How the pandemic impacted my artwork

I have long been a photographer who shoots colorful images without much concern about a subjects surroundings, other than litter, telephone lines or other naturally distracting elements.  But since the pandemic started, Shelly and I decided to do quite a bit of travel (New England and the Pacific Northwest were the big ones).  We flew from coast to coast, drove thousands of miles and we walked hundreds more.  Neither of us contracted Covid-19, not by stroke of luck but by avoiding people and wearing a mask while in public.

We found ourselves alone on "Secret Beach" in Oregon; at Bass Harbor Lighthouse and on Clearwater Beach in Florida.  And while some National Parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone were exploding with visitors in 2021, we visited 5 national parks without waiting in any lines or being exposed to any crowds.  In fact, there were times when we couldn't understand where everyone was!  When we visited North Cascades, we drove many miles without seeing any other cars or people and it was such an elating feeling, I started to realize something about myself.  I am way more introverted than I previously new.  I keep hearing the phrase, mostly at work, "can't wait to get 'back to normal'" but I have to say -- I am not interested in getting "back to normal" and actually that sounds like the least progressive phrase a workplace could use.  It's like "let's do things the way we used to, because we just can't innovate."

Now that vaccines are widely available (I'm fully vaccinated) and we all may soon be getting "back to normal", I find myself desperately longing for the times we've shared alone and that's where my photography took an unexpected turn.  I am newly drawn to minimalist photos which remind me of those times and how possible they are.  The photos usually involve some amount of dead space; blended horizons; abstract imagery; and are oftentimes in black and white. Some say the appeal of minimalist photography is the sense of calm it may invoke, maybe because it stokes ones imagination or is in such contrast from our busy daily lives.  Is it really a vacation at the beach if it's as crowded and loud as it is in your daily life?  Because some inquisitiveness may be felt when you look at these photos, I won't reveal every detail about them.  It is important to wonder; to imagine.  I will reveal, however, that in the image below Shelly and I were alone completely.  We were walking in the wet and muddy banks of a "luxury RV campground" on the coast of Oregon, a site we discovered from an overpass and pulled in to get a closer look.  It was quiet, but for our footsteps on broken shells and a boat or two in the distance.  We were able to take our time and explore.  It felt very good. I recognize that some of my photos will be confusing to some of my friends and customers.  A blended horizon may be misinterpreted as fog.  This, however, is fine-art.

I am showing some of these new "minimalist" images to the public and will be overturning our event booth when we take part in Indie Craft Parade in September of this year.  For the first time, we will shed our familiar colorful HDR imagery for this new minimalist set of images.  We'll also be changing our walls from Flourish Mesh Panels to dark grey Pro Panels and much of our work will be on metal instead of canvas or resins.  I don't know if this change is permanent or temporary but I have to do what I am passionate about, even if it is not in alignment with my past work, even if there are consequences.  Indie Craft Parade, at least among the artists I am close to, is notoriously difficult to get accepted into and it is this new set of minimalist images that I submitted to the jury last month so I must be doing something right!

If you would like to see, or purchase any of the new images, they are on the front page of our site as of this writing or you can do a search for "minimalist" in the search bar.  

Raise your glass to the future, to the new normal!

- Joe

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