One has to be careful with retrospect. The obvious cliché’s (‘living in the past’, ‘something behind might be gaining’) carry a large dollop of unsavory truth. But every year I do it anyway, at least as far as my art goes.
Each year, I look for the cherries. The works that strike me now as successes, and I chalk the rest up as learning exercises. This year I’ve completed 172 works, of which I posted 135 on this blog, some in slideshow form. Of the rest, six are waiting for the new year, two dozen were part of my tornado series and simply haven’t been exhibited, and the rest I just wasn’t happy with. That’s still a lot for an artist, and it underscores a fundamental characteristic of photo artists: the computer works much more quickly than brushes or clay. There’s good news and bad news in that statement that will wait for further analysis.
Of those works, I’ve chosen to add 83 – a little less than half – to my portfolio; also a lot compared with past years. The biggest portion of those fall into the Floral category, which supports my feeling that floral works are almost cheating. Like sunsets (any schlub can point a camera at a sunset and get something beautiful from it).
Noirs are the next largest additions, but that’s due to the tornado series.
It was new techniques applied primarily (at least for now) to Cityscapes that I’m most proud of; something I’ll get into another time.
I’ve identified 25 of those 83 additions to my portfolio as my best of the year, at least as my own eye goes (and my own eye is not always the best judge). These are the works most likely to make it into a gallery. Numbers 7 to 25 are part of this slideshow; I’ll post the top six on New Year’s Eve.
The act of retrospect is like looking through a telephoto lens – it pulls forward imperfections as well as accomplishments. When my mind drifts back, and drifts outside my art, it is not happy. I have not been a particularly good human being. Over the years, especially my younger years, I have treated a number of people shamefully. I’ve been shallow and self-centered and cowardly. I’ve been two-faced and engaged in backbiting and slander. I can’t do anything about any of that now. Now, all I can do is try not to repeat it. Now, all I can do is try to give something beautiful back to the world. No one may care, least of all anyone I’ve hurt. Perhaps ‘art’ is in and of itself a selfish act. All I can do is try.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.