The other day I walked into the grocery store and saw a bouquet of flowers that took over my life... It was one of the most unusual I had ever seen. The young man at the counter told me it was a very long lasting plant know as "Bishop's Balls."Read More
When asked to describe a garden landscape element that is not a bush, tree or flower, most people will suggest things like: bird feeders, ponds, fountains, or maybe a gazebo. Not many will suggest a photograph that is 9 feet x 3 feet. But I am happy to report that 18 months after River View was installed in a landlocked Providence backyard, the new ecosystem is thriving in all seasons. Just the other day oat grass and lilies were casting shadows and reflections that add depth and delight to the scene.
Adrift and Stillness will be featured at the Marion Art Center show, Impressions, that opens Friday, October 13 and runs until November 18th.
Look for my booth at the Art Providence Holiday Show at the Providence Convention Center, December 9th & 10th. Make a note in your calendar and click here to get a sneak peak at the wonderful group of artists who will be there.
In 2016 I shot a dramatic series of peony images in my favorite stream. The current was running faster than usual and as I secured the delicate flowers in the rushing water, I became absorbed by the intense sense of movement and shifting light patterns. However, once home and looking at the images, I realized the photographs did not work. While I was immersed in capturing the movement, I failed to note the emotional tenor of what I had created. It is best described as “sad, drowning Ophelia”.
Composition, value, balance, color and storytelling all have to work in concert for an image to “make the cut”. Usually, I can give up on an image that doesn’t work for me or my esthetic…it is all part of the “10,000 hours” of practice Malcolm McDowell says are required to get really good at something. But damn, that feeling of sensuous and sinuous movement was hard to part with in these images.
Then it occurred to me that perhaps the digital trashcan was not the only alternative. …Maybe I could extract those visual elements of color and movement that I loved and give them a new home in a digitally created composition. I started thinking that rather than the default rectangle shape created by my camera, these fluid lines and shimmering colors needed a long free flowing format like the stream they were created in…and with that realization I had my answer - silk scarves. Wearable art. Not only a cool idea, but also an intriguing new challenge!
It was the beginning of new learning curve. For the first time, my color adjustments and choices were influenced by skin tones and fashion considerations. When creating a fine art print I pay close attention to how a viewer’s eye will move around the image. But, that image is on a flat surface. With a scarf the composition needs to work with the endless ways the scarf can be tied, draped or wrapped. (“Beware the boob blob,” said one of my fashion design colleagues…not a term or way of thinking one encounters in the fine art photography world!) While I have become proficient with the color management issues of printing on paper and aluminum, printing on silk is another world. Neutral tones are “challenging” on silk charmeuse my textile printer told me, but with persistence and diligence we found a solution.
After a long spring filled with trial and error, I am thrilled to share my first three scarf designs with you. They will be available for purchase during the Art Drive and online beginning August 12th. Please stop by, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.
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.
When my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary their friends put some money together to buy them a Heritage Waterford Crystal bowl. For the next twenty years that bowl took center stage in my mother’s dining room, where she hosted frequent elegant gatherings. After her death it was consigned to a life of darkness and quiet solitude in my dining room cupboard.
We lived very different lives, my mother and I. Nannette was beautiful and stylish, formal and proper, cool and crisp, sharp edges and bold colors. My style has always run toward faded blue jeans and hiking boots. Dinner party tableware in my house goes in the dishwasher or the recycle bin.
But the other day I took that bowl out of the cupboard, not for dinner party elegance, but as a frame for the botanical world takes center stage for my art. I wondered how side- and under-lighting through the cut crystal edges would affect a still life in that bowl. As I worked, carefully arranging graceful organic forms in this crystal anniversary gift, it occurred to me that another milestone is just around the corner. Soon it will be 25 years, a quarter of a century, since Nannette was here on Mother’s Day. Yet her presence remains heartfelt as my ephemeral botanicals and her enduring crystal, together, become something new.
When I am out photographing in nature, often at the edge of water, or thanks to my Bog boots actually standing in the water...I am thinking about things like: can I get close enough to capture that abstract arrangement in the next nanosecond before the wind changes it? is my shutter speed fast enough? don't drop the camera! remember to listen for the dogs who want to mark my camera bag.... My artful intention is there, but internalized on a deeper level.
So it always take me aback when other people write about my images as if they could peer into my head and see that intention. Recently, my image Copper Pinnate was selected by the Westport Concerts on the Point to be used in their posters and program. In the program notes, Jane Loos writes: "We chose this image because, like baroque music from Telemann, Handel and Geminiani on today's program, it is ordered, ornate and strongly emotive. Like baroque architecture, it is characterized by explorations of form, light and shadow, and dramatic intensity."
Art is about transformation and I am glad that in my case the process is largely out of sight. If Jane had seen the precarious jerry-rigging of this fern in fast moving water and the tipsy tripod that nearly followed it into the stream words like ordered and ornate would not have come to mind.
Enjoy the music! It should be wonderful.
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~ Edgar Degas
There was a time when my job with a camera was to document events. Now, free from editorial constraints, I have been learning how use my camera to make art. As I had hoped, this creative journey has been wonderfully satisfying, both artistically and intellectually. But I never anticipated the deeply touching stories that my images evoke in others.
A large print of Evening Sky now hangs in a busy South Shore office. I created this image as the sun was leaving its last kiss on a quiet ocean cove. The colors and patterns were so striking I abandoned the dinner table and ran outside with my camera until the last light was gone. While I responded to the visual elements, this buyer saw and felt something much more. When I delivered Evening Sky she told me, "I don't think I explained why I chose this photograph. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's and when I look at these ripples, the beauty in that movement helps me to make peace with my tremor.”
For more information about Evening Sky click here.
This winter, wandering through an Artisan's Fair, I found a piece of blue bookbinding paper that stopped me in my tracks. While other people probably saw journal covers, I saw fish. I bought the small piece of paper with no idea where it would lead, but soon I was hunting down other lovely handmade papers. My husband, used to my eccentric ways, didn't bat an eye when I started stringing clothesline along the skylight so I could study how light streaming through multiple layers of handmade papers would affect their colors and textures. These are some snippets of what ultimately became my digital collage, the Blue Papers. It will be on display at:
- DeDee Shattuck Gallery Opening on July 9th, 5-7 pm
- Village Merchant on Elm Street in Padanaram from July 22 - August 5, and in
- My studio during the Art Drive, August 6 & 7 from 10-5 pm.
For more information on the other 35 fish in this year's Art Drive school of BlueFish click here
Moving to the East Side of Providence has wonderful perks. But like everything else in life there are trade-offs. For avid gardner Sally Shwartz it was a challenging one. Her previous home had a water view that was a vital element in her garden design. Now, instead of an ever-changing palette of sky-colored moving water, her backyard ended with a poorly maintained peeling brick wall belonging to her neighbor. My 3 inch by 10 inch image of the Slocum River became the source for her daily dose of "blue." Wistfully she moved the little panel from the top of her computer to all the windows looking out on her garden.
Out of the blue -- no pun intended -- the solution suddenly became obvious: she needed an image measured in feet not inches, and one that really lived outside. Like me, Sally likes to think outside the box, and when I proposed the idea of creating a large-scale fine art image using billboard technology she jumped on board. Having printed several of my Art Drive fish on weather tolerant material I was confident that we could get the color and quality needed. After a lot of careful planning, measuring and tweaking the blue tones, “River View” was installed. The three panels span 9 feet and they have transformed this Providence backyard. As the light changes throughout the day, the image changes with it - sometimes reflecting real clouds from above or the green light of new leaves moving in the wind. At 9:30 on a cloudy evening, ambient city light makes the river glow as if the moon is shining on it….
I look forward to photographing it in each season.
The vivid, abstract and colorful graffiti-inspired art of Yakita Starr Fields adds a bright palette to the dark brown pillars of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe. While studying painting in Boston, Fields became interested in graffiti and it continues to influence his work, which has been exhibited in the US and Europe.
My was tripod precariously perched along the rocky and muddy stream edge and I was so engrossed in the scene unfolding in my lens that I failed to hear the pack of dogs coming to swim. Most of them were a bit spooked by my presence and stopped on the bridge above me, but one young pup was beside himself with excitement. He had found the biggest "fetch" ever – the 8 foot length of bamboo that was holding my botanic still life in the current. It was the moment of truth. I could protect my bamboo or my tripod, but not both. Before the pup scored a total victory, the owner came down the trail and called him away, apologizing for his dog’s lack of appreciation for fine art photography.
Some days I come home from the woods with good images, some days there is nothing to show for my time except a good story. But whatever the outcome, time spent watching the myriad of dramas unfolding in the moving water always makes me happy.
My Garden and Brook images begin with a walk around the garden. I snip specimens for their lines, shape and color and bring them to moving water. Yesterday’s bouquet and the October light was so beautiful I had to stop and compose some "dry" still life images.
Images from The Garden and Brook series will be on display at several shows between now and the year's end. Check the Exhibitions page for details.
Philadelphia has a long and rich history of public art. On an early morning walk in the City Center I came across this mural that was very intriguing because it seemed to have so much depth.
When I got up close I found that the texture comes from material that appears in different places to be either woven, crumpled, stitched or sculpted.
For several years I have wanted to create a calendar using images that convey the quiet beauty of the South Coast. But rather than employ a traditional design I was determined to use a panoramic format. But try as I might – I could not make it work. So I decided to let Google be in the calendar business and instead I would make a "mini art gallery" of the seasons – a little desktop gift for the imagination. Freed from the constraints of days and dates, the images invite the viewer to daydream, to find art to suit the mood of the moment – to revel in the beauty of an October sky, to feel the winter quiet of a snowy day, or the hope of a spring crocus.
The Desktop Gallery: South Coast Seasons includes 12 scenes and a unique wooden display stand made by Andrew Peppard Furniture Design. It will be available in my studio during the Art Drive, August 8 & 9, and in my Online Store
Desktop Gallery dimensions: 9” wide, 3” deep, 4” tall.
If amino acids are the building blocks of life, single images or fragments of them are the DNA of composite images. These are the building blocks of Belissima Blue, my contribution to the 2015 Art Drive School of Bodacious Bonito.
This project begins in January when our local boatyard cuts 36 fish from marine plywood. The fish are approximately 4 feet x 2.5 feet, and this year it is a bonito, a member of the tuna family. Each of the participating Art Drive artists starts with the same wooden form and each gives their fish a truly unique, artful and often fanciful interpretation.
During this long snowy winter, my naked fish sat patiently waiting while I worked on a fine art portfolio project. In refining a body of work, there are always good pieces that just don’t make the final cut. Some of these "rejects" became Bellisima Blue. I imagined the luscious peachy opalescent tones from my moribund nautilus project as translucent fins. I knew that close-up shell curves could be re-purposed as the dividing line between head and body, with hosta vein patterns for sinuous scales….
For me, creating a composite image like Belissima Blue is a process of love, learning and letting-go. To get from my vague starting notions of color, shape and texture to the final product requires hours of practice, reading, and watching tutorials. Often I learn a new technique and then have to abandon that element when it doesn’t fit with the evolving “canvas.” Those opalescent tones that so attracted me had to become more blue and less peachy for visual unity.
But here she is! – happily swimming in my garden until she starts her summer rounds visiting the Rhode Island Botanic Center and Westport River Winery. All the details about the 2015 Bodacious Bonitos will be posted on the Art Drive website in June, including where they will be and how you can have one of your very own!