Saturday, May 31, 2008

Brood XIV


If you were out in the Ky or Tenn area in the last few days you have heard it.
The song of the woods.
The mating call of Brood XIV.
After 17 long years the cicadas are back.
Thousands of them.
The first time in a long while that I have had to drive with the windows up while working.
Otherwise, a car load of cicadas. Hitching back to Ohio.

I just had to do this one in color.
The red eyes do not show up as well in B&W.
Listen while you can, by the end of June most will be gone.

Art As Process


Art as life, or should that be, Life as art
Or maybe, Art is life or Life is art.......
Oh, the heck with it, there is no difference.

You see, art is a lifestyle,
a way of living, a process.

The lifestyle is one of constant seeing,
Of always being in touch with your surroundings, 
Of seeing not what a thing is, but what it could be.

This is what Robert Henri meant when he said:
" The goal is not making art. It is living a life.
   Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art.
   Art is a result.
   It is a trace of those who have lived their lives."



Friday, May 30, 2008

Reflection Connection


Cabins in the mountains,
what were they like,
the people who lived here?

I wonder, did they ever see these reflections,
and perceive the dichotomy of their lives?
The beauty and the struggle.

Or maybe it is just how we see 
from our future time.

How will the future think of us,
our artifacts, our structures, our art,
the micro spaces of our environment?


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Light Rays


I am back after two days of nothing but art.
 No problems, no worries, no concerns.

Just interaction with space and nature.
The energy of a place and how it affects us.

What is our response?
What in the place has affected us,
And in what way?

If we feel, we cannot remain neutral.
We must have a response to the energy.

To live is to create, to be inspired, to feel deeply, 
And to bring those feelings into manifestation. 

We call that art.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Good Light


It is time for a photo break.
I have been cooped up for too long..
Happy Holiday.
I wish you all Good Light.
Steve

Friday, May 23, 2008

Seen but Not Seen


We see, but yet we do not "see".
Many artists see things literally...
photo realism, botanical prints, photography,
the list is a long one.

Some artists see things that only they can see.
They see through the eyes of the soul.

We see, we wonder, we create.
It is not art for everyone,
It just may be art for no one.
Except those whose souls respond.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gazebo


A place to sit
and watch the world go past.

A sheltered place
surrounded by beauty.

A place to rest, to contemplate,
to recharge the creative batteries.

We should all have such a place.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Teaching Tool


Light cascading down in a sparkling flow.
Surrounded by sodium lit trees.
A surreal landscape in the heart of downtown.

The students were enchanted by the scene.
Where would I normally stand?  Don't go there, look for a different view.
Lets see; over saturate, under expose, slow speed to allow the liquid to flow.
Remove background distractions, manually check focus.
Oh right, remember to take the photo.

This fountain is a great teaching tool.

Night Class


Last night was a success. A lot of "ah hah" moments for the students.
Even one or two for me. This is the first time that I have used a digital for night work.
I was just playing, well, more than playing.... I was doing a test to see whether digital would be workable for the type of work I do.

Results are mixed at this time. I used the camera on a tripod just like I would do normally.
So no great difference there. Except for the weight. Much lighter than my usual RB or view camera. This is even lighter than my old F1.
My shoulders do not hurt this morning from carrying a lot of scrap iron
 (expensive scrap iron) around half the night.

The results seemed a bit lower contrast than I am used to with film. I obviously need to tweak the system. The problem is correctable in my processing but I would like to see it better exposed in the camera. In film it would not be an exposure problem, it would be change in the development time or dilution  or both. However, since there is no film it would seem that the solution is hiding in the contrast parameters in the camera. More experiments are needed.

The students all enjoyed the outing and learned a lot. 
They have all signed up for the landscape class that I am teaching in July, so I must have done something right.







Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bridge Span


Tonight is the last session of my Night Photography class. 
Final exam session where we go downtown and take real photos.
The police have been notified.
Tripods and cable releases are at the ready.
Batteries are charged and CF cards are formated and waiting.

It is always a pleasure to watch the students learn and grow.
They cross the bridge from, "how do I work my camera"to "WOW, I didn't know I could do that!"

I remember, as I am sure that some of  you do, the first time I watched a print come up in the developer tray. I remember the look on my father's face as he saw the wonder in mine. Now, I understand that look. 
I crossed that bridge when I was twelve years old and I have never looked back.
A life in art, in my case, photography, has to be one of the very best lives a person can live.
What could be better than a life devoted to the process of creation?
To the sharing of beauty with others?
To your personal growth and development as an artist?
To be truly alive and in the flow of ideas and inspiration?
Ah, that is the life.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Resting Spears


A village of hunters perhaps
 home from the hunt.

Their spears at rest
for the moment at least.

We see things that never were...
Dream things that may have been...
And wonder why.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mountain Memories


How well we see from higher ground.
The mysteries of light and shadow,
spread before us in the breaking dawn.

If only our lives were this well seen,
this beautiful and this serene.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pathway


Drawn by the light...
Destination unknown...

We move down the pathway.
Our light, a guide for those who will come after.
Light from before, echoing down through time.

Whose light do we follow?
Who do we choose as a guide?
How long do we follow?

Those questions makes all the difference
in our art and in our life.

In the beginning, we follow, we emulate, sometimes we "steal from the best".
How did you mix that color?   What lens did you use?   Where is that scene?
Some folks stay at this point forever.
Imprisoned by the fear of moving forward.

By the old ideas that say, "You're not good enough" 
to do whatever it is that makes your heart sing.

By reluctance to leave our comfort zone:
"I am not happy being a failure, but at least I know what to expect."

By fear of the unknown: "I might fail"  
Of course you may succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

At some point, we need to step onto the path,
Out of the shadow of those we have followed.

Allow our own light to grow in intensity,
Until it eclipses all else around us,
Bathing our world in the radiance of artistic creation.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Twilight Time


As I wait for my wife who is working late tonight. I am reminded of the old song "Twilight Time".
We both have schedules that are full and finding time for each other is a challenge.
I spent part of today talking with some friends who are coming up on their 10th anniversary, at which time they are renewing their vows.
A very cool, romantic thing to do.

There is a saying: these things remain, faith, hope, and love, and of these love is the most important.   (sort of a quote)  (don't write me, I know where it comes from.)
Because, without love there can be no faith or hope, only depression and despair. 

OK, enough deep thoughts for the day.
I hope she hurries home so we can be,
together today at twilight time.
 

Making Art


A fellow artist, in talking about her blog, recently told me; "I rarely talk about actually making my artwork anymore."    Good Point.
I will try not to talk about cameras, lenses or filters excessively  in this blog. 
Because, after all:
Is there a magic filter or an enchanted paint brush?
Is there a special loom that will make fiber art that no one else can ever do?
Is there a special lens that will go out and create art all by itself?

Of course not.

Now, I know that many non artists, could we call them Muggles,  are fascinated by the magic of the creative process and that is a good thing, because it may help them become more creative. 
But should we artists pander to the magazine inspired idea that: "This new thing-a-ma-bob will make great photos or lyrical paintings"? I don't think so.

I believe that one of the many goals of art and the teaching of art is to inspire.
Not to inspire my students to become little "steve clones"
but to inspire them to reach deeper into themselves and pull out their own talent.
Not only to teach the mechanics of my art,
but to attempt to open their minds to their own greatness.

You see, art is created twice.
First in the mind of the artist as an idea or a vision,
Second in the manifestation of that idea into physical reality.
The first is the art, the second is just mechanics.

Any one can learn the mechanics,
the art is not so much learned as it is lived.
An inward journey, under taken only by a few.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brick Works


The present is clear and vibrant...

The future goal is seen,
illumined by our plans and dreams.
But seen as though thru a bright doorway,
partially obscured by the very light that keeps us working.

The in between space is darker, more mysterious.
A place of half seen steps and pitfalls in the hazy light.
The place of what now and what next.
The place where fear of our greatness lurks,
just out of our vision in the gloom.

There is a path....
The bricks have been laid,
by the dreams and actions of our past.
It is a path we have created.
Now we must follow it, for it leads to our destiny.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Rock Bridge


 A bridge to cross....
 A trail to follow....
 Perhaps a gateway to a new realm.
 Creativity is here waiting,
 Like a cat ready to pounce.

 Do not disappoint her,
 For she has been waiting long years for you.
 For you to recognize her presence,
 And to embrace your true creative self.
 For you to cross the bridge to the future,
 That only you can create.

Mist


Stacked waterfalls in the mist...
Around here, only in the spring time...
We have what are called, "run-off" falls,
Which only show up after a rain storm.

Also true in life, wonderful things show up after a storm.
Beauty comes after destruction...
Love comes after doubt...
Progress comes after fear...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fallen Tree In Fog


Fog has always appealed to me.
A unique and different reality. 
Time seems to stand still in the fog.
 Everything stops, as if to listen to an unheard song.
Mysterious, other worldly, silent, and wonderful.

City By Night


I have always loved working at night. I tend to get bored with the same view all the time and at night everything changes. 
Of course, the fact that I work in black and white and at night the world is mostly black and white may have something to do with it.
Or, maybe it is the unreality of the world at night. 
The abstract becomes real. While the "real" is in another dimension. Hidden from our prying eyes.
Just what is "out there"......I wonder. 

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reflections


It is almost the end of the Artist Breakthrough Program that has been going on for the last month.  As I reflect back over the last few weeks, I am both sad and happy that it is over.

Sad because I will miss our weekly get together. If you have not done a program like this you will be surprised how much you will miss the interaction with your peers. Most of us as artists tend to be/work alone. Oh sure, we have partners, friends, and co- workers. But how many of them happen to be artists? How many of them understand the drives, the pressures, the feelings of self worth or not that we all go through? 

Happy, not that it is over, but because of all that we have accomplished. We each started the program with our own goals and our own ideas on how to accomplish these goals. Over the course of these last few weeks, through the non competitive feedback and assistance of the group members, these goals and methods have been modified, refined, and most important, accomplished.

Thanks to all of you.
Steve

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dreams


To be in a quiet place. To look deeply and to see deeply.
The play of light and shadow create another reality.
A place of dreams or of past memories.
Did I sit in this chair in the distant past? Did I read this book by the light of this lamp?
Does this scene trigger a past life memory or just an old dream? Is there a difference?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Elevator Story


I mentioned practicing your elevator story in my Art A Fairs post of 5/2/08.  A comment asked "What is that?" 
So, here goes. 
Imagine yourself at an art conference, one of the big ones, like College Art Association  puts on. You have a room in the main hotel and one morning  in the elevator on your way down to breakfast you find yourself standing beside the greatest art dealer in the world. Just as you are passing the 6th floor, he looks at you and says, "Tell me about your art."  In the next 15 or 20 seconds as you are moving to the ground floor...what do you say? 

Now, at this point I am assuming that you already have the basic necessities with you:
     1) A card with both your contact information and a photo of your work on it.
    2) A brochure (2 fold) with photos of your work, contact information, and a brief artists statement. 
    3) These are carried in you pockets, not in a backpack or briefcase, where you can just reach in and hand them to someone who is interested in your work.
These are all basic and good to have and they should be with you at all times.   

But, What Do You Say?   
   Your elevator story should do several things, answer several questions:
        1) What medium do you work in; are you a painter, a photographer, do you work with film, digital, oils, watercolor, mixed media, or glass?
       2) To what genre does your work belong? Do you do landscapes, portraits, still life?
      3)  What is the historical context of your work?  On whose shoulders are you standing? 
        4) How you are different. What sets you apart from the rest?

The goal of your elevator story is to convey the most information in the least amount of time and to make a positive connection with the other person. Remember, you only have a few seconds until the doors open and your big opportunity walks away.
Write out your story, refine it, commit it to memory, and use it often. It is the little things that make you a successful artist.
Never lose the opportunity to promote your work to a wider audience because you were not prepared.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Night Work


Tonight begins the class in night photography that I am teaching at Art Interface in Springfield.
We have had some problems getting things rolling due to the remodeling at the museum where classes are held.

This will be the first time that I have taught it with digital cameras included. Up until now I have used this class as yet another way of teaching the movements of view cameras as well as reciprocity correction and differential film development.

So, this will be an interesting experience for me. Don't tell the students but I may learn more than they do. That seems to be the way things work out when I teach. I always learn more that the students. There is such a variety of cameras, questions, and ideas that I get more out of it than I had expected.

I will be working with digital only this time, leaving my view camera at home. We shall see what comes from that. I have been using the digital off and on for several years now and am at the point of  considering moving to digital capture for all my work. So this will be another test for both me and the equipment.   I will keep you posted on my experience and I will post some work from the class when we get out of the class room and into the field.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Giving Birth / Creativity


I don't know about you, but for me creating art is something I must do.
My wife tells me that being creative is like being pregnant you either are or you aren't.
You can not be a little bit creative or a little bit pregnant. It is either or.

Now, unlike being pregnant, all of us are born creative. Some of us have been told over the years that we are not good at art or that we should learn another profession because, "you can't make a living as an artist".  Ever heard that?  I think we all have at one time or another. This is usually said by loving friends and / or family. They mean the best for us but they do not understand that we MUST CREATE. For us there is no middle ground. We, as human beings, as artists, as a piece of the great creation, we must create or we will surely wither and die, of boredom, if nothing else.

To be alive is to create. We create our lives by our thoughts, our actions. We create our problems (mostly) and our successes. We are always creating whether we know it or not. We do it consciously or by default, but we do it all the time.
So, why not do it intentionally? 
Stop listening to well meaning friends and family and for goodness sake never listen to critics, nay sayers, or negative people.  
Find an art that you enjoy. It makes no difference if you think that you are good at it or not. That is a learning thing, and you can learn anything. Just go and do it.   Practice....Practice...Practice...
You will get better, you will learn, you will have less stress, you will feel closer to your real self, you will begin to release your in born creativity.  You will begin giving birth to ART.
OK, start now!!

Sit And Wait


Ah, the show....
The Springfield Art Museum where the show was to start on May 1st is still in the process of remodeling. Dust, workmen, general confusion, and no visitors..........
So, hopefully, I will get it hung by Monday of next week.
I know that some of you are in the area so if you were planning to come over you still have plenty of time to do that. Once up, the exhibit will hang through the end of June.

You know, I really should start calling them "exhibits"  or "exhibitions" at least here on the blog.
Since I think of them as "shows" ie,  "showing my work" I have tended to call them that. 
But here, on the blog, that has led to some misunderstandings.  Some folks have thought that I make a living by "showing" in the arts and craft fairs (shows).  Trust me, nothing could be farther from the truth. I was not kidding in my earlier post about the lady who desiccated field mice and dressed them in her hand made outfits. If that is not enough to put you off art fairs forever I do not know what is. Put me off at least, I did notice that she was selling them....strange what people will buy.

OK, pull up a nice chair by the window, relax, meditate, and maybe work on the blog a bit today. Since I sweat blood in the darkroom for 2 weeks I have earned a bit of a break.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Meditation

A nice quiet place to sit and relax. Put your feet up and kick back for a while.
You could call it meditating. In fact, meditation is a form of altered consciousness, a state where you can get in touch with the creative side of yourself.

There are basically three main types of meditation that I use:
1) Clearing the mind;  like the '70's TM craze that swept the world.
2) Directed or guided;  where there is a stated goal such as solving a problem and / or where you are led through the meditation by another person or a tape.
3) Moving;  a walking or working form of meditation.
 
Now, these may be combined to suit your needs; for example, you may take a 20 minute walk while trying to be "in the moment"  in other words to "just be walking". Or, you may walk with headphones listening to a guided meditation tape. Or, you may sit, clearing your mind while waiting for the solution to a stated problem. Feel free to pick, choose, and combine the main methods. Also feel free to invent your own way. Whatever works for you is correct.

Some people use a mantra or a affirmation to meditate. It may be a simple one like OM or AH.
It may also be a phrase such as:  I am worthy.   I am creative.   I am inspired.
For me the phrase seems to work best while I am walking. I walk in time to the phrase I am using.
A simple OM or a guided script in my own voice seems to work best for me as a seated or mind clearing meditation. I find it very helpful in stress relief and artist block removal.

We all get those times when we pick up the camera or the brush and .....nothing......
For me that is the time to meditate.   Just my opinion.
Your milage may vary.


Art A Fairs


Ah, spring has sprung. The sun is bright, the birds are singing, flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and my mailboxes both snail mail and email are filled with invitations to participate in the warm season rite of.... The Art Fair.

Now, most of these are, to be honest, Art and Craft fairs......
An excuse for the community to get out of the house, spend some money (or not), eat junk food, and maybe, if they are very lucky, get some exposure to a bit of "art". 

I have only once, many years ago, been an exhibitor at one of these affairs. It took only the one time for me to decide that this was not the way I wanted /needed to go. I was just not comfortable in that venue. Over the years, however, many of my students, as they began their careers, used this venue as a means of making some extra money and, more importantly, getting necessary feedback on their work.

Sometimes use of this venue can provide good input and some practice getting your "elevator story" honed to perfection. Other times you may find yourself in between the woman who desiccates field mice and dresses them in her handmade outfits and the chainsaw wood carver.   "what, you want to buy a print??? speak up ....can't hear you over the chainsaw."

For me, it does not work, your milage may vary.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

White Hats


Is it luck or is it planning? Sometimes a bit of both?  Well.......yes.
It is challenging to photograph in Amish areas since they do not like to have their photos taken.
Out of respect for that belief I try not to do faces, but for a black and white photographer the very starkness of their black and white life is too much to resist.

This resulted when I set up in a car blind down the street from a pizza place and waited. I could see that the light was right. I was just hoping for some pedestrians before the light changed.

This is one of the two groups that went past in the hour I was there.