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Visit with Jim – Small Places

Small places …

So much ground to cover in such a small place. A large format print of Cetaceous Illusions is on its way to Paris France in gratitude to our friend in the Michelin Star restaurant Eclipses. My wife and I couldn’t help ourselves, but draw a line of connectivity between the stunning culinary art of chef Cyril Choisne the Chef and Owner and my photography. The experience was uniquely personal and intimate, strikingly similar to my artwork. This was our second Michelin experience in Paris and in our lives. A thoughtful, intentional sequence of servings arrived over a peaceful 3 hour sitting. Each plate was delightful, complex and palatially amazing. It was also far more than just food with flavors.

Cetaceous Illusions 2022 © All Rights Reserved

The texture of the furniture, walls, and ambience were the simple magic. Each plate was a new undiscovered delight. A cloche with its mysterious smoky aromas filled our senses… Colors and textures were artisanal and meticulously crafted. Plates chosen to fit the serving and enhance the experience. We highly recommend the restaurant for the curious.

The textures of the wall behind our table became a focal point as we considered a gift and how we could share some karmic joy with Cyril. The moment of joy would be a specific piece of artwork we would create and everything simply manifested itself from that intention to spread joy and do good.

So how does this connect to my artwork and to our gift? We returned home knowing we were going to return the kindness we received in he restaurant and gift a piece of art. We were simply in the moment thinking about a color palette and technique: how would the photograph involve my core elements of Oil, Inks, Glass and Air. I began working with a range of oils and paints in the blue through white range. As the spatula was moving, pushing and pulling the inks across the shard of glass, the feathered patterns appeared. It is a technique that my wife adores. We have several piece of art and the patterns tends to remind us of feathers, angel wings, and similar tactile surfaces. Though here, an entirely different creature appears. Cetaceous Illusions pushed through into view without effort or intention. It appeared in my camera lens as large as life, yet as small as a section on a piece of glass.

I then had to think through which paper would be the right one. Luster and gloss papers were too conventional. We have a washi paper but it is very delicate. Washi is a generational artisanal process to create paper in Japan. The plant fibers used to create the paper are visible and, though beautiful, they would be a distraction from this photo. We started to look at the denser heavier papers. This is how the experiential sequence of experiential decisions tie together and connect with the wall, the photograph and the paper selection. I settled in on and chose Moab Photo Rag. This is a heavy textured paper that has a gravitas to it. Even the unprinted paper is something to experience. It is just the right amount of a rough surfaced. It is weighty, uncompromising and meaningful when held in your hands. The feel and weightiness this paper 300gsm paper was the specific reason it was chosen to print on.

The texture of the stone wall behind our table … the 150 ton creature … the paper all tied together. Stars aligned. It all made sense. The colossus that swims the ocean, moves in a direction and arc that no other creature dares to interfere with as dances in between the two universes moved into my consciousness. The pattern and rhythm, air – water – back to air as it moves through its sinusoidal swimming pattern. Periodically needing to connect with the atmosphere in order to move ahead in its life journey. As we need to connect with the air around us as we move ahead in our individual and collective lives’ journeys. The phrase: Art is Air for the Mind© expressed itself again. I was feeling the centered grounded with a sense of good rising inside. This was the right moment of joy for the right reason and the right piece of artwork to express that emotion.

Cetaceous Illusions is, in and of itself, a wonderful exploration of a small place. I found the whale within a 4″ piece of glass where the inks and paints were declaring the secretive animal existed. The spatula spread the inks out and with unmeasured yet exquisitely precise pressure created the feathering pattern. So I found myself listening to an inner voice that said to stop: I am here. The eye of the goliath stares out and explores the print’s observer. The small fin and the squarish head defined this as a whale. Increasingly darker blue tones takes us into the water’s depth. The gradient from surface to depth are steady, subtle, beautiful and peaceful. The feathering on the topside of the whale could be tropical or artic water as it migrates the earth. The watery and aerophilic universes shimmer on the behemoth’s back. Grey skies fill the surface above the blues. The wise, knowing and sentient mammal glides under the surface. Subliminal. Illusive. Illusionary. The creature was not an intentional painting.

As is the case with all my photography we are discovering. Discovering our thoughts, perceptions, and preconceived biases. That is the depth of the experience with this photography: to plumb the depths and ask you the viewer: What do you see? I want to create art that prompts and sparks thoughts and dialogue. Art calls out to us to join in the center of a dialogue. It invites. It asks. It seeks to learn as we seek to teach.

You the viewer, your perspective, point of view and interpretation are the the true magic of the process that generates enormous happiness for me. Recently I was listening to a one on one interview with David Gilmour. He spoke of one person knows something and the other person has different knowledge. Each person wants to know what the other person knows. It is this exchange of ideas that seemed to be the core of his relationship with Sid Barrett. It is that sharing relationship that has me most curious about you and your notion about what is interesting, what evokes emotion, what sparks your imagination in this photo? What do you know about it or want to know about it?

We would welcome you to join our conversation and explore this or any photograph that you, our audience finds most compelling, curious or controversial. Email me at [email protected] to potentially join us as an invited guest to one of our private conversations that generate the content for these blogs.



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