Just a random thought after noticing that an FLLW house is for sale in Highland Park, north of Chicago ... that it takes a strong ego to buy an historic, architecturally important house, as you must subsume some of that ego, to preserve the house ... though not buying it in favor of some ticky-tacky McMansion in an anonymous suburb, is really more of an ego subsume  ...

Ranting, ad infinitum ...

If you do not go to venues where the actual objects of art are available to view, you are missing the whole experience. Even two dimensional painting is three dimensional in ACTUALITY, ...  but looking only in books, or slide shows, or on the interwebs, there is so much not seen, missed, and never to feel the spirit of the actual ...

Lying to ourselves that we "know" something, that is 3D, through a 2D medium ... PFUI. I have met art curators, who do not have art in their lives; they have reproductions as decorations, but not actual art ... how sick and wickedly perverse ... to allow the flatulent gasbag art historians to tell you what you should like ... it is their opinion against yours ... and yours is imbued with your own life, your emotions, feelings, responses ...

Art is not a competition, it is not a "one true art shall prevail" ... it is an every day activity, predating the dawn of time, and we can all participate. It is a human activity, needing neither pedestals, historians, nor cults of genius.

It just needs us to decide that we like something, it might be art, and to hell with others opinion, that we like it, it pushes our buttons, and we would like to decorate our cave with it ... or our persons ... but real ... handmade ... an object, of dimension and imperfection.

If you do not understand an aspect of the ART world, be comforted, it is just commerce, and has nothing to do with actual art ...  rest assured that if genius is part of the descriptive it has to do with commerce foremost. And avoid pedestals ...

And this, as I recently cleaned the surface; it's in our kitchen and in a spot that is not really art safe ... but it cleans up well ... and the surface of the sky, due to the technique in painting it is very tactile, thin, slight, but distinctly nubile. Edit: Nubile is nice but this should have been nubbly.



I still believe in the object, made of wood, paint, and hand, eye, and mind. Imperfect, textured, tactile, inviting and yet resistant to easy understanding. I believe that the hand made object is imbued with a spirit, birthed in the effort of creation, and something that seems increasingly irrelevant, even in the world of art. I curmudge, therefore I am ...  artist.

Almost square.

Random thoughts while waiting for for the quick size to set on the "holidays" of the frame I'm regilding. "Holidays", house painter speak for missed spots.

The above photo is in the 3:4 aspect; almost square, which is the normal aspect for small digicams. I've become used to it; enough so that when I started using my iPhone camera, the 3:2 aspect was ... disconcerting. See previous post. This may explain my current comfort with square.

That my most recent paintings are 1:2, might be a reaction to the photos, which I still, consider sketches. The 16:9 aspect, or "wide" in cameras is not wide, but actually a crop of the image.

Maybe I should give it another try.

Sometimes what is not included, can be as important as the included, in both paintings and photos.

I doubt this would work as square, as it needs the strong vertical as foil to the flower and leaves, though it is 4:3 as the 1st. photo is 3:4. (Height precedes width) Also, it wouldn't work as square because I said so, as the artist.

This is a square crop of the 1st. image, and one that I find unsuccessful; in fact it seems vertical, rather than the subdued horizontal, which renders it with an Asian quality. Had it been composed as a square, rather than cropped to square, I'm sure it would be more successful. That was one of the points in the article on TOP.

This is not to say that one should not crop, but composing in the camera is the first step. 


Square, and not.

Over on TOP, an essay by Kirk Tuck on square format. In previous posts I've mentioned "playing" with square in photography, and in the comments he mentions "seeing" in square; it's important to have what you want in the viewfinder. This forces me to use my phone camera, as it's the only machine I have that has a 1:1 aspect ratio. Cropping afterward doesn't work, though if an image works that way, I have no anti-crop qualms. Just that the square seems to work better if it's from the beginning.

For my paintings, I prefer a 1:2 ratio, but with a camera I have seldom used the wide ratios available, 16:9 is very close. The above painting is 12  x  24, though I think the asymmetry of the frame softens that feel.

I even use it in vertical compositions.  Now, though I'm enjoying square in photos, I have no urge to paint in a square format, much as I don't have a feel for using the wide aspect ratio in the camera. I even have a bristol board pad that I've trimmed to 4.5  x  9 inches, that I use for ink sketches. Not sure of the significance of this; it might have to do with the square encouraging a certain abstraction, as I seem to be more attracted when using square to abstraction, see top photo.

The Bears work in square and rectangular, but, then, they're good Bears.

Meanwhile, of vastly more importance, to those of us who follow USA football, will Peyton Manning retire, or go free agent and end up in Kansas City? Soap opera of the month. At this point, Peyton and his boss, Jim Irsay, are going to act like adults, and stop nattering at each other at least until the Superbowl, in Indy, and featuring brother Eli, is done. I, personally think he will retire, as the neck surgery was successful, but the nerves that were pinched that led to weakness in the throwing arm have not come back as quickly as hoped. Nobody thinks he will return to Indy, regardless, as too expensive, and risky.

In 1521, The Diet of Worms begins. I'll leave you to Google that one.


On This Day

January 22, 1879 in the Anglo-Zulu War; Battle of Rorke's Drift. when a small group of British soldiers, 139-141, defend their garrison against an unremitting assault by 4-5 thousand Zulu warriors. Immortalized in the 1964 movie, "Zulu".

Family Icon II
Bronislaus Janulis
South Bend Museum of Art

In 1890, the United Mine Workers of America is founded in Columbus Ohio. In my family, John L. Lewis is highly regarded for what he did for miners. Many in my family worked in coal mines, and some died there. The painting references my great Grandfather, who was killed in a coal mining accident.

This is also the anniversary of the commercial introducing the Macintosh computer, the famous "1984" , which aired during Superbowl XVIII.


Curmudging from the Hinterlands

On the other hand, it is a valid supposition that photography is an art, or capable of being art, based on the eye only. I don't think any kind of argument can be made for "hand", especially in digital photography, but the eye and mind must be there.

As an artist, I'm free to make what I want, sans category or definition, and sometimes it touches the infinite, and transcends material and technique. Art. Not the ART of the cult of genius, but the art of an artisan, craftsman, laborer in the fields of obscurity ... be it painting, photograph, frame, or sculpture.   


Random Thoughts

 Photography and Art at The Art Institute of Chicago

I've always, in spite of having studied it, been a little ambivalent about photography. I'm not sure it is an art, though the museum and art world in general treat it as such, or at least, some portions of it. Though I've embraced digital, I think computer control of images makes it even less of an art, speaking only of the minor manipulation inherent in photography from its beginnings. There was and is  more "hand" in the wet, optical process, as in the darkroom performances of Saint Ansel.

Maybe, for me, hand, is important, and a lack of hand, negates the art. A hand made pot, by a child, might have more "art" than a beautiful image from a digital camera, computer enhanced, and mechanically printed, but never touched by hand, until pulled from the printer.

The idea of hand made versus mechanically reproduced is a notion I've been pondering of late, and I am not without contradictions on this subject. The so called giclée print, an ink jet print, is not a hand made object. If I make a frame using molded ornaments, the molds were hand made, the ornaments are cast and pulled by hand, and they are definitely fit and applied by hand, but alas, it is a mere bagatelle in the world of ART; it is only a picture frame.

Though “hand made”, it is possible to reproduce those ornaments ad infinitum, but there is still a lot of “hand” involved.

I am ambivalent, and as far as art goes, I’m probably far more inclusive than most, but photography is documentary, sometimes enchanting, and a huge part of the world of the new Millennium, but for the most part, not art. Hand is important!

And, for the sake of this post, I’m not going to touch on craft, but leave you with the work of a great artist, one that some would call a mere illustrator:

Earnest H. Shepherd, Eeyore

James Montgomery Flagg's definition of an illustrator, I paraphrase, was an artist who ate three meals a day, and could afford to pay for them. I think there was some ambivalence about art, craft, etc. 



Another shot, from yesterday, of the fearless Snow Dog of the Frozen North. I like this one as she looks resolute in her forging a path.

Tuesday morning, and the snow has mostly stopped.

 Bears in the Snow
  The Morning Clearing

And some thoughts on phonography:

I've been a photographer since my teens. Studied at one school, worked in the Audio-Visual Dept. at another, where I was the staff photographer and darkroom tech. I was conversant with a wide variety of equipment, in an industrial way; in focus, properly exposed, horizons level, and none of the team had their finger in their nose. Since then, I still do some pro work, documenting fine art, though my equipment choices have gone from SLR-DSLR to a high end compact. I still use lights, battered, and stands, held together with wire, and polarizers.  The little camera, at base ISO, on a tripod, and good technique, is image quality wise, going to be comparable to almost anything else out there, and for 99.9 % of the uses, perfect. Plus, when I started using it, none of the DSLRs had live view on the LCD; you need to stoop and look through the viewfinder, while I could look at a 3" LCD.

In my own work, sketches for paintings, my amusement, family, I had discovered early on that a good image could be technically flawed; and in fact, those flaws might enhance the image. Technical perfection is not something I seek, nor am I probably very good at it; adequate when required. ( Certain aspects of painting require a "base" level of technical competence, something akin to grammer for a writer, but more ...?) Which raises another question; what is image quality? Technical perfection, or an image worth looking at? The point here is that technical quality should be subservient to the image itself.

Lately I've been using my phone camera, see previous post, as my casual, walking around tool, and that same tool has been recently featured in some of the photo-centric  sites I keep up with. It has not been considered a ... serious tool. In fact, it seems possible that western civilization is in decline due mainly to phone cameras. OK, but it is discreet and quiet. There is only one "setting", focus and exposure, a tap on the screen, then the shutter release, which makes for very quick shooting. It also allows one to concentrate on composition, rather than settings. This basic simplicity, though often asked for as an essential aspect of serious "street shooter" cameras, is ignored on a phone camera, because it's a ... phone? Well, when I need to, I still have the "big" camera, but if you start seeing a lot of noisy, blurred, poorly focused shots here, it's just me practicing phonography, rather than being serious.

This square aspect ratio is quite a departure for me, as my paintings are often 1:2, or close to that, but since it's not serious, I'll continue to fool around. 8-)


A note: On this day in 1861, Delaware votes not to secede from the Union. I had no idea they were even contemplating it. Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.



Ginger, Snow Dog of the Frozen North, forges a path through the vast, white wasteland, of swirling frozen precipitation. Yesterday, the 1st., it started snowing, and it is still snowing, and blowing, and ... cold. Photo from this morning, the 2nd.

Taken with an iPhone, for which I have a new app, called 6x6, which does one thing; it shoots and saves in square format. I've fooled with square, but for some reason, I'm finding it quite interesting this time. It may have to do with the simplicity of this app. Previously I've found square to be inhibiting, but I'm seeing in the format now, so, some other squares from the last few days:

Holiday table. The Start of Snow. Giant Mulberry.

None of these is of any great importance, but the change from 3:2, 4:3, to 1:1 aspect is  ... interesting.