Tag Archives: concept

Maybelle Loves Patrons, Work and Theme Connections

Have you ever looked at an artwork and thought, “Ehh…”?  You don’t hate the work, but you certainly don’t love it either.  You’re not alone. This happens every time I look at art online. Why does this happen?   It’s because a connection did not form between you and the artist.

When an artist creates artwork, they are working towards creating a connection on some psychological level between themselves, their artwork, and hopefully, a patron.  The connection is an internal meaning that both the patron and the artist can mutually identify with.   It’s of paramount importance to creating any art form and specifically to continuing the artist’s particular artistic vision.

Making a connection is a risky affair for most artists. It means sacrificing the need to please everyone approach of your work and instead selecting a particular topic as the subject of the artwork.

Sadly, not every piece of art produced will create the connection that the artist so fervently works for. It’s even possible for the artwork to make connections with other viewers that was never actually grasped by the buyer. That’s the gamble and struggle of art.

Some artists seem to create these connections effortlessly.  For example, Leonardo Da Vinci was famous for creating art that glorified his patrons while insulting them at the same time. He was obviously a genius at making meaningful connections to be able to produce such results consistently. But for the rest of us, why are these connections so difficult to create or manage?

It’s not really our ability to create that is the problem. Instead, the answer lies in our individuality as a consumer. As Carolyn Edlund of Artsy Shark suggests, it’s about themes. When we go art shopping, we usually unconsciously purchase things according the theme in us.

If a rancher goes online looking for western artwork, he or she is probably very attached to art portraying life on a ranch. It’s something the rancher can identify with and it becomes personally important. This makes it highly unlikely that he/she will purchase Japanese Anime.


Anime is not an interest of the rancher and has very little sway in making his or her purchasing decisions. On the other hand, a wonderful metal print of a cow that is for sale will grab the rancher’s attention. People only tend to purchase what they are truly interested in.

Every patron of the arts will differ in opinion about what is worthy of their consideration as a collector and what is not. It’s simply a matter of personal preference.

So, when a photographic artist looks at an image and wonders whether to sell it or not, they must try to select what theme would produce the greatest chance of that shot being sold.   In fact, the mere act of placing a picture under a particular theme is also an example of the artist trying to make that ever-elusive connection.

So, what’s your favorite art theme?

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Have You Ever Considered a Blue Jay Feather?

Have you ever considered a blue jay feather?   It is simply lying on the path when you stumble upon it.  It strikes you that this would make a good photograph. What do you do?   Most people pull out their point and shoot cameras or iPhones and snap an Instagram type shot and hope for the best.


Luckily, you’re not most people.  Your looking for impact.  Better yet, you want to see the scowl on your mother in-laws face because it’s good enough to hang on your wall type impact; and YOU took it.


The challenge in taking this photograph is three-fold:


  • You want to focus.  You want the feather in complete focus while allowing the background to also have a texture.   Texture is important. It adds a character to the picture and lets the viewer identify with it.  In this kind of shot texture is good.  On most DSLR type there is a P setting or a A-Dep.  Use them. Experiment. Most of all, focus on the feather.
  • It was important to maintain the contrast between the various blues of the feather and the blacks and browns of the ground.  You really want the picture to highlight the differences not only in color but also in texture. The lines that you see in the feather just simple straight black lines.  Yet, when you see them in the feather as a whole they are very striking and they give a delightful contrast to the texture of broken nuts and wood underneath it.  Contrast can help bring this out. Remember, texture is good. Contrast is good.
  • The lighting is tricky.  This feather is lying under a large canopy of trees.  It is a partly sunny day and that means that at anytime the sun will breakthrough introducing a slashing bright light across the mid-section of the feather. If you aim the camera into this specific area, the camera will try to compensate for the bright light and It would suddenly darken the shot for the picture and everything is black. If you choose the darker areas, then the shot would be vastly over exposed and the color gets washed out.  You have to try to get your timing just right.  Sure, you can always fix the picture in Photoshop or Lightroom later, but the idea is to try to do as little post-production as possible.


These are but three of the many steps you do when taking this shot of a blue jay feather.  But that’s just part of the story,  Little did you know when it happened, but you would soon be introduced to the previous owner of the feather.  There was a reason he had so recently shed it, That story and a picture on the next post.

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Why I take pictures of Flowers and Animals

For me the “art” of photography just happens.  When I go on a photo shoot I’m looking for certain things that tell me that a particular flower or animal is right for that a picture I want to take.  I look for flashes of color.  I want to see a simple white petal and how a sharp contrast of color makes it stand out.  I love finding how deep blues and purples work with the yellows and greens.

Its nature at it’s best.  That in itself is another key.  I want pictures of gardens and animals to contain magnificence.  I look at the peacock and notice that nature has made sure that there is green in every blue feather and every tail feather is iridescent in sunlight.  The divine mathematical precision of the petals of a flower.  The wings of a bird or tail of the squirrel having just the right curve and the perfect colors to produce both form and function.

I love to see how a beautiful flower can not only add light and color to a room but also enhance the flow of the design.

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3 Thoughts on Naming Art

I believe that one of the most difficult things to do, as an artist is to name your own work.  Sometimes this takes more effort and creativity than the average viewer can imagine.  I’ve come up with a short list of the thinking process that goes into the naming of a picture.

  1. Meaning- An artist generally wants to name their work with a name that will be meaningful and provide a connection to the artist. In the business world this is marketing.  While the name Img5437.cr2 may make sense as the name the camera and computer gave to the image, to the normal viewer it is just random meaningless numbers.  Img5437.cr2  does not have any descriptive value.  You can’t really know that it is a picture of a buffet table loaded with all sorts of sensual treats with that name.
  2.  Story- Every picture tells a story.  Sometimes the story is dramatic and rather upfront.  Other times there is a hidden story meant to inspire or give an emotional response to the viewer.  A good name will give the viewer a greater connection between the art and the patron.  Artists find the name for a work of art that tells or hints at the story that the art meant to portray.
  3.  Language- You want a name easy to see, easy to spell, and easy to say. We live in the age where people do a great deal of shopping online.  An artist today has a potential for thousands and even millions of people to see their work by placing copies of it online.  Over 48 countries visit this online blog.  I’m happy to say that one of my pictures hangs in a condo in Seoul, South Korea.  So, I want to pick names for my work that is not difficult and identifies what the viewer is seeing regardless of what culture or country they live in.
Feathers Falling
Feathers Falling


As you can see, the naming of a work of art is rather a daunting task.  You want creativity, but not crazy, be pronounceable but not without meaning, and be cross cultural and memorable while still telling it’s story.

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3 Ways Space Appears in Your Art

The power of space makes it the last frontier of the art elements. Space is a vital element of any art. It simply is there.  This element is both existent and non-existent at the same time.

There are several varieties of space each having an exact opposite.  Space in fine art is rather mathematical in form.  As with any formula, what you give to one side of the equation you must take from the other.    If you take away the positive or open space you get more negative or closed and vice versa.

The kinds of space are:

  1. Positive and Negative- Sometimes determined by white for positive and black for negative, it is generally the area occupied by an object or the empty are around the object.
  2. Open and Closed- the area inside a circle refers to closed space while the outside of the circle is open.
  3. 2 Dimensional or 3 Dimensional – this is a study in perspective.  Since all pictures are actually flat.  Any 3 dimensional drawing is therefore an illusion.

I’ve always liked the linear example illusion of 3 dimensional space. If you look at a railway or a road in a picture you’ll see that the two edges of the road will appear as parallel lines that begin to converge on a single point in the distance.  This creates illusions of depth in the photograph.

Rush Hour in Chama

In photography, space is one of the most important of the elements.  The artist regularly uses positive and negative space to highlight an object while making another object seem unimportant.  The use of depth of field allows the subject of the photograph to appear crystal clear and the center of attention while another object appears blurred in the background giving an open space that defines the intended subject.

Another example  in photography is the white or black backdrop found in a typical photographers portrait studio. The person having their picture taken is clear and in focus while the background is out of focus and provides a clear distinction between what is important, the model, and what is not, the background.

Whether a piece of fine art is a photograph, sculpture, or painting, space is where the action is or isn’t.   Space is a vital transmitter of  emotion and feeling in any piece of art.  It is the last frontier of elements in world of fine art photography.