Sunday, March 24, 2013

No Bitterness

Naomi Boone, age 18
"I love my body, it has been so good to me." These were among the last words my daughter Naomi Boone spoke as she died at age nineteen. What is remarkable about Naomi's exclamation is that it came after a grueling two year battle with cancer.

I had been an intimate witness to her suffering. As soon as Naomi entered high-school she immersed herself into meaningful activity—joining the German club, the Ski club, and in sports running track and field and cross-country. When her cancer was diagnosed, she had been painfully lifting her leg into her car to drive to school. The verdict was grim for her survival.

The next two years were full of pain, exhilaration, uplifting victories and dreadful defeats. Naomi had expressed that she did not want to die a slow, painful death, but this is what fate had in store for her. In the end, she was forcing herself to eat, she could not walk, and was attached to an oxygen tank. Her lungs were full of disease, so that she suffocated to death. How was it then, that her final words were, "I love my body, it has been so good to me."

Naomi formed a special relationship with her mortal form. She knew that her body was in a life and death struggle, and she developed a tremendous compassion for it. She cheered it on, begging and supplicating, caressing and loving it. She saw her terrible conflict with cancer as an epic spiritual battle of light and dark, and she firmly planted herself on the side of light. As the disease gained the upper hand, and the life force she loved so dearly could not save her crippled form, she remained loyal and praised her troops for such a brave fight against insurmountable odds. Not a trace of bitterness.

When I meet tests, and get frustrated, I think of Naomi and her walk through the "valley of the shadow of death."

23rd Psalm, The Book of David

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 
 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 
 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Paul Cezanne, (French: January 19, 1839 - October 22, 1906)
Pablo Picasso, (Spanish:  25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973)

In the pursuit of artistic creativity, it often occurs that an artist is influenced by his peers, and by art history. Even when someone does something radical and new, essentially, a groundwork has been laid by others that allows this new breakthrough to occur. For instance, Picasso was a seminal figure in art in the twentieth century, and when his cubist paintings emerged, they shattered the barriers for art. And yet, these paintings did not appear in a vacuum, for Picasso had been a great admirer of Paul Cezanne, who years earlier had been taking impressionist painting into new territory with his careful constructing of picture planes using basic shapes of cones, rectangles and squares.

Claude Monet, (French: 14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926)
The crucial quality of groundbreaking artists, is their fearless pursuit of new ways of seeing, and their willingness to take risk and break from the crowd. Another great innovator of the twentieth century was Georges Seurat, who developed his signature style of painting, called pointillism, using uniform sized dots of color to make a depiction from nature. Yet, Seurat was keenly aware of the work of the impressionists, who had broken with traditional painting styles when they went from depicting stories in their paintings, into painting light itself.

Georges Pierre Seurat, (French: 2 December 1859 – 29 March 1891)

Piet Mondrian, (Dutch, March 7, 1872 – February 1, 1944)
Steven Boone, (American: 13 May 1952 - present.)
The Dutchman Piet Mondrian, migrated to Paris during the time Paris was the art capital of the world, when Picasso and a slew of other famous artists were there. Mondrian developed a highly refined abstract style of his own, which broke the picture plane down into a grid of horizontal and vertical bisecting lines, using some of the resulting  shapes to carefully be filled with primary colors. Many years later, I hearkened back to Mondrian in my street photography, when I captured images that resembled Mondrian's abstracts, using a lens instead of brush and paint.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


A bedouin on his camel. at the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller (American, December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980)

In some profound ways, I have not adjusted to the ending of my year of travel, in 2008. Then, I was single, unencumbered by material things, free to move in any direction, was full of wanderlust, and leisurely moved across the face of the earth, living in exotic and fascinating places, making new friends and acquaintances. Since I arrived back in the USA, I have not felt the urge to own a home or settle down in any fundamental way, even though I have married. My lovely wife owns a home and I also rent a separate home, studio, and art gallery—but I am not attached to any of these places. Since 2008, I have been to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and lastly, with my wife, Morocco. Now, I wonder if my dancing vagabond days are over for me.

During the early days of my traveling, I carried two suitcases—one for clothing, laptop, camera and supplies, and one for my painting gear, i.e. paints and easel, canvas and brushes. I made paintings along the way, occasionally sending them back to my assistant in the US and my gallery. Midway through the journey, I sent the cumbersome painting suitcase home, since I had evolved into a passionate street photographer. Each day, camera in hand, I would saunter forth to find the unexpected and seek to capture ephemeral moments of sublimity.

A field of poppies amid olive trees, in the Puglia region of Italy

The task of landscape painting is different than photography. To paint, a subject must be found, and then the easel set up and as the day goes by and the sun moves across the sky, I stand in one spot, studying and recording until a finished work is completed. For example, see: Flux Of The Street.
Photography is simply having the camera at hand, with a heightened sense of awareness, ready to click the shutter at an opportune time . . . and then go forth again for more. For example, see: Ducking.

Chicken seller in a market in Hoi An, Vietnam

Generally, paintings are far more valuable on the market, since they are made entirely by the artist’s hand are unique, whereas photos become prints that are massed produced.

 “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark (born 31 January 1893 in Paris, France; died 9 May 1993 in Asolo, Italy)