Thursday, January 28, 2016

Are You A Purist?


Ansel Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) is an American icon, one of the first to paint poetry in black and white photos. He is also the one many "purist" photographers point to when discussing their dislike of today's use of digital work in creating artistic photography. But if one spends time studying Adams life, it becomes harder to use him as a purist role model.

Adams pioneered the use of light as a main influence in his photographs, and experimented with all the technical equipment which was available to use during his day. He started with a small, poorly equipped darkroom in his parent's basement, but his wife's family, who had a business publishing photography, was one of the first to publish his prints and later, the business was passed on to him. He took full advantage of the darkroom, experimenting and producing much of the work which has made him well known to most Americans, and also pushed him onto the international arena.
It is easy to take a photograph, but it is harder to make a masterpiece in photography than in any other art medium. (Adams, Ansel (1985). Ansel Adams, an Autobiography. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-8212-1596-5.)
His legacy includes helping to elevate photography to an art comparable with painting and music, and equally capable of expressing emotion and beauty. (see above source) Adams used a variety of lenses to get different effects, but eventually rejected pictorialism for a more realistic approach which relied more heavily on sharp focus, heightened contrast, precise exposure, and darkroom craftsmanship. (Alinder, Mary (1996). Ansel Adams: A Biography. New York: Henry Holt and Company). In other words, he did in the darkroom what DSLR photographers can now do in the camera, as well as with computer programs such as Photoshop and Topaz.

The initial publication of Adam's Moonrise was in U.S. Camera 1943 annual, after being selected by the "photo judge" for U.S. CameraEdward Steichen.[52] This gave Moonrise an audience before its first formal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1944. Over nearly 40 years, Adams re-interpreted the image, his most popular by far, using the latest darkroom equipment at his disposal, making over 1,300 unique prints, most in 16″ by 20″ format. ("5 prints of "Moonrise", 1941–1975". Andrew Smith Gallery.)

To an artistic photographer, then, Ansel Adams now becomes a role model. I started out many years ago learning rudimentary darkroom skills and now I use the techniques afforded me by today's technology. It's very hard for some people to be fluid enough to accept new ways of doing things, even to simply acknowledge that the new ways are an authentic tool. It's acceptable that many photographers like to continue in what they know and do best, and perhaps they do not wish to try it a different way. That is fine, each has their choice. But those who then go on to say that their choice is the only legitimate one has effectively portrayed themselves as lost to the past, and are insulting to those who choose to use a new way of expressing the poetic beauty from inside their spirit.

Enjoy your life one day at a time!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lesson From A Patient Starling

(I have been thinking about Spring, as I view the snow from the past weekend's storm slowly melting, taking its time. The following post was originally written on May 20, 2015 and I thought it would make a nice repost to remind me that Spring is surely coming!)

For the past few days, I've been hearing a sound somewhat like a rusty hinge screeching a flat chord. That's the best way I could describe it! I looked outside my open bedroom window and watched as starlings were marching up and down in the grass and weeds of our front yard, busily searching for tasty cuisine. I was still puzzled as to what was going on with that sound and how it connected to what I was witnessing in the front. It wasn't until I was later at the kitchen window, watching several birds at the feeder that it all became clear. While I was standing there, a mother starling and three fully grown and dull colored juvenile starlings landed over several of the feeders hanging from the pole. The noise was being made by each of the juveniles, while mom instantly became busy picking up food and popping it into the nearest open beak. The juveniles jostled together as they rustled their wings repeatedly, screeching in that same key, and shoving one another aside so they could be the one to be fed next. Once in a while, one of the juveniles would peck at something himself, or fly down to inspect the bird bath, but those forays didn't last too long. Over the next several days, I have witnessed this again and again and marveled at the mother's patience. When mom flew off, they flew off, and when mom came back, there they were, barely a feather's space between them.

Starlings aren't the only birds which display this behavior - cardinals, finches, bluebirds and several other breeds do it as well. Cardinals seem to have the least amount of patience though, I've seen a female cardinal peck a juvenile on the head a time or two when she was tired of being bothered. Bluebird fledglings stay on a tree branch, and the parent will fly back and forth from the meal worm feeder, stuffing their beaks. They all start chirping when the parent heads toward them. The dad will continue this even while mom sits on a new brood. When that brood hatches and then fledges, the birds from the earlier brood will assist their parents in bringing food to the new fledglings.

It's a scene repeated each spring, and has been going on since creation. The mature birds help their offspring and their nurture hasn't ended at the nest. Most of us experience some of that from our parents, and even some mammals do as well. It's an encouragement to me to see these age old routines played out at this time of year. What a reassurance that whatever craziness is going on in parts of the world, the normal order of things has not been broken. And it reminds me to be willing to be helpful to not only family members, but to other artists, of whatever creativity they are into. We don't live alone as hermits, and even if I don't practice a certain kind of art, I can be encouraging to its creator. After all, my Creator encourages me daily from what I see and enjoy in nature.

Enjoy your life one day at a time!

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Little Nostalgia

I was going through some artwork that I had done a few years back and thought I'd share some of my favorites. The particular technique was a fairly easy one, but one that can be very expressive. You pick 3-4 colors of regular acrylic fluid paint, and then also put a glop of Golden OPEN Titanium White and Titan Buff on your palette or palette page. Using a palette knife, add the first colors, each in an area of the canvas, and let them overlap some. Then, immediately add a palette knife of the OPEN white and then some of the titan buff. Using your knife, drag it through the under colors. I liked putting the white at the top of the canvas, pulling it down, and the buff at the bottom and pulling up. I then used the knife to carve through the paint. Golden OPEN acrylic stays wet longer than the regular fluid acrylics and so you have more time to work with your paints. I've sold a few, but here are some I still have hanging in the house.

This is the first one I ever did, called Under The Ice of Venus.
I don't know if Venus has any ice, but that was the first thing I thought of!

This is The Coming Storm - you know how when the rain is beating against the window panes, and it distorts what's outside the window? That's what this made me think of!

The two above are on 12 x 12 wrapped canvases; the one below is on 18 x 24. Because of the designs I put into it, it made me think of a garden, and the artist famous for painting his gardens was Monet, so this is Monet's Garden. I think it's my husband's favorite!

Hope you enjoyed them! I think I'm going to have to make some more here soon.