Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Creativity: A Vision of a Growing Inspiration

Every thing we do as creative people adds to the tools we use. If we observe nature, do yoga, get in touch with our inner selves or just take the time to learn, we are always growing as artists.

I have recently been unable to paint, I stare at paintings I've already started and nothing happens. It's amazing and dramatic the feeling of sitting in front of what is a foreign entity.

Months or even years ago, I did an underpainting, nothing has happened since. I was inspired once but now it seems I push paint around and have no idea of what direction to take.

Recently, I have photographed much more than painted. I have used discipline to keep shooting even when the inspiration was missing. Suddenly the most mundane image becomes something special, I believe, like a muscle, it is the creative mind practicing and expanding.

Here are a few recent images that have inspired me. I am planning on creating an E-book with all of the images of the 365 day photo challenge and making it available free to subscribers.

I will be adding poetry to the images that will explain the creative process and why I took the photograph in the first place. I will be adding the images and the words as it progresses, would love to have opinions and what would interest my readers in not only reading but what photographs they like.

As I said, there was a purpose for all these lessons and suddenly without any warning, I am painting again with a new passion and excitement. The amazing thing is the change and how seeing the image becomes markedly different.

Suddenly the image that seemed like someone elses' painting for months now has all the directions written out. My brush knows where to go, what colors go where and very suddenly I know exactly what needs to be done. After getting away from the painting you start to see some hidden strokes and techniques that I would never consciously think of and yet in the frenzy of painting everything makes perfect sense.

I can't even explain how exciting a feeling it is and how quickly the work becomes when suddenly you have a new view of the whole process. Very soon, I will be sharing the latest and they will be available on the website as well. Stay tuned and I would love any feedback. Thanks

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Isolating Light: Fire Captured in a Crystal

It started out as an idea, a still life subject I was experimenting with but it turned into something more interesting. I found light in a quartz crystal and it started a series of experimentations that was as fun as it was enlightening.

I've always had an interest in geology and have been a rock hound for as long as I can remember. In the trips my son and I would plan we would include a mineral adventure; we've panned for topaz in the hill country and dug for diamonds in Arkansas. I'm still planning a trip to Georgia for amethyst.

There is something about a crystal; the way the light touches the facets or the smooth texture of each face. I was interested in capturing the essence of the color and light of each rock. 

I bought these amethyst years ago because I thought they were interesting. I planned on putting them in a tank or doing something interesting with them for a long time.

The first time I shot them I tried to capture the colors and richness of the deep purples. It was when I introduced the quartz crystal that I noticed the exquisite light that was glowing inside it with the setting of the sun.

Much like a sunset changes in color and intensity so does a still life that is lit by the outside light. As the last bit of sun grew more intense the light radiated from the crystals and the light made the colors even richer.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

An Artist in Chaos: Growth of a Discipline

When we are young, we develop habits, some good, some not so good. I have every excuse to be disorganized as I'm creative and it's a creative trademark but I have seen what happens without organization and a game plan. You push paint around....I"m gonna trademark that one of these days-maybe a book, Yes, a book.

Pushing Paint Around: I've always talked about times of fermentation and I still believe in it although I believe discipline and organization can help in two ways.
 • When the inspiration strikes you are ready and available to work instead of fighting with obstacles and disorder. Disorder is something that is very agitating in a moment of inspiration. I have experienced the feeling of being ready to shoot an amazing photograph but your equipment was either not taken care of or something you needed wasn't available in the chaos.

• I think the disorganization keeps the holding pattern longer and prolongs the feeling of fermentation. I realize that as an artist, things inspire me regularly, my life and surroundings should be uncluttered and available to realize the inspiration of light, of objects, of nature.

• Disorder can depress and confuse the already cluttered mind. So many thoughts stream through becoming dried dead leaves on the bottom of a great flood instead of the light and the colors that dance on the surface of the water. How many thoughts and ideas have been lost due to clutter and chaos?

Stop Playing: Start Doing, No Excuses: I pride myself on the ability to be honest with myself about my shortcomings. There is no way to change or improve if certain parts of your personality are set in stone. I quit smoking many years back and one thing I never did is say, I'm a smoker and that's the end, I was always open to quitting and eventually I did.

I have a lot of disorder in my life, I don't take care of my things the way I need to. I could use the excuse of being an artist and having a chaotic mind but I"m continually insisting I can improve.

Discipline: is the ingredient in a cake that makes all the ingredients rise and be a cake, it is the binding that keeps the creative endeavor on track. I plan on one day having an agent but until than I need to discipline myself to be the best I can. Discipline and organization are two qualities I will use to take a life time of pushing paint into a career that I can be proud of.

Honesty: is what allows you to perfect what ever you are doing. The initial ego and excitement of creation can overshadow your subject. I have painted many portraits and animal images that at the time I was quite proud of but later saw them closer to reality.

Honesty and humility is the only way I know to get to the next level of this craft. I don't think an artist ever arrives at a place where they are an artist and that's that. It is a continual growing process and the image you are supposed to create is very illusive and changes with age. I have just recently started to see glimpses of the image I have sought for so many years.

Self-Reflection: This can really include all of the above but there can be no growth and success without self reflection and there can be little self reflection without quiet. A place, a time to be present to truly take stock in the work you've done and the work you will do, this is how an artist breaks forward and become what they are intended to be.

Teaching Painting and the Gallery Critique: I don't think art has ever been meant to be an isolated craft, I'm not saying creation is not an isolated and personal act but I do feel it needs to not be in a bubble. For me, art is something that needs to be interactive, the viewer must react or it is a beautiful tree hidden in a forest. It is still as beautiful and every bit important but it doesn't speak to anyone.

I want my viewers to react, to feel something and that charge of chemistry between the viewer and a piece of art creates a relationship that begs to be available and shared. I want what ever I create to be taken as a personal memory, a cherished thought or idea that connects deeper than the surface. The viewer nor the artist really needs to know the reality, it is that intangible and mysterious interaction that makes great art.

I have gained more from teaching art and receiving critiques from galleries than I have ever received from simple words of encouragement. You burst the bubble, you get out of what is comfortable and understood and you explore not only your own reasons for creating but how they are taken by the novice and the expert, it is a wonderful disruption of what you see is common or ritual.

I went into my studio this morning and started organizing. I felt like I was digging through some one's attic and finding perhaps a past life that has been waiting to be discovered. Suddenly the ideas became more clear, the abstract made more sense and the true need for discipline jumped out as if I was saving an artist from their own chaos. Stay tuned for a lot of work.....

Check back with for new artwork, writing and photography.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Fruits of Labor: Often an Inspiration Takes Time to Appear

Sometimes it just happens, I've set up this still life for the last week or so and nothing has jumped out. Often, much like a painting that sits on the easel with nothing to add, an image needs to become what it needs to. Sometime it's the simplest bit of light that paints an object that turns the mundane into something special.

I have stood in front of sunsets that seemed for all purpose amazing and yet the eye seems not to notice the intricacies. It is the most subtle light and the illusive hue that makes a simple subject more profound. These images capture a feeling of an afternoon, the sun descending somewhere outside and a memory of a rainy afternoon or an early spring day.

What struck me most about these still life objects is the background, a subtle orange or yellow hue that makes the whole atmosphere seem anything but ordinary. I want the viewer to taste the sweetness of the blood orange or the bitter yellow in the lemon. These colors paint the scene in an intangible presence and I believe that is when the mundane and simple becomes extraordinary. This is my quest as an artist to find the intricacies in light and a moment of the ordinary and make it say something to the viewer.

I would appreciate any opinion on these images as they are adding to the prints being sold on Fineartamerica and I want to know what would constitute art for my viewer. Take  a moment to share your opinion, thanks as always for your time and interest.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dallas Zoo: Wildlife Portraits

I went to the Dallas zoo with the idea of getting close-up animal portraits. I spent 30 minutes watching the gorillas and talking to the zoo keeper. Each gorilla has their own personality and I enjoyed learning about the individuals.

When  you bring a child to the zoo you tend to be chasing them and trying to keep up. When you go with a specific intent, you can concentrate on the specific species you intend to photograph and are more able to just relax and enjoy them.

I watched a group of chimps in a very tender moment. It's amazing how much more you see when you stop and enjoy them instead of running to the next exhibit. The two chimps sat and groomed each other while a young baby hid behind the bushes and played, doing somersaults and enjoying the sunshine.

Next I was lucky to have a cheetah sitting right by the window of the enclosure. The pair of cheetahs were quite active as well and stepped into the light. I got to see more of their personalities than usual, the last time I remember seeing them resting in pasture too far for my telephoto to capture anything but a group of spots.

The giraffes were fun because they come up to get feed, you can pay to get some leaves to feed them. I was impressed by the textures in the face and the eyes and the intricacies of the spots.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Discipline is often the muse that makes us find our creativity

I am working hard to continue to find objects that can be used in abstract images for wall decor. Tonight I found the silhouettes of summers' garden made dramatic imagery.
To create when nothing inspires is where discipline comes in. You are forced to see beyond a gray winter day and seek light when there is none available and I believe that is the fuel that feeds creativity when the muse doesn't show.

I have also been in a situation where the scenery was so breathtaking you couldn't do it justice even if you tried. I was in Glacier National Park and between altitude sickness and a feeling of being overwhelmed, it was hard to shoot something that was truly remarkable.

There is a great space where you need to work a bit harder to see beyond what is obvious and yet the light is perfect, this is the sweet spot and what follows is a landscape where the creative thrives.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Nature's Illusive Form: Nature Finds a Path to Contemporary Art

An autumn stream becomes a rich tapestry of colors as nature intended.

I love the patterns in nature. As an artist, finding a unique perspective that can show a viewer something they might not have seen before is a large part of my artistic intent.

I have always painted landscapes and seascapes but I could never perfect what is already real. I am competing with the greatest artist of them all: God. All I can hope for is to show the viewer an aspect of that image that moved me and perhaps move the viewer with the same or varied feeling.

As I have been photographing more regularly, I have found the need to see deeper than just the landscape. Especially when the light does not cooperate with the subject or doesn't show up at all.

A red Photinia becomes a graphic image when a late afternoon light catches a few of the leaves.

I learned to isolate parts of nature when my desire to photograph didn't lend itself to the light of the day. On a gray winter day, when there is nothing but flat, bland light and no objects are discernible by any effective modeling,  I have discovered a new way of seeing the landscape.

I started seeing how images were painted by stray bits of light. Suddenly instead of a bland landscape, I was able to find just a piece of that landscape that could be a graphic object. I don't even care if the final image is discernible, it is more the aspect of its abstract nature that intrigues me.

A Mexican Milkweed becomes the center piece of discussion as the background blurs into cool greens and blues. These plants are crucial for the survival of the Monarch Butterfly, the pot shows the colors and textures of the wings and would make a nice conversation piece and accent in your home. The pot is also available on Etsy.

I have started gathering autumn leaves, green leaves and patterns in water, in the past I would  have struggled to find something in abstract but now the image jumps out at me. It's a muscle and to strengthen this way of seeing the landscape has changed my whole outlook on contemporary art.

I believe that bringing nature into the house can evoke a calm center as well as a conversation piece for visitors. I like how without representing a specific subject, the image evokes something without trying too hard to be abstract or artsy. I have found my way to the abstract and contemporary subject.

Different aspects of Autumn awaken a cool living environment.