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Solo

Solo

Painting with Light, 2002

I’d figured out the technique in advance. I had to. I had a deadline. I knew what I was up to. I wanted to make exposures of the same subject from the same angle just before sunrise, at sunrise, and after sunrise. That way, I could weave together dramatically different lighting situations and light temperatures. I simply had to find a composition that would support it.

But, light caught me by surprise — again. I went to catch the early morning light. The morning looked like it would be clear when I left my house before dawn. All was proceeding according to plan. When I arrived I found a bank of clouds on the horizon that held the sunrise back for quite some time. Pick your favorite cliché about plans; Any one would have been appropriate. By the time the sun cleared the clouds, it offered a significantly different quality of light. Then up came more clouds. I watched the light wink in and out from behind them. The change from one moment to another was dramatic. Bright sun. Shadow. And, to my surprise, there was a beautiful quality of diffuse light when the sun was struck by the edges of each cloud. Some clouds were thicker than others. Every moment was different. I started to interact with the light. I used a white sheet as a diffuser, a large piece of foam core as a cool reflector, and a warm gold reflector. I played for hours, simply enjoying the light. I intended to come back with three exposures. I came back with dozens. In the end, I used two. But my understanding of light and my experience of light had completely changed from that moment forward. And, what I thought might be an isolated image turned out to be a whole series of images. Process is important when it informs the work; it becomes a part of the final product. Process is even more important when it informs you; it becomes a part of you. Fully engaging the process and the subject changed me. That changes the image. That changes what you see. That’s the chance we take as artists. We dare to be changed. It’s a chance well worth taking.

Solo I is about numbers. There must be some irony in that fact that at its most basic level it has been reduced to numbers — ones and zeroes. Those numbers generate other numbers, which are translated by yet more numbers, which in turn become colors. But that’s not what I mean exactly. This image is about numbers on a much more fundamental level — psychologically. It’s about “one.” One is a powerful number. It represents beginnings, individuality, single-mindedness, and unity. It can also represent isolation.  The focus on and isolation of this one stone is completely subjective. Frame a different stone. Bathe them all in the spotlight. You could take a thousand other viewpoints.  Every one would be valid. Experience is what happens to us.  Our experience is what we make of what happens to us.