Musings: Tools & Teachers

I have new work that I am excited to share with you. New work however, means writing an image specific Artist Statement. It is challenging to concisely describe, in an engaging way, the why and how of one’s creative process. With help from several of my peers, I refined and edited my statement and considered the job well done.  However, today, I realized that two other important influences in the making of these images had not been mentioned in the statement. So, here goes!

First, I want to acknowledge the role of my new Nikon D500. I am not a “gearhead.” I am not one of those photographers who is into every technical detail, who reads every review and has bags full of gear I want to own, but wouldn’t use. Six years ago I purchased a basic 12 megapixel DSLR and it has taken me further than I could have imagined.  But I was getting frustrated with not being able to quite capture what I seeing. I starting losing interest and wondered if it was because I was “done” with this project. It didn’t occur to me that I had outgrown my camera. When I heard someone describe the D500 as the perfect camera for sports and wildlife photographers I realized that they were describing exactly what I needed! There is nothing wild or athletic about my botanical still life tableaux dancing in moving water, but they are fast moving compositions in rapidly changing light conditions.  With its fast focus system and high ISO, the D500 allows me to capture a new level of fleeting abstract images … images that I could not see or imagine when I began this journey.

The other game changer was studying with Harold Ross. From the minute I saw his work in Lenswork magazine I knew that Ross was someone I wanted to learn from. He creates stunning still life images that look like old world paintings.  I was intrigued not only by the illustration-like and “Dutch Master” quality of his images, but also the minimal amount of studio equipment involved.  Ross, who developed his technique during his career in commercial photography, is a gifted teacher. I learned more about lighting in one workshop with him than I could have imagined.

Creative inspiration comes in many forms. Finding the right tools and teachers are an important part of the journey.  

Dates and details of upcoming shows can be found here.  

Adrift and In Stillness

Adrift and In Stillness





The Garden and the Brook

The spring has been long and cool, giving me time to get ready for summer art shows.  I hope you will mark your calendar for the 2014 Art Drive on August 9th and 10th.  There will be new contemplative landscape imagery as well as work from a project I began last October.  Called the Garden and the Brook, it is an on-going study of natural forms found both in the botany of my garden and in the water world of streams, ponds and tidal flows.

As I try to shape this project with words, not images, it occurs to me how much Garden and the Brook reflects my life-long journey of learning to see.  Although I grew up along the ocean, it wasn’t until I became a river rafter in my thirties that I first heard the expression, “read the water.”  In the whitewater rafting world, reading water is how you chart a course through rapids. It is how you follow the “tongue” into the current, avoid standing waves and other obstacles, and catch the eddy when you want, rather than the eddy catching you. Decades later, along the gentle flow of an autumn stream, I found myself plotting courses for sticks and leaves through “rapids” created by elevation drops measured in inches rather than feet.  Here I was, once again reading the water.  But for the first time, I realized that the shapes and curves created by fluid dynamics and ripple geometry have their counterparts not only in the great rivers of the West, but also in my garden.  This is not a particularly original insight. But back when I learned to read water I knew nothing of gardening and, to me, botany was only a lab course. I never would have made the connection, never would have seen it.  At that point in my life I had no idea that “painting with plants” was something that would become such a great source of pleasure and inspiration. 

Today I am filled with gratitude for this gift of time to discover and see the world anew.

Here is a sneak peak of the Garden and the Brook.



MOMA Moments

It still takes me aback, how many people are snapping photos in museums. Recently  at the Sargent Watercolor Exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts there was a woman religiously taking a photo of every painting with her ipad.   She appeared to be on a mission to photograph all 90+ paintings in the show.  It struck me as almost tragic that  while she was so busy concentrating on framing images with her ipad, she never directly experienced Sargent's rich, lush colors, marks or textures. 

But earlier this week, I confess I fell prey to the impulse to whip out my iphone camera in the Museum of Modert Art in New York.  No, I wasn't photographing the art hanging on the wall - just this priceless Frida moment:

Where is your eyebrow pencil when you need it?

Where is your eyebrow pencil when you need it?

And then there was this view across the atrium of a staircase - framed like a painting, an abstract still life.  God...I love my iphone....