes and wade into the painting. The side-light creating a corona around a child’s head made you feel the late afternoon sun, a feeling that you are caught between wanting to stay on the shore to take in the last rays of sun and warmth while beginning to think about dinner and rest.

Setting out to Fish, 1878, Corcoran Gallery of Art

The Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum was familiar territory for me as I have spent many hours in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. But there were delights: The painting of two cheetahs from about 1410 was a real surprise and it was eye opening to see the freedom of expression in the preparatory drawings that was rarely seen in a finished work. But to see the evolution of drawing from the early 1400’s to the height of the Renaissance was revelatory. The progressive refinement and use of perspective, texture, detail, and expression of movement and emotion all culminated in the masterpieces by Da Vinci, Titian, and Michelangelo that we revere.

Drawing/painting on vellum, c. 1410, Workshop of Giovannino de'Grassi

Where is the photography in all this? It’s in our awareness of every sight, every step, every line, every shadow, every bush afire. While looking at a canvas by Seurat at the Kroller-Muller museum I was thrilled to see three distinct compositions in one painting. While talking with my mother about the Sargent works I could see clearly the use of negative space, separation of elements, and side-light to highlight portions of the composition. This charged me, energetically, to go out and SEE more deeply. The inspiration I derive from the Masters of Painting and Sculpture feeds me and helps me to refine my ability to create whole engaging images. Having that experience while preparing for a camera club lecture provided great examples and re-ignited my passion for describing how we can expand our awareness by feeding our brains and our souls with the best imagery available to us.

The gift of awareness is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves.  Cultivate it.  Take off your shoes and touch the warmth of the soil and surf. You will reap an earth crammed with Heaven.

23
Jan
10

on shepherds and breathing life into art

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
Winston Churchill   

Family and close friends know that I am an ardent admirer of Winston Churchill.  Aside from his magnificent careers in politics and literature and that little matter of holding the candle for the free world for a time, Mr. Churchill was  a prolific and accomplished painter.  He had the ability to stop whatever he was doing and totally focus on his painting when he felt the need to step back from his tremendous burdens.  It was a comfort and a tonic to him his entire adult life.  Photography and writing give me that gift….now I’m going to add some bubbles. 

I’ve written about the impact that painting has on my photography and the way it opens my eyes and heart to see things new.  The visual history and legacies that have been left to us by artists since time began can inform and help to shape new work.  While reading a poem by Pablo Neruda, I saw an illustration today that I liked very much.  It has triggered my desire expand my thinking when I am photographing to consider subjects for other uses; for example textures as overlays, or patterns to give structure…and images, like poetry, as allusions.  This is not revolutionary, but it will help me to widen my field of view and express something that is new to me.   With Uelsmann and Caponigro and other masters in the field as shepherds, I’ll breathe some more life into my own journey. 

These are my first attempts to see with the idea of joining elements.

07
Nov
09

of painting and photography

A comment from a friend has encouraged me to write about my deep belief in the connection that painting has to my photography.  Though I am not a painter I am a lover and longtime collector of paintings.  Decades before I had any thought of creating a life in photography, I spent long hours with my nose buried in books about the Masters.  First, Monet, then led by a painter friend I discovered Bonnard and Cezanne and I took off from there.  I collected the finest books I could about painters and museum collections.  Then I began to travel to see shows and collections.  During that time I lived on the East Coast and had easy access to the museums in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.  Eventually I was able to visit the museums and shows in London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Florence.  Keep in mind….there was still no photography in my life. 

What I was doing, without knowing it, was creating a rich visual library; reference points or a catalog in my mind and in my heart of color, line, form, composition, light, shadow, and feeling.  I was developing a very critical eye for discerning the qualities that allowed one painting to rise up over another.  My favorite paintings are now like old friends.  I visit them and am filled with the comfort and renewed spirit that comes from sitting with a dear friend.  It’s my reassurance that there is beauty in the world to be created.  And so I am not surprised, but truly delighted when I “see” a photograph that brings forth the feeling of a favorite painter.  To be able to say to myself  “aha…this is what Kahn might have seen”  or “Oh! This is Wyeth’s palette” is gratifying and illuminating.  This visual heritage, this wealth of knowledge  is available to each of us.   As humans and as photographers, our lives are richer when we avail ourselves of this treasure.




my website...galleries, other writing,

Flypaper Textures

Flypaper Textures

Trafalgar Square Horse Books

horseandriderbooks.com
August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Visitors

News on the go

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.


%d bloggers like this: