I may have already mentioned that when I was in college, I discovered a love of Art History. I even dreamed of earning a Ph.D. in Art History so it would be my career. Well, life happens and while I never returned for that advanced degree, I still love Art History and study it as much as I can on my own. I joke that I am creating my own Art History program because I feel like it might be possible that I have spent more time reading, studying, traveling to see art… than perhaps I would have if I had pursued that education. And, can I tell you a secret? I think my interest and love of the history of art continues to grow as I continue to learn, and the more I learn, the more there is to learn. Amazing! So why am I sharing this with you? Well, I am glad you asked.
Although I am sure one of my college Art History courses included a few glimpses of Edward Weston’s photography, I feel sure that neither Weston, nor his work, was discussed at length in any of my courses. Somehow, I have a memory of thinking the images were stunning as they flashed across the screen while I sat in a darkened lecture hall. That is my only memory. I really didn’t think much about it over the years, but now, as I am learning more about him and his work, I see that they may have had a much deeper influence on me than I ever recognized.
I say this because I recognize some similarity in the way I sometimes choose to frame a subject, or elevate an ordinary subject to something of importance using its line or shape… Don’t get me wrong. I am most definitely NOT saying my work is on the same level, nor am I saying that I intentionally mimic his work. I am sharing this with you to encourage you to spend some time looking at art work. It really is so incredibly easy now to look at art. Many of the museums, companies, etc. are digitizing artworks, so it is as easy as a search on your computer to find inspiration (albeit not the same as viewing the real work, but you get the idea). When you find something that resonates with you, stop. Really look at the work. Enjoy it. Then, if you REALLY want to explore more, start looking for more ways you can train your eyes. Start asking questions about why this work appeals to you. What is the story, and what is it about that story that resonates with you? What is the color palette, or value if there is no color? What is the composition? You get the idea. Explore. Learn. Train your eye. Know what you like and why you like it.
So, now that I have shared this story, why did I choose these two Edward Weston quotes? Well, I find it ironic that I have said something very similar to both of these quotes on occasion, even though I never heard or read them before writing this post. The first quote is pretty much how I started my general artist statement. The latter quote is exactly what I have tried to describe, but never managed to explain my vision so succinctly. My version was something like, “I don’t want to take snapshots anyone can take.” Weston’s quote is much more on point. Anyway, these quotes have helped me understand why those few images I enjoyed so many years ago may have played such an unwittingly important role in my own work.