Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Find Your Eye ~ Looking To Other Artist

Visiting an art exhibit was new to me. I don’t have an excuse, I just rarely view art!  That is definitely something I will change in the future!! As part of an assignment for Find Your Eye with Kat Sloma, we were to visit an art exhibit and study the art. We were to take notes and then reflect on what we liked or disliked and also, note which works of art inspired us. We were to look for elements that we could bring to our own photography.
I will say, this was a fun assignment. I had the best time getting out and exploring the exhibits I went to. First, I visited the Arkansas Art Center. The highlight of that trip was an exhibit that featured Norman Rockwell paintings and Kevin Rivoli photographs side by side. Rockwell is know for his capture of daily life and Rivoli used his camera to capture “Rockwell type moments”. You really should drop by and see his photography here. Both artists documented life in small town America. They showed a passion for ordinary things and moments involving home, school, work, or church. I love the emotions they captured. They inspired me to be more aware of the everyday moments that tell a story.
I was so intrigued with this exhibit that the rest of the museum was kind of a blur. So a few days later, I went back and walked through the other exhibits. I must admit, art is a mystery to me.  I wasn’t brought up around art and rarely have I made an effort to see any. Most of the time, I just don’t get it! I mean really, a monkey with fruit on his head. That was a painting I definitely didn’t like. I also didn’t care for some of the portraits, they seemed so unreal, cold and lifeless. I guess the saying “to each his own” goes a long way in the art world.

There was this one painting by Al Allen called “Morning Musing” that I stood in front of for a long time both times I visited. It was polymer and oil on canvas. It was very simple, very clean lines, and strong light. I was surprised it grabbed my attention! It was a painting of a window with three long sections of eight panes each. As you look through the window you could see the drapes behind the window. Wonderful texture, light, and shadows. But, what was so stunning to me was the shaft of morning light that fell across the window. It was gorgeous! Since I’ve been learning about photography, I’ve read about light and seen photos with light, but for the first time I really saw how light could impact art. There was something magical about this shaft of light, something emotional, something that touched my heart. I wanted to open the drapes and let the light in! I found several other great pieces of art that also captured light beautifully, Dale Chihuly’s glass and Robert Cottingham’s graphite on vellum drawings. Cottingham sketched ordinary objects, but the forms and shapes were brought out by the light and shadows.
There was another exhibit of watercolors and drawings by 19th century French Neo-Impressionist Paul Signac.  I liked the lines and muted colors in his watercolor port scenes. In reading the background material about his works he said he received the bulk of his training from his relationship with other artists and most importantly, from looking at art. He surrounded himself with art and artists. Sounds like our assignment, going out and surrounding ourselves with the artwork of others.

Since I love to take photos with details of nature, I was drawn to this fascinating group of 14 tiny canvases. These were on display at  the Historical Arkansas Museum.
 It was an unusual display with 14 action figures painting on canvases that were about 1” x 3”.
The tiny details were amazing. I'm glad they allowed photos, because it's hard to describe.

As I looked back at my notes  describing the art I liked, several words were repeated.  I want to become more aware of these elements that I was attracted to in the artwork and use them in my photos.

As I mentioned above, light captured my attention.
I was drawn to strong vertical, horizontal lines, curves and swirls
I was attracted to the amazing details in the charcoal, pencil, and pen and ink drawings
Beautiful colors
It didn’t seem to matter whether they were subtle colors or strong colors.

Black and white and monochromatic
This attraction surprised me. I rarely convert pictures to black and white and seldom are my photos monochromatic. Maybe this is an area that I should look into and pursue. I tried black and white with this photo I took at the Historical Museum. This young woman dressed in pre-Civil Ward clothing was showing me a Murphy bed.

This was an amazing learning experience that I will definitely do again.

I would like to tell you a little about Kat Sloma's blog The KatEye View Of The World. I have learned more from her wonderful blog than anywhere else. She is an excellent teacher, blogger, and photographer.  Why should you visit her blog?
1. Her blog is absolutely wonderful!!!  Her photos are amazing and her thoughts are always inspiring!
2. Find Your Eye E-courses, Photo Courses with Heart and Soul. This is my second class and I have learned so much!  So much, that I will continue with her next class. I can see an improvement in my photography from the assignments and photo journals. She is registering now for a September class Find Your Eye: Starting the Journey.
3. Come Exploring With a Camera

I don't recommend blogs and classes very often. But I highly recommend Kat's.  If you love photography and want to learn how to improve, she has a lot to offer!! 


  1. Oh Cathy! Thank you so much for the warm and wonderful recommendations to my classes. I am so honored to have you write that they have improved your photography - it's all because of the work you have done on this journey! It is so exciting to see you connect with art as inspiration. I think we can get turned off with a bad experience of art, and think there is nothing there for us. "To each his own" is spot on, since art is so subjective. It's good to keep in mind with our own art - not everyone will like it! We have to stay true to our own hearts and visions, or we lose our way trying to make others happy.

    Wonderful experience and you pulled so much out of it that will stay with you in your art. Thanks for sharing it here!

  2. Cathy,
    What a wonderful review of your art excursions. I think you have expressed so well the overwhelming impact that viewing the art of others can have on our lives and our own creativity. You obviously found the elements that attract you both in the works of others and in your own image-making. Beautiful photo examples.

  3. Cathy, this was a wonderful post. You have gotten a lot from the art you've seen, and I love how you related it to your own work. I can't wait to go out and explore more exhibits myself. And I completely agree with your recommendation for Kat's blog and classes!

  4. Cathy,
    "Ditto" what everyone else wrote in their comments before me!!! This is a fabulous post. I felt like I was right there with you in the art gallery. And I have to say that the little action figures painting little tiny paintings is fascinating!

    I appreciate your remark, "He surrounded himself with art and artists. Sounds like our assignment, going out and surrounding ourselves with the artwork of others." So very true!

    Great work!

  5. You have expressed yourself so beautifully. I really was taken by your word: followed by a single photo. So glad you were intrigued by the art you viewed. You will get hooked on this...just takes times doesn't it.
    I am behind in class, but hope to catch up..but reading others thoughts is very enlightening. Thank you for dropping by my posting, also Warmly Sharon


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