July News

Somehow summer is never quite as relaxing as I expect it to be. I've been having a blast though! Lots of stuff to do, that's for sure. I have some work up right now at the Azure Rising Gallery in Wolfeboro, if anyone is heading up to the lakes region to cool off! It is a very scenic area. I snapped a picture on my way up at one of the scenic overlooks. The art work will be on display through the end of July. There a couple more shows coming up. I'll post again when those details are solidified. Wolfeboro


At the end of June, I started my masters at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. It's a low residency program, which means I attend a residency in June and in January, and during the rest of the year, I work independently, consulting with mentors and advisors regularly. I'm really excited to be starting. Our June residency was an amazing experience. Being surrounded by people intellectually and passionately discussing important artistic concerns for ten days was a superbly stimulating experience. I will be taking some new directions in my art as a result, which is something I was looking to do. I got a tremendous amount of feedback, inspiring some new ideas. You can follow more about this experience here.

John Paul Caponigro

I attended a lecture last Thursday by John Paul Caponigro at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. The current show up in the French Gallery is of his and his father's work. The lecture was very inspiring, and informative. He touched on a lot of things I feel strongly about. I would probably describe his work as surreal digital landscapes. I admittedly was not very familiar with his work previously, and it was very interesting to be introduced to it and have it explained simultaneously.  I was not immediately drawn to it at first. The images are cold and ominous to me. He has a strong vision though, and his self-classification is as an environmental artist. His main concept is along the lines that the earth and environment are fading or are precious resources needing conserving. His images include nothing living. Water, sand, light, waves, and clouds are the main characters in his story. He spoke first of using digital techniques and photography in general versus other art forms. John Paul studied painting in collage, and said how painters don't discuss their tools as much as photographers.  Painters do not think having the same brush as Rembrant will make them a better painter. Yet when someone takes a great photo, people say, "wow, you must have a great camera." The equipment does not make an artist. It is their vision that creates what they see. He spoke of taking pictures out in a field with his father, using the same camera, same lens, and same f-stop, and creating entirely different images. Once, he was invited to participate in a digital project sponsored by Olympia and he asked if he was allowed to use any manipulation. They said he couldn't do anything a normal film camera could not do and he said, why make it digital then? His point was that digital has so many possibilities and potencial and is restricted for no reason. He constantly seeks to push it farther. He often distorts, stretches and otherwise manipulates his images. I find this to be a very valid point. Any chosen medium should be chosen with care and continuousness, and, as an artist, it's possibilities farther explored. John Paul spoke on his many principals of creativity. Drawing was the first one. He showed his personal drawings and thumbnails. He had a strong drawing past, and could very accurately render  images. He showed how he makes these thumbnails in photoshop that allow him to play are with compositions and elements. He recently went to Antartica, and showed how he broke it down into a few key elements: iceberg, moon, horizon, water, clouds and mountain. He drew theses things in Photoshop and the played with different arrangements, scales, and orientation. Clouds in the water, mountains upside down...

Composition was another key. There are standard compositions used in landscape, such as a leading path, a frame, and layers, and then combinations of these. He also spoke about aspect ratios. He doesn't use a standard one, but allows the image to inform the ratio. I appreciate that. Many people would probably argue against it, and doing this makes him a rebel against tradition, which he is anyways due to his manipulations. Doing this shows the flexibility of his medium. Also, he doesn't follow the rule of thirds. He may use it, but not to the exculsion of halfs, eigths, quarters and twelfths. He said musican don't ont cut the occative in half or thirds, but create a sectrum of notes.

Color was the other key aspect. He should how he sometimes makes finished images into large pixel thumb nails that allow his analyzed the colors, and showed charts from color theory. Color also creates space and mood.

Writing was a slightly surprising point as well. He said to make list, like a bucket list, to determine priories, and how writing things down makes toy more likely to come to past. He also showed hw he might story board "characters" from the story he is trying to tell. He photographed sand dunes in Africa twice. The first time, he returned without images he was very inspired by. As he worked on them, he began to see the waves appear and realized these images were connected to his story of water. When he returned, he was much more pleased with his results.

I asked a question at the end of his lecture, saying how his images are strongly cohesive and if he contiously chose a direction ofr if it was directed by concept. It sonded like a little of both. He spoke about exploring an idea and filling it out, and how Picasso had a blue phase and a pink phase, yet it was still strongly his work. John Paul had shown us some of his iPhone images and said how when he sells these images, he sells them as sketches. He talked about keeping clarity of brand. What do you want? What are you saying? Attending this lecture inspired me to continue to push my art in unexplored directions and to pursue the story I want to tell.

Images for Thought and Time

I went camping recently, and stumbled upon this interesting little store called Abacus. It was a nice, funky collection of things for the home, jewelry, art, etc. It was rather exciting. Seeing original ideas is always inspiring. It gets me excited to get back here into the studio to work on my own creations. I thought I'd share some of the current things I've been looking at lately. From the Abacus gallery, I saw these amazing, intricate clocks by Roger Wood. He assembled a large assortment of antique items including clock faces, and, in the ones I saw, had them under a glass dome. The result was like a time terrarium. I've been working on some images that deal with time as well, so it was interesting to see this interpretation. Also at Abacus was a photographer Scott Matyjaszek. The work on display of his were 3D "photo sculptures." I've seen several attempts at this, but his were some on the most convincing ones I'v ever seen. The cutting was exceptionally precise, and there were a significant amount of layers. I think when I've seen other attempts, there is only two or three layers, which doesn't give the image enough complexity to be convincing. Today, I saw a post by the Vermont Center for Photography for an artist, Sally Apfelbaum, who is currently on display in  their gallery. I was quite interested in her multiple exposures. Visually, they are intricate and complex. It also deals with time again, as well as perspective. In my work, I usually layer several images because I am trying to emphasize the figment of reality. In one of Apfelbaum's images, she took pictures of the same structure from north, south, east, and west. It's an intriguing idea to me, to explore multiple views in a single image. To me, it seems to say that the true image of the structure exists in the entirety of the object, informing the viewer of all sides. These images read almost like memories, and the way our mind will layer information from experiences. The segments reveal the whole.


I just shared this quote with a friend, and thought it might be worth repeating here. "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”

--Chuck Close

As far as art goes, these are some of the best words of advice. I have this printed out and posted in my studio space and in my bedroom so I see it daily. It's easy to over think an idea, to kill it before it's born and sit around and think of all sorts of reason to not make art. Ultimately, you just have to do it, if you want to or not. Do it. Don't stop. Do. Not. Stop.