Ginkgo and Chess - Doug Johnson

"What is art?" One could hope that after making art for over 40,000 years and discussing art for centuries we would have reached concensus on this question but as far as I can tell, opinions are as diverse as ever. That said, I'd like to share some insights from one of my favorite writers and photographers who has contributed significantly to my own views about art.

As I've mentioned before, Ted Orland has written what I consider a must-read book for all! In my dog-eared copy of “The View From the Studio Door,” he invites the reader to consider which of the following items ‘feel’ like art:


* A sunset

* A Bierstadt painting of a sunset

* A robin's nest

* A Frank Lloyd Wright house

* A child's finger-paintings

* Your own drawings

* The Mona Lisa

* Your neighbor's perfect rose garden


Orland's discussion of each candidate is insightful and thought-provoking and he concludes that "the elements of art that remain constant belong not to the art pieces, but to the art making." Specifically, those elements include the sincerity of the effort, the passion in its pursuit and the care in its execution.

For me, this change in perspective (from the result to the process) allayed my fears about whether or not I'm creating "art" and whether or not I'm an "artist." Art is more about intention than the camera or the critic or the "eye of the beholder". I can strive sincerely, work passionately and execute carefully. It may not be easy but I can do that. We all can do that!

This week's musings are more about the artist's journey than any particular photograph so I'm including one of my favorite images taken on the second day artistic odyssey.


Ginkgo and Chess; New York, NY; May, 2011

Ginkgo and Chess
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