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Laguna to LA : iPhone Photo Journaling

April 12, 2018

Following up my post on abstraction, still on the topic of alternatives art-making :) What about photography? It seems like sketchers often ignore the obvious. Everyone else is mad about photography! But we stubbornly turn away from it. Why is that I wonder?

This past December we brought my parents to California. Which was a big deal – given my stepfather is fully in the grip of dementia.

By the way, I have no advice on flying with intellectually compromised people. Other than don’t try it. He was on the edge of crisis the entire time, and, had we lost control we’d probably have grounded the flight. So – it’s driving trips or none at all from now on.

Anyway, I’m trying very hard not to make this blog all about my dad, even though it kind of takes over your life. Last comment on that for a while, I promise!

The short story here is – there were many times on this trip I’d normally have been sketching – but instead, I was taking pictures with my phone.

After all – it’s right in your pocket, you hardly need to stop walking to take a shot.

I’ve never given much thought to photography as an artistic end-product. You know, as opposed to just taking snapshots for color reference.

I feel like, I have to be doing something creative. Life is too short to go a day without.

If there’s simply no possibility of doing a drawing for ‘reasons’. Well, you have to adapt.

I *should* have been doing simple line drawings – something like [ these ones ]. But we were in California! So much nicer than Montreal in winter! I had my mind locked on [ painting like this ], and thus I only mustered the willpower to take the paints out once on the entire trip. Which is fine. But sometimes, with travel sketching – if you get greedy, you lose out.

I don’t think photography will be a regular thing for me. (?)

Probably not – I mean, I’m so invested in drawing as a lifestyle, I don’t see how I could switch.

But it’s interesting how you can take the same creative energy and put it into a new thing.

If you have no choice.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Rita Cleary permalink
    April 12, 2018 4:41 PM

    Amazing, interesting comments and pictures. I am in the middle of an online masterclass with Annie Liebowitz as the master (can you believe that?). I have always loved taking pictures, but never “nailed” taking them artistically, unless it happened by chance (seldom). I will be trying to now. For sure, it is another facet of creative expression, and fairly tightly connected, wouldn’t you agree? It’s refreshing to read that someone like yourself can only find time to pull out the paints just once, though admittedly, you were there in an extenuating situation. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and pictures. (PS Your artistic eye made the trip!)

  2. April 12, 2018 4:49 PM

    Your photographs are beautiful! My dad had dementia as well, passed away a few years ago. I also cut back on work to spend more time with him and I’m so glad I did. You will never regret this time you have with him, and he will enrich your life in ways you never knew could be possible. God bless you both.

  3. trentbauman permalink
    April 12, 2018 4:55 PM

    I’ve been to Joshua Tree many times. I bring my sketchbook and my wife brings her camera. It is the perfect way to travel

  4. Nancy Mosk permalink
    April 12, 2018 5:39 PM

    Your photographs are stunnning, but please please pick up your watercolor brushes soon!

  5. April 12, 2018 6:22 PM

    Your photos are beautiful. Especially like the second one. It somehow reminded me of one of my favourite painters – Eggert Pétursson.

  6. Barbara Cleveland permalink
    April 12, 2018 6:43 PM

    I love your idea of expanding your sketching mind into photography. What you pick to photo shows how photos can be a sketch. Please feel free to write about your Dad and his dementia as much as you need to as it is a tough scene, but one you will always be glad you could be of assistance to him.

  7. Elly permalink
    April 12, 2018 7:14 PM

    I could relate to this post I just returned from over a month in Australia. I took sketching/painting supplies for journaling mostly because I was in the Sktchy 30 Days challenge. I quickly became friustrated as we are very active and hardly ever stop. Then I realized I could catch up at night from photographic references that my husband would supply. Each day I labeled a page with the date, place and expected activity. Later I would sketch/paint the images. My friend and I appreciate your honest explanation of your thoughts as well as your art.

  8. Erik madsen permalink
    April 12, 2018 7:31 PM

    Very cool, good thoughts….
    Erik Madsen

  9. katzp2014 permalink
    April 12, 2018 8:23 PM

    Great sketches in the California link, Marc – very fresh colors.

    BTW, I love the Escoda travel brushes. They are even top of the list as my ‘go to’ brushes when I work in the studio.

    Also, re abstraction, I am drawn to abstracted images as ones I enjoy hanging in my own home. However, it seems sometimes like a bit of a cop out to create abstracts ­ compared to what¹s required from attempts to be more realistic ­ even if it¹s in an impressionistic way.

    I recently took a short workshop class in using Hi Flow Acrylics. Techniques we were encouraged to use with the hi-flows were pretty abstracted, as well. (See attached). Fun to play with color, but I still have to be able to tell a story about the result.

    Warm Wishes, Patricia

    PS ­ Re caring for your step dad. Keep the faith and all the best.

    Patricia Katz – Pauseworks Studio

  10. Bernadette permalink
    April 12, 2018 9:31 PM

    Great photos, anxious to see your use of them for painting reference. It’s also good that you feel comfortable enough to include your struggles in helping deal with your dad’s dementia. I appreciate you including us in how your father’s struggles have changed your life story. Thank you for your openness.

  11. April 12, 2018 9:56 PM

    A lot of art is showing it to people, knowing they enjoy it, and getting a response. It is a bit hard getting their attention, however, as people can breeze through visuals in split seconds and most people really don’t know how to think about what they see (if they need to think at all). On Facebook, I enjoy long conversations with a professional artist on this and that and consider myself to be exceptionally lucky. Most of the time it’s “gee, that’s great.” SOOOOO I’m putting my creative talents into designing Royal Iced sugar cookies. They are spectacular and they can be eaten, which adds the personal touch. …. During the times I have sketched urbanly, I’m delighted when people are fascinated with me and I often give them my work. I’ve had some very delightful encounters with children when I traveled in Europe! As for photos, I tell people “I hope to see your photos” and they never show them. There is almost no conversation anymore about what people saw and experienced. I saw a popular cartoon called Betty. She and her husband went to Europe (Italy, I believe) for three weeks and during that period, the strip had delightful conversational dialogue. When they got home, no one cared, not her best friend or even child. …. I don’t have a solution to this, if it does, indeed require a solution. In my case, I try to engage things that entertain others. My cookies have been a hit and they are getting better! I just started a personal site called as of a few weeks ago. Tomorrow, I’ll be making cookies which will share some space on it by next Monday. Just say’n . . .

  12. April 12, 2018 9:57 PM

    PS: your photos are exceptionally well-conceived and very interesting!

  13. ink2art permalink
    April 13, 2018 12:34 AM

    Many of us love both art and photography and are constantly torn between camera and sketchbook while traveling. And then of course, – we can always use our photos later to develop into a painting in the studio. if we care to. Your sharing of your difficult life situation as you struggle to find the time and spirit to sketch and paint are an inspiration. and lesson for us all. Your dad is so blessed to have you in his life. Camera or sketches, your work is also an inspiration. Thank you.

  14. Bob Glazauskis permalink
    April 13, 2018 1:29 AM

    I love both. I almost always have a camera near me, be it either my iPhone or my one or both of my higher dollar Nikon SLR’s. I have a 600mm zoom to which comes in handy on wildlife that I may want to sketch or paint at a later date, that I can stand off at distance without spooking the animal or for my own personal safety with keeping a safe distance and I can also stop motion in flight or movement and come up with some unusual compositions for frameable pictures or art on paper with pen & ink or paint. I am not a photoshop fan. So my goal is to try and compose the shot before clicking the shutter with minimal post editing. To me it’s kind of like having the best of both worlds. I have only started the Urban sketching in the last year of two ( which is becoming a new challenge and love)though I have been drawing most of my 60 years. And I have about 4 years of college level art and life drawing classes under my belt.

  15. Judy Sopher permalink
    April 13, 2018 4:44 AM

    Wonderful photographs. I hope to see your work based on them. I use photographs a lot as they are inspiring for my paintings. but no longer try to simply reproduce them in paint. It is a challenge to use them but in your own way. Aside from that, I can only admire you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about your father. I spent a lot of time with my mother who was only moderately senile in comparison. But , as Kathy wrote, those times are precious to me now that she is gone.

  16. Gina Bisaillon permalink
    April 13, 2018 6:29 AM

    Just don’t get hooked – please!

  17. Gerry Draper permalink
    April 13, 2018 1:15 PM

    I have always loved it when photographers take a creative approach to their pictures, and I am so glad to see you have done it, too. I am inspired to try the same with my new camera. Please do not apologize for writing abut your Dad. Just continue to do so because he is a big part of your life and what you are both going through is very stressful right now. In difficult times, I find comfort in reading the Psalms. Blessings to you both.

  18. Marylin Smith permalink
    April 13, 2018 9:20 PM

    Gorgeous photos Marc, but I LOVE your painting…….. I’ll be praying for you during this stressful time with your stepfather….thanks for sharing,,,,,Marylin Smith

  19. joantav permalink
    April 13, 2018 9:36 PM

    In photography as well as painting, you’ve got an eye for the subject and the composition. Once I started sketching all the time I stopped taking photos…but I just got an iPhone X so that may change. I can just imagine what it was like traveling with your dad…definitely not an easy undertaking.

  20. April 13, 2018 11:01 PM

    I think we bring our artist’s eye to whichever medium we use. I recall being on a nature walk with a mix of artists and people just keen on nature. At one point someone said what are you three taking photos of? Because we were taking pics of various textures in the leaf litter and in tree bark. It was just a different perspective. Loved the pic of the building with reflections. Thanks.

  21. kreuzn permalink
    April 14, 2018 4:09 AM

    I think doing what suits in each situation is best. You are an artist after all so why not get your camera (phone) out if that is what feels right in the situation? I myself am a photographer who also loves to sketch from time to time. I have come to accept that sometimes my mind wants to do things other than photography & thats ok. Creating is whats important to me so if I need to sketch or write, then thats what I’ll do.

  22. April 14, 2018 11:50 AM

    Thanks so much for this. I needed the reminder, and the push – to get back to taking photographs. I’m no photographer! But taking photos and sketching both do quite different things for me, and for quite some time I’ve been telling myself (for some reason) that I should always be sketching and not rambling quietly about happily looking at things in a different way with my phone in hand. This has been really helpful – and needless to say, it’s no surprise that your photos are gorgeous.

  23. April 14, 2018 12:38 PM

    Don’t worry about this becoming a blog about your dad. When I was in the throes of it with my own father, I found him in my thoughts all the time. Painting became a way of navigating those waters too. It’s one of the things art can do for us. Of course concerns for him take over your life—and it’s good for those who haven’t experienced it to become a little acquainted with it—and it’s good for those of us who have been through it or are in the midst of it to know of it in someone else. Meanwhile, paint and create in accordance with the life you are living. Thanks, Marc.

  24. May 15, 2018 12:46 PM

    Don’t worry about this becoming a blog about your Dad – Life always seems to come in the way of our plans! But you won’t regret it and I am always happy to visit your blog –its inspiring everytime! — I spent about 4 months at a time each year in India taking care of my mother-in-law for 4+ years away from the rest of my family. It was quite stressful but also gave me a chance to grow as a person and artist :)


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