Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Aesthetic Arrest

lilyfaceI love this term—’Aesthetic Arrest’. It best describes the feeling we have when in the presence of a work of art, or any object of beauty, that has that ‘wow’ quality, that stops us in our tracks. We feel somehow altered by the encounter, taken outside of ourselves, elevated somehow. Robert Rye best expresses it here: “The contemplative instant at which (an artwork) is appreciated by the mind, which has been arrested by its wholeness, and fascinated by its harmony, is the luminous, silent stasis of aesthetic pleasure.”

I’ve always pondered what, if any, is the mysterious ‘recipe’ for creating work that resonates in this way. It’s a bit of an elusive thing, very much the result of letting go and really leaning in to the process of making art. Intention is just the jumping off point. ‘Rules’ tend to get in the way. Yet there are some aspects that ‘arresting’ works share. Sir Thomas Aquinas does a pretty good job of getting close with these suggested attributes for beauty: WHOLENESS (integitas)—the unity of the whole, HARMONY (consonantia)—balance, fitness, symmetry, rhythm of structure, and RADIANCE (quidditas)—’thingness’—a unique product of your thinking. I like this framework because it doesn’t imply rules, rather useful criteria that can be applied to any creation, visual or otherwise—anything in existence, whether man, woman or nature made. It speaks to the soul of a thing; it allows for the inexplicable….yet gives us a standard to aspire to.

When was the last time you were arrested?

Creativity Matters

This is a post which appeared a couple years ago in another version of this blog. I’m bringing it back because it best communicates why I started this blog, and what the real focus here is. Shift and change are the results, no matter what.

Most things that are interesting, important, human are the result of Creativity on some level. When we are involved in it it makes us feel good, it keeps us young and ideally there is an outcome that enhances the quality of our existence….whether a freshly baked cake or the Mona Lisa. There are a lot misconceptions of what Creativity is. One is that some people are and some people are not Creative. This is a myth. We are all Creative. To my mind Creativity is as much, if not more, a necessary human attribute than intelligence, especially these days. It’s a survival skill. It means having imagination, being resourceful, self-directed. It means being open, looking at things in new ways, taking chances, and taking advantage of the unexpected—being able to tolerate uncertainty and chaos.  And most importantly it is a pathway to the mysterious, miraculous, unpredictable, undefinable, uncontrollable—things we live for like bliss, love, beauty, joy, inspiration, dreams, vision, awe, wonder, significance and transformation. What if we could learn how to have more of these things in our lives? What if there was a course in Creativity? What would the syllabus look like?

—I’ve since come up with some answers to those questions…so please stay tuned!

Just Because…

Saccowatt Valentine….a week late.

Crisis Equals Opportunity

Once again, reality was altered for millions of us this week. From the catastrophic loss of life, homes, property to the mere inconvenience of power outages and closed down transit systems, life feels different today. Many of the preoccupations of three days ago seem less important now. We are shaken up, pulled out of our habitual mindsets—ways of thinking and being which often cut ourselves off from our true selves and our sense of connection to the whole. Unfortunately, truth and chaos are often linked in this way.

If, in fact, as stated in Seven Life Lessons of Chaos creativity is about getting to the ‘truth’ of things, getting beyond what we take for granted, then there is a significant creative opportunity here. The British psychologist N.K. Humphrey claims that our greatest use of human creative intellect is not in art or science but in the day to day spontaneous acts by which we hold our society together…our small and large moments of empathy and transformation.

So amidst all the devastation, hardship and distraction there is an opportunity here to wake ourselves up a bit to what really matters, to step up in small ways on a daily basis to our own truth, to our real creativity….whatever form that may take. Think about it a bit….it’s a good opportunity.

Are You a (Serious) Collector?

Photography is a form of collecting. Photographs are souvenirs. We take pictures to collect memories, experiences, capture a moment in time, or fix an ephemeral moment of beauty. Some of us are creating our ‘museum of happiest moments’ whereas others are working at reinterpreting the world around them, using a camera as a way to get at some deeper truth….collecting insights, informed by our unique and particular sensibility as photographers….and people.

At the end of the day, no matter where we fit in to the above, our collections can represent our journey, or at least the parts we want to hold on to.



“Miracles…rest not so much upon…a healing power coming suddenly near from afar, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that, for a moment, our eyes can see….what is there around us always.” –Willa Cather

We spend so much time caught up in our turbulent—disturbulent mindsets that we miss so much around us. How restorative to our mind/body/spirit to simply take a moment to bring our attention to whatever beauty is unfolding around us….to know we always have a choice about what we pay attention to, to break our habitual mindsets. Awareness is available to us always. It’s a muscle we can exercise just like any other.

Life works…

This is in the ‘as good as it gets’ category in the life of a freelance photographer. The very personal image on the right is, simply, my back porch shot on a rainy morning. Rain and mist offer wonderful visual opportunities for capturing evocative images. This one found it’s way to a much bigger audience, ending up as the cover to bestselling author Nicholas Sparks’ latest novel, shown on the right.

The Camera

I apologize for the lapse in my posting. I’ll spare you the reasons; hopefully some of them will become evident as I pick up this thread again. And thank you to all who have been so encouraging for me to continue (you know who you are!). Most recently I’ve been collaborating on a series of botanical images for a new website. Our challenge has been to bring a fresh set of eyes to these oft photographed elements. What is the essence of the thing? How do we reveal it? It’s a practice.

Dorothea Lange put it best: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Explore Adjacencies

I just came across  a reference to Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifest for Growth —chock full of great advice for anyone interested in creative process, or for that matter, anyone with a pulse. #8: DRIFT. ‘Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgement. Postpone criticism.’ This image opens  a series of collected nest ‘portraits’; all found around my property while indeed wandering aimlessly. The unfortunate feathered friend presented around the same time…most unexpected but not unwelcome.

Spring Cleaning

The big question this past year (or two) of reinvention has been ‘To what end?”.  After a nice run as a commercial photographer with continued hankerings to produce art, I’ve found myself continually straddling the two realms, somewhat ill-defined; often paralyzed. Always have been, most likely always will be. I’m tired of asking myself the questions “Will this make money?”, “Is this art?” , or “Does this matter?”. I’ve decided to let go of the thinking part and just do. I feel lucky enough to know what gets me juiced, and hopefully will help get others on the same path (the ‘matters’ piece)  That’s enough for me.

The fact is I’m always taking pictures. It’s what I do. Many never see the light of day because they don’t fit the box of my commercial career….so they accumulate in files and folders. Just for fun, in honor of Spring and to hell with the box, I’m putting a bunch of existing work here under this heading of projects. The following group is from a series shot on gloomy days while meditatively strolling around the property just after it rained.

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