An Afternoon in Thought

With sensing a bit of accomplishment in the field of photography, it is beginning to take a place for me in the world of creativity.  I am beginning to see what I could not see before.  This ability to relate to photography pools it into other arts, specifically, painting.  Consequently, I am re-reading about and re-evaluating the works of Georgia O’Keeffe, and as an extrapolation, the life and works of Ansel Adams, both whom I admire as artists.

Georgia O’Keeffe – Blue & Green Music – 1921

Their creative viewpoints resonate with my own.  While I doubt I shall ever meet their productivity, or creativity, I can appreciate their work as individuals.  What interests them interests me – looking at landscapes, parts of things, plants.  The natural world in color and in black and white, both lush and sensuous, and stark and contrasting.

Ansel Adams – Church, Taos Pueblo – 1942

In particular, I like the fact they do not put people in their works.  I cannot think of a single painting by O’Keeffe in which there is a person; few photographs by Adams include individuals.  And that is not to say I do not enjoy images of people, but it is more likely I am not going to go out of my way to pursue then.  People like Kirk Tuck and Vivian Maier are wonderful photographers, both of whom photograph people.  Kirk works often in his studio, but also does street portraiture; Maier, on the other hand, was a street photographer at its finest.

I may at some point venture out to take pictures of the random person, but for now, the textures and colors of the world around me intrigue me enough to focus on them.  And perhaps I shall begin painting again – my period of apprenticeship in photography may be ending.

That Feeling of Love

There is a sensual quality in art, in the process of doing it, and in the process of thinking about it.  It is this tie-in between the internal world and the external world – the perceived, and the produced.  For me, this is a very critical part of anything I do which is creative – it is akin to falling in love – it is emotive, sexy, exhilarating, dangerous.  It is an altogether sensual experience, not just as in sexy, but in that all of my being melds together in the process of creating.  Today, I felt that in working with pictures I have taken – this means, a part of me “gets it” – and a part of me is now mastering something, a part of me can think about what I want to do, and move toward that vision.  While a keyboard may not produce the same tactile pleasure a brush and paint and ink and paper produce, there is color – always, always color.  Or a lack of color.  There is shape.  There is contrast.  There is mood.  This is love, this is being, this is emotion, this is spirit.

Long Boats & Nyckelharpa

This morning I wandered over to the Scandinavian Festival at the local college.  It was not big and noisy, but rather small and quaint, and probably not as busy today as yesterday.  As with every cultural fair, there were things worth looking at and things worth avoiding.  What I enjoyed most was a display of two boats, former fishing boats, rowed with oars and moved by square sails, and a wandering violinist playing a keyed Swedish violin, called a nyckelharpa.

The boats were built in the 1800s, the last of the long boats built in the traditional style of boats used in Norway, using methods and design handed down from the days of the Viking ships. If you want to learn more about them, the gentleman who provided the display is Olaf Engvig, the author of books on maritime history and the use of iron in ship building. Very interesting man!

The boats, of course, have new lines and oars and sails and rudders, but the planking and iron rivets are original.  Square-rigged ships are common throughout the world, but I think that nobody used them better than the Vikings or the designers of the clipper ships.  These two boats were particularly interesting as there is no boom on the sail, so the boat is easily maneuvered by line and rudder, and no one needs worry about a cracked skull!

I next met the violinist, a pleasant and talented man who was obliging in every way, from answering questions and playing tunes and posing for a portrait.

I have never heard of a keyed violin, but according the link to Wikipedia, the keyed violin has a long history. Take a look at it to get a better idea of the keys along the violin’s neck.

My first look at the nyckelharpa made me think it was a very simple instrument, something like a guitar played with a bow. It is most definitely not! Just constructing one must be painstaking. There are keys, three in a row, throughout the length of the instrument’s neck.  I wonder if this is an easier-to-play instrument than a traditional violin, but as I have never played a stringed instrument (other than a piano, if that counts!), I wonder if talent is needed to handle the bow as well.  Whatever, the musician played beautifully, and kindly posed for his picture as well.

Vision

I have been pondering just removing this blog from the blogosphere, but haven’t done that.  I have been ignoring it because I am not so sure that it is going in any direction right now.  I am going in some directions, but not necessarily the ones that created the impetus for its existence.  The result is something of a conflict, because I have been “doing” photography for a bit, and ignoring other things I really love.  The fact is, though, photography gets me outdoors more and more, and I have forgotten how much I like that.  Not outdoors at the mall, but outdoors in the wilder parts of town (i.e. places with trees and plants, not crazy drunks!).  Suburbia is sadly lacking in open space at times, and that means actually taking time out to travel and drive somewhere to be outdoors.

On the other hand, photography also means packing things to lug along.  I have always been a minimalist in hobbies.  I don’t like to need a ton of stuff to do anything, but often photography seems to require a few things more than I really want to haul around.  The trade off, though, is producing things that are better than just okay.  I also think I have reached a point where I have a fairly good handle on some of the technical aspects of photography, along with more thought about composition and light, and not just running around pointing and shooting everything I see.

In a nutshell, I have reached a point of dissatisfaction with photography.  That is interesting, don’t you think?  For me it is.  What this means that I am now at a point where it is necessary to push past the do-able to the less do-able.  This may mean making advances in technique.  It also means advances in creativity.  At this point, photography is rather boring.  Sitting at a computer to post process a picture is horribly boring – but useful.  Even that, though,I prefer to keep to a minimum.

For me, the most frustrating part of photography is that it is not as manual as I would like it to be.  Simply put, I like working with my hands.  Cameras are not especially complex when it comes to pushing a button . . . there is not a lot of finesse, as there is in painting.  It is different.  On the other hand, I do get outdoors and crawl around in the bushes.  That is kind of fun.  And I don’t do that when I paint or knit.

The question, here, is what is my vision as a photographer – person – artist – human?  Perhaps by defining my artistic vision I can open the elusive.

So, let me make a start . . .

I want to find the essential and the beautiful in the world around me, whether in nature, in a person, or in an object, whether simple or complex.

Bull?  Let’s see where it goes.