There is, along my daily walk, a valve wheel that controls the ebbs and flows of the bay into a small, flood-control pond. Sometimes the wheel is up, sometimes turned down. I've never actually seen the man or men who perform this task. I simply notice the position of the wheel each and every time I pass it. Yesterday, the wheel was down, way down. I immediately wondered why. That position is rare for this particular contraption.
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It is later in the day than normal. I prefer walking after sunrise. By now the sun is too high. There are too many people. The park playground is full of screaming kids and their proud, young mothers. No one notices me. I glide past them like a specter.
I just finished a new gallery on my website entitled, Marin Shadows. The body of work has been emerging unconsciously, which I suppose means, I really can't explain it. It is the result of the mystery of creativity. If one truly lets go and allows the creative process to do work, unexpected things emerge. I never planned to photograph dark, dreamlike images of Marin landscape in black & white. It just happened. And right after I proclaimed, on this very blog, that I'd had enough of it, I found more to say, more to do, more images in my database that wanted to be shown the light of day. And so, on it goes.
Photography is a medium that lends itself to series. Theme and variation. One can create a visual fugue with a photo series, a knitting of space and time into a fabric of singular vision. I know of no other medium that invites an artist to explore series in such a natural way.
I have rekindled my love affair with black & white. For awhile I'd been seduced by the juiciness of vibrating color. Push and pull. Chroma. Intensity. Color is a magic carpet that can transport our emotions to faraway places. It is a lifetime obsession in emotion, physics, mathematics, chemistry, and alchemy. Once smitten, color is impossible to shake off. Lately, however, it has given me a hangover.
Every walk has moments of insight—fissures in the quotidian facade. One step, another step, a drone of steps. The crunch of earth under foot is like the shaman's drum. The drum beats and magic swirls with the wind. Dreams give us clues. In dreams one lifts off the ground when walking. Walking becomes floating. Floating turns to soaring. Waking up after a soaring dream is ever a disappointment, as if being awake were actually the dream instead.
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.
I needed to get out of the studio after a long week, so I went for a hike yesterday with a good friend and my camera—the recipe for a perfect day. Here in Marin County, California, we are blessed with magnificent trails. Sometimes, when destinations are too close to home we take them for granted. They lose their exotic quality and become too familiar. It is an aspect of human nature that frustrates me. I wish it were easier to see my quotidian world from a fresher perspective.