Sunday, January 31, 2016

How Do I Love Thee?

Falling In Love, 2016

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

For the artist who falls in love with their own work ...  "thee" can be anything, from a person to a plant. Today, it was the Light. Capital "L."  For me, a life long photographer, it's always been and always will be about the Light.

At around 5:00 pm today the angle of the sun created a beautiful light and shadow pattern illuminating the fabric that still hung from last week's portrait session.  It was truly breathtaking and caused an internal alarm that almost shook me. I literally fell in love at first sight.  But I knew that I had a finite amount of time to create the artistic still life portrait I desired.

I started with the beautiful flowers purchased last week from Bachman's that were still looking good eight days later. I loved seeing them each and every day this week even though I was aware of  many minor changes as they aged and wilted.

While I was freshening the flower arrangement and changing the vase I was reminded of comments repeatedly shared by artist friend Jim Marion Foreman that "as we create our favorite art pieces we fall in love with them. We develop an intimate relationship with them that, in that moment, is an intense love affair between the artist and the art."

This was more true than ever today.  

I loved the first session of portraits that was just the flower vase when I was merely "flirting" with the sunlight and shadows. Then the Muse, who was my stand-in, caught my attention as she communicated that she too had an extraordinary attraction to the warmth and embrace of the sun. 

To add a thoughtful conversation to the budding relationship I added two big art books "so we'd have something to talk about" and liqueur in a glass so we could whet our thirst after talking.

As the sun went down and the colors became softer and warmer with a golden palette, the final token was shared, pearls. Pearls that spoke of our sophisticated, sexy and sensual affair that lasted only as long as the light illuminated our scene.

Standing in the dark later I couldn't see the vase or the Muse or the pearls but I remembered the deep love that we had shared during those moments together in the sun and the shadows.

How do I love thee?  
Truly, let me count the ways.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 - 1861

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bread, Wine, Cheese and Thou

Bread, Wine, Cheese and Thou, 2016

All my images are a photo journal of my life events, of course, so that means they also overtly or covertly represent my spouse, family and friends.  This image is a Valentine's Day still life created with the intention of representing the lovely verses by Omar Khhayyam
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough.
A Jug of Wine, A Loaf of Bread--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

I love how I get focused on a theme or a verse and it all magically comes together into a still life portrait. When others see the still life portrait they see the objects, but I see and feel the people who helped bring it all together and the magical creation process. 

Today this portrait started with a backdrop curtain gifted to me from friend Sarah M. when she moved out of her previous studio. I'd been waiting for the right opportunity to use it and thought it would be ideal for a Valentine still life that would look like a classic painting. 

Coincidentally, the second friend who contributed was also a Sarah.  Our neighbor Sarah S. had generously shared hearty sour dough bread, Newton label red wine and Stilton blue cheese, all yummy. Sarah was alongside Karl and I when I purchased the lovely flower arrangement at Bachman's during their Winter Farmer's Market open house.

The remaining objects called to me asking to be included in the portrait also,  i.e. set of poetry books,  olive oil and vinegar from Vom Foss, an orange, nuts and lastly, cinnamon candies.

I created about 20 images as the afternoon winter sunlight peaked in and out of hazy clouds and illuminated this scene. As always I had the camera firmly planted on my Bogen studio tripod and a reflector positioned to bounce back the available light. But this time I did a little experimentation for a change at the prompting from an art exhibit attendee who I chatted with recently. He queried why didn't I photograph at the wide open end of the focal settings such as f1.4, f2, f4 and the like so it looked like a contemporary photo.

My answer was basically that, for my purposes I feel I get the desired effect by photographing at f8,  or f11 so everything is sharp and in focus and has the look and feel of a classic painting. 

But, just for a little variety and to overcompensate for the hazy sunlight I thought I'd play at both ends today and compare the results.  

I'm happy to say that I loved three different images at three different settings:  f2, f5 and f10 so I had test prints made of all of them so I could carefully examine them up close.

Final favorite that is now going to the next production level, a canvas enlargement, is the f5 image because it helped to soften the pattern of the curtains and yet keep all the objects in sharp focus. 

I just love it when I get to play, experiment and do something a little different each time.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hands Are Full

  petrichor   heavy in the air   fills our hands