Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Fri 4 Aug 06 10:26
Ah - I was lucky enough to get what little formal education I have in photography from a few instructors at SF City College. By the luck of the draw, Phil Palmer became my teacher. I don't think he ever squashed such discussion, it never seemed to come up. Of course, that WAS the 70's and most of us made pictures simply because we couldn't imagine NOT making pictures.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 4 Aug 06 10:53
At least they had cool uniforms: (oilers1972) Fri 4 Aug 06 19:13
Regarding the economic realities 98% of us creative types face (and I also dug the line about reality checks, which wouldn't be so bad if only they were easier to cash), that's why a lucrative (or at least a kick-back type) day job will always be important. Sigh.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 4 Aug 06 20:28
Its true, one way or another artists need to find a way both to stay afloat economically and to keep working at their art while waiting for their ship to come in. Strategies abound, but they pretty much fall into two categories. The first school of thought is to take a job as far removed from artmaking as possible. The operative theory here is that by separating your day job from your passion, you avoid influences that might otherwise corrupt or trivialize your artistic vision. The peril, of course, is that youll become as mind-numbingly dull as your job description, develop a lifestyle dependent on a steady paycheck, and eventually as your last creative act convert your easel into an ivy trellis. The opposing strategy is to take a job in the nearest commercial application of your art. And why not? After all, the commercial world always values your skills (if not your passion) and will actually PAY you to hone those skills and maybe even acquire new ones. And there is, of course, a third strategy and obviously the most direct one which is to simply make art. Make ONLY art! Pursue no other goal! The clear virtue of this take-no-prisoners approach is that it places artmaking directly at the center of ones life. The clear drawback is that it usually means subsisting for long periods on sparse returns. Theyre all valid options, and which one works best for any given artist depends on their own sensibilities, ambitions, tolerance for pain, and a bunch of other things that can be known only from the inside.
Tim Kelly (bumbaugh) Sat 5 Aug 06 07:09
<Somehow that strikes me as putting the cart before the horse ^? long before figuring out what they have to say thru their art, and long before they've found a style & technique that matches their vision, these young people are ready to abdicate those choices to the marketplace.> Succumbing to the siren song of celebrity, wanting the shortcut to fame; could anyone be surprised that students see the same road in the art word that gets thrown up to them in pop culture? Slick, fast, a little skin, and a new hairstyle to make you an Artistic Idol? I say they know the water they swim in. And scratch the surface and you'll probably find they are more cynical than we are. Reality has a heavy way to deal with such naivete, but maybe this fantasy is no less corrosive than romanticizing the garret-dwelling life of La Boheme. Having cashed many reality checks myself as a (mostly) non-exhibiting artist I am aware of the inner drive to produce work. So what are the external elements that keep an artist in the game? Kind words from a friend? A print sale? Praise at a workshop? A show? Yes, all of the above. Sure. But only if they help you grow as an artist, and definitely *not* if these externals freeze your process. ('Oh, I sold a landscape photoshoped into a painting, That's my life.') Curiosity is at the core. But not far away is persistence, and then again some magical way to snatch time from other pursuits to fold into thinking and reflection. For me, some of the curiosity is technical, looking at old tools in new ways or pushing the limits of equipment. Hasn't it always been so? (At a workshop years ago, the Kodak rep introduced their new 3200 speed film. Honest to god, the first question from the back of the room was "Can you push it?"!) Also some - or maybe even most - of what drives me comes from questioning the life I see. And that takes time. So thoughtful daydreaming is where time must go. It also means wandering through many genres and taking strange pathways. But since I'm not anticipating the 'gallery life', these turns and detours are fine with me. The clanging bell going off in my head while talking about time to think is that my best work is often done by *not* thinking once I have the camera in hand. Anyone agree? Tim Kelly
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sat 5 Aug 06 08:06
<The clanging bell going off in my head while talking about time to think is that my best work is often done by *not* thinking once I have the camera in hand.> It is both, isn't it? There are the moments for contemplating and considering, reflecting on the images already made, studying what works and what doesn't. Perhaps even developing a new question to carry one into the next work. And then, as you say, with camera in hand (or brush, or guitar, or lump of clay, etc) there is something more direct that takes place. But doesn't it often include or benefit from the periods of reflection? The most obvious example is when you put yourself in front of new subject matter. (Over in the Photography Conference right now, our 'theme of the month' is 'The thing I would NEVER photograph' - an extreme example.)
Ted Orland (tedorland) Sat 5 Aug 06 14:32
re: the clanging bell... Tims comments about the paralyzing effect of the intellect bring to my mind that familiar image of the little cartoon critter who blithely walks straight out beyond the edge of the cliff without harm -- until he looks around and suddenly realizes hes left the terra firma. Theres a little run of questions I sometimes toss my beginning photo class, just to see how far each of them feel comfortable leaving terra firma in pursuit of their artmaking. The questions, all of which open with, In the past year or two are: What subject have you photographed most frequently? What have you seen that you consciously decided to NOT photograph? Whats proven the easiest subject for you to photograph? Whats the emotionally riskiest photograph youve made? What do you have a PASSION to photograph!?
Tell your piteous heart there's no harm done. (krome) Sat 5 Aug 06 19:49
"What subject have you photographed most frequently? What have you seen that you consciously decided to NOT photograph? Whats proven the easiest subject for you to photograph? Whats the emotionally riskiest photograph youve made? What do you have a PASSION to photograph!?" 20 years ago, the answer to A would have been women, now it's buildings. B)I always avoided the 'easy news' shots and portraits. C)The passage of Time. D)Can't say, photography is not emotionally risky to me, even when shooting nude photos of a lover. The camera lies between me and the subject, objectifying everything. That's why photography is different than painting or music making. E)The passage of Time.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sat 5 Aug 06 20:01
Kevin, I'd be interested in seeing examples of images of the passage of Time. Do you have any online? Ted, having been in your classes, I have encountered most of those questions at one time or another and they are often jarring and revealing to ask oneself. I'm wondering though, if you have any questions that guide or inform the making of your own work? How do YOU go about making images? How do you know, from the images you make, which ones to pursue?
Tell your piteous heart there's no harm done. (krome) Sat 5 Aug 06 23:35
Well, I view all photographs as slices of time so all are are about the passage thereof, but as far as what I've got online here are a couple: http://kevarts.com/GaredesFleurs.html The photo in the background was taken in '94 in Gare de l'Est in Paris. I had just seen my brother off and waited for a pidgeon to fly by. I got 2 in that shot. Some 10 years later I found it hanging behind some daisies. http://kevarts.com/snowbell.html This one is of Passage of Time of shorter type. A block away from my apartment on a chilly, wet December night some years ago.
Tell your piteous heart there's no harm done. (krome) Sun 6 Aug 06 00:28
BTW, listening to some Swing Out Sister and EBTG on the computer tonight, I have to say that part of the reasoning behind how I did the record that came out in '03 was to force the 'art is not(necessarily) for your entertainment' issue. Perhaps I have antagonized myself into an artistic corner. (If only he could have been more....accomodating) Oh well. I really do think art should be confrontational *and* beautiful.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 6 Aug 06 08:29
Some of us think beauty *is* confrontational.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Sun 6 Aug 06 11:31
Chris asks (in #109) >I'm wondering though, if you have any questions that guide or inform the making of your own work? How do YOU go about making images? How do you know, from the images you make, which ones to pursue?< I have a pretty simple working strategy: I shoot first and ask questions later. Truth is, my instinct seems to have a far better radar for finding interesting things than my intellect does. I think pre-philosophizing about what my next picture should say only insures a fairly banal result. One result of my shoot-first approach is that at any given time, any stack of my new work is hopelessly eclectic (in subject matter or technique or both). Put another way, it would be really easy for me to mount a One-Man Group Show of my work from the past year! But I stopped worrying about that years ago I just let each stack slowly accumulate pieces, until eventually even the most oddball out-of-character images find fellow travelers they can hang beside. And in any case, I figure that theyre all emerging from the same MIND, so eventually the connections between them become apparent. Tangentially related to that, Ill bet all photographers are familiar with the experience of photographing some seemingly perfect scene, only to view their picture the next day and finding themselves saying, Why on earth did I photograph THAT!? Well, the way I see it, we bring all our senses, conscious & otherwise, to bear in making our art, but when we stand back the next day and analyze it only with our intellect we completely fail to see much of what intuitively led us to the scene in the first place. And so the picture just sits there on the contact sheet (electronic or otherwise), maybe bothering us slightly when we occasionally happen upon it while searching for something else -- and its only later, sometimes YEARS later, that our intellect catches up with our instinct and understands what the picture was really all about. Simply put, the photograph is a prophecy. As to working with already-made images -- well, its an ongoing battle (but not entirely a crapshoot) deciding which images are worth spending the five or ten hours it takes to make them sing. And for those iamges that do survive that culling process well, about the most I can say is that theyre all my babies, and I love them all. Outsiders, however, usually have NO qualms about dividing them into separate piles of Keepers and Losers! Fortunately, audiences also vary. One of the (few) virtues to leaving prints on consignment in galleries is that -- every once in a while -- one of my pictures-that-never-sell will resonate with someone who sees it just the way I did, and will adopt it to take home and make part of their world.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 6 Aug 06 12:20
When I go out with a specific idea in mind--today I want to shoot that flower that should finally have bloomed, or look for interesting fall leaves, or practice with a new lens or photoshop technique in mind, etc--I often find that the unplanned images are the strongest. But having the plan, and sticking to it enough to work at an image that I want, can be like practicing scales, so that I have to skill to capture that sudden spontaneously realized image.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Sun 6 Aug 06 20:10
I too have found that the picture I stop the car to make is often entirely different from the picture I end up making. Id like to think that thats because Im open to unexpected opportunities, but I suspect the real answer may simply be that pictures are EVERYWHERE.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 6 Aug 06 20:48
Ted, one of key messages in "The View From The Studio Door" has to do with finding your own artistic community. You talk about several such communities that you have been a part of over the years, but what you don't say much about is how to find (or form) such a community. This is particularlt true for folks living outside of the large urban areas. Do you have any suggestions? And yet another reminder to those not on the Well who may be reading this: Your questions, comments or observations are welcome and can be contributed by emailing <email@example.com>.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Mon 7 Aug 06 20:57
Artists communities are a wonderful mix of participatory democracy, libertarianism and benign anarchy all rolled into one. And sorta like Rescue Dogs from the pound, each one is different, each with its own preferences and phobias and personality. My own personal experience and participation in artists groups seems probably as a result of my own predilections to favor a format loosely modeled after the Paris salons of the 20s. As a capsule description, a few of my fellow artists & I gather once a month or so for an evening of conversation, pot-luck meal & wine, and print-sharing. Thats all there is to it the rest just unfolds naturally when you find the right mix of people. Starting up such a group is absurdly easy: call up a few of your friends and invite them over for a potluck. Tell em to also bring some piece of art (poetry, writing, perfect rose from their garden, whatever) to share. There. Done. Enjoy! If it gets some traction enough for people to want to schedule a follow-up then youre off & running. I dont think it matters a whit whether youre living in the middle of Manhattan or out on the prairie somewhere. There may be differences in logistics or professional polish, but friends is friends, and really all you need are a few kindred spirits and fellow travelers. There may well be hundreds of variants of such gatherings happening around the country, but I dont know for sure. How big should the group be, should so-and-so be invited, does it need some structure like meet every first Wednesday of the month, does it need a project or a theme to give it focus? Well, I dont know -- its your group, and you get to make the rules! If you thats you, personally are a participant in such a group, this would be a good time to jump in and let us all know how your model works (or sometimes fails to work).
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Mon 7 Aug 06 21:41
One of the things that amazed me about Image Continuum is that you folks were effectively an artist group that met via your collaborative journal. Each person needed to be highly invested and motivated - and being articulate helped a bunch too. Those three characteristics would be the characteristics that would be important to me, plus sympathetic sensibilties, of course. Not the *same*, mind you, just mutually respected. I wonder how effective on-line groups can be, and I hope we hear from folks who can speak to that.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Mon 7 Aug 06 23:12
Truly that *is* a question for someone born closer to the current century -- Im a dinosaur when it comes to internet connections.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Mon 7 Aug 06 23:34
I don't know, Ted, you seem to be doing quite well here. I am interested though, in hearing from folks who really *use* things like Flickr and PBase and the other image sharing services, as well as weblogs and the like.
FROM DEB ZEITMAN (davadam) Tue 8 Aug 06 10:24
Deb Zeitman writes: I have recently discovered amazing talent and community on the web for artists. If you land on one talented person's site, they likely link you to countless more. Just check out all the countless links in the margins or via comments left. As people begin commenting on each other's work - usually just as a cheering section - communities develop. One example that launched me to many other illustrators' sites... http://williebaronet.blogspot.com/ Many of these creators participate in online challenges such as... http://www.photofriday.com/ Posted work ranges from very amateurish to very profession, from commercial to 'fine art'. Until my recent online journeys, I had no idea so much art and forays into creative expressive were being shared. In addition, there are weekly poetry challenges, self-portrait challenges, etc. Having attended your salons, Ted, I've longed to create one here in my home city, but I find the challenges great. Finding/creating the right blend of participants seems essential, as well as battling the overscheduled pace of LA life, though I won't give up trying.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Tue 8 Aug 06 16:18
It can be dicey finding the right people for your artists group, but you dont have to do it all at once. Find two or three others to start with, and let it evolve from there. Its less important that the participants are at the same level artistically than that they simply LIKE each other. (If the mantra of successful real estate is Location Location Location, then the mantra of thriving artists groups is Chemistry Chemistry Chemistry.) And dont set your expectations to Low -- set them to Diffuse. When the future remains malleable, its a hell of a lot easier to make mid-course corrections. The little salon Deb mentions visiting at my house began maybe six or eight years ago when three photographers formed their own group after the one theyd all been participating in grew too large for their taste. It took a couple of years before they invited me on board, and another couple more for it to reach its present size of seven. Quite apart from any philosophical considerations, the size that a group CAN be is often constrained at the lower end by needing a certain number to assure a critical mass of art & ideas to bat around, and at the upper end by various physical cinsiderations like the size of you meeting place and the progressively greater difficulty in scheduling meeting times as the number of participants grows larger. At our salon, at least, the equilibrium point was reached at seven. But just to assure some ongoing input of fresh ideas (and to keep us on our toes) we also have a general understanding that whoevers hosting the monthly meeting at their house gets to invite an additional guest artist of their choosing to join us for the evening. If you have a group that hasnt yet expended to its full size, thats a great way to test the waters with new possibilities. But beyond a few things like inviting guest artists, we simply dont have any predetermined rules, so when any new question comes up, theres generally a wild flurry of emails flying between us until some concensus is reached. Like they say about democracy, its the worst possible system -- except for any OTHER system thats been devised.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Tue 8 Aug 06 16:28
<we simply dont have any predetermined rules> Except that Gitta must serve Taco Salad and Margaritas when she hosts. I thought we had a rule that David had to make his Macaroni and Cheese (gorgonzola on pasta) but he flaunted that rule the last two times.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Tue 8 Aug 06 16:39
Something that is very important to the success of a group - in my opinion - has to do with its membership having a skill for talking about work. So many groups are 'critique' groups - which implies looking for something to criticize. Yet - the most effective conversations about any particular work tends to be about what the work communicates to the viewer/listener. Admittedly a subjective conversation, at least the maker can map that conversation against their intentions - whether specifically about the particular work, or in general.
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Tue 8 Aug 06 17:47
It seems like another ingredient for successful groups is people who can take critique well, and give critique fairly. Do you think that's something that can be taught in the context of a group? Or do you think someone needs to be able to do that when they come in?
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