“More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has ever been taken from the earth” ~ Napoleon Hill
When I’m out and about exploring interesting and beautiful places with my camera in hand it is not unusual for me to slip into a kind of hypnotic trance and the subjects of my photographs seem to choose me rather than the other way around. Over the course of a year I can acquire thousands and thousands of Raw images. As you might imagine I spend hours upon hours scouring through digital files, looking for and developing the creme of the crop while the ones that aren’t quite so obviously great fall through the cracks become forgotten.
Being the creature of habit that I am, as I become introspective about the year that was each December, I pull that imaginary shoe box full of “negatives” from the top shelf of my imaginary closet and I look through them one more time in hopes of discovering lost treasure. The images in this post are just a few emerging stars from 2017, all taken in late summer at the Oregon coast.
There is always a specific reason that I click the shutter release when I do but sometimes it takes a second or third cutting to remember why.
“Drawn By Fire”
From time to time my inner critic screams at me “Where is your focus Man? Don’t you know that a jack of all trade is a master of none?”. He has a point. I do have a tendency to be overly eclectic in my pursuits and I agree that in some ways life might be easier had I narrowed the field. The thing is that over and over again the words “WHAT IF” pop into my brain and I must drop what I’m doing and listen to the words that follow. What if I leave behind the safety of that solid career to try to build a new business from the ground up? That was a big one! What if I create videos that showcase the beauty of nature? What if those videos can promote tourism and the arts or sell real estate? What if I follow my childhood dream of being a photographer? What if I pick up a brush and move some paint around to see what happens? What if I use this time that I’m coping with illness to paint full moon winter scenes with cabins and skiers and full moons? WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?
The truth is that listening to the “what if’s” can and will result in spinning wheels. You may be led down a few dead end paths and at times you may feel completely stranded but if you just keep the wheels moving eventually you will find traction. If you keep the wheels moving you will find yourself on a path to completeness that never would have been found had you played it safe. Don’t ever forget that “Every Brilliant Idea begins with ‘What If’”
“Two Steps Forward”
My Wall In The Denver Art District at Grace Gallery
A Painting and a Poem for my Son and new Daughter on their wedding day.
Inhale this moment with all of your senses and hold it in your heart forever. It will be the second wind that will carry you over the peaks and through the valleys ahead. It will be a cache of gratitude that you will draw upon when the bitter headwinds blow. Pause and feel the warmth of the summer sun on your shoulders. Notice the gentle breeze, how it cools your brow and causes the fields to sway and vibrate. Breathe in the fragrance of the flowers and the fresh perfume of life. Hear the velvet noise of the distant tumbling water, a fitting accompaniment for the Lyric of the songbird.
This moment is special! In your mind’s eye you can see pools of deep turquoise colored water reflecting granite and snow and sky. Emerging trickles meander without haste through the high alpine meadows. Ever so steadily these head-waters gain might and agility and vigor. Youthful streams rush down the mountainsides as if there were no tomorrow and in the mist of the cascades, indigo and violet complete the spectrum before you. In your minds eye, it is here that you witness and celebrate the merging of two streams. From this point forward the path will be carved by the strength of the two together. Yes this moment is special! Inhale it with all of your senses and hold it in your heart forever.
“Moonrise Over Slate River”
I don’t know where time goes, only that it does. Suddenly Summer is in full swing and I’ve already returned from the annual pilgrimage to Crested Butte to shoot rivers and wildflowers and all sorts of natural beauty. This part of Colorado received a historic snowfall last winter and the rivers are as full as I’ve seen them this late in the season.
It felt great to get out and hike although my illness prevented anything very aggressive. I hope you enjoy these wild water shots. Which one is your favorite?
“Return To oh Be Joyful”
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The month of May found me in a state of improving health and the itch for adventure and exercise needed attention. My Wife and I didn’t have to study the map long before placing a pin on the Red Rock Country of Southern Utah. We even arranged to rendezvous with my In-Laws so that we could share the experience. Why Southern Utah you might ask. For one thing, Denver was still getting pounded by turbulent Spring weather just as high pressure was taking hold to the West. Furthermore, this is the time of the year that deep canyon floors are thriving with green hues and runoff from the high country. The two of us and our Italian Greyhound Gracie were packed and on the road, destination Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
The Staircase is special. It is one of the most remote and beautiful places in the desert southwest and during previous visits my exploration had only scratched the surface. The plan for this trip was to do as much desert hiking as possible and to experience the solitude of a wilderness that is now at risk of losing its protected status. I also needed to get a photography fix in the worst way. I had hardly picked up the camera since last fall when I fell ill and I couldn’t wait to get back to it. For hiking, I pulled my old trustee Asolo boots out of storage. They had carried me up half of Colorado’s Fourteeners when I was much younger. Surely they would serve me well in the desert.
It’s always good to have an audio book on hand for long drives. For this trip I selected “Finding Everett Ruess” by David Roberts. His true story documents the life of a free spirited explorer who vanished without a trace from the Escalante region in the 1930’s. The book originally caught my attention because the forward was written by John Krakauer who wrote “Into the Wild”, one of my favorites. The subject of Krakauer’s book was Christopher McCandless, also a free spirited explorer who spent a great deal of time in the Desert Southwest. McCandless, who ended up starving to death in the Alaska wilderness, went by the alias “Alexander Supertramp”. I so much love the story that I named my camper “Alexander Supertramp” long ago.
Sometimes the Universe aligns itself in such a way that you cannot deny that something is meant to be. That is exactly what happened on this trip to the Grand Staircase. Here we were in a rig named “Alexander Supertramp” following the footsteps of a free spirited lost soul and while hiking near the last know location of Everett Ruess, the soles of my Asolo boots peeled off, one after another. You can’t make this stuff up. It was a great trip!
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Alpenglow Winter Adventure #8 (24 x 12) Acrylic on Board
The repetition of painting in a series is an effective way to experiment with subtle variations in technique and color. Capturing the essence of alpenglow has not been easy but slowly I feel that I’m getting closer. The bad thing about moving so quickly is that the similar compositions make it a challenge to come up with a meaningful title for each piece.
I have big news to share! Much of the work that I completed this winter has now been dispersed to two gallery spaces and is beginning to sell. I can’t explain how good it feels to have successfully made something positive out of my illness. I do believe they call it making lemonade out of lemons.
On the health front things are looking up as well. My energy level continues to improve and I’ve been successfully weaning myself off of the steroids. At the current rate of improvement, I’m hoping to be in remission by the end of the summer. (Polymyalgia Rheumatica)
Have a great Weekend!
Small Paintings to take to this weeks “First Friday” at the Denver Art District
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The first claps of thunder for the season are rattling my studio walls in Denver this evening and tonight’s rain will turn to snow after midnight. More white stuff is expected this weekend. Perfect weather for creating idyllic Colorado adventure scenes! I hope your week is going well!
Custom Made Re-Claimed Barn Wood Back Boards
I’m happy to say that I finally am feeling well enough to put the finishing touches on work that has been on deck for months. The long standing plan for the Summer of 2017 was to become a gypsy of sorts and hit the art festival circuit in Colorado. Metal prints of my photography come to life when I mount them on character filled backboards made by me out of re-claimed wood. As most of you know, there is a saying about the best laid plans of mice and men and for me this year things did go awry.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica is an autoimmune disease that I didn’t even know existed nine months ago. This 56 year old body shouted WTF at the low point last winter when just walking and touching the top of my head were difficult at best. Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m rebuilding my atrophied muscles enough so that I can get some new work sold. Things are looking up!
I’d love to hear what you think about these pieces. As always, comments welcome.
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As promised in my last post I completed this piece this week and I’m sharing.
Something about finishing a job just feels so good, even euphoric. You have arrived at the point where everything feels right and good enough. You sign the painting, hang it on the wall and direct a light toward it at just the right angle. You Love it!
Enjoy those moments of accomplishment because a sobering reality will follow. It’s likely that it won’t be long before you see it with fresh eyes and wonder what in the hell you were thinking. Perhaps it goes back on the easel for modifications, perhaps not. In any event you soon realize that you aren’t finished at all. A healthy dose of varnish will be needed to protect the piece from handling and UV light. What about a name or title? High quality photographs of the work will be needed for potential reproduction and marketing. The tedious task of getting the work to market has only begun.
As if the whole process isn’t overwhelming enough life keeps throwing all sorts of curve balls at us. Shit Happens, right? Take my first ever Colonoscopy this past week for instance. People kept telling me it really wasn’t that bad and now that I’m experienced I have to tell you that I disagree. No person should have to gulp down a gallon of stool softener as if it were beer at a college kegger and no male should have to discover what it is to have water break…over and over again. Anyway, you get the picture!
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My third piece in a new series is underway and the deviation from rising super moon values has been a challenge. I’m trying to capture the essence of alpenglow which in my mind is the time of day that the last direct light from the sun is hitting the clouds and perhaps the mountain tops. In my minds eye there is a magic that occurs in the valleys below where the snow almost glows. Do the shadows disappear or is there just a slight contrast indicating the position of the setting or rising sun? So many new riddles to solve. I’ll post the finished piece soon.
Physically I had a difficult week. Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a roller coaster ride and finding the correct dosage of prednisone to keep the inflammation in check without increasing the side effects of the medication can be the real trick. Finally this past week I felt myself finding some balance on that front when a serious chest cold took me hostage. Once again, having my studio and a passion to paint has been great therapy.
Now for show and tell before signing off. One of my photographs made the front cover of Open Fences Magazine. It was uplifting to see how great it looks and on the other hand it saddens me to think that I may not be in condition to do serious shooting this Summer.