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State The Nature Of The Influence Simply


It helps you to both better understand and to more effectively communicate the nature of your influences if you take the time to state it simply. Usually, this doesn’t just happen instantly. First, it takes identifying who or what the influence is. Next, it takes a series of thoughts and associations. Then, it takes a little organization. Finally, it takes a little editing; cutting the words that aren’t quite right and searching for the ones that are.
Very often the connections between ideas and feelings and their progressions aren’t clear until you start organizing them. Finding these insights is the biggest benefit of taking time to reflect on your influences. (To do this, nothing helps me more than writing. Often, it’s not the kind of writing that I might share publicly; sometimes notes, outlines, and unfinished sentences are more effective. The goal of this kind of writing is discovery and clarity not publication.)
When you’re exploring your influences ask yourself questions. Questions guide explorations away from unprofitable areas and into useful territories. Questions reenergize and sustain processes of discovery. Ask yourself a few of these questions. What is the root of the influence? Is it physical? Is it intellectual? Is it emotional? If it’s many things at once, what is and what is the relative weight of each of those things? Does one influence share elements or qualities with other influences?
Try to state the nature of an influence in one sentence.
And try to state the nature of an influence in one phrase or one word.
Simplicity has many advantages. For instance, simple things are easier to remember and easier to share. Never confuse simple-mindedness with simplicity. Simplicity often represents the height of sophistication, arrived at only after some if not considerable effort and practice. If you can present a complex subject in a simple way without sacrificing essential content, you truly understand it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why simple solutions are so elegant.
At first it might seem strange to generate a lot of information only to boil it down to a little but if you try it you’ll find that the insights you’re left with will be extremely concentrated. Writers, musicians, and photographers all do this at one or more points in their creative process. Try it when you consider your influences. You’ll understand them better – and your own works too.
Here’s a simple distillation of one of my influences stated in one sentence and one word.
Joel Peter Witkin explores taboo, which sensationally gives a rise that quickly fades, and darkness (not necessarily evil), which disturbs and awakens indefinitely.
Shock
Read Why Tracking Your Influences Is So Important here.
Read Ranking Your Influences here.
Find out more about my influences here.









 

Rank Your Influences


You can learn more about your influences by identifying their relative strengths. This quick exercise will not only help you understand how different works influence you but also begin to reveal why the influence you. It’s time well spent.
Make a ranked sorted list of your influences. Start by listing your influences, in any order that they come to mind. Then, arrange them, placing the strongest influence at the top of your list, the next strongest influences below it, and so on until the end of your list.
While some choices will come easily, others won’t. To help you make these choices, assign a number to each item on your list to determine its rank. (Use a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest.) Then arrange the items on your list from the highest number to the lowest. After you see the results, you may need to adjust your list by reranking/moving specific items.
It’s highly likely that you’ll find different artist’s work are influential to you for different reasons. Identifying how these works are influential to you can help you understand them even better. Rank each item on your list numerically based on three criteria – content (the ideas behind the work), form (style or how the work looks), and feeling (the strength of your emotional reactions to the work) – assigning a number from 1-10 for each criteria. At the same time, you can also create a cumulative or average score for each item. Now you’ll have four ways to sort your list or four new ways to compare and contrast your influences.
You may find patterns in the data that you’ve created that reveal something that wasn’t obvious before. You may find that a particular influence is significantly stronger in one criteria than the others; you like this artist’s work because of their … You may even find that a majority of your influences influence you more in one criteria than the others; you like artists who emphasize … The act of assigning numbers will encourage you to make distinctions in degree and quality that it’s very likely you hadn’t made before.
It’s quite likely that your ranked/sorted list of influences won’t be 100% accurate. By using criteria you become a little more objective. But influence isn’t entirely objective. Some things, sometimes very personal things, influence you more than others, sometimes for very personal reasons. So, fine-tune your list – intuitively. Trust your instincts. While you do, ask yourself why you’re making the moves you make and you’ll gain even more insights.
While numbers offer valuable information that can lead to genuine insights, numbers alone don’t tell your full story. For this, a little more soul searching is needed. But if you do this exercise you’ll have started off on your journey of self-discovery better informed and with a clearer direction.
Here’s a ranked/sorted list of of my photographic influences.

Two names on the list have been adjusted down, asking valuable questions.


A general trend of an interest in relationships between man and nature drives this list.

Read Why Tracking Your Influences Is So Important here.
Find out more about my influences here.

Exhibit – Maine / Process & Place – 8/4-5


In an inspiring dual exhibit Maine / Process & Place, John Paul Caponigro collects images drawn from over 23 years of living in Maine and offers a rare look into his unique creative process.
Place displays works made of the natural wonders of Maine; from Acadia National Park to Monhegan Island, from Rockland to Pemaquid Point, from Schoodic Peninsula to Popham Beach. You’re sure to recognize many of your favorite places, though you may never have seen them like this – through the eyes of this unique artist in his signature style.
Process displays many aspects of the artist’s creative process – drawing, painting, photography, Photoshop, iphoneography, writing and more. John Paul shows how each discipline contributes to the completion of his finished works of art. This exhibit reveals that the creative process is a never-ending journey of discovery that offers many insights along the way and that an artist’s creations are and come out of far more than the
activities in their primary medium. How artist’s get there is just as important as where they arrive.
Process, a new catalog that accompanies the exhibit, shows many more works than can be displayed and shares the personal insights of the artist. Preview it online at johnpaulcaponigro.com.
The exhibit John Paul Caponigro’s Maine / Process & Place is a rare opportunity to view this internationally acclaimed artist’s work presented in his own private studio / gallery.
The exhibit is open to the public for one weekend only – August 4th and 5th from 10 am to 5 pm with artist’s talks at 2 pm.
Come enjoy prints, books, web galleries, performances and conversations with the artist during this very special event.
For more information including directions, previews, reviews, statements, audio, video, and press kit visit www.johnpaulcaponigro.com or email info@johnpaulcaponigro.com.

Green Actions – Use Natural Pesticides on Pets


Be more green!
You can make a difference today!
Make many small changes to make one big change!
And you’ll save a lot!
Take action now!
Here’s one idea.
Use Natural Pesticides on your Pets! 
The warm sultry days of summer are now upon us in the northern hemisphere.  Known as the “Dog Days of Summer” for astrological reasons I have always felt these long lazy days, are perfect for taking my dog out for a extended hike.  He loves the exercise and play time and I enjoy the relaxing down time outside with him.
Most of us here in the studio are dog owners.  Some of us even own more than one of these furry little ones, and all of us own a cat or two.  Across the board our pets are important to us.  The down side is when we go out and enjoy the great outdoors with them, they often bring back a pest or two.
Fleas and ticks are pervasive this time of year. They thrive in warm, moist environments and climates. Their main food is blood from the host animal which include dogs and cats and their human friends. Fleas and ticks primarily utilize mammalian hosts (about 95%).  An interesting fact is that it’s the flea saliva which contains an ingredient that softens, or “digests” the host’s skin for easier penetration and feeding that is irritating and allergenic, and the cause of all the itching, scratching, and other signs seen with Flea Allergy Dermatitis, or FAD.  Ticks also spread their diseases through their saliva, leaving a dark black patch of dead tissue on their host.
The adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day or 500-600 eggs over several months. Fleas can, in rare cases, carry disease. Also, if ingested they can cause tapeworm. The flea has been found to carry the plague and murine typhus to humans.
In some areas Deer Tick population has been found to exceed more than 10,000 ticks per acre.  In some areas, as many as 90% of the ticks are carrying the Lyme bacteria.  And, Lyme Disease is not the only infection that can be spread by these ticks.  Babesios, Ehrlichiosis and some viral infections have also been found in Deer Ticks.
So how do we protect our pets and ourselves from these pests in a healthy way?
Yes, we can use many of the ointments available from our vets and pet stores.  Most of these contain hazardous and harmful chemicals such as tetrachlorvinphos, carbaryl and propoxur as active ingredients.  These chemicals however are dangerous to use on pets and humans and dangerous to the environment as well.  The EPA has classified each of these ingredients as either a “likely” or “probable human carcinogen”.
The good news is that there are several effective and natural alternatives to the chemical pesticide approach.
Cedar Oil is one.  We all know that cedar repels moths.  The cedar oil aroma actually repels and kills most insects by causing a respiratory blockage and suffocation.  The EPA feels there is no human environmental risk posed by cedar oil making this what is commonly referred to as a mechanical pesticide.  Diluted cedar oil products are available in spray on form for cats and dogs.  On humans cedar oil is also effective on repelling mosquitoes.
Another mechanical pesticide that is gaining popularity in the pet world is Diatomaceous Earth.   Pure food grade (not Pool Grade!!) Diatomaceous Earth is the powder like fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton and is almost pure silica.  Under a microscope Diatomaceous Earth looks like shards of glass.  Sprinkle a bit of DI over your pets dry coat and your pet within a few hours your pet will be at peace with himself.  Do your best not to breathe DI in, or have you pet breath it.  Remember it only works well when it is dry power, it is the mechanical rubbing of the insects body against the sharp dry silica that kills the pest.   For humans this product is harmless, in fact we eat it.  Diatomaceous Earth is added to grain based foods to keep bugs from infesting our food stock.
So get outside and enjoy a long walk with your pet and have a wonderful pest free summer!
Find more resources that will help you take action now here.
Find environmental organizations to support here.

New Book – Process

My new book Process details the many aspects of my creative process.
I hope you’ll find it to be useful as well as interesting.
“An artist’s creations come out of far more than the activities in their primary medium. How artist’s get there is, perhaps, just as important as where they arrive. This is the creative process rather than the creative product. That’s what this book is about.
John Paul Caponigro details many aspects of his creative process – color, composition, drawing, iphoneography, writing and more. He shows how each discipline and different modes of operating with them contribute to the completion of finished works of art. The resulting synergy is stimulating, enriching, and enlivening. Instead of a technical book that shows you how to write, draw, and photograph, this books shows you how seemingly separate disciplines and creations combine dynamically to form a single creative process that results in a life’s work.
Above all, this book reveals that the creative process is a process of exploration, a journey of discovery that offers many insights along the way and never ends. You’ll be inspired to try these activities yourself, practicing them in your own ways for your own purposes, as you progress on your own creative journey.”
Preview Process here.
Preview all of my books here.

Literally Abstract – Aaron Siskind


If he wasn’t the first, Aaron Siskind was certainly the preeminent abstract expressionist photographer. The abstract details he presents as new hyper-flat surfaces stand independent of their original subjects.
Abstraction in non-representational art celebrated in the modernist movement early 20th century has taken many forms; Kandinsky’s expressionism, Piccasso’s Cubism, Malevich’s a Constructivism, Stella’s Minimalism, Vasarely’s Op Art, etc) While photography quickly became the gold-standard of realism and consequently it took it longer than painting to embrace abstraction. (It’s arguable that the invention of photography forced painting to embrace abstraction.) Siskind’s images helped establish photography’s credibility as an abstract art.
But what kind of abstraction is Siskind’s abstraction? And what is the function of abstraction in Siskind’s work? Coming late to the game his work aggregates many previous sensibilities and ideas.
Like so many modernist’s he emphasized that what he made was not a representation of something else but “the thing itself” – an idea that has metamorphosed chimera-like since the Greeks and been repurposed by nonrepresentational artists and realists alike. But, while most modernists took pains to avoid including elements that suggest figurative images, Siskind’s images are peppered with them and because of their photographic nature they always reference something else, no matter how covertly. Like Jackson Pollock, Siskind prized directness and immediacy of expression but the personal authenticity derived from this becomes ironic given the essentially appropriative nature of photography. Like Franz Kline, Siskind’s images are riddled with poetic gesture, but none of the gestures in his images are made by hand or by him. Like Wassily Kandinsky, Siskind drew an analogy between his images and musical scores or performances, never mind that he worked without color or purely with tone.
Siskind’s abstraction defies resolution. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Siskind’s abstraction is that so many forms of abstraction and the ideas behind them coalesce into a single arena, the photographic frame.
Siskind’s work fascinated me instantly because in representing so little it demonstrated so much. A literal recording can be supremely abstract. Sometimes a photograph looks nothing like the thing photographed. To photograph is to transform. (And there are many ways to bring about transformation and many kinds of transformations.) A photograph is never the thing it represents and never just a photograph.
Find out more about my influences here.







 

Manufactured Landscapes – Edward Burtynsky


Edward Burtynsky’s photographs deftly weave together aspects of a well-researched documentary expose and a beautifully constructed formal artistic statement, but it’s unclear which is more dominant, or if they’re something else entirely.
Burtynsky let’s the things he photographs speak for themselves. Yet he photographs specific kinds of things, related things; oil fields, mines, railways, highways, manufacturing plants, dumps and salvage yards, etc. More than the specific things he photographs it may be these relationships that he’s ultimately photographing. And like the effects of the global industrial complex his work has a cumulative effect.
Despite the restrained yet shocking quality of his images, Burtynsky claims not to be critical of industry and presents himself simply as a witness to the monumental changes man makes to land. At first his stance seems simple but the more one considers it the more complex it becomes, almost to the point of becoming enigmatic.
“I’d say, actually, that I’ve been careful not to frame the work in an activist or political kind of way. That would be too restrictive in terms of how the work can be used in society and how it can be interpreted. I see the work as being a bit like a Rorschach test. If you see an oil field and you see industrial heroism, then perhaps you’re some kind of entrepreneur in the oil business and you’re thinking, “That’s great! That’s money being made there!” But, if you’re somebody from Greenpeace or whatever, you’re going to see it very differently. Humans can really reveal themselves through what they choose to see as the most important or meaningful detail in an image.”
It might be easier to draw a clear line between us (the consumers) and them (the manufacturers), but Burtynsky doesn’t, because there isn’t one. Because of his approach, his work is richer, more layered, more nuanced and perhaps more relevant. Perhaps.
It can be tempting to think of advocacy for a cause as a matter of making a social statement for one thing and against another. But the issues and the approaches needed are much more complex. I appreciate that Burtynsky doesn’t take a simplistic cliched antagonistic stance towards industry. There can be no ecological solution without a related economic solution. I relate to his emphasis of a Rorschach-like quality of seeing, which involves and in the best of cases encourages self-reflection. Individual responsibility/action and connection/interaction is highlighted. Since I was a young man I’ve felt the standard ways of using photography for environmental advocacy, though they fulfill an important function, were not effective enough on their own and that new approaches are needed. Burtynsky offers one alternative and encourages me to think of others.
View Edward Burtynsky’s TED talk here.
Find out more about my influences here.










Read More

BBC's Explorations – Vision & Photography – Parts 1-4





This is a great series on how photography changes the ways we see!
“In Vision & Photography BBC’s Explorations charts the advances in science and technology that have revealed hidden worlds and astonishing images. Well see how remarkable innovations in medicine, photography and astronomy have enhanced and altered our understanding. This is the story of how Mankind is driven to acquire these seemingly impossible visions; it is a journey through the images that have revolutionised how we understand our world.”

Vision & Photography – BBC Explorations – Part 3


“So much of our world is invisible to us. Its secrets locked in time and space. But alter that time and space and the once invisible world suddenly becomes visible. ??Using a fast flashing artificial light or a strobe light, its possible to freeze minute moments of time, and even the fastest moving objects. ??One of the pioneers in the use of strobe lighting in photography was Professor Harold Edgerton. Developing the technology to look at our world in different and startling ways has been one of the greatest achievements of human endeavour. The latest development in photography is also one of the most amazing. Its called Time Slice. ??Time slice, invented by Tim Macmillan, freezes a single moment in time and lets us view it in three dimensions.”