Let’s do an exercise – go to the cupboard and take out a favorite cup. Sit down with it; study it closely. Set it on a table or hand hold it Bring the eyes close to it. Turn it around and over. Consider why it’s a favorite. The colors. The patterns. The way it fits in the hand. Let the mind wander over it. What about it resonates?
You have just had an experience in art; an entity from the external world that invokes an emotional or subliminal meaning in the internal world.
Some would argue that the cup is less art than it is DESIGN; I would argue that design is simply another form of art. Painting, sculpture, photography, music, acting, writing … design … it’s all different forms of ART.
Art often has a juxtaposition between realism and abstraction; in design that juxtaposition is expressed as form versus function. The cup in the cupboard is there because it performs a function; it has a purpose – if it didn’t, say, if it were part of an ornate tea set, it wouldn’t be in the cupboard it would be displayed on a table or a hutch. It might be the favorite simply because of the way the hand fits it, or the amount of coffee it holds. Might be, but probably not unless it’s the only cup in the cupboard. Something about its form resonates more than anything else there. There is meaning in its status.
Also characteristic of design is that its representation is industrialized. Likely, the cup is not a one of a kind object produced by an artisan – be nice if it were but likely it is not. It might be RARE, but, again, if it were it likely wouldn’t be hiding in a cupboard. Design is one means of differentiating an industrialized product from all the other industrialized products, and as Billy Durant and Harley Earl knew, superior design leads to greater sales. Nowhere are the passions of design more resonate that automotive design.
I wrote in my January 17 post that automotive design was my first love. My nephew Sam has the same bug. I describe in the February 3 post that he’d asked me to create art from a couple photographic captures he’d made; I generally don’t like to work from someone else’s captures, but in this case it appealed to me. In the first place, he’d done several things right with his captures which made it easier for me to work. He hadn’t tried to take a ‘portrait’ of the cars, which is the first thing many artists get wrong when creating automotive art. He picked a particular perspective highlighting a particular element of the design. He also got LOW when he captured the image - that’s another mistake artists and photographers often make. Don’t shoot the car standing up; shoot an automobile like shooting a child – get eye level. Look closely at how he arranged the car a little off kilter in its lane which had the effect of creating multiples lines between the car and the center stripe. That contributed to a much more interesting composition. The addition of the train created two horizontal lines to intersect and break up the diagonals of the stripe and the car. Everything comes together perfectly a little off center. The rule of thirds is expertly in place here, though I suppose my crop of Sam’s original image helped create that. I worked on cropping, exposure and motion blurs, then drew from both my established and newer techniques to effect edging, lighting, and color blending when I applied my artist’s perspective.
A successful collaboration is at hand! I’ve been wanting to become better at automotive art. I’ve learned a great deal myself from working with Sam’s captures, so, an activity I would normally shy away from has been beneficial all around. We’ve got another one in the wings … to be posted later this week.
Artists are symbionts.
I started to write that art is like puppies continuously dancing around your feet seeking attention and play and love and FOOD and trips outside and then another trip outside, and that’s great when the artist is in the mood for it, but when the artist isn’t it’s just annoying. All the more so in that they have to be taken care of whether annoying or not. Puppies are a responsibility; they have to be cared for and they won’t necessarily function according to a convenient schedule.
But art is not like a puppy. Somebody else might be around to occasionally do puppy duties. Nobody else can take care of an artist’s art. It nips at the consciousness demanding attention. There is never enough time to give to it. It is jealous of distractions. Given all it asks for the artist becomes self-absorbed, anti-social and cold; allow it to languish and the artist simply becomes hollow.
Artists are symbionts. We are a symbiosis of both human and non-human components. It’s why we’re nuts.
* * *
Today’s work came together quite happily. It required just the right amount of creativity – not too easy, and it did what it was supposed to do. Like a good puppy. I’m working with another piece right now that JUST-WON’T-DO-WHAT-I-WANT. I may be committing the cardinal sin of trying to force it to be something it can never be - trying to make the symbiont do something it doesn’t want to. Likely (hopefully) post it in a couple weeks …
Oscar time is a good time to remind each other that rewards reflect work which resonates with enough people in the moment to reach acclaim but doesn’t necessarily mean the work will be recognized with the same esteem over time. Other works which were not seen by enough people or were lost in short-term hoopla may rise, first as ‘cult’ status and later recognized as masterpieces. And sometimes it’s politics alone. In 1999, the Motion Picture Academy overlooked ‘Saving Private Ryan’ for best picture and gave 13 nominations and the best picture award to a film called ‘Shakespeare In Love’. Anybody seen ‘Shakespeare In Love’ on any channel or streaming service lately? Go back 20 or 30 years and we routinely find films with far greater lasting impacts than the actual Oscar winners. And, if one thinks about it, this year marked the first time ever that a foreign language film, ‘Parasite’, won the best picture award. All the work of Fellini, Truffaut, Bergman, Kurosawa, that went unnoticed, or at best segregated into a category called ‘foreign language films’, where the greater public essentially ignored them.
But that’s how life works, actually. Our most important moments slip past us like a river, perhaps unrecognized in the moment. I find myself becoming more reflective as I age, remembering everyone I’ve loved who’ve simply floated past with the eddies and currents. And, juxtaposed, the people I could have been more charitable with whom I’ve now lost the chance to attend.
In my art, I’ve learned however much I may like or dislike a work at its creation, only time will tell if it was actually any good. That’s why I pretty much throw everything out there; to see what will stick. Give every impulse room to thrive.
* * *
It’s that point in the calendar in which I’m mainly going back to last year’s photographic captures, looking for something to work with so I don’t have to face the grey, lifeless February of today. This capture, of a Missouri River overlook next to the Missouri Governor’s mansion, came out of several hours scouting through its adjacent historic district. And I think it’s the only one I’ve done anything with, raising issues of purpose vs. serendipity. But I’ll get to that in a few blogs …
Happy to be back at Soulard after an absence of many months. Logistics come into play when exhibiting at this delightful little gallery just up the street from the old Anheuser-Busch brewery. In the first place, I have to be able to get there, so the schedule has to line up both coming and going. In the second, the time between acceptance into an exhibit and the drop off date is just five days – for metal I need two weeks in order to have the work produced. If I produce a work on spec ahead of time and it’s not accepted I’ve just thrown a hefty wad of cash into the street. No where does moving to inkjet, in which that ten days production time shrinks to a few hours, have greater benefits.
* * *
One of the works on display, ‘Marked Down Man’ actually received a first-place award at another gallery last year, and also sold as a smaller 10x14 metal work. I should clarify – metal works that sell I will never again produce in that size. The buyer of a metal work has complete exclusivity to that work in that size. With inkjet, all bets are off. I will reproduce inkjet as often as someone wants it. But look at the difference in price – a metal work in that size and frame would cost well over three times as much!
The second work represented, ‘Automated Consumption’, is illustrative of the new techniques I’ve been evolving, which are being really well received. My artistic style has been all over the place, but I may have found something that is truly ‘me’. The photographic capture for this work came from the Baseball Village sports bar across from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It’s an attempt to copy Wrigleyville. Just sayin’ …
No new techniques at play in this one; nothing especially fancy. Just a good photographic capture at the perfect time of day, cropped to a 1x2 scale. Enhancements to exposure, lighting, saturation and hue, plus filtering for edging and texture to create a dreamscape. I’d call it ‘old school’, except that much of what I’ve done with this work would have constituted new techniques several years ago. New or old is irrelevant. Every work defines its own reality.
* * *
If it’s not recognizable, this is a view of the top of the City Museum in St. Louis, captured from the rooftop of the building next door, The Last Hotel, looking north.
* * *
I did some work for family this past weekend that has me considering my purpose with this medium I call photo art; specifically, both what I’m trying to do and what I’m trying to NOT do. What I DO do, as I’ve stated so many times, is try to reveal the art in everyday things, captured deep within the pixels of digital photography. To accomplish this, the final work must ‘feel’ natural, not forced, not faked, not like I’ve simply taken a picture and applied a watercolor filter. It has to invoke its own vision, a reality that exists in its own universe as an extension of the artist’s imagination.
My nephew, who loves his cars, took a couple pictures and asked if I could do my artsy thing with them. Generally, I shy away from this – I like to control an image from the capture forward if I’m going to claim it as my own work. But he’s family and I love him, and I thought I’d give it a shot – plus, I love automotive art and would like to get better at it, so if nothing else it would serve as a good artsy exercise. While I was doing it, I kept thinking, “It can’t look fake!” It can’t look like I simply took his picture and slopped something over the top of it. It’s got to, as noted above, reflect an artistic vision extending from my own imagination – more difficult to achieve since I hadn’t captured the photograph. But, as it happened, it WAS a good exercise, and I THINK he’s going to be happy with what I’ve come up with; I sure hope so. Art appreciation is subjective. But so is reality …
The Not-The-Word-For-Today is ‘Artplay’.
I was going to make it the word for the day when I thought I’d made it up. I wanted it to describe the process leading up to today’s work. Turns out there are a couple galleries using that name, a digital media company, and a Japanese computer game producer using it. Well, hell.
Here’s what I need, by definition – make up a word for me:
<New Word>: The process of playfully experimenting with art techniques to discover new styles or aesthetics, often associated with, but not limited to, visual arts.
Every artist in every media does this. But what the heck fire do we call it?
My curiosity was spurred by a discussion with a fellow photo artist at Sunday’s Capital Arts reception, who said to me and to which I agreed, “There’s a point where you just have to stop”. And I agree with it because, yeah, there’s a point in which you’ve taken a work as far as it’s going to go and anything else either accomplishes nothing or messes it up. However, another approach to this is illustrated in today’s work, in which the artist, after reaching the end of one work, simply goes back to its beginning and starts over again.
Today’s work began with a nicely picturesque photographic capture from the roof of The Last Hotel in downtown St. Louis. In the first version, I felt reluctant to significantly alter that capture and applied only minor filtering. In the second, I threw out the minor filtering and applied more heavy-handed techniques and saturations, which made me happy for a while, until I decided I didn’t like the resulting hues. In the third, I again returned to the beginning, this time using a different approach to filtering and saturations that took the work in a darker, more surreal and less abstract direction. Still wasn’t getting to what I saw in my head. Finally I had a revelation as to what I was trying to achieve and created this fourth version, which I think finally gets at the aesthetics and emotions I was looking for. Notice that this final version creates a sunny, optimistic vision, whereas the early versions took on a darker path. I’m sure I could find a psychoanalyst to come up with a diagnosis, but perhaps we should just leave that alone.
It strikes me that, perhaps, this kind of play is something most associated with computer-based art, like photo art, due to the need to save work, yet wipe it out and go back to original imagery. Photo art always has a base to go back to – brush artists, or even digital artists, go back to a blank canvas. That said, I’m going to credit this process with da Vinci, who never accepted the idea that a point in which the artist must stop exists, who spent years futzing with his art, who worked on the Mona Lisa until the day he died. In many ways, da Vinci was the world’s first photo artist; but that’s a subject for another day …
More artplay from the rooftop of The Last Hotel in St. Louis, slightly different perspective, different approach to filtering and layering as compared to the earlier work posted January 10, ‘Gateway Into Night’. Working on more reverse effect visuals here; surrealism with less abstraction.
This is the third version of essentially the same cityscape captured at the same exact time. Should be finished with it by now, yes?
Ehhhhhh, turns out not …
* * *
Writing this in the wake of the Kobe Bryant news. A reminder to all of us of the fragility of life and the razor’s edge on which it balances. And neither money nor technology necessarily helps. A reminder useful only in reminding us to forget about that, less the thought of it rob something of the joy in each moment.
Two exhibits with opening receptions both this weekend. Look closely and find something new in each …
In both cases, a work is exhibited not in metal, my preferred method, but in simple, framed ink jet. This will henceforth happen more often; I’m making a concession on several fronts.
First, I can’t make metal prints myself. Farming production out requires lead time. In the case of the Columbia exhibit, I had a matter of hours from the time I determined to submit a particular work to the time it had to be there. A high-quality photo ink jet printer simply means I can respond faster to the marketplace.
Second, the kind of metal work I prefer takes a great deal more cash, both on my end and the consumer’s. More than once friends have lamented that they just can’t afford the metal prints I’ve offered. And, of course, if they don’t sell after multiple viewings, I’m stuck with eating the costs of both the print and the frame it’s attached to (they’re effectively welded together). The work exhibiting in Jefferson City, ‘Wanderers’, I’d previously submitted as a framed 5x7 metal print that’s actually a Christmas gift for somebody who consented to allow me to exhibit it first. There is more capital invested in that small work than in the 11x14, matted print in its 16x20 inch wood frame that’s on exhibit now. Had that size work been submitted in metal I’d be asking at least three times as much (and it’s been suggested I’m not asking enough for the ink jet print as it is). If it doesn’t sell, I can still reuse the frame.
I’m not abandoning metal – I will still use it when I want to really make a splash, and I will continue to recommend to buyers that they order work in metal. This is an expansion into new markets. Sure, let’s call it that!
One more variation of the little guy. Once I’d created him for the T-Shirt submission I couldn’t stop customizing him.
The original photographic capture was made before Puck (yes, that's my dig's name) was quite a year old. There wasn’t any art to it; it was just something to share on Facebook, and I added it to my portfolio simply because it was there. The pose was perfect for the T-shirt design I wanted, the glasses came from free-to-use clip art which I added a curvature to, and I used a series of techniques to add abstractions to the creation. Once I had the T-shirt character complete, it just seemed to me Puck needed a work all his own, which led to the creation of this work.
Plus, I needed an alter ego …
* * *
This time of year is already the darkest, gloomiest of the year. Holiday joy has dissipated, and once the Christmas lights and decorations go away it’s apparent just how cold and dead the world is. It was made all the more so with news that the Art House is closing.
The Art House in Fulton is one of the galleries I routinely exhibit at. It’s run entirely by volunteers, and they made the decision that sales just have not justified its existence. You can only beat your head against a wall for so long.
Fulton, Missouri is one of those unique small towns with what I would call a bit of a schizophrenic personality. It sits about 20 miles east of Columbia with its universities and bustle and progressive perspectives; it has two colleges itself – Westminster, home to the Churchill Museum, and William Woods. There’s a definite feel of liberal arts and progressiveness, at least around the gallery itself.
Get much outside of those pools of wisdom and intelligence and this is an unmistakably red county, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say-no-more.
Declining sales are something I’ve noticed at a number of local galleries. Some are trying new exhibition strategies of late and are experiencing better results. There is a thought that a downturn in sales of art is a precursor to encroaching economic recession, or worse – something many economists have been predicting due to current political policies. It is indeed the case, that many ‘red’ counties and states tend to support exactly the policies that keep them economically and sociologically stagnant. I just hope Art House is not the first domino.
The winner of my local art gallery’s 2020 T-Shirt design contest is, well … me! Capital Arts invited artists to submit designs for their annual T-shirt, sales of which helps keep the gallery running. The invitation hit me just as I was trying to start last year’s sabbatical, so my agenda was open, and ideas leapt straight into that void. I cranked out, let’s see, one-two-three-four-five-six designs or variations in just a few days. I’m actually pretty happy with the entire exercise, delighted with the designs themselves and thrilled by the recognition. I’ve placed each design in the above slide show – see if you can guess the winner …
* * *
The main thing I seriously wanted to be when growing up was a car designer. I’d always had an eye for it. By my early teens, I could identify the make and model of a car by the taillights at night from three blocks away; I was simply in tune with the shapes and styles of each design. Granted, this was growing up in a tiny little farming village (pop. 700) in the ‘60’s when there was basically just Chevy, Ford, and Dodge, but still. To this day, walking through a car lot is like walking through an art gallery. I had pages and pages of sketches strewn about the floor of my room.
The thing about those sketches is that they were intensely childish; just very small little side-views of car designs I had in mind. More than once I was told that they all looked the same, whereas I would look at them and see enormous variations. As with my interest in art itself which the car designing lead to, there were no mentors; no one to show me how to sketch an automobile three-dimensionally. No one to teach me how to take the vision in my head and commit it to paper.
Later, in high school, I was drawn to graphic arts – that was a medium that was actually attainable. Once my tiny little school (student body, 126) consolidated with nine other towns to create a larger school there was even a course in graphic arts. The interplay between font-image-text became the driving interest. So when Capital Arts announced its T-shirt design contest it flicked all those old triggers. I knew exactly how to attack this. I actually had to force myself to stop coming up with new designs and take the damn sabbatical!
The visual arts were always my strong point. But graphic arts led to journalism and newspaper/magazine layout, and that led to writing. And I had to change the world. I had to become a writer. And thus the visual arts became a hobby. Well … became a hobby for a while.
* * *
OK, the winner was the puppy design – I probably gave that away just by listing it first. Plus, I’ve been using a variation of it all over the place, so it was likely obvious. The T-shirts themselves will be available at the gallery at a later date. Or will be if I don’t buy too many of them myself!
We tend to think of art, especially photography, as being sized to a specific ratio in order that the work can be easily framed in standardized sizes. I confess, when I’m cropping a work I do exactly that; it’s just easier if indeed the work is going to be reproduced in the analog. It doesn’t always work that neatly – today’s work is an example. It’s a little too tall to fit a 1 by 3 ratio, and a little too short to fit 1 by 2. This work began as a capture of a local garage band called ‘Toasterbath’, which I always thought is a great name, playing a gig at a community festival. If they want to put it on the wall next to their first gold record they’ll have to have it custom framed.
* * *
One of the great joys in my life has been biking out on the KATY Trail along the Missouri River. Rich, sunlit days peddling along miles from a trailhead, completely isolated, nobody around, surrounded by fields or bluffs. Brilliant days! A decade-and-a-half ago, due to arthritis in my shoulder and neck, I found it necessary to switch from bikes to performance recumbent trikes, specifically Catrikes, but that was a good thing because the Catrike is a spectacular ride! No stress at all on my shoulder or neck and an almost effortless pedal stroke so long as the ground is dry (recumbents are horrible on muddy ground).
Unfortunately, a couple years ago the arthritis just exploded down my back. It wasn’t the spinning that became a problem, it was the lifting, stooping, extending required to get the trike to the trail. The twisting stresses inherent in trail rides were also didn’t help. Trikes are too low to safely ride on streets, so it was the trail or nothing, and as it was going, nothing is exactly what I was doing.
I’ve always purchased and customized my bikes at Walt’s Bike Shop in Columbia, Missouri – they’ve been excellent at setting up my bikes and trikes – I like all my breaking and gearing hardware on one side and they’ve engineered that perfectly. After a period of watching the Catrike gather dust in a corner it dawned on me I could take it to Walt’s and trade it for a stationary exercise recumbent and actually get myself back into some semblance of activity.
What strikes me in retrospect was the dispassion with which I navigated myself out of one of the most beloved parts of my life. My self-identity has been strongly connected with riding. It was, ‘this no longer works so let’s do this instead’. No emotion involved. A completely logical decision. It wasn’t until I had loaded the trike up and was driving it to Walt’s to make the trade that the emotion hit me. When I handed it over I felt like crying.
Yeah, what I said in my last post; forget about most of that. Or rather, it’s a teaching moment.
I couldn’t leave alone my last work, ‘Souls At The Moment Of Night’. The original photographic capture in that work was so good I was going out of my way not to do anything that diminished it. In my dissatisfaction with the outcome, this time I’ve gone completely the opposite direction, starting again with the original, only slightly enhanced, capture. Then I exploded it, fully employing radical abstraction techniques with which I’ve been experimenting.
‘Souls At The Moment Of Night’ leans photographic. This work, ‘Gateway Into Night’, leans artistic. Together, they illustrate a broad range abstract realism may take, or at least may speak to the artistic process. Frankly, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground; no mediating identity to intercede between the two divergent personalities. Further reinforcing my self-identity as a great bunch of guys.
The intrigue behind this work is how much time I spent on it for not a whole heck of a lot going on.
The St. Louis skyline near sunset from the roof of The Last Hotel – I knew it was a good capture the moment I grabbed it. It turned out to be such a good photograph there seemed little ‘art’ I could drag out of it. It was already art, so it said to me. I worked for hours and had only managed a few subtle enhancements, and even that was using in the background some of the extreme abstract techniques I’ve been working with these last several months.
Hence, the dilemma of intervention; the photograph is the starting point. And from there, it’s judging how far to take the photograph to reveal the art. Sometimes, little is required.
That’s the problem. As a photograph, it was pretty, it was a nice travelogue shot, it was a study in perfect camera craft, and did nothing to push boundaries or see anything new. Yeah … no, can’t settle for that, no sir.
I fixated on the eeriness of the city undergoing its night metamorphosis. I created separate copies and applied different techniques to each, then blended them together. Even with all that, the changes are STILL subtile. The perfection of the initial photograph dominating the work, to the extent that the abstracting may seem as add-ons rather than part of a unified vision.
Yeah … don’t know that I like it. Maybe, in the great scheme of things, good photographs make lousy photo art. Should I have been satisfied enough with the initial capture? Why did I have to go off on some vision quest? Then again …
And so, for the year, these were my best, as I see it (scroll down to see them all).
Somebody else might choose a different six (why top six instead of top five – I’ll get into that). Three of them have already hung in galleries, and a couple others will likely do so in the months ahead. I’m not always the best judge of my own work so I SHOULD be more introspective before rushing a work into production. But sometimes, you know. You just know.
Months or years later, sometimes what you ‘know’, you know is actually crap. And you find stuff you ignored that you know is great, and don’t know why you didn’t know that then.
I know enough to know that I know nothing. But here’s what I know right now …
6. Tornado Plate 75
The best five I selected did not include one of the tornado shots, which struck me as inappropriate, as the tornado series was a cornerstone of my year’s work. So, I increased the Top 5 by 1 and designated number 6 for the tornado series. Of those several dozen works it was difficult to choose a ‘best’ – a number of them were gut wrenching for the people affected. The building closest to the viewer is the former Avenue HQ building, a cultural site for artists, theater, gatherings, and other community-based events. It’s gone now. Razed to the ground. It might have been salvageable at first, but heavy rains got into it before repairs could begin and that pretty much sealed its fate.
I processed the Tornado works in black and white and chose to push all of them into the near-infrared spectrum.
5. The Dreamer
Over the past couple years I’ve worked on techniques specifically for depicting animals that on the one hand place the creature into an artistic, dreamy context while at the same time maintaining a high degree of realism. I thought this work of a leopard sleeping away the morning at the St. Louis zoo was a particularly successful rendering of these techniques.
4. Winter War
I was happy with this work both in a photographic and an artistic context. As a photograph, I was able to capture a blizzard scene with a longer exposure that caused falling snow to look like missiles streaking towards the earth. But it was also a hand-held shot, and the camera remained steady enough to capture the trees in sharp detail (I added some blur around the edges later in processing).
As an artist, the white balance of the camera was seriously out of whack due to the low light and the longer exposure. Plus, with the world essentially white, there was little to no texture in most of the image. I was able to correct the white balance and bring in some of the eerie pink light present in the night sky, plus add texture to the final work that added just enough of a dreamy, abstract quality.
3. Peaceful Tides
Cheating. I’ve said this before. Some subjects are so gorgeous any schmuck can point any camera at it and get a beautiful shot. Florals are among those subjects. Cheating. But I can’t resist, and it was a good year for florals, as I mentioned in my most recent post, I’ve added 18 of this year’s works to my portfolio. I experimented with lighting and focus in florals this year, leading to the number of new portfolio additions. I was extremely pleased with this particular work – I’d count it among my best florals.
Every artist can point to a handful of works – I can think of three or four off the top of my head – that changed everything. Maybe not even their best work, but a work, after which, nothing else they did was quite the same. And when they hit it, it’s like a new door, flooded with light, opening. This one did that for me. I was having a seriously bad reaction to a new prescription drug at the time, so I was all over the place mentally and, juxtaposed to ‘Peaceful Tides’ above, this was not a scene flush with beauty and wonder; it’s a concourse underneath Busch Stadium – how does one find art in that? That, in fact, is what drives me as an artist; finding the art in ordinary things. The original photographic capture seemed to have nothing to recommend it. My scrambled brains went in every direction, using rarely applied techniques, to drag something aesthetic out of it.
And drag something out it did. Nothing I’ve done since has failed to draw from the lessons of this work.
1. The Chalk Artists
And so shortly after ‘Passerby’s’, using what I’d learned from it, I created this. After experimenting with thousands of works over decades of time, I count this as one of my best. Maybe even THE best, A lifetime of seeing the world differently, constantly expanding on that vision, constant experimentation, constant progression. It all came together here. Maybe that’s just hyperbole and it will dissipate like the caressing steam after a hot bath. But right now it feels awfully good.
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.