Showing posts with label reflection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reflection. Show all posts

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Just Like Life


Sleeping Buddha, Hilo, Hawaii. by Steven Boone

Recently I was publicly accused of disrespect by someone I do not know. It happened when I posted a photo online in a Facebook camera group I am a member of.  The photo was one of the street photos I love to make. I have thousands from all over the world spanning decades.  When I first read the comment, I did not understand it. “This is no respect.” I assumed the person that posted could not speak good English. I thought he referred to the person I photographed who was unkempt. Then, later I realized he was referring to me. Several other comments were negative. Others positive.

Hurt, Oaxaca, Mexico, by Steven Boone
(This is the photo that caused the controversy.)

Here is the story:  Several days a week Amy and I go from our home in a village outside Oaxaca, Mexico into the city to shop for necessities. We were walking in Oaxaca Centro. I always take my camera to be ready if I want to take a picture. I know how to look and see amidst the crowded, sometimes broken streets full of traffic. Among the shamble of shops and pedestrians a swirling kaleidoscope of variations occur and usually I take a picture or two worth saving. This day, as we walked carefully over a crumbling sidewalk, I saw ahead an impoverished young man with severe problems. Without shoes, dressed in rags with one foot bandaged, the other exposed leg had many sores. Slumped against a wall, on the steps of a financial institution, he was sleeping. I paused and took the picture. Scenes such as this are part of the fabric of life. We all need to be aware of how others live and suffer. And, yes, it is difficult to see.

After taking the photo, I took change from my pocket and rested it on a ledge by his arm. Then Amy gently put banknotes in his hand. We walked away. I looked back as we crossed the intersection. He was smiling and staring after us.

Canada,  -Vivien Maier, (American, February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009)

In the annals of photography there are great examples of fleeting candid moments where the subject is unaware of being photographed. It is when maximum honesty exists.

It is legal to take photos in public places that include people. No permission required. Candid photography to me is almost always better than posed. But it is more tricky to get a good result. There is no set upit is all spontaneous. 

Trolley, -Robert Frank, (Swiss, November 9, 1924 – September 9, 2019)

It begins and ends in a fraction of a second, and happens millions of times a day on earth. That is photography. No use to try and kill it with rules. It does not belong in a box and will always escape confines. Just like life.

Ireland, Josef Koudelka (Czech-French, b. 1938)
Sophia Loren and Jane Mansfield, by Joe Shire, (American 1917-2006)

The Terror of War, Nick Ut, (Vietnamese-American, born 1951)

After the Opera, Weegee, (American, June 12, 1899 – December 26, 1968)

Famous street photographer Quotes:

“I have no inhibitions and neither does my camera…,” “To me a photograph is a page from life, and that being the case, it must be real.”  -Weegee

“Photography can be a mirror and reflect life as it is, but I also think it is possible to walk, like Alice, through a looking glass and find another kind of world with the camera.”  -Tony ray jones

“Most of my photos are grounded in people, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face.” -Steve McCurry

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ciao Venezia

The fog I hoped for never arrived during my month in Venice. I kissed the city goodbye—with light so brilliant it seemed the canals were alive, covered with glistening jewels.

Cristiana stopped by to bid farewell. We embraced, took a last deep look into each others eyes and she went off to work while I headed through the passageways with my luggage.

I walked slowly. Passageways are intimate, only three people wide. An excited, bubbling boy brushed by with his mother. He seemed about nine years old and brimming with enthusiasm. It’s good, I thought.

Suddenly I wanted to hold the last moments and looked intensely around. Campo stones, crumbling brick walls, windows with green shutters, the trembling canal waters underneath foot bridges in all directions—pressed to my soul for safe keeping.

For some reason I felt healthier, stronger than when I arrived. The luggage was not so burdensome and my spirit felt light.

At the Grand Canal I waited to catch the boat to the airport. Everything was at peak brilliance in early afternoon light. I felt remorse having to leave. My camera was packed and I wanted it. Wow, I thought, look at the sun glowing from the buildings. Reflections on water danced and leapt like light from iridescent scales of fish.

I finished four paintings and shipped them back the United States. The last five days found me with my camera walking endlessly through the sestieri, hunting for reflections, for gondolas in canals passing beneath bridges or bobbing alongside the lagoon. I went numerous times to Piazza San Marco and reveled in its dimension and supreme workmanship, photographing with throngs of people becoming a blur of motion.

Up until the last day I added to a series of pictures of tourists taking “selfie” photographs. Just on Rialto Bridge I figure about 3000 a day are made.

Ciao Venezia.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Know Thyself

Know Thyself. 
- Socrates

True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self. -Baha'u'llah

I went to see my long time psychologist recently. We have met off and on for many years. It has been the nature of my adult life to be in many predicaments leading to moments of truth. I am a risk taker. I have always learned by doing and experiencing consequences. My father thrived on problem solving his entire life, and I have that tendency too.

The therapist I see is renowned, an author and lecturer. In the past he has traded with me for art.

When I arrived for the recent session, I took a few minutes sitting quietly in a waiting room. I reflected on what I wanted to say, glanced at recent journal passages, prayed that the discussions would be enlightened and bring the highest good. Then I thought of what to talk about. Essentially, I try to be on the path of "heart"; strong and open, feeling truth and mystery, having equanimity and fullness. Knowing joy and pain and being fluid in both.
I chose to talk about feeling stuck in some ways . . . and decided to mention a couple dreams I had had about a year ago that seemed to explain much but I could not decipher all the symbols within them.

Comfortably seated in the office, the two of us made great headway with the dreams in our hour of conversation. He knows me so well, I could refer to childhood memories he knew about. With his help and adept questioning, I gained new inspirations and insights that are helping to unlock closed passages that are essential for me to travel in.

As I drove home, reflecting on realizations, I saw people walking about, and noticed how they held themselves and how they dressed. I could "see" the psychological being that formed the outer picture.  Then I felt compassion because it is not easy being human and everyone tries.

Observe all men; thy self most. - Benjamin Franklin

Charity is in the heart of man, and righteousness in the path of men. Pity the man who has lost his path and does not follow it and who has lost his heart and does not know how to recover it. When people's dogs and chicks are lost they go out and look for them and yet the people who have lost their hearts do not go out and look for them. The principle of self-cultivation consists in nothing but trying to look for the lost heart. - Mencius (4th century B.C.)

Some people say they haven't yet found themselves. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.- Thomas Szasz

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Young People

A parade of young people have been entering my gallery and making an impression on me. Most often, their parents have been with them. The Boone Gallery is situated in the heart of Santa Fe, on the historic plaza. Across from my gallery is the city visitor center.

In the last week each day I experienced a memorable event involving youth. First, a woman came in with her little boy who was bursting with happy liveliness. He wore big glasses that seemed might fall from his face at any moment. As he bopped around the room from painting to painting she explained that he was artistically precocious and the family came to Santa Fe from Illinois partly because of all the art to be seen. As I stood next to her she pulled out her smartphone and scrolled through images, finding a photo of one of her son's drawings. It was remarkable for it's detail of an old fort on a hill, with a perfectly drawn American flag on a tall pole, fluttering in a breeze. I was impressed. With pride she said, "That's amazing for a five year old! I mean, the other kids are making stick figures!" By now the boy was next to us and he quickly corrected his mother, "I am six years old!" She smiled, "You were five when you made this." The boy went to the couch and sat down, rocking as he looked around, then jumping up again. I handed him a folding glossy card with images of my paintings. They thanked me and walked away. A few minutes later, the lad ran back to me holding the card. "Mr. Boone, you are the best artist!" Now it was I saying thank you . . .

The next day, a man came in with a boy about the same age as the first, and gently explained that he wanted his son to be able to see an artist working. This lad was much quieter, but very observant. They only stayed a few minutes. The father gratefully thanked me for being open to their intrusion, and they left, the boy wide-eyed and not saying a word.

Then came a father with his teen-aged daughter. He explained that his daughter was interested in art. He observed that my paintings were thick with paint and wondered how I made them. As they stood next to me, I opened my palette box and used my palette knife to mix colors together. The girl stood watching, transfixed. I said, "Most artists use the palette knife to mix colors and get new tones or colors. Then they put it aside to use brushes to apply paint in thin layers. I use the knife to paint." The little lesson lit them up and they walked out satisfied.

Several other stories unfolded. A young woman, 24 years old, came in while my assistant Therese was working. She loved a mixed-media piece called "Tango Passion". It is a rather large photograph of mine from from a tango club in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I printed on canvas and stretched it over stretcher bars. It depicts two dancers in intimate embrace on stage, smoke swirling around them in red lights. She felt it would be great in a home she was moving into soon. She takes tango lessons and explained she worked two jobs and might not be able to afford it. Then she left, promising to be back soon. She never arrived on the day she promised, and I thought it was a missed opportunity. The next day, Therese stopped in for a brief few minutes, and by coincidence at the same time, the young woman returned. She said she wanted to buy the art if she could make payments. I agreed. She said that her mother and grandmother were dancers.

Another day, two young women came in and I was immediately struck by their friendship and that one was white and the other very black. They looked around, obviously just for enjoyment, and one joked, asking did I ever "get stoned" and paint. I responded that I had not used drugs since I was about her age. "Spirit fills me up. I do not need to use anything to get high." She immediately was impressed with the answer and apologized, also saying that the colors and vibrancy might make people wonder what state of mind I had been in when they were created. Then she explained that the two of them were with a church mission that was getting young people off the streets and helping them straighten out. She pointed to a logo on the front of the tee shirts they were wearing. I reached behind my desk and gave them both a copy of my book, A Heart Traced In Sand, Reflections on a Daughter's Struggle for Life. "This is a book I wrote about my daughter who died of cancer when she was nineteen. I used many of her own diary writings." As we talked about tests and sufferings that we must face in life, the black girl looked in my eyes with a big tear falling down her cheek. "Why does life have to be so hard sometimes?" I assured her that though it is hard, there is something in us that can endure even the most severe trials.  "God never abandons us. Tests come to make us stronger." When the girls left, I felt deeply connected and sensed them for a long time afterward. One of them marched by my window later, smiling and lifting my book to wave to me.

Lastly, three generations of a family came in as I was arranging prints in my flat files. The old man was struck by one piece in particular. It's a big reproduction of a photograph called Kashmiri Children. I explained that I was in a Himalayan village in Kashmir, India,  making a landscape painting when many of the young people came around to watch me. I made a painting, but even better, took some remarkable photographs that afternoon, including the one he admired. He introduced himself and his daughter and mentioned they were in town for a family reunion. I showed him a large print of the picture on museum paper that he could buy.  "I want to bring my wife back." He promised to come back that afternoon or the next morning.
They left and I did not see him again so thought it was only a fluke. The next afternoon, the old man's daughter came back. "Did my father return?" I said no. "I want to buy that print for him . . . for Father's Day". Then she looked around and said she hoped he would not walk in while she was with me. "We will keep it a surprise," I said. "If he comes back, I will say it sold." She bought the print and payed to have it shipped to her father's house. "You will be able to enjoy it when you go visit him," I said.

How appropriate the string of youth events includes the sale of an artwork featuring young people.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Expressing Inner Life

Artists are often reluctant to interpret their work when asked. A reason could be that the artwork is like a child and the artist the parent. The parent does not want to interpret the child, but rather have the child speak.

Hand of a Muse, mixed-media on panel, 20 x 16 inches (50 x 40 cm)

Furthermore, often there is great mystery in creating art—and it is not easily put into words. Accidents come into play (that are not accidents at all), and the art seems to breath and have a life of its own. Sometimes I finish a piece and when standing back to look, I catch myself saying, Wow, did I do that?

I have been making three-dimensional art recently and often, hands are included. The one shown here is new. I wanted to use a hand with forearm. It had to be situated so that it expressed itself. I had the thought that it could be dragging colors with fingertips across the white ground. To cover the arm, I had the idea to use pieces of broken mirror. 

As I broke a mirror into bits with a hammer, a piece struck me in my left eye. Ouch! Then I thought, How stupid of me. Why was I not wearing eye protection? Thankfully, I did not need to go to an emergency room and my eye was not cut. That was several days ago and it is still sore. I wonder why my left eye was injured (everything that goes wrong with me or suffers injury is on the left), and I also ask if it was fate that by breaking a mirror, which held my image, I would feel torment? Oh well, as they say, "No pain, no gain."

Now that the art piece is done, I will make an attempt to interpret it:
The white rectangle ground represents purity of space. White contains all the colors. The hand represents human endeavor, and art. It is interacting with the white, bringing forth colors that plays from fingertips. 
Color is vibrant life, like the inner life of an artist. The bits of mirror reflect light and the real world. They are broken in fragments, but recreating to be part of a whole—coming together to be part of the magic artist that is expressing inner life like reflections in a mirror.

As I finished, I decided to pour white over the colors streaming from the fingertips, to soften their notes, and further the mystery of coming forth from an enveloping matrix.

One day I noticed that I could go on working my art motif no matter what the weather might be. I no longer needed the sun, for I took my light everywhere with me. (Georges Braque)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Portal To Another World

One of my favorite subjects to paint and photograph is water. Why? Mostly because it is fluid and reflective. The water molecule is made of 2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen atoms. When they are bound together they form a very flat surface with the oxygen and hydrogen alternating in the same direction. This is great for causing photons (light particle) to bounce off in a consistent direction. They bounce because water is denser than air. Water is much flatter and smoother than most surfaces. You see reflections in water but not, say, sand, for the same reason you see your reflection in a polished piece of steel but not a rough-sanded piece of steel. All materials reflect light to some extent, but a rough surface scatters the reflected rays in all directions, so reflected images are blurred beyond recognition. On the other hand, with a very smooth surface, all the reflected light rays stay arranged in the same way they were arranged before hitting the surface, (except for being flipped into a mirror image, of course).
If the water is flowing rapidly, there is little reflection because the surface is not flat. Usually it picks up some surrounding colors, especially the sky. I have had fabulous outings in autumn, when the blazing fall colors are reflected in rivers.

Last fall I was living in Venice, Italy, the magical city built upon water. Some of my favorite photographs are of reflections. With the slightest movement on the water, the images shift and distort—a portal to another world.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Unseen Hand

An unseen hand is holding my fragile life. I can feel it. A little more than a year ago my beloved father passed away, and then my wife decided to leave too. Before she left, something was prompting me to pray each day, “Oh God, satisfy my needs, redeem my debts, protect me from deceit, and help me to see the truth.” Pretty soon, all my debts had cleared away, and it became apparent that my wife was not devoted to marriage. OK, that hurt and still does, but almost immediately after our separation, abundance began increasing for me in many ways. Despite my heartbreak that re-opened the wound I have of my daughter's death in 1999 at the age of nineteen, and perhaps my father's death too, I could see good happening and it was as if I was attracting it. As if a tender gardener were lovingly revivifying a crushed flower whose stem was broken. I have been aware and thankful of this and been praying at least an hour a day . . . as well as reflecting and writing.

"The Last Drama", oil on linen, 48 x 60 inches

An example of grace relates to something I wrote about last week (See: Rain On The Parade). I am an artist and have no certain income. It fluctuates depending on if my artwork sells. At this time, I do not have a gallery representing me, but sales have been occurring anyway. I had been accepted to participate in an outdoor art festival in Denver, Colorado, and decided to go all out and have two booths rather than one. There were numerous exhibition fees involved, and travel costs including a downtown hotel, etc. but I had a feeling I might do well.

From the start the weather was bad. I mean by the middle of the second day I knew I was finished. My booth was flooded and people were barely coming to the event. The first evening had been clear for a brief period and there had been promise because I had made good contacts but it was all downhill afterward and I considered the whole affair a loss by Saturday evening. I left early Sunday, despite the sky being clear, because the forecast was for more storms and I did not want to be trapped trying to take down my art in the rain. None of the artists were happy about the show, and a few were leaving early like me. I drove one day and arrived back home in Santa Fe, calculating my loss.

But grace had something in store for me, because from a contact the first night, my biggest painting sold through email conversations! I am shipping it back to Denver to a happy couple who will hang it over their fireplace. Grace and the unseen hand.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Time and Space

Sunset at Polihale Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
When I was a little boy, living in my childhood dreamworld of imagination and wonder, life resembled a beneficent sea surrounding me on my blissful island home. I lived in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and I remember that in my contentment of the fullness of space and consciousness, the future seemed far beyond the horizon and out of sight. I did not have sufficient experience of time and space, so I could not project ahead. When I was about six years old, in 1958, I knew that the year 1960 was coming, but it seemed an eternity would have to pass before arriving there. In other words, the distance of two years seemed an eternity.
Fifty three years have passed since 1960 has come and gone, and it could be the blink of an eye. When my wife and I argue about something and perhaps the matter is blown out of proportion, she has taken to philosophy to remedy the emotions. She says, “In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big issue.” I understand the sentiment, and agree immediately that the bigger picture of life holds the solution to everything.