Tag Archives: art

Self-doubt About your Art and how it creeps in

One of the more terrifying issues an artist must deal with is self-doubt.  It’s so easy for a person to get negative about their own art. Mostly, this occurs because you hear critics put it down.  Sometimes the criticism is justifiable. But most of the time its just opinion.

Photography is an art form that is very dependent on focus, composition, and lighting. If you get these wrong you don’t require a critic to point it out to you. Your own self-doubt causes you to have no doubt that something is terribly wrong. This is a point where a little self doubt actually is helpful to making better art.

Other works of art have expected benchmarks you judge by the medium used to make it.  With charcoal drawings that benchmark might be shading. But pastels and painting could be measured by the shading, blending, and use of color. The personal feeling that you somehow don’t reach that mark is what causes self-doubt.

Each notion representing the proper way one creates a work of art in a medium has its supporters and dissidents. These people are critics.  The endless bickering of critics and artists cause some real tense social moments.

Self-Doubt Grows:

For instance, I’ve been told at gallery opening, directly to my face, that I could never be a fine artist simply because photography is barely an art and just can’t compare to painting.  Never mind that I had to convince them that the work was a photograph and not a painting.

Red Tulip
Red Tulip – definitely a photograph

This was bruising at its best and self-doubt most definitely tried creeping in.  Upon further conversation, I discovered this nice little elderly artist developed that opinion from their professors at some art school back in the 1950’s. The artist then repeated it so many times for so many years it became a mantra.

All I can do is stand there and look in disbelief of such narrow vision. I also felt sorrow because they paid money for that education.  I wanted to argue, but an opening is not the place. So, I entered into the respect your elders for one day you will be one of them zen mindset and let it go.

An event later that week was just as much fun.  I get approached by a nice middle-aged man who proudly claims, loudly enough for dead, that he could take the same picture with his new iPhone. Again, here comes the zen mind tricks.  I told him that I couldn’t wait to see it. But even after forgiving the ignorance, the rudeness, and the lack of common decency, I was, at this point, strongly considering moving to the French Polynesians like Gauguin did.

Gaining Clarity:

The next week, I learned something valuable that helped with the self-doubt caused by these caustic doubters.  I was at a speaking event with about 50 other artists. There were only 3-4 photographers and everyone else worked with pastels, oils, mixed media and a lot of watercolor.  The speaker was a visiting artist in her late 80’s. It wasn’t her age that was inspiring, although you have to admire it.

No, it was what she proceeded to do.  She talked and slightly rambled on about her life as an artist and what that meant as a young woman in the late 40’s.  But then she shared what her professors had shared with her. If you were an artist you had to paint in oil.  Watercolor would never be a real art.

I almost spit out the sip of coffee I was enjoying while she talked. She went on to berate about 25-50 percent of the room as only a lovable elderly old woman with a stuck opinion can do.  It took everything I had to keep from jumping to my feet, pointing around the room and yelling “See, that’s what it feels like!” Ah, the sweet vindication.

The result is that criticisms are opinions.  Usually bad and terribly weak opinions created by people who find what you are doing threatening somehow.  Consider their source and why they might feel that way before you give any credence of their opinion of your art.  Most of all be honest with yourself.

It’s your art.  In the end only one person has to like it.  You.

 

The Building Storm

The picture Building Storm convinces us that nature is truly an awe-inspiring and captivating subject.   There exists a level of power in those columns of clouds that we as mere mortals just cannot seem to grasp.

Our own brains immediately channel part of that power down primal synapses and earlier embedded childhood memories that usually protect us. We see an image of danger and immediately feel a tantalizing sense of wonderment. Yet, in the tiny recesses of our mind there is also a touch of disbelief that such a storm could exist.

You might start asking questions. Is it heading our way? How long until it gets here? Or the infamous comment, “Damn, I just washed the car!” All are thoughts that course through our adult minds at light speed.

Building Storm
Building Storm

The Work Behind Building Storm

This picture really represents one of the nicer things about living close to an ocean. Near the ocean nothing exists between you and the horizon except the vastness of the water.  You can see the whole horizon right to the point where the perfectly flat waterscape meets the perfectly flat sky.

The problem of not having visual landmarks only adds mystery to the actual photograph. You can’t really determine size or distance very well when such a large object is dominating the sky. This also adds to an impending sense of dread.

I wanted to take that dread and feeling of raw power and enhance it. So, using heavy blue Cyanotype filter, I turned the picture into a blue and white not a black and white image.

The next issue was the crispness of the photo. This is a sort of irony for me because I suffer from a bane in the photographer’s world known as camera shake. This means that my fingers press too hard on the shutter button and the camera tends to shake thus causing some blurring to occur.  Usually, I have to take countermeasures so that it won’t happen.

Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered a situation where adding a bit of abstraction to the scene actually enhances the artistic flair!

Nature played her part well; it was her work of art in the first place, by selecting the perfect colors and shading to help transform a typical thunderstorm on the horizon to an enhanced beautiful monster of a storm.

Texture Makes It Better Art

This time we visit the beach to make art and discuss texture.   It is an obvious yet often overlooked component of art. Is a work of art smooth? Or, does it have a tactile feel to it? Is that tactile feel genuine or an illusion? Complex questions answered when dealing with art works of any size or variety. Actually, texture regularly makes or breaks the uniqueness of a particular work to the viewer.   In photography, good  texture often happens by using by a simple method.

 

An easy method of finding texture to apply in a work of art is to simply find a subject with that interesting texture already present. At first this may seem like an oversimplification. But an artist often looks deeper into physical relationships of their subjects.

 

So finding the right subject to portray what the artist wants to say is usually much more difficult than most people assume. The reason for this is that the eye-catching nature of the texture, as applied to the work of art, is often up to the individual artist. This is where an implied artistic interpretation impacts the story the artist is attempting to tell.  If this seems to be almost metaphysically philosophical in nature, it’s because it is. It is art after all.

Truly, texture becomes a necessary part of the artistic vision used to make any work of art. This selected interpretation develops thru a specific application.  In the painting arts, it often appears as gobs of thick paint. Drawing a certain way, or even the use of different brushes and washes accomplish the desired artistic effect.

 

Seaweed and Shells
Seaweed and Shells

However, in photography, the artist has to apply other means to accomplish this same goal. So often, the photographer looks for the visual aspects of a shot that will provide these needed textures naturally.

Seaweed and Shells

Perhaps the artist is attempting to show the smooth skin of a person to showcase beauty or youth. Or, as in the case of Seaweed and Shells, texture adds a sense of conflict between the gritty sand, the spongy seaweed and the smooth interior of a shell.   When I took this shot, I fell in love with the notion that the rich textures provided a sort of glue that made the picture work.

 

Which Print of Pelican Do Other Artists Say to Buy?

April is a very busy month in the art world.  There are a lot of public shows and a few private ones. For example, the work Pelican recently showed at an exclusive art show with the Tarpon Springs Art Association in Tarpon Springs, Florida. These private or member only art shows really test an artist’s nerve. It is like presenting a scientific paper at a medical symposium. There is no place to hide if something goes hideously wrong and your colleagues are going to scrutinize your work with every critical bone in their body.

The story behind Pelican is a rather simple one. I was sitting on a dock watching a local fisherman filet a large fish, a large friendly pelican suddenly showed up to see if any scraps accidentally fell in the water. It was like watching a family pet begging at the dinner table.  In the end it did not leave disappointed.

Pelican
Pelican

When I was in the process of choosing the type of print for the show, I discovered archival prints of this work look good. The work printed on canvas really has a classy artistic look.  But, nothing beats out the absolute beauty of Pelican printed on metal.   The gloss of the aluminum lends itself to showcase the pure whites in such a way that it looks almost self-illuminant. There is a serious wow factor to the print.

Pelican
Pelican

I soon found out I was no alone in this thought.  In fact, the biggest complaint or critique I had on presenting Pelican was a comment that the print on metal was actually too good for local fare. Other artists told me that if a patron has a white or black furniture theme in the home or office, then a metal print of Pelican is the print they should get.  It was the type of complaints that any artist wants to hear.

In Other News:

The gallery has experienced some very exciting growth opportunities recently by expanding its exhibitions

Monarch Butterfly 3
Monarch Butterfly 3

beyond the Texas border.   The newest members of the butterfly collection made a special appearance at the Tarpon Springs annual Art on the Bayou festival. White Peacock Butterfly 2 and Monarch Butterfly 3 was well received by both the public and other artists alike.

White Peacock Butterfly 2
White Peacock Butterfly 2

Future Happenings:

The gallery will exhibit local photographic works in a new two-person art show at the Susan Dillinger Art Gallery in the New Port Richey City Hall from May 2nd – May 31st.  The works will be on display during regular business hours.  There is no cost to attend and enjoy the art.  All art will be available for purchase.

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Who’s ready for Spring?

 

Spring is one of the best times of the year.  The days are getting longer, and the winds are warmer.  The long winter, if such a thing existed in Florida, is coming to a close and the art season on the Suncoast is in full swing.

We just wrapped up a month-long show outside the

Caught me unawares during the setup...
Caught me unawares during the setup…

auditorium at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center and are already looking to make a return to their hallowed halls in April for a month-long show with the Tarpon Springs Art Association.  

Meanwhile, the new butterfly collection remains on view at the Gateway Gallery in New Port Richey until April. There is no rest for the artist, and we are spending our precious spring days preparing  Art on the Bayou in April, a two person show in the New Port Richey City Hall during May, and a continuing series of revolving shows at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center.

White Peacock ButterflyIn the meantime, enjoy our latest additions to the Butterfly Collection.  These works of art are incredible Monarch-Butterfly-2to look at when printed on our archival aluminum print.   The aluminum gives the image a glossy image and produces an effect that appears to light up each work.

 

 

 

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