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“Great art picks up where nature ends.” – Marc Chagall

August 3, 2021

This intriguing quote by Chagall immediately makes me think of one of my inspiration artists, Georgia O’Keefe and her famous paintings of nature. I was fortunate enough to see Sky Above Clouds IV at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1980’s. It’s size and dimension were breath-taking.

Sky Above the Clouds IV, Georgie O'Keefe 1965

The way she plucked the essence of clouds and placed them in a pool of blue against the fading light of the horizon left me in awe. It gave me comfort that I was not the only one who viewed the world differently. I felt I had met a cohort, a friend, someone who understood and saw the world as I wanted to. A world, minus the clutter, in an abstraction of simplicity and beauty.

Although I’ve attempted photographing flowers, antlers and more in hopes of creating some essence of O’Keefe’s work, I haven’t come close yet. However, perhaps you can appreciate some of her influence in Star Bright.

Star Bright, Look Studio 2019

For more information about Sky Above the Clouds IV, visit the Art Institute of Chicago

And to learn more about Star Bright please check out my blog: Star Bright - A Look Behind the Scenes.


We the People

July 1, 2021

In honor of those who came before us:

Sounds of Souls 

The music of the native flute carries the souls of our ancestors to the beginning of time. Like the curl of smoke as it disappears into the sky, the flute carries the burden of war, the pain of slaughter, the cries of the hurt and the sick, and gently delivers it home where it is healed and made right in the journey of the universe. Healer of hearts, healer of despair, the music of our ancestors is the music of our souls finding each other and tapping into the power we call God.

~ Gayle Waterman ~

New Transformations in the Abstract

June 14, 2021

Many of you know that I live in a 200-year-old barn. With that comes an appreciation for repurposed and reused materials. Perhaps you didn’t know that that same appreciation is at the heart of my abstract photography. Look Studio originated, at least partially, from the desire to honor and celebrate the humble craftsperson and his or her work, whether an old painted bench, Suspended, or a metal step stool, Still Life

(Left: Suspended, © 2011 Look Studio, Subject: Painted wood bench | Right: Still Life, © 2012 Look Studio, Subject: Metal step stool)

I look at every modest object with an interested eye and find value in repurposing these often utilitarian items into thought provoking artwork through abstract representation.

When I saw John Chamberlain’s exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York many years ago, his use of old automobile parts to create massive, artistic sculptures made a significant impression on me.  At that time especially, people thought ruined car parts belonged at the junk yard. Chamberlain, though, had a vision. He transformed those auto scraps into impressive works of art.

(Photo credit: Art in New York City (left); Rosenbaum Contemporary (right))

Somewhere in the back of my mind his reinterpretation of the obvious into the extraordinary was one more catalyst that fueled my own, similar ideas.

(Photo credit: afasiaarq)

Chamberlain’s sculptures fascinate because they convey the strength and malleability of metal while capturing the viewer’s senses with bold palettes and cool shiny surfaces. These and other characteristics that can be elicited from metal are what drew me to the old Shell station sign I photographed to create Crossroads.  

(Left: Old Shell station sign; Right: Crossroads, © 2021 Look Studio)

Looking through my camera viewfinder, I was immediately drawn to the silver steel shining out from under a weather-beaten surface and fragmented paint. The intersection of lines exploded as my focal point and this tired, rusty sign found new life and meaning as abstract art.
Circling back to the Guggenheim, if you are in New York, it is a must! I am a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and the grand, yet intimate space of the museum provides a wonderful setting to experience and contemplate art. Having the opportunity to view art in such a venue so easily creates lasting experiences and memories. Chamberlain’s work is just one of many memories of exhibits I’ve enjoyed at museums throughout my life.  

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Does art make the room or does the room make the art?

May 4, 2021

One of the most satisfying aspects of my abstract photography is seeing the transformation of my work in a home setting.  A special example of this is Mabel’s Watercolor, a custom piece, which was installed at a very large scale: 9 feet wide by 6 feet high. It fills the room with color and is a wonderful memory of a dear friend who, along with his wife, had the vision to “go large”, just as he lived life.

Another transformation occurs with, Finding Gibraltar.  This is a powerful image that looks completely at home in a variety of settings, including the one below.  Finding Gibraltar was inspired by two girlfriends who fought cancer, one who is still with us and one who is not.  To me this work represents the strength of women now and throughout history, with their ability to dig deep, to endure, to love, to give and to survive.  There is a hint of the feminine in this abstract piece and the room handles that, and its strength, with grace.

Another image taken from the same object from which Finding Gibraltar was discovered is Genesis, from my Nebulae Series.

Inspired by an astronomical nebula, the series name and aesthetic conjure images of interstellar clouds of gas and dust sometimes visible in the night sky as indistinct bright patches or dark silhouettes. Genesis is simple and calm and I love how, above this bed, it resembles a mysterious evening sky making one want to curl up and dream of the heavens above.

As for our original question, “Does art make the room or does the room make the art?”, it is most definitely both. The right setting, lighting and a room’s color scheme can accentuate a piece of art, while art itself can provide a needed focal point, draw one into a room, create a mood, and become the highlight of conversation. One thing is certain, the artwork each of us selects can reveal an aspect of who we are and what we want to express.

Are you curious where Finding Gibraltar and Genesis came from? One of the things I’ve learned through macro photography is that the subject matter doesn’t always need to be pretty or attractive to create an intriguing image. Even things like this small, black tray damaged with water stains creates interest. It’s the adventure of taking an item out of context and presenting it in a new light that motivates me to keep clicking the shutter. Using this as a metaphor in life experiences, it reminds me that everything and everyone around us has value even if we can’t see it at that particular moment. In the right light, there’s a wonderful discovery to be made.

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Toes in the Sand

March 26, 2021

Like many people I am fascinated with watching the waves in the ocean as they come racing toward the shore and then quickly retreat into the shades of blue that get deeper as the ocean reaches the horizon. The motion is mesmerizing. This wind-based tidal movement combined with gravitational pull creates the waves that speak so clearly to the rhythms of life.

As an extension of influences from the wind, it’s seems natural to be intrigued with the patterns that the wind creates in the sand and snow. These patterns have influenced me since a was a young girl playing in Monahans Sandhills State Park in West Texas.

Patterns in the sand, or snow, represent the self-organizational aspect of classic physics in our world atop planet earth.  There is something about these patterns that provide comfort and reinforcement, not to mention beauty, in the marvelous connections that bond us.

There are many great nature photographers who have captured the sun on the crest of a sand dune in combination with the dramatic shadows in its wake. Ansel Adams captures this beautifully in his work: Sand Dunes, Sunrise, Death Valley National Monument, 1948.

I’m always inspired to capture the beauty of the sand, shadows and sky with my camera, as I did in this image of the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

As the days get longer and warmer, I can’t help but long for the sound of the ocean, watching the rhythm of the waves, breathing in the salt air and having my toes in the sand. Even though nature ultimately inspired this image, I had to laugh when I looked at the bottom of my flip flops one day and saw the pattern of waves in the sand. I couldn’t wait to create Toes in the Sand. Thanks to Reef for inspiring the vision of beauty and longing for the ocean.

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