The creative process has the same ebbs and flows as does the sea. The cycles come and go, the artist a mere conduit to some strange force pulling at the brain and psyche. When one surrenders to the artistic process, one allows the nature of presence to show up in the work. Forcing things never works. Usually a bad art day can be traced back to trying too hard and pushing too strongly. Sometimes the work wants lightness and air, sometimes it seeks the lowest point and wants to go past the dark edge. Allowing is the key. What is, is.
The sea has much to teach us here. At low tide the submerged are revealed, uncomfortable in the light of day and open air. It seems dangerous and naked. Birds hover and pick at oysters and mussels. Starfish lay exposed and weak. At low tide we see the hidden stuff, the jagged terrain that is underneath it all. It is mostly there that I find my art loves to be.
Photography is a wonderful medium for the discovery of darkness and shadow. One could take this literally and photograph actual shadows, but it is the shadow of the spirit and psyche to which I refer. It is the area of our being that does not normally see the light of day. It is the submerged—the rocks, flora, and fauna beneath high tide—that I am interested in finding. Unlike staring at a blank canvas, an often terrifying prospect, photography is more an act of discovery and finding than is painting. A camera searches out the world, looking for things to record. Back in the "darkroom" (these days we must employ quotations as the computer relentlessly replaces the actual darkroom) we discover what we've found. And it's often not what we thought at the time we were with camera.
It's as if the camera had a mind of its own. It leads us to wherever it wants to go—be it darkness or light, high tide or low. If we wander around as if on a treasure hunt, the camera takes us on a adventure, a psychological thriller of sorts. The key is to allow it all to happen.
Today's image came from a hike I took (and wrote about in the blog a few weeks back. Though it was a hike in the bright sun, the images that came forth wanted to be dark and monochromatic. This particular photo was made at Stinson Beach as a helicopter passed by—an oddly, ominous-feeling event. I don't know why.