Monday, May 6, 2024

Canyonlads, TEXAS

It’s early morning on this second day in the red rock canyons of western Texas. As I sip my coffee, I am contemplating the changing light on the landscape and the erosional remnant of Permian sandstone before me. I noticed this feature yesterday evening on my return hike from deeper in the canyons. I thought that it might make an interesting silhouette with the rising of the Sun.

As the Sun rose, I became fascinated with the evolving skyglow behind the rocks. A light breeze picked up, distracting me for a moment, as it slightly swayed the delicate leaves of the mesquite trees. There was not a cloud in sight. I realized that this would focus the viewer's eyes on the event itself; clouds would have been a distraction. 

There is something primal about the rising Sun that speaks to all of us on a fundamental level. It's like the opening scene in the film '2001: A Space Odyssey'. This feeling, I believe, may be a part of our genetic makeup via evolution, on an even deeper level of our core existence, a feeling that over millennia has been witnessed by countless generations of our species. For many of us, this event brings a sense of belonging, a sense of being a part of something greater, not just the beginning promise of a new day; greater than our petty differences and the ensuing struggle to become better as a species than we are now. 

Until next time . . . I wish you all the best. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2019


For years I struggled with the notion of turning my passion into a marketable venture. I was unsure about going down that road, because at the time, my work was only important to my personal sense of well being. Photography was a creative outlet that I revisited from my late childhood, one I soon found I desperately needed after retiring from the music business. After all, most creatives need some form of outlet, especially after having moved on from previous endeavors.

Having decided to make a go of it, I knew I would have to research how to market my work. This was a time when film was the photographic medium and there was no internet, and so, looking at the few avenues available, I realized I would have to learn to sell myself first, as an artist, before I could possibly achieve any modicum of success.

One thing I knew was key; being a working musician had taught me the ways, and benefits, of interacting with people, previously a nonstarter that I would not have been capable of years before, since in reality, I am a bit of an introvert.

And so, I learned how to walk into an establishment with portfolio in hand and sell myself, before even showing the work itself. There were many rejections along the way, but determination and time paid off in the long run.

With the advent of the internet, the art of selling changed literally overnite. No longer did you have to rely on face to face, or pick up the phone to sell your work. For me, this change removed from the equation the element of having that personal relationship with my clients, a relationship that I highly valued. The main benefit the internet provided was a place where you could showcase your work (obviously an advantage), but at the same time it seemed to lose that personal connection with the client. The benefit of a one on one between artist and client seemed to become relegated to the sideline. For me, this impersonal approach was a loss for both parties. What to do at this point became the overriding consideration.

After giving this some serious thought, I made the conscious decision to not sell my work through an online print vendor. This allowed me to continue to have a one on one 'conversation', whether it be by email, by phone, or face to face with those interested in purchasing my work. It also allowed me to offer prints and digital media that could be approved by myself, and tailored to fit the needs of the client, before sending the work out the door. Over the years, this has proved beneficial to both in more ways than I can count. With this personal connection, both the artist and the client/customer gain immensely in my opinion. All of this, in part, directly came about because I learned to sell myself.

All said and done, I cannot teach you how to learn the art of selling yourself, anymore than I can teach you how to live a productive, fulfilling life. You just have to take that first step, and then the next. Learn to trust your instincts. Analyze and learn from your failures and your mistakes. Eventually, you will become self-assured and confident in your ability to sell yourself first; then your art will sell itself. In the long run, it will pay dividends you can not even begin to imagine, while leaving you with a sense of personal fulfillment where you and your work stand in the world of art.

Until next time ....

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Last year around this time, I received an enlightened (and enlightening) comment on one of my G+ posts from fellow photographer Shirlee Severs. Her comment was written in response to my mentioning that I had recently taken a sabbatical from creating any new work, and yet, I had been unable to keep away from continuing with projects I had intended to put off for the foreseeable future. Shirlee's comment was in part a quote from Pearl S. Buck, who wrote:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive...add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating." 
I found it to be one of the most poignant quotes I had ever read when it comes to the 'human condition' of being one who creates art, regardless of form or genre. This got me to thinking about what it means to be an artist and what motivates the creative process.

I have for some time now considered myself an artist, in part because of the way that I develop my images, and in part because I see my work from the perspective of one who has been involved in the arts for decades as a practitioner of both the aural and visual arts. I will state right up front that rarely are the colors in my images accurate. They are always a direct result of my emotional state of mind and my personal perception of Nature when making and developing the images. As a direct result, they inevitably reveal a sense of my personal aesthetics and provide insight into how I perceive my work.

During the last few years some of my images have been in a category that one could hardly call traditional photography, and one can only call them art because of the color palette that was chosen. Quite often, I will create something that I describe as otherworldly, or on the fringe of reality. I do this because I have a desire to stretch the boundaries of what I consider my own artistic vision within landscape photography, but most of all, because I derive a great deal of pleasure in creating these works. They are unique in that they do not portray reality in any sense of the word, a departure if you will. This in fact makes them works of art. With these works, I am attempting to defy conventionality, though in reality all of my work shares a common thread and vision if you follow my work closely.

I consider myself an artist because I am working in a visual medium. But what does this word 'artist' really mean? What separates me from those who do not use the word, even though they are working in the same genre of photography? This got me to thinking that there may be negative connotations in the use of the word artist. With so many others using the word freely, some with talent and some without, I wonder if the word has not become just a bit hackneyed, or even worse, meaningless.

We are all influenced by external forces and events during our daily lives, the media we are exposed to in all of its various forms, as well as how we perceive our place within the context of  the world. These things, and others, combine to form our perceptions of the world around us. I believe that these forces directly relate to how one lives and perceives one's place in the world. Not everything we see and experience each day contains elements of reality. Taking this one step further on a personal level, it thus becomes easier for me to create works that escape the bounds of realism. Being grounded in reality, the work retains an underlying familiarity that allows most of us to relate even though what lies before us may not appear to be so.

Artists are a receptacle for emotions and all that surrounds us. We receive aural and visual cues from things which may not directly relate to our work, such as music, a dew covered blade of grass that sparkles in sunlight, the way a shadow falls upon a wall, or even the voice of a child singing a nonsensical song. Triggers are everywhere, constantly bombarding us with input that in turn is reflected in our art. How can it not be?

But what about the drive, desire, and need to create? What motivates us to do so? Though these may appear to be difficult questions to answer on the surface, I will attempt to do so. 

For myself, this desire has been with me since childhood. I derive great pleasure from the creation of 'things' that please me. After all, the pleasing of oneself is so much more important than the pleasing of others. It is visually and mentally satisfying on many levels for me. That being said, I believe that it comes from within, from some place deep within both my subconscious and then mingling with my conscious self.  

Humanity has been creating works of art for tens of thousands of years. He has done so for primal reasons and for aesthetic reasons. Both stem from a need to portray the world he sees all around. At some point in time, he became conscious of aesthetics and began to alter his art to please himself. There was no turning back from this point onward. Art was born and we have never looked back.

I believe that we all have this desire to create, it is just that some feel the need to express themselves in a tangible manner that either benefits only themselves or the world. And yet, we all have the capability to be creative. It often involves a simple push from some unknown quarter to provide the spark necessary to begin. Some of us however, seem to be forced to do so by some reason that we do not fully understand, or even comprehend for that matter. We seem to be driven to do so and we cannot live without it. It is something that makes us get up in the morning, or work long into the hours past midnight doing what we love to do.

Moving from one project or piece of work to the next is paramount to the continued existence of the artist. This fire within that drives the creation process appears to be, for the most part, never ending. Only on occasion, when the artist loses this drive is there a separation of the artist from the art.

From personal experience, I can say that there are times like this when the well seems to have run dry, when ideas or direction seem to have disappeared over the edge of the event horizon. As they cross this boundary, the artist is cast adrift for a time, and in rare instances, it becomes permanent.

What I have noticed in my own work is that the trend has been to create more works of 'art' than to do traditional landscapes. I believe that these pieces are the glue that keeps me forging ahead when the doubts creep in that what I am doing has any meaning for both myself and others. Whether this is an experimental phase I have been going through and is possibly a response to other influences, or a conscious decision on my part, or both, I cannot say. What I do know is that I enjoy creating these pieces and will most likely continue to do so in the future.

The real issue for me though is whether or not I am creating a conflict in how others perceive my work. On the one hand they see my traditional works, and on the other, the art pieces. Most photographers I am aware of working in the landscape genre stay within narrowly defined boundaries with all of their work, thus ensuring a continuity with their viewers. The question I am currently pondering is, "Am I alienating viewers who prefer one over the other?" This is a real point of concern for me. And so,the search for answers defining creativity and how it relates to the human condition continues.

Thanks to Shirlee Severs for sharing the great quote from Pearl S. Buck and for inspiring this post. You can find Shirlee's photography at

I would love to hear your views on how you perceive yourself as an artist, if you even consider yourself an artist, and your thoughts on the creative process. I am curious to know if others have experienced this separation of art and artist, and I would be interested to hear from those who have and how it affected their future work.

Be sure to sign up for future posts on the "Follow by email" link on the right, or send me a personal note via email and I will add you to the list.

Until next time ....