Into the darkest time
Since April when I hatched the idea for this newsletter I've been trying to figure out what it wants to be and, however that plays, the truth is I need this. I need a place to organize my feelings and thoughts and to explore things and to share them regardless of who comes along and who doesn't.
I'm going to aim to email out a newsletter on Sundays which covers what I've been working on and thinking about throughout the week. I expect to make other posts through the week but not email them out, you'll have to come explore here to see them.
Over and above just what I've been working on this week are some themes that nag me lately.
Why does any of this matter when the world is falling apart?
What do the decades of work I've put in actually amount to?
What to do with work I love of people I've had fallings out with or that the relationship soured somehow?
Why can't I make myself print right now?
How utterly spoiled have I become?
The dark months tend to call everything into question.
Recently I ended a 15 year relationship with (doctor prescribed and sanctioned) pain killers through physio, chiro, yoga and learning better pain management skills and I have no doubt this stirs the pot. I've also had a slipped rib for 2 months that just won't relent. every movement has been painful, and pain gives pause to ponder the possibilities and draws focus to how you spend your movements and energies.
That all in mind then.
October 24th - 30th, 2022
You might be surprised the above post was followed by a flurry of color street photos. As is often the case I stumbled onto something that felt right for a few days till it played out. It actually started with this image of marla.
Tonally I find something really interesting here and I continue to try to manage the highlights in color in a way that doesn't make me suicidal. it's a process. Then, Somehow I jumped from there to some street.
I probably spend too much energy on the past. Editing and re-editing. But as the tools mature, and my skills mature it's useful to go back and see how you got in your own way and lately I'm thinking a lot about the long term. What happens to my work after I die. Should I make a book or two. Should I go deeper into printing and pray enough really fine objects exist after I go. There are no easy answers.
I have not been able to come to printing anything for a long while outside of print orders, of course. I think I'm haunted by the Yousuf Karsh exhibit I caught at the glenbow in 2011. The giant master prints just tumble around in my mind. both luring me and vexing me at the same time.
Check out his work in person if you ever get the chance
The sense large prints are somehow where my work needs to end up and the ridiculousness of everything that goes into making a large print, trying to frame it, sell it, preserve it.. it's usually too much for me to contemplate and so I keep working trying to figure things out.
Then, back into black and whites always leading to model work. Model work is the only place in my work where I had control of everything. The light, the setting and the mood and if I'm going to find the light I want this is where it should be. But it creates this cycle I cannot seem to resolve.
This cycle invariably leads me into an emotional mine field. So many of my relationships have crumbled, in no small part by my own hand, and many of the models have turned their back on the work. Having aged, or changed, or just never having got the work but had relationship to me somehow.
It's very sour.
I have all this work I love and get angry almost any time i see it or try to work with it, or try to share it.
No one tells you what to do with the emotional stuff that comes from having entangled your life with people to make work then having it untangle but the work remains.
this cycle gets under my skin and disrupts the clarity of everything. sometimes i want delete it all. Just start over. Work with paid models and still life. Work with vases and plants that don't mean you any harm later.
I know. 2022.
We're not supposed to have any unpolished thoughts. nothing untidy about ourselves. no internal conflicts from which to grow or learn. just always have the right answer bookmarked on twitter, right?
All of this brings me back around to how spoiled I've grown. Sitting on gear I would have literally killed someone in the street to own and the ability to get more if I decide I need it. A ton of freedom in my life (pain and health aside) to go down any creative rabbit hole I want and I navel gaze about people (including me) who were assholes, are assholes, and couldn't get over their shit for the beauty.
which ironically, is not getting over your shit for the beauty.
I swear this is leading to something.
What I keep coming round to time and time again is how little is in my control beyond the practice of making things and trying to filter out my own stuff and focusing on making an finished object that regardless of me or you, or anyone has some beauty woven into it. That should be enough reason and meaning for any human activity given how aligned the world is against clarity, focus and seeing anything to finish.
I've turned this over in my head so many times and it the math always comes out ridiculous. You can't make something really truly beautiful, or well crafted, or even technically strong without doing the work.
First the work finding the right people. Of actually dressing, lighting and shooting. Then finding the edit. Then finding its place in the body of work. then, gods, the print process. All the papers. The myriad variations.
It's so incomprehensibly more complicated than it first appears, but when it's working it's also the simplest thing ever.
I have no firm resolution here other than a feeling that it's near. I can feel the outlines of something forming in the corner of my eye. and let me tell you from many years experience you want to hold onto that unclear, nebulous sensation as best you're able because they don't come often and less often still will they translate to anything you can hold in your hands. You have to coax some feelings along one breath at a time. this is like that.
So that's what I've been thinking about and working on this week. I think I will close out sunday afternoon by making a small print of the above shot of marla and seeing where the translation gets lost going to paper.
I'll leave you with some beautiful still life work I spent way too long looking at this week.