The Interactive Power of Minimal Art

Sometimes, we find our way not with a compass and map, but by selectively perceiving critical elements of a scene.  Here, I strive for ‘minimal’ in the art and aesthetic sense yet with enough information points to guide our thoughts forward. As we engage the scene, our senses awaken. Then our experiences, memories and imagination connect the dots. 

I'm excited to share the inaugural collection of images in my Shoreline Series, featuring familiar elements of shore living captured in the haunting stillness of morning fog. 

Essex Dock in September Fog  by Mark Roger Bailey

Essex Dock in September Fog by Mark Roger Bailey

A dock in morning fog creates a compelling challenge to tell a story with limited information or detail.  The viewer’s vision and experience fill in missing information and complete the artwork.

In this image, is that a boat dock? Is it floating in suspended light? Or is the mirror image simply a reflection in still water? Where does the dock disappear into the water? Where is the background? Hint: It is obscured in fog. If I have composed for the right clues and infused enough passion and vision, the art work will connect us to experiences in our lives and perhaps touch our dreams and imagination. Hopefully, in this way, it speaks to us on a level beyond words or description.

Essex Dock in September Fog is minimal, yet not quite minimalist. To be minimalist would require a distillation of all color to absolute black, absolute white and geometric shapes.  This work includes shades of gray, natural light gradients and perceptible patterns, such as the grain in the wood pilings, details that enrich my experience of the scene and I hope yours, too. 

 _______________________ 

View my Shoreline Series and please stop by my Gallery Shop to consider a special series of signed and numbered limited-edition prints for the collector. A miniature print of a tall ship would make a wonderful gift for yourself or a thoughtful surprise for a friend.    

Photojournalism as Art

Art:

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.

1863 Barque Starboard Quarter New Framing Futtocks -  Restoration Series  by Mark Roger Bailey

1863 Barque Starboard Quarter New Framing Futtocks - Restoration Series by Mark Roger Bailey

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.  

Collectible limited edition art by Mark Roger Bailey

Collectible limited edition art by Mark Roger Bailey

View my Tall Ships collection and please stop by my Gallery Shop to consider a special series of signed and numbered limited-edition prints for the collector. A miniature print of a tall ship would make a wonderful gift for yourself or a thoughtful surprise for a friend. 

Navigating Choices

Art - Like Literature - Captures Essential Truths

Much of the art that moves me explores our experience at the intersection of one world and another. Sea and land. Man and woman. City and country. Feeling and intellect. Offense and defense. Generosity and greed. Benign and evil. Past and future. Trust and mistrust. Life and death.

A practical, real-life example is the boat. A boat floats on a membrane separating two universes: fathomless reaches below and infinite space above. Sailors who live in that narrow in-between are a metaphor for each of us who live between now and then, yesterday and tomorrow, right and wrong, left or right, risk and reward, failure and success. We all float, sink or fly by the choices we make.

Seen in this way, the art of sail becomes a bridge between the creative process and the secret explorer in each of us.

Three-masted Topsail Schooner  Oosterschelde  NL   (2018) by Mark Roger Bailey

Three-masted Topsail Schooner Oosterschelde NL (2018) by Mark Roger Bailey

Lovers desperately seek perfect union yet are distinct beings. Prisoners of their bodies, they are separated by heart or mind, love or lust, soul or body, past or future. They are so close yet so far away.  

Day and night are rich with potential meaning between bright color and blackness, light and shadow, openness and mystery, work and sleep.

The fact is that I am thinking about storytelling puzzles constantly, making notes about whether this story renders better through this lens or on that page. For too long, the New England Yankee in me always said, go slow in revealing what you're up to. You'll confuse readers if they think you're passionate about art, and you might confuse art collectors if they know you've published novels and optioned them for the movies. The Californian in me says relax, don't second guess yourself, trust the flow. It's way bigger than you and will show the way. The traveler in me asks what are you doing? Whatever it is, is it more important than experiencing the stories that are happening right now in the Hebrides, Antarctica and the Aegean? Who will I listen to today - the Yankee, the Californian or the traveler?   

What are we to do with all the potential of these intersections between universes? We must choose. Art is born in the choices we make, where we sometimes find ways to express the beauty and meaning of this existence between opposites.

Collectible limited edition art by Mark Roger Bailey

Collectible limited edition art by Mark Roger Bailey

View my Tall Ships collection and please stop by my Gallery Shop to consider a special series of signed and numbered limited-edition prints for the collector. A miniature print of a tall ship would make a wonderful gift for yourself or a thoughtful surprise for a friend. 

Creativity Squared

Writing + Art Photography

Writing and photography are competing and complementary pursuits for me. Until now, their competing aspects kept my workspaces separate and distinct; writing here, developing photographs and printing there. Two sides of the same creative force divided into two creative spaces. Until today.

Writing is impossibly difficult and immensely rewarding. While it costs far more in time and effort than anything I have ever done, it compensates with learning, discovery, and understanding.

Photography is also difficult, yet opens me up to the world, other lives and remarkable stories in a journey of discovery that makes me a better person and, hopefully, a better artist. Always has. Blotched and imperfect daguerreotype images from 1838 France, then England, and later from the U.S. Civil War captured my imagination during rainy afternoons among the stacks in the village public library. Large format impressed me with the mystery of glass, solution and light. Then medium format seemed to perfect the beauty and authentic documentary truth within the confined borders of a print. The spectacular advances of 35mm, Polaroid, film to digital, and DSLR photography seemed essential and worthy. If I could learn enough, I might just be able to translate my innate curiosity and empathy for certain subjects into meaningful works that support others’ interests. This is how we discover the truth, by gathering fragments, piecing together theories of reality. Evolving.

The world is large and diverse, yet most of us live within walking or commuting distance of our day jobs. Most of us grow up thinking small, grateful for a paycheck, fearful of the loss of that paycheck, amazed when we find friendship, humbled when we discover love. Decades fly by as we prepare for our life’s great aspiration. Time passes, and we find out that as we made plans our life spent itself. We were focused on job, family, house, and taxes while time focused on… time.

Today, I break through the wall that separates my writing and my visual art. Writing and Photography. A new beginning for both.

I am pleased to present a series of my images of tall ships, each of which captures a sense of story that I strive for in everything I do. And each of which inspires new stories in my imagination.

Debut: Tall Ships

I have been photographing boats for longer than Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours required to become world-class. Yet I still feel I am only beginning to understand the truths to be found at the intersection of time, skill, and insight.

Flying Jibs and Euterpe - The Star of India

Flying Jibs and Euterpe - The Star of India

Discovery is a fundamental quality of the sailing experience. No two moments afloat are alike. Every ocean, season, and transit is a one-off. Each tack, reach and run is unique. And the human skills that developed over thousands of hours learning and eventually mastering the ability to navigate all this newness are fragile and fleeting, for we are here for only a blink of an eye in the scheme of time. Yet the more one discovers, learns and masters, the more opportunities present themselves to challenge us. In this way, we find out the soul of nature, weather, seas and the vessels we build to walk on water and take flight on ever-changing winds.

Whether writing or shooting, telling a story about the history in a 2,000-year-old tibia or documenting time’s stresses in a 178-year-old whaling ship’s arthritic rib, my goal is the same: to capture meaning itself, inspire the viewer’s imagination and touch the timeless in everyone who looks upon them.   

I invite you to visit my gallery and view my new Tall Ships collection at markrogerbailey.com, and while you’re there, please stop by my Gallery Shop.

Until next time,

Mark



Fine Art Photography

Can Photography Be Considered Art?

Yes, art photography exists. It is rising in influence across cultural boundaries and is growing in sophistication among established and emerging collectors.  

WHAT IS FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY?

Art photography is photography that is planned and executed as fine art. The art photographer uses his or her knowledge, skills and aspirations to express his/her perceptions and emotions to viewers and collectors. In this sense, the camera becomes what John Steinbeck described as an "extension of mind and heart."

Just as impressionist paintings were considered to be experimental and at odds with traditional art norms at one time, photography - now nearly 200 years old - has also suffered the growing pains and critical resistance that other emerging art forms experienced. Selected styles and forms of photography have experimented, matured and tested themselves against traditional styles and forms of visual fine art.

View from the Window at Le Gras (1827) by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

View from the Window at Le Gras (1827) by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

Earliest surviving camera photograph.  Louis Daguerre's image of a man receiving a shoeshine on a Paris street utilizing his daguerreotype process occurred in 1838.

Rebecca A. Moss, Coordinator of Visual Resources and Digital Content Library, via email. College of Liberal Arts Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota. http://www.dcl.umn.edu, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=107219

Just as there are many styles of artistic painting - abstract art, surrealism, conceptual, pop, photorealism, hyperrealism, minimalism, futurism, impressionism - there are many kinds of photography. Purely objective photography, such as scientific and documentary. Photojournalism, such as Mathew Brady and Dorothea Lange. Candid or Street Photography, such as Cartier-Bresson. Art, such as some of the work by Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams.

The Steerage  (1907) 19.7 x 15.8 cm by Alfred Stieglitz

The Steerage (1907) 19.7 x 15.8 cm by Alfred Stieglitz

In his book, Road to Seeing,  Dan Winters cites The Steerage as an early work of artistic modernism that many historians consider to be the most important photograph ever made.  

Fashion by Horst and Rodney Smith. Portraits by Brigitte Lacombe. And waterscapes by Gerard Bret

Insolite  by Gerard Bret (France)

Insolite by Gerard Bret (France)

Many of the most striking, accomplished and individual works have emerged as enduring forms of visual representation that are rightly regarded as art. The best among these have risen to a level where they engage, connect and are valued, respected and collected as fine artworks. The arts and art goods markeplace is growing, as indicated by consumer expenditures on arts and cultural-related goods in the United States in 2013 (the last year for which comprehensive statistics are available) were $151.7 billion, which was up 17.6% since 2000. Visual art is but one aspect of culture-related goods, yet an increasingly significant contributor.

Most importantly for me, fine art photography improves our environments - our work, social and living spaces. Art of all kinds, including fine art photography, supports the best in ourselves and others, communicates across cultural divisions, records history-in-progress, and shares stories in compelling ways that free us to experience new pathways to personal development. Art helps us discover our 'best self' in the Emersonian sense. Fine art - including fine art photography - gives form to our vision and aspirations.

Support art.