Sunday, February 28, 2010

Water Abstracts (The More Things Change... )

Anyone who's followed my blog for a while is probably aware that I'm obsessed with water.  More specifically, I love to take photos of water in all its various forms.  I love the way it moves, or doesn't; I love the way it reflects its surroundings, or allows us to see into its depths; the way it distorts, and the way it clarifies.  I'm fascinated by what's beneath it as well as what remains on its surface.  I can't ever get enough of the reflections, refractions, and colors it assumes.  Water is constant change, and I never tire of watching it.

A few posts back, I discussed abstraction in art, and particularly in regard to photography.  If you click on the links above, you'll see that many of my abstract photos focus on water as the subject.  (Where is she going with this?, you may wonder.  Well, I'm getting to that.)  So, a couple of days ago, I was looking through my old art journal from when I was in the Master's program at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and I found this:

I was pretty surprised, as I did not remember this at all.  This was written at least 10 years ago, so obviously this stuff has been floating around in the back of my brain for a long time.  (What else could be back there that I'm not aware of?  There's a scary thought!)  The weird part is that I was just getting ready to post these "abstract water" photos that I took last fall.


Interesting, huh? 

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I'm finding myself more and more attracted to simplicity, both as a philosophy and as a practice.  I would like to apply this concept to many areas of my life, but, to keep things simple, I'm trying to focus on one or two at a time.  For example, I have for quite some time held the goal of getting rid of some my things.  I have lived in this house for over twenty years, and have accumulated a truly embarrassing amount of stuff, much of which I really don't need.

It goes without saying, however, that this does not apply to books, rocks/shells/fossils, and art supplies.  I have to draw the line somewhere, right?

It's a daunting task, but I am making slow progress. Huge bags of clothes have been donated to Vietnam Veterans of America and other organizations, old toys and baby stuff have been discarded, and one of the attics is practically empty!

It seems that I'm leaning more toward simplicity where my aesthetic sensibilities are concerned as well.  As I scrounge through my photos, looking for interesting images with which to play Photoshop games, I'm drawn increasingly to simpler ones that I may not have paid much attention before.





Artistically, I've been in kind of a rut; just feeling uninspired and unenthusiastic about it in general, and unsure where I wanted to go next.  Again, I started looking through my old work to see what called to me, if there were perhaps some paths I'd once started to go down, but then abandoned.  What ideas had I been interested in that I hadn't been quite ready to followed up on? 

This seems to be a good strategy for me when looking for direction in my work.  To me, it just doesn't make sense to start over from scratch, jumping from one style or medium into an entirely different one with nothing in between.  Like a true scientist (or scientific artist), I prefer to change only one variable at a time; otherwise, I have no frame of reference for evaluating the changes I've made.

Here are some pieces that still interested me.


Are you seeing a pattern here?  I wouldn't quite call these pieces minimalist, but they are definitely simpler and more abstract in composition than some of the other work I've been doing.  I've also been messing around in the studio with the beginnings of a couple of new things that reflect these same ideas.  I'll post them soon if anything comes of them.

The outcome of all this rumination, reflection, simplification, and redirection is that I feel inspired again, and excited to begin exploring some new twists and turns on my artistic journey.  It's about time!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Little Things

I've noticed lately that lots of people think they need lots of things.  In fact, it seems many Americans live by the "The more things I have, the happier I'll be," axiom.  And of course, bigger is always better, or so the thinking goes.  Why settle for a 2500 square-foot house when you could have a 5000 square-foot house?  How can a 37 inch TV suffice when you could get a 64 inch?  After all, you never know when you might need to watch TV from 100 yards away...

Well, maybe I'm getting old.  The older I get, the more happiness I get from the little things.  I mean, really little things.  Some of them are even...well... free.  I'll give you an example.  Last week, my son's girlfriend, Lindsey, sent me a Valentine card- one of the kind that kids buy for their classmates in school, and a bag of fun-size m&m's.  She mailed them in an envelope with little dog stickers on it.

How sweet is that?  (btw, check out her sweet blog, Adventures of the Cookie Girl.

Snow days- highly enjoyable, and we don't have to pay anyone for the snow; it falls out of the sky!

Very cool wire-and-snow sculpture: absolutely free!

Another little pleasure is music- not always free, but I downloaded the MP3 of  this, my current favorite song, for a thrifty 99 cents.

Maybe I am getting senile, but it seems to me that these little pleasures bring me more genuine smiles than almost anything.  Something else that makes me smile: blogger friends who try to answer my questions!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Traveler's Tale: Self-Birthing

The photo's not the greatest, but I think this is just about finished.   Here are a couple of details for your perusal.

I added some "starfish" (ha!) to the sky, and more detail and color to the moon.

I kept the "blue stuff" on the bottom, sort of; I actually covered it with a lighter blue map.  I felt it was too bright before.

I also added bits of yellow and pink to the figure, so she wouldn't look so- dead.

What do you think?  All comments/ suggestions/ opinions are welcome!

Oops- I almost forgot to ask what you think of my new blog template and header!

I would also be remiss if I didn't tell you to check out my secret today at The Altered Page, because it's

Monday, February 15, 2010


I've been thinking a lot lately, and quite unproductively. Maybe it's just a malaise brought on by the constant snow, but the truth is I feel I'm in a deep, soggy rut.  The kind of rut you can't get out of on your own; you're in serious need of a push or two, or it may even be time to give up and call AAA for a tow.  Because I'm just spinning my wheels, and sinking deeper and deeper into the muck.  (extended metaphor- nice!)

 Like this towboat pilot, I can't get off the bank; I'm just churning mud.  I'm stuck.

If I had to zero in on one particular theme amidst the huge tangled mess in my brain, it would have to be frustration.  The source of my frustration is this: I spend quite a bit of time making my art, but then I don't really have any time left to promote or sell it.  I don't have time to apply for shows, or set up an etsy store.  My frustration has almost reached critical mass- the point where I consider giving up.  And I'm not a quitter; to the contrary, I tend to just keep beating my head against the same wall until either it moves, or my head starts to bleed.  (Wow, two extended metaphors in one post- am I a literary genius or what?)

So, something's gotta give- either my head or the wall; either the barge or the bridge, you know?  And when it hits, there's bound to be a lot of pain for somebody, and I think we all know it's not the bridge.

I gave up on this dream once before, because I had no choice.  But now I'm trying, and I just can't seem to get off the bank. 

Alright, this part (above) was written last night, and I'm now finished whining!  Ugh- disgusting!  I just did my taxes, and the numbers were kind of discouraging, if you know what I mean.  I'm moving on to more practical things, such as questions that some of you may be able to answer.


1.  How many years can you claim a business loss on your taxes?

2.  How much does it cost to have an etsy store, and is it worth it?

3.  I know this is hard to answer, but has anyone made a profit from selling things on etsy?

4.  How do you generally get into shows- i.e. personal contacts, applications, other?

5.  Does anyone do art outdoor art fairs, and if so, do you make much money?

6.  In what way do you make the most money from your art?

As always, thank you for your help (and for putting up with me!).  If you know anyone who you think might know the answers to any or all of these questions, please direct them to me, or me to them.  And I promise to get an attitude adjustment before the next post!

p.s.  I'm really not all about money (if I was I'd probably have some by now!), but it's either a business or it's not, you know?  Also, it would be incredibly nice to be able to quit my day job...

Self-portrait: definitely my best side!  haha!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I can't tell you what love is, but I know it when I see it.

I don't want to get all slobbery or anything, but I do want to wish all my wonderful blogger friends and followers a very happy Valentine's Day!  I don't know what I'd do without your friendship and support.  I do love you all!

Abstraction Distraction, part 2

I have to agree with all of you very perceptive people who responded to Abstraction, part 1 by saying that labels aren't important, which was exactly my point.  Here are some photos that look somewhat abstract; they are, however, pictures of real objects.  Some of the images have been modified using Photoshop.  I hope you enjoy them!







I think you can figure out what most of these are, but if not, let me know!  Ooooh...I just had an idea...Remember that game (in magazines or something) where you try to guess what something is by seeing a little piece of it?  Uh-oh, there I go, thinking again...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Abstraction, part 1

I was getting ready to post some 'abstract' photos, when I started thinking, Are these legitimately abstract? After all, they are real things...What does that word really mean?  What makes a work abstract, or not?  Is there a line between abstract art and representational art, and, if so, where is it?  (Okay, you're probably thinking I should stop listening to the voices in my head, right?)

When I post work on my artspan website, I have to choose labels for each piece, such as medium, category, and whether it is abstract or representational (there are no other choices).  I always click 'representational' because my work does refer to actual things, though they may not be realistically depicted.  I do that because I assume that what they mean by 'abstract ' in this case would be work consisting of, say, colored stripes, for instance.

No, 3, 1949  by Mark Rothko

In art school, we were taught to call this type of work "nonobjective", meaning it was not based on any real object.  Abstract work, however, is based on something real, or at least the idea of something real.  Here's how Wikipedia defines abstraction in general:
"Abstraction is the process or result of generalization by reducing the information content of a  concept or an observable phenomenon, typically to retain only information which is relevant for a particular purpose." 
Wikipedia's words of wisdom on abstract verses nonobjective art:  "Strictly speaking, it refers to art unconcerned with the literal depiction of things from the visible world -it can, however, refer to an object or image which has been distilled from the real world... Artwork that reshapes the natural world for expressive purposes is called abstract; that which derives from, but does not imitate a recognizable subject is called nonobjective abstraction."

Clear as mud, right?  So, basically, abstraction has the intended purpose of paring something down to its essential nature; artists such as Cezanne and Picasso spoke of this as a goal. 

"Art is the elimination of the unnecessary."  -Pablo Picasso

 Desmoiselles  D'Avignon by Pablo Picasso

Of course, I'm simplifying the concept (abstracting it, so to speak!) significantly so as not to get bogged down too much in semantics.  The truth is, though, that the distinction between realism, abstraction, and non-objective abstraction is artificial from a practical standpoint, because it is not possible to draw a line where one ends and the other begins. 
For instance, is this abstract or realistic?   Hmmm... there are some pretty realistic things in there, but how realistic do they have to be in order to be 'realistic'?  (Huh?)
  Moon Shadows  by Sharmon Davidson
And what d'you reckon about this one?  Still, some recognizable stuff here, but what about that thingy with all the circles?
Kalachakra Matrix by Sharmon Davidson
A little more abstract, perhaps even verging on non-objective?  But couldn't those be mountains... with a purple sun... or maybe not...?

 Transformation 28   by Sharmon Davidson
Even a photograph is not completely realistic; as we know, there is much compression and distortion (of color, form, size, etc.) involved when a 3-dimensional scene is translated onto a 2-dimensional plane.   

I believe that over time, the term "abstract art" has come include artwork that looks as if it's "unconcerned with the literal depiction of things from the visible world -it can, however, refer to an object or image which has been distilled from the real world."  Which is why my photos, even though they are pictures of real things, could be considered abstract.   

My conclusion, then, is that these terms are meaningful only in a relative sense.  It brings up such questions as, "How abstract is it?"  It's like trying to determine how unified a piece of art is, or how well composed.   Where's the ruler for measuring that?

Stay tuned for part 2, in which I actually get to the aforementioned photographs!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


pure morning light is
captured and held by the snow
for just a moment

winter's spell so cold
holds us in  freeze-frame magic
still pause between breaths