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.
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An artist knows how quickly light changes. Landscape painters are keenly aware of shadow movement. Painting outdoors is a humbling experience. Nothing stands still. The universe speeds up and becomes elusive, as if it were aware that someone was trying to capture it.
I've been slowly scanning and digitizing my library of negatives and transparencies. A daunting task in many ways, it is nonetheless a process of discovery and passion. The old negatives jump to life. Memories blossom. Was this really my life? I must have dreamed it, it seems so long ago and so far removed from the me of today.
Yesterday was dark. The sky was heavy with the rain season's last gasp. Soon the sky will turn blue and stay that way for months. For a person who likes the variety of weather, the last of the rain season makes me a bit sad.
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.
A walk to the bank—a transitory moment—on the way to somewhere else. Too much caffeine pumps my system with the adrenaline. The tingle of self-importance courses through my veins. Electronic bean-counters count their beans. Automatic digit counters lurch in the background, waiting to add late-pay penalties to everything I owe. I imagine little men peering over their reading glasses in disapproval. "Late?" they ask. They shake their head and get back to counting. Counting. Counting. Counting. I rush to get out the door to stay one step ahead of the system.
Lots of people I meet want to be artists. What they don't realize is that they already are. We come into this life bursting with creativity—enthusiastic little art creatures. Then it gets drummed out of us. Little by little, we get serious. We stop making art. But, creativity is our natural state and one day it starts to gnaw at us. We look around and all the castles we've built are hollow without creative expression.
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.
If you walk around your neighborhood long enough you begin to see things that casual observers cannot. There are boundaries and borders that are invisible to most, but can be clearly sensed on daily walks. Friendly milestones are everywhere; old parked cars, favorite trees, crooked telephone poles. The familiar is everywhere until you get to a busy street. Then there are the people that are passing through—in a hurry to get somewhere else.
A few hours ago I'd woken from one of those long dreams that consumes the night like a glowing-hot fever. Before retiring for the evening, I'd put the finishing touches on today's image. My work has been getting darker as of late, both literally and emotionally. While working on it, the image felt dreamlike, a journey into shadow. It must have activated something because the dream was very much as you see it in the photo.