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It has been a whopping 5 months since posted in this blog. I did one and went at it through the wrong route so one photo went out too big and bumped the bullets on the right side Hopefully I am re learning the tools to be neater. Anyway that one is just below this one. I am keen on a dialogue with other artists so please feel free to drop a line. Right now I am working (as I have for years) on images from nature. I would love to do a show of these sometime. I am wrestling with the ongoing issue of representational vs. abstraction, or more to the point, how to resolve the melding/interpretation of this problem. I have overlaid shapes that are key design system shape (like a circle, triangle, meander, etc.) and finding shapes (especially in water) that can be brought to the fore.
This is a painting I made after seeing a white arch bridge in Japan. The arch is an extremely important natural design element.
How to resolve the problem of going beyond realism and retaining the imagery that you find interesting? I have dealt with this issue from the beginning. I can do strict abstraction and strict realism but I am not interested in going there. I relate best to the work of artists in between, especially Vincent. After writing and deleting several hand wringing discussions with myself I conclude that the problem is a blessing, I will just keep trying to catch the rabbit and I hope I don’t.
Nature offs a few hints, the shapes in water are fascinating because they keep changing. In photos you can see an amazing system of interwoven shapes and designs. These are visual prompts to exploit and investigate. That word investigate-it is a key word for me, making is the process and result of an on going investigation of visual problems.
After the first cave painting the next guy took a look and added something new, but used something he just saw in the old painting. So it goes. In my opinion the real question is not your style or technique, but the ideas/concepts you are putting out there. It seems to me some of the “fresh, amazing and totally new” stuff is actually gimmick work and carries very little or no concept. The painting I just finished for Indiana’s bicentennial is going to suggest Jasper Johns because of the technique, using stencils. But I am not concerned because I believe the ideas overcome that.
Once, when I was in school I told one of my professors about an idea I had but expressed concern that it would be too obvious that a source was another artist. He said, “Do it anyway, since you are doing it the thing will turn out differently.” He was right. So my free advice is to do it anyway. The big mistake is to not do anything.
JUMP 24″ x 36′ acrylic on canvas
Indianapolis is just one of many U.S. cities that are quite conservative and have been for decades. The skylines of cities like this do not embrace soaring modern architecture. I have always been a fan of Sullivan’s concept: “Form follows function.” One thing that irks me about conservative politics and architecture is the desire to retreat. It is not enough to be stuck in the past, it would be better to go backwards, as if to grow is wrong. Another is the desire to “fix things” by adding non-functional decorative elements. The beauty of nature is in the efficiency of nature. The same is true for things we create to make our live more efficient.
My grandmother had hand crocheted dollies pinned to the arms of her easy chairs. This was an add-on that had no function and she thought it was “pretty.”I took these shots on the expressway in Indianapolis. These add-ons do nothing for function or beauty. They add cost and are, to my mind, unattractive. They are the architectural equivalent of a filibuster.
RECORD WHAT INTERESTS YOU, SORT IT OUT LATER.
It is a good idea to trust your instincts….you are almost always right.
I am interested in a lot of different kinds of images, advertising, reflections in water, old trucks, clouds, demo derby cars…lots of things. I investigate with my eyes which are the window to ideas. I think this is true for most artists, so this is no big revelation. I just thought I would show you a simple example of this I ran across last week. After walking across a large white bridge I noticed the reflection of it in the water. I always have my camera with me and so I took this photo. It was almost like real life imitating a painting ideas I have worked with before..
I then printed out the picture and took it to the studio. Below is a photo of the painting.
I did the blues first and let them dry. Next I painted the reflection. I used acrylic painting markers as well as a fine brush. People who have no idea this is a bridge reflection seem to respond to it as a purely abstract image. I always point out that actually, all “abstraction” comes from concrete reality. I am particularly interested in water shapes right now. The bottom line is the same as the top line….trust yourself, do not worry for a minute what others might say.
Not everything we try is going to work, but we should try everything we wish to make work.
In some of my first forays into painting (literally without a lesson, 1967) I painted what I saw around me in the Gary, Indiana area, this included trucks.
Many years later, after dropping out of teaching for a few years I did a formalized venture into highway images (1977-87). This brought some of my early road trip experiences as a kid as well as my love for the whole culture.
After that I pursued some experimental work including a lot of mixed media constructions. I became interested in design systems in nature and oceanic art. Lately I have been working on a series about clouds.
So here we are, I just retired and I although I am doing work on two books and some experimental photography, I felt like I had painted myself into a corner.
My solution is to go back to those trucks and cars. I came to this through photography. I was taking pictures of the interiors of junk cars. I then started looking at the fronts of those beloved old Fords and Buicks. Now I am making some small canvases, I will work towards bigger work soon. These aren’t quite as photo looking as that early work. I am taking more liberties with color and adding some symbols. I do not know where this is going but it is going….and that is the important thing.
There are several approaches to taking photos of birds, today I went upstairs. From the top window I could look down on the birds. This can help in several ways. Flight is easier to observe as well as distance. Looking down to the ground it becomes obvious you can now take pictures of several birds without much of a depth of field problem. Instead of objects moving back into space they are pretty much on the same plane. This is a big help if you want multiple birds in focus in the same shot. As a matter of variety and interest some photographers actually carry a ladder in their vehicle. Changing your point if view is a nice change…and sometimes a real advantage.
This is an example of how shooting from above can help beet the depth of field problem.
Paw Paw Marsh, Martin County, Indiana
Why would you risk snake bite, ruining your camera and God knows what to stay all day in a freakin’ swamp? tick bites-terror supreme!
on the other hand…….
Why would you strap yourself into a plastic and metal thing on rubber wheels and hurl yourself down asphalt at 60 miles and hour….with idiots coming at you at all directions?
Great Blue Heron
We know air travel is safer….and so is nature. A mucky-yucky swamp is full of beautiful life. That is why a lot of photo people like it. If you have never entered a marsh area (marsh…that is what we tree hugging liberals call it) before sunrise…well you should. As the sun rises and the fog lifts wild life comes alive. Since you and your camera were there first, and you are quiet, then you will see a lot of life others miss. Hint-if you can-do this on a weekday when the other folks are off to work.
I recently remarked to a friend that I did not like the way wide angle lens shots looked because they warp the information on the right and left sides (edges of information lean in towards the center).
He told me how to do “photo-stitching” or panoramic shots. I would now like to pass this on to you. I think you will be amazed at how easy it is!
1. Turn the camera for a vertical format, take 5-6 shots from left to right. Make sure each shot overlaps the last one by about 25%. Take care not to jog the camera up or down, just stay in place and twist your body as you shoot.
2. After putting the photos in Adobe, select the 4-5, highlight them (left mouse button+shift). Now tap the ENTER key. This will load all of your photos ( you will see them displayed at the bottom of the screen).
3. Go up to FILE then NEW. This will open a window that allows you to choose: PHOTO MERGE PANORAMA.
4. A photo merge page comes up. Click on ADD NEW FILES. Then click O.K. Believe it or not-the work is done. Now simply wait for a few minutes and the computer will stitch the images together. Give it time to resolve all of the edges and lighting differences in each shot. When it is done it will be obvious.
Now simply crop the image and save it.
After saving the image it may or may not be in the file you pulled it out of, the first 2 or 3 times I had to go to “recently changed” to find it. After that the image did stay right in the file I pulled it from.
Good luck and have fun!