Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Week 17 - 2014 in Images

Day 113 - Picnic Anyone?

By April 23rd my vision in my right eye was definitely inhibited by the cataract which was scheduled for removal on the 25th. Instructions were to not spend time on the computer post surgery for a week or more. So I set up a week of photos ahead. And good I did because on the 23rd a corrupted Windows 7 file began to prevent me opening several of my software programs including photo editing.

Day 114 - Laundry day in Cimarron

Fortunately I had enjoyed a couple weeks of great photography and edited far more than I had posted. Always good to clean up your photo files but do not make them too clean.

Day 115 - Spring?

My friend and I had great weather down to Santa Fe and back but then it began snowing again. Yes, it is very late April but we are finally getting moisture in the high country. The photo above, however, was taken from the snow of the week before.

Day 116 - Dawn's early light

Day 117

Day 118
By the 26th my vision had cleared and I was out with my camera but the computer still is not functioning correctly. It is off to the computer doctor today. But fortunately I still have my laptop with Adobe 5 on it for some computer editing. I love this capture with the elk and geese in the same frame.

Day 119 - Elk and Geese

It was a great welcome back to the world of clear vision if not advanced photo editing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Week 16 - 2014 in Images

Day 106

Wrapped up week 16 posts today and looked at the folder for week 17. It is currently near empty. Usually I have a few already added to the coming week. And never have I needed those extras nore than this week. My rapidly growing cataract has gotten to the point computer time is painful. And photo post processing definitely takes computer time. Surgery is Friday and no doubt will take a couple days out of my photography time. And recovery time will limit my computer time.

The camera is auto focus. My distance vision is still good enough for framing and selection of an image. So I have no doubt I will take pictures this next week. I will drop the promising ones into Week 18 folder on my computer but I am not going to be processing any new photos beyond today. I cannot guarantee a photo a day posted.

Day 107

There are some interesting Cimarron pictures that took a back seat to those I did post this last week. And the spring snow storm offered up more great images than I had time to post. So maybe I can fill the Week 17 and maybe even dump some photos into Week 18. When I did a weekly essay column for newspapers I was always a couple weeks ahead to be able to cover for the unexpected.

Day 108

There are just no promises in the world these days. I have a couple friends going through horrid times with those they love. Life and death issues of a soul mate are serious. So in retrospect my ability to see well enough to post process a photograph seems rather lame.

Or my doubts that I can see tomorrow well enough to photograph the world around me. The camera can. Totally auto settings have their place. I will be able to photograph the world I increasingly cannot see so well.

Day 109

I noticed in a review of this week my photographs were increasingly the long shots. Even the mid-range photos were taken with a long lens. BTW long lens zooms can often take great macros. Have not tried that yet with my new lens. I might try that today with this new lens.

Day 110

The snow this week was transforming. Some great images were easy to not miss. Now we are getting rain. You have to look harder for good images in rain.

Day 111

But rain makes for some nice gray tones and great subdued lighting like in the photo below and a couple I have posted on my Facebook page.

Day 112

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April Storms

Finland by George F. Mobley

Whispers of gentle rain?
Not here
Spring colors provided by balloon
not flowers.

Warm temperatures?
Not in April
Winter coats left at home
Flouting it.

Wait till May
maybe June
As late as the 4th of July
Bring a jacket.

J. Binford-Bell
April 2014

All My Pretty Ponies

All My Pretty Ponies
19 x 29 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas

The drawing of this painting probably took longer than the painting. I started researching and sketching horses while still working on the painting Lost Souls. And I have probably almost a dozen horses sketched head on or at 3/4 view. But rather than begin with the large painting I have considered for all those horses I decided to be conservative and begin with just five of my favorites.

Sketch of All My Pretty Ponies

I even had to construct a makeshift light table to overlay the horse sketches and compile them into one cohesive whole. I used the glass from an old coffee table and the stretcher bars for the painting to hold that up over a bar shop light I found at the hardware store.

Since I have begun painting for my Meraki show at the Trinidad Area Arts Council's Gallery Main this July I have been working on a larger scale. So this 19 x 29 inch canvas is a "Study" for the larger painting to follow. I remember the day when 20 x 30 was considered a very large painting for me. The wild horse painting to follow this one will be 22 x 46.

Background laid in

Larger format paintings to create some issues to deal with such has space. And you might notice the sketch above does not have the horizon, or the background details. Nor does this first view of the painting have the sun in it. I was just too focused on just the horses and all their legs, tails, manes and heads.

Sun added
There was one immediate problem with the addition of the sun: What color the horse in front of it? I am not one of those people that works out all the colors before putting a single stroke of paint on the canvas. In fact at the stage above I could not have told you what color the extreme right and left horses were going to be.

I had only a vague idea of what I was doing with the foreground, too.

Foreground put in with oil sticks

This was about the place where I figured I had ruined the painting. And it is why I stretch my own canvas. You can always take the canvas off and begin again. I have in actuality only done that once but knowing I can is very freeing.

It was time to work on layers and washes to create depth and to add and remove definition. Step one was a series of white washes over the horizon and monuments to push them back into the distance. And then the ground under the horses had to be tweaked.
All components in place

I lose track of everything I did from this point out to arrive at the finished painting at the top of this blog. They seem like small things and yet some of the smallest spaces can have a huge impact on the whole.

It often amazes me that I can get all the white of the canvas covered in a day or two and then spend a week with it all my easel adding a brush stroke or two here or there.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Week 15 - 2014 in Images

Day 99
This week ended with a whole day in Santa Fe with most of it spent at Eye Associates of New Mexico. And all I have to say about that is thank heaves for auto focus cameras and lenses. But as my cataracts have gotten worse rapidly I have noticed my affinity for anything but pinpoint focus in images. I gone for reflections in the newly melted pond water and for haze of clouds over mountains.

Day 100
And, of course, my fondness for bright manipulation of images. The watery reflections remind my of Monet paintings. He has always been one of my favorites. The one blow reminds me of his lily pads. And the only manipulation in Day 101 was the wind kicking up the ripples across the pond.

Day 101
However, I did play with the colors in Day 102. And used one of my favorite filters to give it an enameled appearance. I confess that was in part due to the ducks being out of focus because my camera chose the reflections nearest to the bank and I didn't notice it. Yes, I could have just consigned it to the trash but I loved the composition of this pond picture.

Day 102
Saturday I went to Old Town Gallery in Cimarron for a workshop on metal embossing. Great fun. And Cimarron is one of my favorite places to run around with a camera. The next two photographs are from the Old Town area of Cimarron. To like Cimarron you do have to get off of State Highway 64. Cimarron will also be represented in Week 16.

Day 103
I love focusing on windows and doors. The word window one of my fans on Binford-Bell Studio informs me it comes from the Scandinavian for winds eye. That fits with my sense that windows are the eyes of a building.

Day 104

Question of the morning is are ponds the eyes of the earth? The Navajo believe Coyote led the Dine' or people up through holes in the earth to the surface. While doing photography in Arches and Canyonlands I saw some of the holes the winds had carved in the rock as possible portals. But wouldn't the spirits have covered the actual entries to this world better like with water and reflections to obscure your vision?

Day 105

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 14 - 2014 in Images

Day 92

This was the week I got my new Nikon 55 - 300 mm zoom lens. My neighbor accused me of getting it to do closeups of birds. And while one of my first photos was of two geese flying I got it really for landscapes, and believe it or not closeups.

Day 93

A zoom lens allows for greater ability to frame your shot. And it saves you walking up the hill and going through the fence to get the picture of the seeder or the buffalo. Consider it safety equipment.

Day 94

And it can bring the distant hills closer while allowing you to cut out the houses in the foreground. I live in big, wide open spaces with ranges of mountains. The temptation is to do panoramic shots but it is often better to just focus in on the most artistic area.

Day 95

Now that the digital age has taken the quality of the film out of the equation any camera and lens combo can take a good color picture. The crispness of a black and white is the true test in my opinion.

Day 96

But I had to try the new lens out on my favorite subjects - pond reflections. Here again the ability of the long lens to zoom in and narrow the focus is an asset.

Day 97

BTW I did zoom in on the goose. But I much prefer this picture of tranquility. I always ask friends who want me to suggest camera equipment what it is they are going to photograph. And often when we make our first investment in a digital single lens reflex we haven't a clue. I got my first to take pictures of churches and landscapes to bring back and paint. My second DSLR was directed at doing a better job photographing those paintings for websites and social media marketing. Now I find my self wanting to capture the artistic photograph.

Day 98

I was going for just the right picture of two geese on this pond mixed with just the right degree of ripple when one of the two geese turned to look over her back. Next minute an adult Bald Eagle swooped down just over the pond and off into the trees on the other side. I captured three blurry pictures of the magnificent bird and a heart stopping sense of how big and fast they are. And clear awareness of my equipment is more for swimming geese than flying raptors.  I am fine with that.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lost Souls and Lost Direction

Lost Souls by J. Binford-Bell
30 x 24 Mixed Media on Canvas

Been reading the book "Starving" to Successful by Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs as part of an e-course he is offering. I read chapter 3 last night which deals with "what to paint" and chapter 4 which is paint, paint, paint. I paraphrase a lot.

I think all artists go though thinking they could paint anything so please tell me what will sell. And a lot of gallery owners do that. If you are new to being represented by a gallery you can fall into the trap easily. It does not make for a happy relationship. And sometimes we put ourselves into that same tight fitting box. When I was doing fairs I sold churches. So I painted churches. The bigger the upcoming fair the more churches I painted. I got tired of churches and so did some of my regular customers.

Lost Souls is the second church (not on a Christmas ornament) I have painted in several years. Sacrifice, recently the subject of a blog here, was my first though it was technically to my way of thinking a ruin. And I have to admit I enjoy painting the mission churches so identified with New Mexico. There is so much symbolism in them and so much that can be added to that like open doors in this painting or lights behind the windows or not.

Horejs says you should paint what you are passionate about. When I got over church fatigue I had to admit I was passionate about them. No, I do not attend them. I do photograph them. I love their structure. And I also like ghosts and spirits which haunt them. But spirits are not easy to paint. When I first put them in they look like water. Don't tell anyone but they feel like water.

Spirits laid in
Painting around my spirits

The painting Sacrifice also had spirits. But I saw those as individuals. I wanted to make them seem as priests. I wanted the spirits in Lost Souls to be nameless and more formless.

Sacrifice by J. Binford-Bell

I quite frankly had problems with the spirits. It was a really delicate balance between form and lack of form. The mission I wanted to look very solid and earth bound so I accented the hard lines of the structure. But the spirits had to be more fluid. I added the two kneeling spooks in the front to anchor the flow of the spirits along the side of the church.

Spirits taking form - and two added

I wanted the spirits to be rising from the ground where they had been buried. But the "fish tail" toward the front of the painting had to go. It was to be a rock they were coming from. With watercolors it is hard to cover up mistakes. One of the pluses of using oil sticks is they do cover a lot. And two they add depth and texture.

Foreground detail added in but lots of work still to do. The stars are not in yet.

I am working bigger lately. Maybe that is another mistake artists make especially in a tight economy; we paint smaller because little paintings are more likely to sell. When I agreed to do the Trinidad show I knew I had enough paintings to fill the big gallery but most of them were smaller. I decided if I was going to paint pieces specifically for the show they had to be bigger.

I find taking progress photos of paintings, especially big ones, points out the areas that need fixed. It is for me not just a way to build interest on my Facebook page but a tool I use to finish a painting.

Almost but not quite

Fish tail is gone but the road and the shadow behind the spirits (yeah, maybe they do not cast shadows) needs to be fiddled with. My tow kneeling spirits are more defined.

This is the seventh painting I have done since the first of the year. To be a successful artist Horejs mentions in chapter four you have to paint lots. Lots more than you sell. You should not worry about inventory that does not fit on your studio walls. Since I have been actively preparing from my one woman show in July at the Gallery Main in Trinadad, Colorado I have seen the pluses of paint a lot. And I do not mean just a lot of churches for inventory at a fair. You become more familiar with your "tools" and with your medium and you build on that and take more risks. And I am having lots of fun.

I have already begun on another painting. Laid in the sky just yesterday. Yellow. It is a yellow sky.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Purpose of Art?

All Souls
Not quite done

Sometimes I get to a clear point where I lay the brush down and know it is done. But there are those paintings which seem to not want to be done. They will sit on the easel for days maybe a week or two and beg me to notice what is yet to be done. It is not always about the balance of color or shape or an overlooked flaw. And, as with All Souls, can be about what I was trying to impart non-verbally.

And I am aware as a writer and an avid reader that it is not possible to write in such a way that everyone gets the message because it can depend so much on where the reader is in their journey. And whether you have engaged them enough to want to follow you in yours. We do not all go the same path.

To me, the painting above, is unfinished because I see some of those picky little flaws which the camera and the computer make so clear. But I have had the opportunity to hear from two of my audience which find the picture unfinished in other ways. One person leaving a comment feels that the ghosts should be going into the church and not along side it. The other friend desperately wants an answer as to where the lost souls are going. Both seem so preoccupied with these two questions they are unwilling to follow my answer.

Which gives rise to the question of whether art show answer all the questions or raise them? Certainly Salvador Dali's art raises lots of questions. And Picasso's Guernica is frankly disturbing  and unsettling even when you know it is about the Spanish Civil War.

There is a period of history in what is now New Mexico where the Catholic Church accompanying the Spanish conquerors built churches with Indian labor over their religious centers - the Kivas. Because of the cruelty of the victors many died and because they were pagans in the eyes of the church they were denied burial on the church grounds. Their souls are forever outside the church. But maybe they are still trying to get back to the kivas, and the spirit hole at its center. Their access to the other world is beneath the altar.

So I find myself debating whether I can somehow get all that into this painting. Or if it is enough that it raised the questions with a few. Is art to make you feel good or match your sofa. Or should it be thought provoking. I think it must engage. The art I most want to take  into my home gives me much to think about. I want to look at it over time and see something new based on where I am in my journey.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week 13 - 2014 in Images

Day 85

It was a colorful week of mostly spring weather. Which means windy mostly. But their were idyllic days which were perfect to grab the camera and get out of the studio. I was working on another new painting so at times (like windy afternoons) my attention was divided. It was also the week of the newest piece of photographic equipment -- a 4x4 pick up truck.

Day 86 - Big Blue

Since my sister left with her Rubicon I have felt limited in my explorations of the wonderful forest that surrounds me. And facing a dry summer with fire danger I wanted a bug out vehicle. I took all the standard photos of the new to me GMC Sierra when a friend asked why I didn't do my usual old car series with it. Hence day 86. It came with studded snow tires. And then came the first day all winter I needed them. Freezing rain topped with 2 inches of snow. It then changed back to freezing rain. The picture below was from inside the pickup as rain froze on the windows.

Day 87

Spring brings the clouds which put on the dramatic exhibitions for photographers. My studio faces out upon the dawn so my camera is always out within easy reach mornings.

Day 88
Color is also creeping back into the winter wood. Even the pines, an evergreen, have a different green in the spring. And the leafless aspens are beginning to bud. Ice melts on the ponds and what was once white becomes a deep and reflective blue.

Day 89

My studio, as I mentioned faces east toward the rising sun, but I have missed some sunsets. A friend called my attention to this one when it was just a promise. It later turned red but the gold was so wonderful.

Day 90
On Day 91 I realized I was a photo short for my daily post on Binford-Bell Studio page in Facebook. I literally took this picture and processed it on that morning. The joys of digital. I remember waiting until I had all 36 frames exposed on a roll of film before extracting it from my Nikon.

On this upload there were also some progress photos of All Souls, the painting I am currently working on.

Day 91

Now that the Nikon D3200 is fixed I am much happier with it. But the D90 still has its place in my camera bag largely because the 70 - 300 mm lens does not work on the D3200. It is my oldest lens and has had some issues lately. Next week pictures taken with the new auto focus long lens for the D3200. Spoiler alert: I do not have a long zoom to take bird pictures. I have it for landscapes and sunsets and the occasional elk.