Newsletter #172: September, 2019
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
This is my 172nd consecutive monthly photographic newsletter. Enjoy!
Trees, Icebergs, Visual Design, & Workshops
“A desire to see more”
- The Arbutus Tree: Entering the mystery
- Revisit: I returned to the ice
- A Tribute to Lawren Harris: The Group of Seven
- The Golden Section: Aesthetically pleasing compositions
- The Barkerville Workshop: Amazing!
The Arbutus Tree: Entering the mystery
The colour and texture of the tree trunk caught my attention. I stopped, listened to my inner-voice, and then began my investigation.
One morning during my ‘residency’ on Gabriola Island, I was walking toward the small area of beach I had limited myself to photograph, when the colour and texture of an arbutus tree directly above the beach caught my eye. I stopped. An inner voice called; “forget the beach and explore the beauty of this tree”. So began a 3-hour investigation into a small group of arbutus trees.
The journey began at the outer layers, the tree trunk and bark.
As the exploration continued, I naturally moved from the ‘outer’ world to the ‘inner’ world; both of the tree and myself. I became more abstract.
At some point, as if the arbutus allowed me to enter its inner-self, my images somehow began to reveal gnome-like ‘spirit creatures’ such as fish, birds and even fairies. I was fascinated, excited, and even more inquisitive.
This visual conversation lasted 3 hours; I felt creatively exhausted. Returning to my original project, I never returned to the arbutus trees. I now wonder where our relationship might have gone if I had visited these trees every day for 17 days as I did the beach area?
At the end of my residency I began to realize that the two small beach areas I had limited myself to were not really that small an area after all; that I hadn’t challenged myself as much as I thought I had.
The arbutus trees reminded me, there is always more to see, if you have the desire to see it.
A Revisit: I returned to the ice
In my last Newsletter, I visually described my revisit to Jacobson Lake in the foothills of the Coast Mountains. I had wanted to experience and re-photograph the glaciers, icebergs, and glacial erratic’s after a 4-year absence.
I couldn’t enter the mystery of the ice as I did the arbutus trees because I couldn’t get as close; it was too dangerous. So, I photographed from the shore; it was a visual investigation from afar, not as intimate.
I experimented with various techniques in a search for pattern. Visual surprises, led me to investigate further into those juxtapositions that resonated with me the most.
During these visual explorations I left the tradition of Representational image-making and entered the world of abstraction. I made images not of icebergs, but about icebergs. The elements, such as pattern and texture, became beautiful in their own right.
Within the world of Abstraction, there is complete freedom of expression; for many, such freedom can be intimidating and scary.
What I am learning to enjoy, is that there is relevant meaning to the elements of visual design when expressed in and of themselves.
As photographers, we should each explore in our own way, see in our own way, create in our own way, and be proud of our creations and accomplishments.
A Tribute to Lawren Harris: The Group of Seven
I have often mentioned in Newsletters and workshops the importance of studying other art media; online, in books, and at art galleries and museums.
Painting by Lawren Harris
Being a mountain person myself, I have always studied and appreciated how Lawren Harris painted mountains; they appear uniquely stylized.
When I was paddling around this particular iceberg at Jacobson Lake, my memory turned to his work; I could visualize many of his paintings.
Making the above image was a direct result of studying his paintings. I was reminded of the importance of studying the work of other artists.
The Golden Section: Aesthetically pleasing compositions
I just got off the phone with my sister, a painter who lives in Ireland. She happened to be looking at and discussing my previous Newsletter with Anna O’Sullivan, director of the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny.
She mentioned the following image which they felt contained elements of the “Golden Section”, also known as the ‘golden ratio’ or ‘golden proportion’.
The ‘golden section’ has been used by artists for centuries because it is believed to represent proportions that are aesthetically pleasing. I was pleased to hear their comments as this image is one of my favourites.
As photographic artists, we should all be aware of the ‘golden section’; but as for a definition, please look it up, it involves math!!
The Barkerville Workshop
Dennis Ducklow and I have just returned from the Wells/Barkerville area of central BC where we held one of our 7-day workshops. It was, as always, creative, stimulating, and inspiring.
Nowhere is there a greater diversity of subject-matter, of which we took full advantage. Here are a few images that reflect that diversity.
Opportunities for street photography abound
Opportunities for Expressive photography also flourish
After Labour Day, we have Barkerville to ourselves!
Endless opportunities for night photography and painting with light
Historical buildings and lifestyles to explore
St. Saviour’s Church; holding services since the 19th century
The cemetery is a fascinating place to explore and photograph
Architecture and street photography
Architecture and still life photography
A wonderful place to push beyond Representational photography. Abstract
The colourful town of Wells is a photographer’s dream
Our workshop includes interaction with artists of other media
Explore Chinese culture
Explore Indigenous culture
Explore Western culture
There are photographic opportunities everywhere
Plus, there is professional instruction and support when ever you need it!!
Dates for our upcoming workshops will be released soon. You can receive advance notification or stay tuned by subscribing to my Newsletters. Don’t miss out; many of our workshop participants have returned three times! Expressive photography is forever stimulating, exhilarating, and challenging. Join us!
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Thank You. See you in October!