Welcome to an ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) Friday!
Continuing our Thursday tradition for over two months (!) now, I sat down with Parimal Deshpande and our live viewing audience on Instagram and Facebook last evening. This time, however, we left the cocktails unpoured to keep clear heads and talk about a very important issue – and that is, simply put, that we as humans – not just by and large, but overwhelmingly so, in my experiences – all have the same dreams and desires.
It isn’t hyperbole to say that I have traveled more than anyone else I know, and while this simple fact means nothing in and of itself, the very goal of my travels abroad are often to scrutinize the local cultures both to focus my lens on the moments and subjects that capture their lifestyle, but to also ensure that I’m staying within my bounds as a guest.
In case you missed the video you can check it out on my Instagram TV page. I’m including a gallery here of some of the images I discuss.
Also, on one final note – many of you have preregistered for my new streaming lecture series, Pathways to Creativity, of which I mentioned the first episode and full series subscription would be available for purchase this week. I just want you to know that yes, Pathways is up and I look forward to talking about it more in the weeks to come. However, given recent events and the news of the week I simply didn’t feel right making a big marketing push when there are so many other important things happening on social media. However, it is up and available and I am excited to share it!
I had a great time going LIVE last night with my good friend Parimal Deshpande for the inaugural episode of Tequila Time with Art! This one was a little on the formal side while I adjust to the format, but I hope everyone who tuned in and participated felt like it was time well spent. I’m looking forward to doing these weekly and I hope you’ll continue to tune in and tell your friends!
Obviously we won’t be able to answer everyone’s questions during the broadcast, but rest assured we have culled inquiries and If I can find some time, I’ll answer some here on the blog in the weeks and months to come.
If you missed out on the live broadcast, they will be available every week on my youtube channel, facebook, and instagram – get connected!
I recently joined award-winning photographer, creator of his own books, and fellow world-traveler Rick Sammon on his podcast recently with an interview that begins with some general wildlife photography advice, and goes on to talk about upcoming book projects.
Years back, student Angels Gazquez Espuny of Spain interviewed Art a few years back for a school project. The title was “The Artist’s Psychology”, and considering that Art has made his Photography As Art seminar a continued exploration into the subject matter in the years since, it seemed like a timely re-post! Enjoy!
From your experience, what is art and what is an artist?
A true artist is an individual who creates from their soul be they a musician, writer, dancer, sculptor, painter or photographer etc…They have a need to express themselves in a creative way, revealing a part of themselves in the process. To restrict their creative outlet, whatever it may be, whether they sell their work or not, is to imprison their soul.
Art is a journey, for both the artist and the viewer. An artist will grow and mature over time. Myself, I began with a more realist approach to my painting and photography and have trended towards a greater appreciation for the abstract as I have followed my own journey. The same is true for the viewer. At one point in your life you may not ‘get it’ when you look at another’s artwork; perhaps it is too abstract or unusual; but later in life you may return to these same pieces and see them from an entirely new perspective, appreciating them in a way you couldn’t have before. Everyone sees and interprets art from their own experiences. It is because of this that you can’t simply define “art” or an “artist”, each is an ever changing and growing interpretation for the individual.
For me personally, the highest form of art is something that enriches the viewer and speaks to them evoking an emotional response from within. I fill my home with art, both my own and pieces I have collected during my travels all over the world. Some are highly prized pieces such as centuries old Native American baskets but they run all they way down to simple indigenous crafts I have picked up for a few dollars. I have even transformed my yard over the years into a work of art inspired by the Chinese paintings of the Haung Shan landscapes.
I am an artist, I have been since a child. It was when I was a young boy in middle school the teachers, upon seeing my paintings, were so moved, that they actually paid me for my work. It was right then that I knew I would make a living selling my art, my creations, and I have followed that path ever since. My roots are set deeply in painting. I went to the University of Washington receiving my degree in Fine Arts and I saw this as my path. It was only in my 20s that I would transition to a photography and make my name as a wildlife photographer and in my journey, now at 60 years old, I find myself returning to my roots as a painter more and more.
Why and what motivates you to create, what do you normally create?
As I said before, I am an artist and I have that same drive inside me that all true artists feel which continues to motivate me even after nearly 40 years. When I return from a trip my mind is instantly seeking out the next opportunity – whether it is with my camera in the field, a studio session, or time with paint and a brush, as an artist I will never rest.
I have always been a strong conservationist, even as a child. I grew up spending more time outside than inside exploring the woods near my home in West Seattle, Washington getting to know every bird, reptile, mammal, and plant I could find. At a young age I could see the need to protect and preserve our fragile natural resources. I strive to capture the natural beauty in works of art with the hope that it will inspire the viewer, evoke that emotional response, to see the need to preserve and protect our diminishing resources.
In my career as a photographer, I first began photographing animals and landscapes and that is perhaps what I am most well known for. Over the years, traveling the world, I was fortunate enough to encounter the elusive animals that inhabit the remote corners of our planet, and at the same time I got to know and appreciate the indigenous people that inhabit these lands as well. Their culture in many cases remains intact as it has been for countless generations. Getting to know these cultures, fostered an appreciation for the beauty of their approach to life and balance with the planet. With a career spanning over 30 years, I have images in my archive that can not be replicated today as cultures give way to outside influences.
Traveling the world I have also been exposed to a wide variety of religions and practices giving me an appreciation for the beauty you can find in each. Over time I have found myself bringing home more and more creations around culture and religion from these travels.
Lastly, as I get older I find myself drawn more and more to the abstract. The photographs you find me taking today are less often about the grand scenic landscape and more often about intimate details, abstracting the elements in the natural world to tell a different kind of story, but one rooted in the same motivation for protecting and preserving the natural wonders of our planet.
Do you think an artist is born or grows with age?
I believe both statements are true. One is born with certain passions in their soul. No matter your level of physical fitness, if you don’t have a passion to climb mountains, you won’t be a mountain climber, that is a drive I believe you have deep inside of you and an artist’s drive is no different. You are born with this drive to create though not necessarily the talent to pull it off, for talent comes with time. This is how an artist grows with age. Some may be self-taught, others classically trained, and it’s the rare exception that may be inherently talented, but even with those, I would argue that you can see their work grow and transform over time as they follow their journey.
Whether your art form is photography, painting, music, whatever…talk with any artist and they will tell you of a journey where they grew as an artist, honing their craft, focusing their talents, changing with time and improving with each creation.
And I continue to evolve, I have taken photos in the last 3 years that I never would have seen just 5 years ago – at 60 years old I continue to get better, look objectively at my art, improve on it and move forward, never stagnating. I will be growing as an artist so long as I am still able to create.
Do you have any reference artists & what inspires you?
I am inspired by the works of many classical and contemporary artists. You will see direct evidence of influences from Jackson Pollack in my work in a composition showcasing the random line and chaos which can be found in nature. I have also long admired the work of dutch artist M.C. Escher. I have photographs that I explicitly composed with his repeating geographic patterns in mind such as the repeating black and white of a tightly composed image of penguins in the artic. As I am photographing in the field, a scene will unfold before me reminding me of a particular artist’s style and I will compose my image drawing upon this style.
As a lifetime student of art, the list of artists inspiring me is a long one. You’ll find all the usual suspects such as Salvador Dali, Renoir, Van Gogh as well as more contemporary artists such as Keith Haring, Jacob Lawrence, Mark Toby… To visit my library at home would provide you an understanding as it is filled with art books spanning the centuries, it would be far too difficult to try and list everyone I draw from here.
Additionally I am also influence and inspired by the original artists, those who left their art on rock and cave walls 10-30 thousand years ago in Australia, southwestern US and the caves of Spain and France. They were true artists abstracting their subjects, suggesting movement and exaggerating their features. They were not simply recoding exactly what they saw, they were creating art.
Lastly, I am inspired by the beauty of nature. The intricate designs you find everywhere you look, from a curled fiddle wad of a young fern to the beautiful colors in the wings of a McCaw. This is why I keep doing what I do, I love nature and all her beauty and I want to share this with everyone in the hopes that they too will fall in love and understand why we need to protect this precious gift.
Do you consider yourself an artist?
Absolutely. Art is my passion and I have been following that passion my entire life.
Episode 4 of Where’s Art is here! This one is a little longer than previous installments, with more insight and photographs from my most recent trip to Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. I’ve been coming here for so long that it’s difficult to pare down my thoughts on this location and the way it feels to be back. Glacier Bay is a trip I look forward to making every year – so much so that we plan them well in advance. Click here for more information on how you can join me on my next trip here in 2018.
In case you missed them, you can check out all of the episodes of this segment so far on the Where’s Art section of my multimedia page. We have some exciting new ideas in store for this segment in the future!
If you’ve been contemplating attending my full-day Photography As Art seminar in a city near you in 2017 and would like to know more about it, my podcast with Rick Sammon is sure to give you the insight and motivation you need to sign up! We are now less than two weeks away from my next appearance, this time in Atlanta.
Take a listen, and then sign up to join me in one of the following cities!