High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
- American Heritage Dictionary
In my creation of visual art, I focus on concept, context, execution and intentional aesthetic beauty. Whether the story is suggested in a visual artwork or told overtly in a novel, the medium should matter less than the message. Either way, the creative expression should be an engaging, emotive and moving experience for the viewer.
In reality, the act of creation is rarely beautiful for the creator. Exploring a subject from inspiration to capture to development, color studies, editing, paper and media tests and final form is relentlessly challenging. Inspiration is helpful, yet each of us receives it in often diverse ways. For some, it comes readily to the committed life in which art and the disciplines that accompany it are organizing influences of the smallest daily choices. For others, inspiration comes after a process of exploration, testing and reflection. My curious mindset motivates me to ask, observe and process more or less constantly. This way of being creates more inspiration than I have waking hours to pursue. When I am inspired by a subject, such as a tall ship, there is nothing that can stop me from exploring its design, history, meaning and value to its owner, captain, sailors, shipyard, sailmaker, student, scholar, art lover, citizen of its flag country, its strengths, weaknesses, and the sources of its white oak, live oak and black locust and other woods.
The Art of Sail - RESTORATION
For me, the journey is the thing. Five-sensing a subject helps me ensure that my viewer experiences the artwork as if they were with me under the vessel when I photographed it on a cold January afternoon. Realism counts significantly in this regard. If the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I crawl under a 300-ton antique vessel to capture the light on 150-year-old strakes, I’m doing my job. My hope is that my print’s owner will feel something akin to my feelings of vulnerability, awe and, yes, fear that the creaks of the wooden timbers aren’t signaling the ship’s collapse. But most importantly, I hope that he or she experiences the same rush of enthusiasm for the stories of the shipbuilders who shaped those strakes and fitted them into place with such extraordinary care and skill that this massive sailing ship is as seaworthy today as it was more than a century and a half ago. This is a large part of what my RESTORATION series is all about.
If I’ve succeeded, beauty will wash over the senses of the observer. A moment of the tall ship’s past will live on for years to come on the print owner’s wall. Time moves on, and our actions live on in memory, in art and in their effects on the future. In this sense, every winning moment is a lens on all time.
Each glance, each 100th of a second is the fruit of ten million years. We are both the inheritor of an unknown stranger who long ago conceived our moment’s bounty and we are the creator of time’s gift to another whom we will never meet.
Each of us is the sum of all these moments along the flow of time. Art is creative expression of our presence here, now, whether it is words on the page of a book or a fine print in a picture frame.