Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Daily Practice 244/365

Title: "A contemplation of endings"
(click image to view larger)
Yesterday was a milestone - the completion of two thirds of this year of daily practice. I was feeling under the weather, and couldn't really muster the devotion and concentration when making the image, which in some ways seems a pity given the significance of the day. On the other hand, I did make an image which really is the most important purpose of a daily practice. I think Georgia O'Keeffe said that she went into her studio every day, even if all she accomplished was sweeping up or stretching canvas. The important thing for her was to go into the studio each day.
I was sitting on the porch of our studio this afternoon, and saw this fuchsia blossom laying on the step. Summer is coming to a close here, and the fuchsia plants are starting to look a bit dejected. As the final part of this year's project begins, I'm starting to consider what to do next year. Of course, the daily practice will continue, but this public face of it probably will not. It's unusual for artists to show work in progress, or working drawings/paintings/photographs to others. One of the inspirations for doing this project came from reading Edward Weston's Day Books. Although we now have access to some of Weston's journals, at the time he was writing they were private and reserved for his own purposes. After this year is finished, I think I want to continue with a handwritten journal - a somewhat less structured venue to write down thoughts, excerpts from readings and combine those in an organic way with prints of recent work. I believe that doing this will give me the breathing space to bring together information and give further thought before writing about it here.
I also want to be a bit broader in my definition of what constitutes my daily practice. For this year, it has been to make images each day, choose one of those images to post here, and write about it. I had planned after the first 4 months to print out all the images I'd taken up to that point, and then mount them in the studio so that I could look for emerging themes. I didn't anticipate the time required just to print the images, and to find a large enough space to put them up (basically a wall needs to be finished and prepared for mounting images). Essentially I need to take some days to look at recent work produced, and be able to recognize what is coming out of that work, or see where the work is going. So in 2011 that will be another component of the daily practice, and I envision that there will be days when I write here about what came out of those sessions of carefully considering recent work.
I almost never talk about the process I'm using to produce my images, because I have an aversion to the gear-head orientation that seems so common with people who photograph. I'm a firm believer that the equipment is incidental to the success of image-making, and this was the topic of a recent post at The Online Photographer. But at the same time, I have an embarrassing number of cameras, some of which have not seen much use. In the new year, I might restrict myself to using one camera/lens combination for a month, then change the camera/lens combination for the next month and so on. It seems somewhat arbitrary, yet successful art is often  created within a limiting set of parameters chosen by the artist. Naturally there may be times when I will visualize an image that can't be realistically made with the particular camera/lens combination I'm using that month, but that means I will have to sharpen my eye to the possibilities within the range of the equipment. Years ago, one of my science mentors told me that I would have many more good ideas (in science) than it would be possible to work on. The same is true in photography - for every "missed" shot, there are thousands waiting to be recognized and used. If I do this exercise next year, I think at the end of the year I'll have a good idea of what is possible with a significant portion of my camera collection, and I will be able to logically pare it down (which I would like to do).
Naturally, much can (and will) transpire in the next four months, and how the following year is structured could change as a result. As it should.

1 comment:

J. M. Golding said...

I hope you're feeling better.
You know, I can't help wondering whether this could be one of those situations where not thinking too much may have allowed something very real to emerge. To me, this image suggests quite expressively the sadness and vulnerability of endings.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about next year. As I think about my experience of a year's daily practice, it occurs to me that those questions are a meaningful part of the process.