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Artistic Origins

January 10, 2022

I’m fascinated with the origins of artistic expression. From the earliest forms that we see in petroglyphs on cave walls to the first photograph taken in 1826, both were an attempt to record the ‘moment’ or circumstance for posterity. Not only were these early achievements intended to document an event, but also to create a lasting, visual communication that could be shared through the years and ultimately across the world. In another sense, the artist was wanting to be ‘heard’, so to speak, and a visual drawing or photograph was a way to make an impact on the viewer and share a message that lasts. Think of the drawings on cave walls as a message board, in a sense, that has lasted for thousands of years.

(Left: The Chavet Cave Drawing from the Paleolithic Age. Red dot drawing thought to be a Mammoth. Image courtesy of Bradshaw Foundation)
(Right: The Altamira Caves in Spain, the Old Stone Age. Image courtesy of

Locally, there are petroglyphs in 9 Mile Canyon, Utah that are both obvious and bizarre. On a trip there several years ago, I would stare at them wondering what these early people were hoping to communicate or record, and what prompted them to do so. It’s this wonderment that causes me to believe that artistic expression is innately within each of us. The creation of art and our interpretation of it is as unique as our individual thumbprints. 

(Left: Medicine Man by Look Studio, harkening to and inspired by the early cave drawings)
(Right: Petroglyphs in 9 Mile Canyon, UT)

Through the years, artistic expression was required to record battles, family legacies, history, religions, love, and life. Over time we came to realize that the artist is in control of the expression of reality. It may or may not be accurately depicted. Whether beautiful or bloody, the canvas or wood or stone is the interpretation of the person who is creating the artwork.

The advent of photography gave us a means of recording “exact” reality at that moment in time. And yet today as all artistic expression has flirted with the abstract, even some photography has become less realistic. The approach I take with abstract photography is to record a sliver of reality, whether it is an old piece of wood or metal and present a suggestion of graphic interest that allows the observer to wonder and to dream. 

(Left: I love the watery abstract beauty of this first photograph of the moon. Image courtesy of MyModernMet.)
(Right: A current photograph of mine, Lioness Moon, also has a watery illusiveness.)

The recording of life is omnipresent today with verbal storytelling, text, photographs, video and art. And, it’s as easy as picking up your phone and pressing a button. Each of us can use our innate ability to make our impression and share it with the world. The creation of art validates who we are, where we’ve been and what’s important to us.

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