Lest one conclude that monochrome means colorless.
This is the second of seven works on the ‘monochrome’ theme that I created in response to two of my galleries opening monochrome exhibits at exactly the same time. Writing on my first work I suggested two methodologies for arriving at a monochrome work: bend all colors towards a single shade or start with a desaturated image then add back a color. That first work used the former method. In this work I used the latter.
Or I should say, used the latter with a twist. The statement above suggests adding color to a noir or black and white image (and we’ll get to that in subsequent works). In this case, the original image was almost totally orange – a natural monochrome. For this work I simply removed any traces of anything other than orange, added several lighting and extrusion effects. “Monochrome”, meaning just one color, doesn’t necessarily mean just one shade or tone of that color. A monochrome work can still include a thousand different variations.
Seven monochrome works total – I would select two for exhibit at the two galleries. Neither this work nor the first were selected. Unless something changes my mind.
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It’s possible this work may look familiar. It probably should. It’s derived from a work already in my portfolio, in fact a work found on this site’s Consider page under ‘Previous Work’. In fact, of the seven works in this series, only the first work was created from a new photographic capture. I recognized very early on that my best monochrome works would come from adapting work from my library.
Thing is, I have decades of works. But so many tools have become available, and I’ve learned so many new techniques and styles in just the last couple years, that arguably I’m sitting on a thousand works I haven’t finished yet. More to say about this by and by.
Beginning today a series of seven works, two of which I might combine, around the theme of “monochrome”.
I woke up a couple weeks ago and realized I had two galleries about to open exhibits themed as “monochrome” at almost exactly the same time, and unless I wanted to submit only noir works I had to get busy. I kinda like it when something like that happens because it forces a creative burst – sure enough, in short order I had produced these seven new works.
“Monochrome”, of course, simply refers to work that uses a single-color pallet or shades of that one color. Black and white or ‘noir’ as I affectionally call it is the most obvious. Grey might be the most realistic shade for reproducing monochromatic images or at least the most recognizable, but any color works as long as it’s used with effect.
Two approaches: one is to bend all colors towards a single shade. The other is to start with an image in which all colors have been removed, then add back the desired shade. This work utilizes the former. Also noteworthy is the use of extrusions – those bands of light across the image. It’s those bands that can give blending options their diversity. In this case, however, it’s the variety of directions from which those bands, well, extrude. I used two different canvases to vary the point at which those extrusions began, then blended them back in. The technique of blending separately filtered canvases together defines my recent work.
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I want to explain the title of this work, lest an impression is imparted that it reflects upon the “monochrome” theme. Not at all. Many of my best, most dramatic works are noirs. The title is appropriate to the scene; a guy staring forlornly into food shelves, unable to identify anything to which his desires moved, I’d actually circled around this guy while discreetly capturing the image, and he continued to just stand there, staring into a baloney of sameness that, somehow, seems consistent with our Corona-days.
This piece is a blog bomb.
I was sitting in my Beer Garden (everybody has a beer garden, right?) over the weekend, fire going in the fire box and the fountain in the garden pool gurgling with clean water changed that very day. I looked over and saw these Black-Eyed Susan’s (no, I’m not sure that’s what they are either) and thought, “Well, that’s a nice shot”, so I reached for my camera, leaned over, and captured it. five minutes later it was on Facebook. I’d no intention of exhibiting it on this blog.
Here’s how much work and artistic effort went into this piece:
As I look at it, the white balance is off, the sharpness could be better, and the vibrancy and color curves need work. It could also use some lighting tweaks. And that’s just from a photographer’s point of view – I haven’t begun to consider how the artist might attack it.
Now, in the past six months or so I’ve posted works I’ve spent hours on and that I’m quite proud of, like this one, and this one, or this one, and all of them were posted to Facebook via a link to this blog.
This little snapshot into which no work at all went has more ‘likes’ on Facebook than all of them.
What have we just illustrated here? Is it a commentary on the futility of the creative process and the irrelevance of the artist? Does it reveal humanity’s preference for simple vs. complex? Obvious vs. abstract? Pretty vs. thoughtful?
Does it bother me that people seem to so enjoy this remarkably simple piece? Not really, I’m glad people enjoy it. Heck, it’s because of this there are so many florals in my portfolio. But, I tell you, if this were all I ever did I would go out of my freaking mind.
Last of the pure experiments with the human form, this one perhaps less so than the first two, and given some of the work over the last year it’s actually fairly conservative. But I was happy with the balance of the piece, the blending of foreground and background, the equal-sided composition; hence the title.
I keep finding that the new techniques I’m working with leads first and foremost to an unsightly blob that has to be reeled in – this work was no different. Earliest versions struck me as sloppy and garish – there’s almost no line at all between too far and not far enough. In the past I’ve described photo art as a process of revealing the art hiding in the pixels of a photographic capture. But techniques I’ve been playing with includes so many layers, and, consequently, so many pixels I feel as though I’ve gone from excavating in a desert with a teaspoon to cutting through a jungle with a machete.
It’s not unusual to decide a particular piece is not working in one direction, retreat and start down a different path. My art has become so complex it now takes many times longer to reach that point in which wisdom finally overcomes stubbornness and I acquiesce to stepping back. Still one more creative technique; using reverse to move forward.
Work number 2 of 3 in which I’m exploring how far I can take the human form – this one the most radical of the three, both indistinct yet recognizable within the context of the composition. The photographic capture, in this case, included a good deal of glare from the florescent lighting, and not much color from the shelves. I chose to desaturate the scene even further, while over-saturating the colors worn by the shoppers. The extended ceiling helps create a sense of infinity, adding to the abstraction.
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What is this thing with making everything political, and then bullying the other side? I mean, c’mon – refusing face masks?? Talk about the least amount an individual can do. Folks, the economy is never going to come back while Covid-19 is prevalent, and Covid-19 is going to be prevalent until everybody wears face masks. Wise up.
Oh, and BTW, ‘back-to-normal’ just plain ain’t happening; you might as well be counting on the Easter Bunny.
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You know, on a starship, the only person who can give the captain orders is the doctor. Just sayin’ …
Today beginning a series of three posts in which the works exhibited are unquestionably experiments. I wanted to use the same setting as my most recent posts (a large shopping center) to play with the human form more radically – how far can I take it? How far will the medium of a photographic capture LET me take it? And having taken it, where is the boundary between creating art and creating a hopeless blob? The only way to find out is through experimentation.
Having committed to this course I’m also committing to exhibiting works that may/will not be my best work. But then, how would I know? More than a few times I’ve posted work I thought was not that great, only to find out later it was actually received quite well. And, other side of the coin, I’ve pushed out an experiment I thought was great, and found out later nobody liked it. The art world, though, is filled with examples of work that sat for years before anyone recognized its worth, as well as works hung prominently that would be all but forgotten 20 years later.
It’s an analogy, I think, to the way history itself works. The symbols and images we surround ourselves with, even the people we designate as heroes, will change as society changes. More futile than running experiments up the flagpole is doggedly maintaining a tattered flag in a windstorm.
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Have to update my most recent post in lauding one of my favorite television episodes; that being Cheers, season 10, episode 16. I mentioned that I’d kept it in my Netflix list so I’d have it to watch and lived in fear that Netflix would drop the series.
Sure enough, Netflix did. In fact, it already had when I wrote the blog.
It sounds like it may reappear in the new Peacock service that debuts this week – I’ll look for it anyway and cross my fingers that it will reside on that service’s ‘free’ side, versus a paid upgrade.
Honestly, we’ll look back on this shift to consumption of mass media through streaming services in the same way we now recognize the rise of the internet, then the adoption of smart phones in its impact on society. How we view the world has a direct bearing on how we treat the world, and each other.
That’s three fundamental sociological changes in 30 years, if you’re counting.
One of my favorite television episodes of all time is Cheers, season 10, episode 16, The Nanny G episode. Officially titled ‘One Hugs The Other Doesn’t’, as a birthday present for their son Sam Malone has purchased tickets to a concert by children’s singer Nanny G (played by the superb Emma Thompson) for Fraiser Crane and his wife Lilith. The four are sitting just a few rows from the stage as the concert opens, when Fraiser exclaims, “My god, that’s my first wife!”
And Lilith, who thought she was Fraiser’s first wife, says, “What?!”
What follows is 23 minutes of verbal barbs and actual physical wrestling as the two women fight over a delighted Fraiser. I roar with laughter every time. I’ve actually bookmarked it on Netflix so I can watch it about once a month, and I dread the day Netflix takes it away.
Which brings me to body art, which I really like. It’s not the art itself so much as the person the art is on and how it’s displayed. The right art with the right person can be mesmerizing, creating an almost ethereal experience, and I have great respect for those who can pull it off. I’m delighted I have no body art myself – given my lifelong immaturity and generally abrasive personality, god only knows what sort of fool crap I’d have permanently affixed to my body. An undisclosed first wife would be the least of the misadventures. The younger me is not something I’d be proud to display; I can barely stand the current me.
What I’m leading up to: The other day I’m wandering around the house for some reason and I’m looking at some of the photo art my incredibly sweet and indulging wife (first wife, really, I swear to god!) has encouraged me hang, and it’s like I’m looking at stuff I did in high school. I mean, it’s fine work I really loved when I hung them, but I’ve learned so much and gone in so many new directions, especially in the last ten months or so, it’s like looking at art I did as a kid. Not a memory; an illustration of my creative state of being THEN. Back then. And now that state has changed. In another year, likely the work I’m proud of now will seem the same.
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OK, since I know you’re asking, it’s actually rare that a comedy resonates so with me as the Nanny G episode does, although I’d have to acknowledge the ‘Adam’s Ribs’ episode of M*A*S*H. I generally gravitate to much darker material; ‘Mr. Robot’ and the reimagined ‘Battlestar Galactica’ are among my all-time favorites. Also ‘Mad Men’, ‘The Sopranos’, and the Australian series ‘Rake’ that can be found on Netflix. Current favorites? I’d list AMC’s ‘Better Call Saul’, Netflix’s ‘The Kominski Method’ and ‘Mindhunter’, Apple TV+ ‘For All Mankind’ and ‘Mythic Quest’, FX’s ‘Fargo’. I’m leaving out stuff I’m sure I’d love, such as HBO’s ‘Westworld’, Amazon’s ‘Man In The High Castle’, Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, and all the new Star Treks on CBS All Access because I don’t get those services, which pretty much defines the TV watching experience in 2020, if not life itself. It’s all about access.
Side effect of the Coronavirus outbreak has to have been greater fireworks sales this past Forth Of July as it sounded like a war zone most of the evening. Since fewer people went out to public fireworks demonstrations, more people bought firecrackers to set off at home. Sure, one is not SUPPOSED to set off fireworks within city limits (OK, TOWN limits) but I suspect enforcement of such is limited at best.
So, question: What’s fun about a firecracker? I admit, when I was a kid I liked setting off firecrackers as much as any kid until I got old enough to ask what the big deal was. There’s a sensory perception thing there, I suppose; light a fuse and get rewarded by a bang. At a certain point, what’s the big deal? You light a fuse, wait a few seconds, there’s a bang. What have you accomplished? What was the surprise? Was the noise alone enough to spice up the status quo? I can hear a George Carlin joke: “Wow, here’s some black powder – let’s blow it up”!
On a Coronavirus-related note, what’s the point of Baseball without fans? I was looking forward to Major League Baseball starting up, but the more I think about it the emptier it feels. Part of the fun of watching it on TV is the memory-stimulus of actually being there – the sights, the smells, the sounds of the ballpark. The comradery with friends. I love the game, but I wonder if JUST the game will seem too sterile.
Realistically, though, it’s not like there’s a choice. Go Cubs.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.