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.
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.
In the meantime, enjoy our latest additions to the Butterfly Collection. These works of art are incredible to 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.
This incredible capture of a local bird fishing by the side of a tranquil pond owes its drama and vision to the use of filters in photographic art.
I’m often called upon to explain what a photographic artist does to not only the everyday art lover, but often enough to painters and sculptors also. Many people, especially, other artists are often hung up with the use of photography as merely a recording tool for selfies. Slowly, those barriers of understanding break down more and more as people see the artistic results of science and art blended in perfect unison.
One of my favorite explanations is that in photographic art the light is our paintbrush and reality is our stretched canvas. However, we need to add another line to that explanation as our work of art Water Bird in Copper this time displays.
Namely, a filter is our artist palette.
Artist palettes are stereotypically envisioned as large boards held by painters where they mix the colors of the paints they are going to use. It’s one of the oldest and most recognizable pieces of equipment in a painter’s toolbox.
Painters use palettes to mix their colors to achieve the perfect nuance of color that they then apply to the picture that they are painting. It allows them to lighten or darken paints to create help them create the highlight or shadow in the work according to their artistic vision.
In photography, the use of filters is nothing new. In fact, with out the use of filters color film would never have developed. Filters allow certain wavelengths of light, or colors, through to the lens while blocking others. This is often used to stop glare and boost picture clarity. Or, in it’s artistic application; the humble filter can serve the role of the palette and dramatically enhance the drama and beauty of the picture at hand.
As I mentioned last week, we are looking to take this photo of a typical tea rose and turn it into something fabulous. It is a good photo with the subject clearly
defined and focused. But, it looks like thousands of other photographs of a tea rose.
Artistic is not really a word I would use to describe it as much as ordinary. Ordinary is not bad, but we are making art here! Yet, it does have some artistic value. Centered in the shot, the rose falls in line with the traditional rule of thirds. However, there is too much space on the outside of the rose.
If you look at the white of the rose and the dirty white in the background you’ll discover that the rose tends to disappear into the background. If it wasn’t for the reddish tint on the tips of the petals, one might not even realize it is there. That is not good. The answer is to crop the picture so that the flower becomes more focused as the one and only item for the viewer’s perusal.
Next, we need to create a mood for the picture. Since the subject is a flower, we can easily follow one of two routes for creating this mood. We can soften the flower by blurring it. This will give the flower a dreamy like quality. Doing this kind of visualization reminds me of the Hallmark cards you see for sick people or weddings. In my opinion this is best done with a color photograph.
Or we choose the second mystical mood creator known in art as visual punch. This choosing of one technique over another, probably more than anywhere, is where the visual message of the artist gets to be expressed in photographic art. It’s a choice. You must factor in different element of the picture to make your choice wisely. Personally, I’m thinking this flower needs visual punch. Punch is power.
The reasoning behind this decision is the color of the flower. Since the shot happened during the mid afternoon with the harsh sunlight moving in and out of the clouds, I used a UV filter to act as a sort of sunglasses. I don’t like the amount of color I had to lose to make sure I capture the detail in the flower. Therefore, I chose the visual punch of a black and white image.
Further, the shot just doesn’t seem romantic and “soft” to me. However, flowers always show a certain sense of passion and passion is power. So, we have passion and visual punch able to combine into a true statement. My vision of what route to take when creating this work is now complete. Now we just need to visually bring it to life.
Since there is no color to attract the eye, we can only use the shading naturally provided by the sun and the colors as they turn from various colors to numerous shades of blackness. The result is a powerful visual image.
The flower is actually enhanced in its detail by losing the color and the cropping helps bring out the graininess of the flowers leaves. The result is a powerful combination of light and dark, grainy and smoothness that will look good whether framed or printed on canvas.
The third installment from our recent visit to the Greenhill School campus is the work “Girders”. As the construction on campus of the new fine art building continued, there was a brief opportunity to see the skeletal insides of the towering building. I wanted to capture this moment before they installed the walls and fleshed out this monstrosity of campus expansion.
What I discovered was a series of right angles and geometric shapes as the girders of the red steel frame stood against the sky. The day was cloudy with low rumbling storm like clouds that spoke of rain. As these billows of dark nature swirled past the girders it created a strange otherworldly ambience.
Upon reflection of what I was seeing, I decided that a heavy red and green tinted filter was just the thing to bring the ominous feelings of the clouds to the viewer’s attention.
The red in the girders only became a deeper hue and a strange idea of the basic conflict of nature vs. man became prevalent to the picture’s theme. The girders representing the indomitable will of man to build, while his hubris produces an angry response from nature. All is in place to remind man though the building may continue, the victory is false for in the end nature and the ravages of time will eventually overcome.
It is not surprising that in the ever-expanding hustle and urbanization of our country’s metroplex areas the humble hay barn is slowly becoming a standing monument to the past. This old red barn stands testament to a way of life very few of us know. The days of farming and stacking hay in barn to feed your livestock is an occupation that requires us to leave the smell of diesel and gasoline engines for the smell of dirt and manure.
Yet time never stands still as this decaying skeleton of a once proud farmhouse barn can stand testament to. The paint is peeling and the weeds are overgrown. The roof no longer does it’s important rain defying work. This old building once stood as a powerful reminder of a farmers wealth and influence, now suffers from the indignities of old age and the ravages of time.
Once considered to expensive and time-consuming to raise new, this declining relic is now too expensive and time-consuming to level. Perhaps all the farmers have gone. Moved to the city and its bright lights for better opportunities. What then of this old barn. What hollow adventures are left for it?