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inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #101 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #102 of 145: Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 4 Aug 06 10:53
    
Exactly so.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #103 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #104 of 145: Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 4 Aug 06 20:28
    
It’s 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 you’ll 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 one’s life. The clear
drawback is that it usually means subsisting for long periods on sparse
returns.

They’re 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #105 of 145: 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
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #106 of 145: 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.)  
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #107 of 145: Ted Orland (tedorland) Sat 5 Aug 06 14:32
    
re: the clanging bell...

Tim’s 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 he’s left the terra firma.

There’s 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?
What’s proven the easiest subject for you to photograph?
What’s the emotionally riskiest photograph you’ve made? 
What do you have a PASSION to photograph!?
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #108 of 145: 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?
What’s proven the easiest subject for you to photograph?
What’s the emotionally riskiest photograph you’ve 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #109 of 145: 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?
 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #110 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #111 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #112 of 145: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 6 Aug 06 08:29
    


Some of us think beauty *is* confrontational.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #113 of 145: 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 they’re all emerging from the same MIND, so
eventually the connections between them become apparent.

Tangentially related to that, I’ll 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
it’s 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, it’s 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 they’re 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #114 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #115 of 145: 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. I’d like to think
that that’s because I’m open to unexpected opportunities, but I suspect
the real answer may simply be that pictures are EVERYWHERE. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #116 of 145: 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 <inkwell@well.com>. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #117 of 145: 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 it’s 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 salon’s of the 20’s. 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. That’s 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 you’re off &
running. I don’t think it matters a whit whether you’re 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 don’t 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 don’t know -- it’s your group, and
you get to make the rules! If you – that’s 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).
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #118 of 145: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #119 of 145: Ted Orland (tedorland) Mon 7 Aug 06 23:12
    
Truly that *is* a question for someone born closer to the current
century -- I’m a dinosaur when it comes to internet connections.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #120 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #121 of 145: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #122 of 145: Ted Orland (tedorland) Tue 8 Aug 06 16:18
    
It can be dicey finding the right people for your artists’ group, but
you don’t have to do it all at once. Find two or three others to start
with, and let it evolve from there. It’s 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 don’t set your expectations to
“Low” -- set them to “Diffuse”. When the future remains malleable, it’s
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 they’d 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 whoever’s 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 hasn’t yet expended to it’s full size, that’s a great way to
test the waters with new possibilities.

But beyond a few things like inviting guest artists, we simply don’t
have any predetermined rules, so when any new question comes up,
there’s generally a wild flurry of emails flying between us until some
concensus is reached. Like they say about democracy, it’s the worst
possible system -- except for any OTHER system that’s been devised. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #123 of 145: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Tue 8 Aug 06 16:28
    
<we simply don’t 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.
  
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #124 of 145: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #125 of 145: 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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