Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..

Learning to SEE as an ArTist and Image Maker

I teach my Photographic Portfolio class every summer and always find myself preaching to my students about developing a personal style in photography and giving them some strategies for developing and nurturing their creative “personal” vision. I also enjoy that I get to go out photographing with them on photographic field trips. One thing that I continue to realize as I make photographs and teach photography. You DON’T have to travel far to find and make dynamic, unique and creative images. They are to be found all around us – it’s just a matter of developing a heightened awareness – a sensitivity to the world around us and learn to look beyond the mundane external subjects  breaking them down into basic lines, forms, colors, values and textures. To abstract (frame) these commonplace external references into new and visually interesting compositions. Its all about learning to SEE. The great photographer (and mentor to Ansel Adams) Edward Weston said it best when he critiqued young and upcoming photographers work. He would say “GOOD SEEING” . Edward Weston Not everyone has this talent, however with practice it can be developed in anyone.

I’m talking about photography here, however these techniques can be applied to any art form. True artists see differently than most people. I’m not putting artists on a pedestal or anything – just making a personal observation based on my experience and research from 25 years of teaching art history and photography. I continue to be amazed how you can frame a subject and with the right LIGHT, ANGLE and VANTAGE POINT capture something very special that goes beyond what I call “snapshot mode”. Light activates subject matter and can take a relatively mundane “commonplace” subject and make it truly expressive and unique.

Flowers in my Front Yard Activated by Setting Sun 7/08

I believe creativity has many levels (layers) to it. The more one makes art (photographs) the artist/image maker learns to explore and break into deeper levels of the creative process. First its a matter of training yourself to become more visual aware (sensitive) to the world around you. Then once this sensitivity is developed you learn to EXTRACT the visual elements of design out of the subjects you are exploring in your art. Now the artist is starting to scratch into the surface of the creative process, BUT don’t stop there!

Old Fishing Net and Tire in the Weeds – MC Boatyard 7/08

The next challenge for the artist / image maker is to add (incorporate) his/her personal vision (artistic sensibility/style) into the image. This I believe is our true challenge as artists / photographers. Many people can take a pretty, nicely composed photograph. Not everyone can connect with the viewer on an emotional / intellectual level where that viewer can literally feel what that photographer was feeling / experiencing at the moment the image was framed and captured.

Boat Hull Abstraction 7/08

This is what I strive to accomplish in my photographs.  I’m well aware that I don’t always hit the mark. In fact, these magical moments are few and far between. I do believe it’s possible and that’s what separates the good photographers / artists from the great. I mean look at Van Gogh or Caravaggio. They certainly were able to tap into the human heart and address a wide range of emotions that communicated and laid bare the “human condition” in their highly expressive paintings. I want to do the same thing in my pictures and this is possible without having to travel to far away “exotic” locations. Some of the best images can be found in ones own yard. It’s just a matter of teaching your self to SEE!

Van Gogh

Wheat field with Crows by Van Gogh

Lilly’s in Late Afternoon Light 7/08

Rusted Boat Supports MC Boat Yard 7/08

You can check out more of my latest photographic abstractions on the KeO Photo Gallery Link of this Blog – I just updated it with more images – scroll down for the latest Boat Yard Abstractions.


7 comments on “Learning to SEE as an ArTist and Image Maker

  1. Shannon
    July 3, 2008

    Love the New Look… Take Care… 🙂

  2. Michalla
    July 5, 2008

    Mr. k, Love the blog, I love photography, I take lots of pictures and experiement too, I find it so fasinating. Some think I am nuts for taking so many pictures for no reason. I found what you have done fasinating. Keep it up and I hope to take a class in photography soon. Thanks again for sharing and I have enjoyed the Art history II class this summer.

  3. miquie's crew
    July 5, 2008

    i really like what you have written and i agree with the way you frame an image depends on the result. thank you for sharing. i will be adding you to my blogroll. if you don’t want me to – just say so and i will take you off.

  4. Elizabeth
    July 6, 2008

    Hi Mr. K,

    I think that the ability to see by your definition doesn’t just enhance the work but also the life of people who see it. By actually experiencing the emotions and communicating through a picture without words there is a bond that’s shared. It’s sometimes hard for me personally to challenge myself and take the time, but when I do I’m NEVER sorry. A picture that can communicate happiness, joy, beauty, peace, anger, sadness, etc. is never wasted. I think that you as a photographer (and teacher) have captured something very special with your camera. Lilly’s in Late Afternoon Light is really a beautiful piece. Taking the picture facing the sun is interesting since many people tend to do the opposite. This different angle heightens the color and seems to show the sunlight coming from the petals. They look on fire… it’s a very powerful beauty! Thanks for sharing your talent with me. And also for sharing the idea that anyone can learn to see and appreciate art in all its many forms be it photography, painting, architecture, or sculpture!

  5. Pingback: Changing MY Attutude « Keo BloG

  6. Laura Machado
    July 15, 2008

    You know what, if it is one thing that I love about the way that you teach is that you inspire me. You have taught me a great deal in photography. I am glad that I got to have you as a professor. And even though I did push your buttons, well I did that for kicks!!! LOL! But on a serious note Thank You for all that you did and keep doing what ever it is that you do to keep inspiring other people. I THANK YOU from the bottom of my Mexican heart.

    The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web. Pablo Picasso

  7. Patrick Keough
    July 15, 2008

    Thank you Laura for the kind words about my teaching. It means a great deal to me to hear that I have inspired my students. I try to share what I know with all my students but as you know NOT everyone truly “gets it” or is willing to truly listen and comprehend the material in the classes. Yes you did push my buttons, and be aware I would NOT have pushed you if I didn’t care about you as a student – you have great potential and I know you will do well in any career endeavor you explore as long as you work hard and stay enthusiastic. Its not how smart you are – its how hard you want to work towards your goals in life. Good luck to you Laura!

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This entry was posted on July 3, 2008 by in ArT, Keough Journal, Photography and tagged , , , .
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