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rain ~ the book / gallery / let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place

covers • click to embiggen
quote / statement • click to embiggen
spread 1 • click to embiggen
spread 2 • click to embiggen
spread 3 • click to embiggen
spread 4 • click to embiggen
spread 5 • click to embiggen
spread 6 • click to embiggen
spread 7 • click to embiggen
spread 8 • click to embiggen
spread 9 • click to embiggen
spread 10 • click to embiggen
spread 11 • click to embiggen

As time allows I have continued to mine my picture archive - currently numbering around 6000 pictures - to recognize and organize various bodies of work. Bodies which I have recognized but have only loosely put together. Rain is one such example.

Over an extended period of time, I have been making pictures immediately before / during / immediately after rainfalls which are one of favorite times to make pictures. That is to write that rain is one of the very few referents for which I suit up and go out to make pictures of a specific type. That's as opposed to my normal M.O. of going out with my camera(s) with no specific picture making objective in mind and making pictures of whatever pricks my eye and sensibilities.

What I find interesting about my approach to picture making is that I have had only a few bodies of work which I have intentionally pursued over time. Most of my other bodies of work have emerged from my archives when I recognize that I have a worthy collection of pictures which can make up a separate body of work. Once recognized and organized, I will then pursue, again over time, additional pictures for those almost serendipitous / newly 'discovered' themes.

My manner of discovering 'hidden' bodies of work within my archive stands in contrast to those who work on single bodies of work one at a time. My reason for not doing so is simple - I like to make pictures, lots of pictures. My archive extends back almost 13 years. Doing the math (6000 ÷ 13), that equates to approximately (on average) 460 pictures per year. And that's counting only the pictures which made it into my archive.

I can not imagine that my prodigious picture making habit will change any time soon. So, who knows what might emerge from that heap o' pictures in the future.

addendum: Borrowing a page from Andreas Manessinger, The Song of the Day is Singing In The Rain.

Posted on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 03:13PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych # 124 ~ as it should be

bathroom sink / kitchen sink ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

In his comment on the recent entry, civilized ku # 2869 ~ nothing if not wordy, Paul Bradforth wrote (in part):

.... I think my main grouch was that you, Mark, spend so much time talking about the finer points of what 'pictures' or 'art' is, while producing, at the same time, so much nice still-life work that I often think you lower the tone of it all with your proselytizing.

First, a caveat: I appreciate Paul's comment and input. I take no offense whatsoever and hope he (or others) continue to comment, pro or con, regarding any of the goings on here on The Landscapist. Expressing diverse opinions and ideas of what picture making is all about is, IMO, a good thing. A very good thing.

Second, a definition:

proselytizing: to convert or attempt to convert as a proselyte; recruit.

Third, my response to Paul's comment (not a retort but merely an explanation): Over the years, using words other than "proselytizing", some have accused me of speaking writing ex cathedra* regarding the medium and its apparatus ("talking about the finer points of what 'pictures' or 'art' is"). Amongst other things, I am fairly certain those comments stem from the fact that I have been demonstratively forthright in expressing my criticisms and opinions of some pictures and picture making ideas and conventions.

While it is not my intention to demean those who make those pictures or hold near and dear those picture making ideas and conventions, I am also certain (and take full responsibility for) that some take personal umbrage as the result of the expressing of my criticisms and opinions.

Given that I believe that cognitive criticism (as in, critique) is both valid and valuable, the operative word in the preceding paragraph is "opinion" inasmuch as I have never been proselytistic in my writings. That is, I have no desire to "convert" anyone to anything, picture things wise. I am merely expressing my opinions as I think out loud (so to write) as much for my own benefit - perhaps more so - as I do for others who may be tuning in.

Some appreciate, learn from, and come to their own conclusions based on my writings. Other think it's a steaming pile of elephant dung. And that's as it should be inasmuch as I'm not trying to please anyone other than myself.

Some visit for the pictures and in doing so appreciate, learn from, and come to their own conclusions, pro or con, about them. And that is as it should be inasmuch as I make pictures for myself according to the dictates of my eye and sensibilities.

All of that written, one thing visitors will never read from me is how they should do it or how they should think, picture making wise, or what kind of pictures they should like. And, as I have recently passed 3/4 million page views, I am assuming that, one way or another, someone somewhere is getting something out of it.

*from the seat of authority; with authority: used especially of those pronouncements of the pope that are considered infallible.

Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 09:20AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | Comments1 Comment

ku # 1295 ~ ode (and apologies) to Fredine

frozen over Lake Champlain ~ Adirondack Coast / Peru, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

At times you find one's self driving along something catches your eye and you wonder where's Eric Fredine when you need him? In this case, knowing that Fredine was thousands of miles Canadian kilometers away, I took it upon myself to attempt to channel Eric's picture making mojo and make a sweeping landscape picture.

I didn't go out intending to make this picture. It was another drive-by happenstance picture making opportunity - I was returning home from Hugo's Sunday AM hockey game (2 wins this weekend in which Hugo scored 7 of the team's 9 goals) when I came upon this scene.

The scene struck me as a Fredine-like vista because, unlike most days, the Green Mountains of Vermont on the far shore were obscured in fog / mist/ haze thus creating a more to-infinity appearance than that which is normally present. The distant line of bright sunlight on the ice was also a wonderful visual demarcation between surface and sky.

While I like this picture quite a bit and since there is no thaw in sight, I'll most likely head out to deliberately to make another picture in this location in more "dramatic" light - less monochromatic, more "colorful".

Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 06:41PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments2 Comments

diptych # 123 ~ still life or whatever?

window arrangements ~ Old Montreal, CA / Phoenicia, NY • click to embiggen

Relative to Tuesday's entry, genre purity, as a followup I thought I would post a couple pictures which represent what is passing for still life pictures (as noted on my web search). And, I might add, which are also representative of some of the entries and selections from the recent Marvelvous Things: The Art of Still Life exhibition.

The pictures in the diptych are not what I would consider to be still lifes but I don't have a problem with those would think them to be so. However, I can see, since the pictures do contain some referents which are arrangements, that that might be enough for some to think the pictures themselves are still life pictures.

If I were to be forced to label the pictures, genre wise, I would be at a loss to do so. To me, they are just pictures. However, if in the act of trying to force me to genre-label, the perp had a lethal weapon aimed at my temple I would probably call the window box flower picture an urbanscape and the bathroom window / rubber ducky picture an interiorscape. After all, aren't all pictures "-scape"(s)? ... a combining form extracted from landscape, denoting “an extensive view, scenery,” or “a picture or representation” of such a view, as specified by the initial element: cityscape; moonscape; seascape, etc.

All of that written, while a genre nomenclature might be helpful (cataloging, classifying, etc.) as general body of work designator, for me, a picture will always be just a picture.

Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 06:22PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

kitchen sink # 24 ~ genre purity

in the kitchen sink ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
flora / scanner photography • click to embiggen
still life for Duquesne Light ad ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen

First, a definition:

genre - a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like.

Second, an anecdote: There are many in the picture making world who abide by strict definitions of various picture making genres - landscape, portrait, street, still life, flora, fauna, wildlife, avain and the like - and they do not abide with any infringement or derivation from those definitions. As an example, on a couple of nature photography forums / sites on which I formerly posted pictures, each category / genre had strict guidelines for what could be posted on each genre category.

I primarily posted pictures on the Landscape forum where the pictures had to be of the nature world without any signs of humankind - no trails, paths, wakes in water, entrails in sky or structures of any kind or similar infringements on the purity of the landscape genre. Any landscape pictures with evidence of any of non-qualifing non-natural elements had to be posted in the Man and Nature forum. And so it went in other genre galleries. No birds in the Wildlife forum, only in Avian forum. Etc., etc., etc.

Each forum had an administrator / moderator (or two) who was charged with keeping things pure. I managed to cause quite a kerfuffle on the Flora forum when I began to post pictures of flowers which I made on a scanner (see above flower picture), aka: scanner photography. The proverbial shit it the fan in a big way. The flora nazis came out in force and comments ranged from the simple "that's not photography" to "the pictures are an insult to true flora photographers who go out into the field with all their gear (scrims, diffusers, reflectors, wind breaks, strobes, etc.) and their expertise."

On the back-channel discourse - moderator forum (not visible to public - the flora moderators, who had devolved into the photography equivalent of the soup nazi, became so incensed that the flora forum would include scanner pictures that they left the site to form their own "pure" flora site.

In any event, on the subject of the still life genre, photography division, the traditional (some might say "pure") definition of that genre has been pictures which depict an arrangement, preferably arranged by the picture maker, of inanimate objects. In my commercial picture making career, still life was a large part of my picturing making activity (see above Duquesne Light picture) to include products and food. And, yes indeed, I arranged all of the inanimate objects and my skill in doing so was highly regarded and highly compensated.

So, when I received a notice for submissions to the Art of Still Life juried exhibition, I submitted a traditional still life picture. That picture was one part found - the bowl with edible items - and one part made - I placed the bowl on a selected tray and determined the light used in making the picture. As mentioned previously, it was juried into the exhibition.

However, due to the number of submissions and eventual selections of pictures which were outside of the traditional definition of the still life genre - dresser top tableau, discarded roadside objects, and the like - a qualifier phrase, Marvelous Things, was added to the exhibition title. I was surprised by this development but was in no way dismayed.

In preparation for this entry, I looked around the web for still life pictures and, lo and behold, I discovered many examples of pictures labeled as still life that were considerably beyond the tradition definition thereof (see one example HERE).

Much of my current still life work is of found (see above kitchen sink picture) visually pleasing arrangements of inanimate objects as opposed to made arrangements. Nevertheless, virtually all of those pictures evidence the look of traditional made arrangement still life pictures. In some, I have moved an object into a more harmonious placement within the arrangement but, despite that intervention, the arrangements are truly found. Consequently, I have no issue with calling the pictures still life pictures in the traditional / pure definition of the genre.

All of that written, I am not a still life nazi, purity wise. And, I truly don't understand the fuss about purity of genre that so many hold so close to their picture making bosom.

Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 10:10AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments2 Comments

kitchen life # 66 (kitchen sink) ~ President's Day tribute with ginger, bacon, and grapes

Presidents of the United States ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Unlike my other kitchen life / kitchen sink pictures, all of which are found still life arrangements, this picture is a constructed still life arrangement made for the purpose of celebrating President's Day here in the US of A. On the subject of still life pictures, a recent entry on Eric Fredine's blog, Constructive Discussion, Eric wrote:

I’ve never been drawn to still life. But the exhibition Marvelous Things: The Art of Still Life curated by Aline Smithson (author/publisher of LensScratch) expanded my concept of still life. I realized still life encompassed a broad range of objects and could be a found scene.

I found both the idea of still life as defined by the Marvelous Things exhibition and its influence on Eric's thinking to be thought provoking inasmuch as I have always had, as a life long practitioner of the making still life pictures (commercial and fine art), a different idea regarding what the pictorial boundaries of the genre are.

However, today being a holiday on which my house has been occupied* (for 4 days) by 12 visiting relatives from NJ and NYC, I will postpone delving into that subject until tomorrow.

*For some reason or another, my thoughts on this President's Day are drawn to President George Washington and his dealings with the invading Hessian horde.

civilized ku # 2869 ~ nothing if not wordy

ultraviolet mini golf ~ Burlington, VT • click to embiggen

On my recent blog entry, kitchen life # 63 ~ don't know how much more of this I can take, Paul Bradforth* left a comment in which he wrote:

...the above is a bit rich, given that a good deal of the writing on your blog seems to be courtesy of Susan Sontag or some other high-falutin curator or other worthy.

The "above" which Paul thought was "rich" was my prattling on, re: those from the academic lunatic fringe who turn the viewing / making of every picture into "an academic critical analysis, intellectual labyrinth, psycho-analytical exercise." Paul also mentioned that I am "nothing if not wordy", which, true be told, isn't that far off the Mark inasmuch as my talk radio nom de plume parler was Blovius. A self-adopted and self-deprecative name derived from the word bloviate - to speak or write verbosely and windily.

I mention Paul's comment, not because I have any problem whatsoever with it, but because I am once again loading up the canon cannon with the words of a high-falutin' master artspeak slinger (Jeff Wall) in order to make a point (or two) ....

A. I'm aware that the subjects I choose do have meaning, but over the years I've found that understanding these meanings is less important for me ... People are going to take it where they want. All I can do is make my picture, and meanings will flow out of it. But I can't control them.

B. ... the everyday is a space in which meanings accumulate, but it's the pictorial realization that carries the meanings into the realm of the pleasurable.

item A. (point 1) I have always believed that there are 2 kinds of art. That is, fine art which stimulates the eye as well as the mind, and, decorative art which also stimulates the eye but functions to relaxes the mind. Each form of art serves a valuable function. Which one a viewer prefers is a strictly personal choice.

My operative assumption, and I believe it to be a reasonable one, is that the primary difference between fine and decorative art is the complexity and diversity of meaning(s) to be intuited / found / implied in fine art is well beyond that of decorative art. And, or so the conventional wisdom goes (especially so in the academic lunatic fringe where Meaning is King), if one is dedicated to the creation of fine art, one must also be aware of the idea of meaning(s) in art.

However, like Wall, I too have come to the conclusion that all a good artist can do is to create their art. That art may have meaning(s) for the creator and be a driving force in making of his/her art - a passion for making art - but that meaning(s) may or may not 'translate' into the eyes and minds of the beholders of his/her art. IMO, that lost-in-translation is not a bad thing inasmuch as art which strives to make its, most often singular, meaning(s) obvious and unavoidable is more akin to propaganda than it is to fine art.**

Therefore, I believe that the greater the diversity of meaning(s) to had in a picture, the richer it can be and consequently that it falls into the realm of fine art.

item B. (point 2) Therefore, if artist concentrates on the making of his art and not so much, if at all, on the meaning(s) which can be crammed / forced into it, I think it to be quite probable that the resultant "pictorial realization", both on its surface and in its ability to instigate a wide range of meaning(s) - meaning(s) specific to the individual viewing the art - will carry any meaning(s) to be had in a given picture "into the realm of the pleasurable".

(point 1 + point 2) Or, if I weren't given to such bloviation (sorry Paul, I just can't help myself), I could have simply written - just make the damn pictures and let the meaning chips fall where they may.

*Paul left no link but I did find this which may or may not be the same Paul Bradforth.

**which is not to write that some propaganda driven art has not reached, over the passage of time, the status of fine art (goggle "propaganda art" for examples).

Posted on Friday, February 13, 2015 at 09:25AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments2 Comments

kitchen sink ~ the book / gallery

covers and spine• click to embiggen
quote page and statement page• click to embiggen
spread 1• click to embiggen
spread 2• click to embiggen
spread 3• click to embiggen
spread 4• click to embiggen
spread 5• click to embiggen
spread 6• click to embiggen
spread 7• click to embiggen
spread 8• click to embiggen
spread 9• click to embiggen

The time has come to make a kitchen sink book. Inasmuch as I only picture the kitchen sink when a serendipitous still life arrangement pricks my eye and sensibilities - as opposed to constructing a still life arrangement - it took a while for me to have enough pictures of the kitchen sink to make a book and a companion folio.

While there most certainly is a similarity between this book and the kitchen life book, IMO, kitchen sink is a distinctly different body of work. It has a very specific thematic referent as opposed to the general life still life arrangements as found and pictured around my kitchen.

As always, comments and opinions are both welcome and appreciated.
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 05:54PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment