Often I am struck by the simple beauty of light and darkness at play in this chaotic busy world we live in. We are constantly bombarded with sensory input giving us a continual flow of information from every direction at an accelerating pace until life becomes a blur.
Phones are ringing, screens are feeding us images at a nearly subliminal rate, traffic, crowds, demands from thousands of sources clamoring for our attention, we are in a constant state of call and response. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. We are fast losing our ability to be affected by the simple, the understated, even beauty for its own sake.
While walking through my version of heaven not long ago I came upon this single flower standing alone reaching for the light above, bathed in soft sunlight, stunning in its beauty and was moved by the arresting stillness of it. The play of light and darkness was soothing. The resemblance to an old master’s painting from a far simpler time when people had the ability to be moved by the natural beauty around them came rushing over me like a deluge of happiness. I thought I’d share it with you today, just in case your life has been hectic lately.
It is a little known secret that I was a frustrated wannabe painter. In fact for years when I was sculpting I used to tell people that I was a sculptor because I couldn’t paint. Later on in life when I had reached a stage where I made grandma Moses look like a freshman cheerleader I went and took lessons from a well known plein air painter. She told me that after she trained me to hold the brush with the bristles towards the canvas and how to get the cap off the paint tube with out redoing the walls, that I might have potential. I defined potential as “No way in Hell” but I persevered. But in my persistence a funny thing happened, not funny in a grab your sides, milk coming out of your nose kind of way, but strange. Funny strange. The more I painted the more I loved paintings as an art form and the less I liked actually doing it. It turned out that I really loved sculpting after all but because of the lifelong dreaming of painting thing I viewed it more as a job rather than a soul satisfying art form that occasionally made me money. That realization however, did not diminish my obsession with the 2D art world. We artists talk like that, 2D, paintings or flatwork, as opposed to 3D, sculpture, it makes us look a lot smarter at parties and stuff. I had traipsed through most of the big museums and galleries here and in Europe and had a catalog of my favorite painters and their work in my head, and when I began photographing in earnest I was always looking for that Monet shot or the light in Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro work. It is surprisingly hard to find in real life. Rarely does chiaroscuro jump out at you when you turn the corner or the subtle light of Monet’s gardens happen every time you get ready to take a picture. But sometimes it does. And when it does, and you get to shoot it, it is like when someone comes up to you and says “I think you are quite the splendid fellow, here’s several million bucks. Take the rest of the day off”, that kind of feeling. That may not have happened to you yet but when it does, are you going to be happy. This image of a coyote in a meadow at Sheep lake in Rocky Mountain National Park was one of those times when Monet’s spirit was at work. If he had been a wildlife artist he would have painted this and been a happy man, just as I was for being able to have seen it.