All Too Familiar

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Apochrypha, photograph

“Art is not to be found by touring to Egypt, China, or Peru; if you cannot find it at your own door, you will never find it.”

– Emerson

Well, that’s a relief, given that it’s unlikely that I’ll go to any of those places.

You see, I don’t like to travel, hate getting on planes, can’t sleep in strange places, own a one-man business so if I go away I don’t make any money etc., etc.

So I create “local” art from things around me – this piece was shot one winter morning in an apple orchard just down the block. I do live in an unusually beautiful place (Sonoma County, California – heart of wine country) but even here familiarity can easily cause the creative juices to dry up. I need to constantly force myself to look at my usual surroundings with new eyes. It’s so easy to be excited about a scene or subject that is new to you. It takes work to reach a level of excitement with what you’re used to.

But if it is only the new that makes it to your negative or your canvas, you are expressing only novelty. It is by elevating the familiar that you do the work of art.

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5 responses to “All Too Familiar

  1. We really seem to think so much alike– I always agree with you. Artists myself included should stay with the familiar– this travel to Europe to paint the landscape does not make sense to me– or to paint from photographs of places they have never been. But I am also guilty of taking my surroundings for granted– I also live in a beautiful place– on an island north of Seattle on a cliff above the beach. Today I took a walk down to the beach– something I do not do very often and I took my camera and really did try to look more thoughtfully at every thing with a new eye– something that I have been developing more since I started visiting other blogs.

  2. Such a wonderful photo, Bob, I simply adore it!! One of the rare art works i have seen I would be ready to put on my wall…
    When I started with photography, the most important for me has been that I started to see the world around me with totally new eyes, and I realised how infinitely amazing the concrete world is (before I had to do only with maths, meaning the abstract side of the world….)… I had especially pleasure in looking at it with a macro objective…

    Where I live is wonderful too, but somehow, I can’t really force myself to paint it. Many people tell me I should make paintings of the surroundings here, there are certainly enough artistic themes and I could get them easily sold. But I can’t. It was the same in the place where I lived before. Somehow, I need to travel somewhere else to excite my artistic brain (at least concerning landscapes)
    Good that I love travelling!!!
    You are by the way the only person I met in my life who doe not like travelling… I really wonder why…

  3. Haha! – i hadn’t seen Miki’s comment before I decided to leave one – I was going to say that Miki’s artist view of the world helped me see it through new eyes, and although I have always had an appreciation of nature, great architecture, etc, the subtleties were perhaps often lost on me, and I can now see such grace in simplicity.

    As I’m sure you’re aware, one of our many areas where we are completely ‘in sync’ is travel. I am probably addicted to it, though where we live is the most content I’ve ever been. We differ a little in destinations though, and on that we try to compromise, I love many great cities, and Miki’s not so much a city kind of person.

    Perhaps it’s not too much of a problem not wanting to travel – after all, someone once said “there is a universe in a single grain of sand’ – so I’m sure there’s enough in the surrounding area to keep you occupied!

  4. Donna-

    It’s an privilege to consider you as a kindred spirit! The blogosphere is such a great resource of connecting these days.

    MHiilestad-

    Photography is art. I guess all artists, regardless of medium, struggle with what art means to them and how to express it through their chosen form.

    Miki-

    Thanks for the kind words about the photo! Interesting that I don’t like to travel while you don’t like to paint the beautiful place you live. I guess each of us finds the best way to fit their art making into their life.

    Kev-

    From your tales of travel on your blog, you must be an addict, as you say. I am always in awe of your travel capabilities – what you do would surely put me 6 feet under.

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