The Artist’s Rule

Am I brave enough to tackle this? I started (re)reading The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner again. Yeah, I know there’s some redundancy there with “re” and “again,” but you see, I reread and read this book again and again. I keep coming back to some basic principles that are tugging at me.

This time around, I am going to issue an invitation. If you would like to join me to read this book and put some of the ideas into practice—and make them a practice—please join me. And seriously, I’m going to make it so that if you don’t have the book, you can still practice along with me.

Here’s my “problem.” I think I understand the technical aspects of photography and how to use my camera appropriately. I have an understanding of the exposure triangle and composition (rule of thirds). I understand the concepts of focal length of lenses and depth of field. I even do a pretty good job of editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. I have a decent artistic eye, and I know what I like (and don’t like). I do enjoy trying to push myself artistically.

But photography is not just about creating “fine art.” Yes, I’d love to see some of my images hanging on someone’s wall one day. (I suppose I should start with my own walls, right?) But I am more about expressing myself through the art of photography. I am so about looking at the world as the beautiful creation that it is.

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This is where the concept of “contemplative photography” comes into play for me. Contemplative photography is more than just about taking nature walks with a camera in hand. It is about seeing the everyday with different eyes. I walk through the state park, and see a leaf on the pavement. I am drawn to its shape, its color, and the contrast with the pavement itself. One is “soft;” the other, rather hard and unforgiving (especially when I trip over my own feet). If I look even closer and perhaps deeper, I see the patterns of veins and stems through the leaf. Thus it becomes more than a maple or sycamore or elm or oak leaf. And yet it is what it is. Nothing more; nothing less.

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Contemplative photographer begs me to soften my gaze even. Things I might have ignored before, I see now. I look up, down, around. . . . . I notice color, shape, texture, pattern. And at times, I try to see “meaning.” I think that’s the English teacher/literary scholar in me coming out at times.

I would like you join me over the next few weeks to explore the ideas from Paintner’s book with me. You can Facebook me, or comment below. I’ll be here.

I love conversation, the close, intimate kind amongst friends. Won't you join me? I look forward to a good coze.

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