Category Archives: Creative Process

about the process of the creation of art

Considering All The Elements In Photography

I have caught up with all my commercial photo work for the year and this site is now tweaked and I’m ready to begin adding new material.  It has taken a couple weeks longer to clean up than I anticipated.  I spent this week working with the gallery component developer adjusting and figuring out all the issues with the galleries and how they would look and function across all platforms.  This was the last major issue to work out.  The site is now visually linkable and fully functional.

Recently I have been looking at all the people I have shot over the years and, considering this is Montana, it seems quite remarkable to have so many!  I had a new guy in the studio I was shooting this week.  Someone I had begun working with last year but we didn’t get too far with the process because he was so busy.  It was so fun to get back to shooting this sort of stuff.  When I began shooting naked men they became more of a study to help me develop lighting techniques for my regular photographic portraits.  I have a great studio and lots of variations on lighting filtration equipment.  I have collected just about every type of light filter size and shape available to focus light from a broad softness to a pinpoint direct spot.  The naked male is the easiest subject, because it is all skin tone and in portrait photography is it all about lighting the skin in beautiful ways.  It also allows me to focus on compositional elements.  The next step is the photographic process is to figure out the personality of the subject and match the lighting technique to get to the core or essence of who they are.  Some people are soft, some are hard, some are sculptural, some not.  Next I factor in my relationship to the subject.  What feelings does this subject evoke within me.  Are they alluring, raw, do they connect to me or are they evasive.  What part of my own life intercepts with theirs, do they bring out a remembrance or connection to a time in my own past or sensual development?  We all have memories of times we connected with someone on a very sensual level that lingers in our thoughts that we would like to relive.  Photographically these become great ideas for exploration.  When you begin to put all these elements together this is where photography really become fun.  I am lucky I don’t do this for commercial gain so I can just focus on what’s important to me in a sense becoming my own personal journey.

Are We Born Artists Or Is It Just Something We Create?

When I first began this project I brought up the question are we born to be an artist or is it something that we learn.  I talked to a number of different artists and remember there was a mixture of responses.  For me I grew up on a family cattle ranch in the mountains of Montana where I wasn’t really exposed to much of anything creative, yet as a kid I was drawn to coloring and creative hobby type things as gifts for Christmas.  My parents must have recognized some semblance of talent there because they always gave me things that captivated me or mostly things I had to build.    When I colored I worked had to stay within the lines.  My grandmother taught me to cook and sew when I was about ten and I began to make clothing I would wear to school.  My parents tell stories of how I gathered all my brothers and cousins and created stage shows in the barnyard for everyone to see.  I was a drama nerd in high school and created a drama club and began doing stage productions.  I then won a scholarship to the University of Montana in Missoula for theater and earned a degree in performing arts with an emphasis on directing live theater production, essentially creating my own program at the time.  I was mostly interested in lighting design and work anything back stage.  I worked in professional theater for many years until I got burned out of constantly being on the road, returned to Montana, and took up photography.  Looking back, everything about my life has been creative and I feel fortunate to have made a living pursuing my passions.  I still make a living and do quite well with it and still live a creative life.

So was I born to it?  I am not entirely sure.  I was born with a strong curiosity and probably a stronger ability to make things happen.  I do know as a creative soul my focus becomes more concentrated the older I get.  Downright obsessive.  I am drawn to photography because it is something I never stop learning or growing with.  Though it has become relatively simpler from when I started with, processing my own film, it is still a challenge.  I probably have most every piece of equipment to filter or channel light in most any conceivable way.  I have found one of the key tenants of becoming an artist is to always bring yourself to the creative table.  Every day if possible.  Once you recognize this the world automatically sorts it self out and makes way for your creativity to flourish.  But be relentless in your pursuit.  After a while self doubt and constant questing vanishes and you get to a state where everything becomes a part of your creative evolution.  I learned not to be so critical of myself in the beginning and accept my mistakes as part of the learning process.  I see so many young artists who say this really isn’t very good about something they have created, expecting it to be a masterpiece right from the get go.  It never is.  They give up to easy and find something simpler to do, when this is really the impetus of something remarkable that has completely compelled and engaged them.  Yet they can’t see the remarkable beauty that brought them to it from the beginning.  They are only looking at the end result and judging everything else on that.  First and foremost believe in yourself and trust that all will be resolved.  To realize all of life is a creative process and an evolution along an expressive continuum.

Adaption of a Creative Impetus

I am beginning to feel like Meryl Street in Adaption where her world of reality begins to blur with the fiction of her creation!  Where does one draw the line between themselves and artistic integrity?  I have always been intrigued by the age-old question.  Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

I have recently reconnected to this project.  Not that it has ever really been out of my sight, but I recently met someone who asked if I had done anything significant with my life.  I wanted to say “Sure a while back I took a year off and created something that I put my entire soul into for the duration of an entire year”.  Creating a body of work that oddly enough still remains online, and even odder thousands of people each month still follow and peruse.  I am still contacted by people, particularly young artists who find my story and imagery inspirational to their own journeys toward creativity.   My heart is and has always been full of passion toward anything creative and I am quick to encourage others to seek their own.   Looking back I see I am one of the most blessed people in the world to be able to pour out my thoughts, feelings, concepts, and ideals (utterly express myself) and still make a living at it.  The project didn’t quite take me in the direction I had planned, but it did increase my notoriety as a seasoned photographer who had an imitative eye and loved to work with light.  To me it has always been about the light.   This work progressed my business in other areas, mainly portraiture, headshots, and other artistic creations.  I began to get work from clients whose talents as Internet escorts I could help bolster their own talents and boost their businesses.  The one thing I can honestly say is that I have laughed a lot over the past couple of years and created or worked on some very imaginative projects.  As usual I digress…

So I wanted to share this project with my new buddy and sent him a link to the site.  He came back somewhat surprised and astonished at the caliber of work.  I then jumped on the site from my cell phone and I began to see how clunky the site was to navigate via hand held devices.  I had not put much work into the site the past few years.  About a year or so ago it crashed. I guess due to neglect, so I had to do some major upgrades to operational platform and system modules and plugins.  I found a new template that would make it more accessible to mobile devices.  I was so busy at the time I never got a chance to actually adapt everything to the new system.   Viewing it I was quite embarrassed.   I have recently caught up with my regular work and decided I would spend a little time adapting it.  Suddenly I am totally falling in love with the whole project again.  I never stopped shooting this sort of work and have a bigger body of work yet unseen.  So here I am back at it again, realizing how much all this sort of free flow spewing from my inner psyche I had missed.  I think I am going to revive the blog, not to an everyday occurrence, but to once a week, after all I do have a life and need to make a living.

As a young lad all fresh faced I used to argue that life imitated art, now as a seasoned fresh faced (no I did not have a facelift) elder I actually see that art imitate life, it’s an expression of life.  So here goes…

A Fresh Approach

Do we really change patterns in our lives or do we just learn to adapt to them. I began this year by coming back to this project I had started two years ago. I’ve decided to read and follow the project on a day-by-day basis, just as I had written it two years ago. I managed to create an index to the year-long project that made it easy to navigate back to the beginning so I can easily find the specific blog and date it was created. What I find ironic is that yesterday I was working on expanding and creating my business website I spent the day working through my catalogs of images and pulling out new images for the expansion. When I  opened yesterday’s blog, two years ago, “Postcards from The Edge” it was about the very same issues I was dealing with then as I was today. The website of course is completed but it took me a year to really make it happen and pull it together. I saw so much doubt in myself as I began to move forward with a project I was not even sure anyone would be interested. Well since the project has grown from a page on blogger to a full website with over 200,000 people looking at it. I also now know the answer to many of the questions I was asking then. Is there really a market for such types of imagery as a viable way to sustain myself? I think not. The internet is already over saturated with this type of photography and the only viable way to access it is to view it on our computers or use it as interesting screen savers for our mobile media devices. I have to say I loved this project and loved devoting a year to it. I had so much personal growth during this creation. It awoke a sleeping passion within and became an amazing means of self-discovery.

I had to take a year off, to realign myself into the reality of the real world, i.e. making a living again. You see I never made any money of this project what-so-ever, other than what was contributed to the fund-raiser to get to Europe, mid-way through the project, and it is actually this much money that was put out to create the website and maintain it for the past year or so. I realize I am still an idealist who has a problem with marketing and submitting myself. But I also never intended to make it commercial from the beginning. I have always felt the expression of our creations is meant to be shared without limitations or compromise. I have recently submitted an art piece, one of my rodeo images, to the local Missoula Art Museum and it is currently on display downtown. It is there with many other artists I have admired and looked up to within my community for decades. I am honored to become a part of this group and to stand equally beside them. I realize that though this project was not a financial success, it still brought me up to a level of respectability within the world I have always longed to reside.

Some of you may be glad to know I am back to this project once again, asking the same questions, searching for the same answers. I probably will not post daily, but will be working on it daily. I have begun first of all to read and clean up the old blog postings, day-by-day. Not to rewrite them, but to clarify what I was trying to say since I was an inexperienced writer when I began the project. It will also keep me focused. Help me clarify what I missed the first time. I am also beginning to go through the old catalogs and clean up and post those images and add them to a new extension of the site that will link the images to my new outsourced printing. Incidentally I have been with this new printer in California, the last six months, who has been turning my images into the most amazing artwork, hence the museum piece. I am still truly amazed to think this stuff has actually come from me. This is actually quite fun. The basic structure is now in place, so I will not have to waste so much time mired in the frustration of trying to figure things out and be able to focus on the creation, which is what brought me here in the first place.

The Moment Of Vision

I often see a vision that becomes quite sensual to me, a beautiful man, standing naked, in the shadows of the room. I watch the light play on his skin in the darkness as only the shape of his figure is outlined by the highlights across his sensuous skin as he moves about in that darkness, lit only by a streetlight, faint, dim, dappled with emotion, spilling through the window. He subtly moves to expose the youthful shape of his abs, not well defined, but in the darkness I have felt their tightness, another shift and I recognize the powerful contour of his arms filled with tension. As he turns toward the window I recognize the flatness of his chest muscles as they ripple from the darkness yet the highlights expose a supple softness of his skin that I want to reach out, touch, caress. It transports me to a timeless place when I was young and suddenly the vitality of my own youth comes flooding back. He is unaware I am watching him so intently as I am inspired by this remarkable moment as if suspended in time. How do I bring this into the studio? How do I reveal my own thoughts, feelings and the emotions that overwhelm me? I am utterly entranced by the sensation of this remarkable beauty and merely desire to bask in it for an eternity, but know this moment is fleeting, and soon he will dress and go home. The essence of that moment lingers on however fleeting it may have been, savoring it, reliving it, playing it over in my head as it dances through my thoughts for days to come.