After Steichen's Shadblow | Mark Lindsay

Sometimes one stares at a blank sheet of paper or a glowing white computer screen, ready to write or draw, or paint or do anything creative, and there is...nothing. Usually, that nothing means that something is brewing but isn't quite ready to show its face yet. This is of small comfort to those of us who must create for a living. Today, I woke up with good intentions to post my blog. I stared and stared at my computer screen. The "nothing" was overwhelming. I sat down to find an image that resonated with me. Finally, I found this image of a tiny tree reflecting in the flood-control canal near our home. The tree reminded me of Edward Steichen's shadblow tree that he photographed again and again in the last years of his life.

Steichen rediscovered his creativity in the tiny shadblow. For years, he'd been the curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, working with other artists' work. He also worked on Madison Avenue, using his creative skills to earn a living in advertising photography. He'd become a towering figure in the Modern Art scene, a pioneer in establishing photography as a respected art form. But, it was shadblow that brought him back to his own creative center, as if it were a conduit into the depth of all earthly things. Steichen became obsessed with the tiny tree, photographing and filming it again and again.

So, it is fitting, on a day when I confront the dreaded blank screen, that I should find an image that evokes Steichen's shadblow. And having written about it, I feel somehow connected. The miracle of art is a remarkable thing.