Making the Visual Verbal


Many take the view that pictures should be seen and not heard. I did. After being called to comment on my work time and time again, I realized that learning to comment on my work not only made my work more effective but it also helped me understand my work better and solve certain creative challenges. In fact, I realized that there are many types of writing and many uses for writing. Writing is now an integral part of my creative process from start to finish. Making the Visual Verbal is a useful skill that can benefit everyone, including you. You don’t think you can write? Anyone can finish a sentence. Finishing it well just takes practice. And some kinds of writing don’t need finished sentences. While it’s true there’s only one Shakespeare, we can all write. After all, think of all the great writing (fiction and nonfiction) that’s been written since Shakespeare. Personally, I don’t want to receive love letters written by Shakespeare. I want love letters written to me by my wife.
Here’s a piece I wrote several years ago on scottkelby.com.
Tune in tomorrow for a new piece on scottkelby.com – Developing Personal Projects.
Making the Visual Verbal
“Pictures should be seen and not heard.” “If we could communicate what we want to communicate with words, then we’d be writers not artists.” The words had rained down on me so many times that my mind had been saturated with the idea. While it reflects some truth, chiefly that a text (written or verbal) can never be a substitute for an image, it can also be misleading. Pictures have always been, continue to be, and will always be talked about-particularly by artists.
Growing up in an artistic family, the parade of visitors and people we visited included many types of artists from musicians to sculptors and most frequently photographers. The topics of conversation were far-reaching and colorful. Often there would be complaints about what had been written about their own work, sometimes about what had been written about each other’s work, or ……what had been written about other artist’s work. Then, if they existed, out would come quotes from an artist’s personal writings that were used to illuminate, reinforce or refute varied points of view (Artist’s letters, journals, interviews and statements have always held a special position in the history of art. They have forever shaped the commentary that surrounds work.) Inevitably, the very same artists, who claimed that artists should remain mute, would be lured into giving a lecture or an interview about their work. Artists approach the process of making the visual verbal with mixed feelings; part trepidation, part confirmation, part validation. To be sure, while there are many pitfalls to be avoided, there are many positive byproducts to making the visual verbal.
Writing can illuminate new avenues of inquiry for the viewer and in so doing enrich the entire viewing process, including the subsequent viewing process of future works by other artists. Writing is a process of revelation, It is a process of making thought visible. It is a matter of clarifying a process of thinking. By making what was intuitively sensed visible to the conscious mind, the familiar is clarified and the unfamiliar is brought to light.
Writing about images is inevitable. This kind of writing has always been there. It always will be. Someone, somewhere, sometime will write about your images. You have a great deal to contribute to the process. Along the way, you’re likely to find that writing about your work will be extremely revealing.
Many positive things happen when you engage writing. You will understand your work better. You will be able to communicate more clearly about your work. You will affirm the strengths of your work. You will be able to chart your own artistic development over time. You may even be able to uncover the seeds that will provide future growth in your work.
There are a variety of ways to make the visual verbal. There are artist’s journals, artist’s statements and writing exercises that can be used to get to the core of the inner life of work. There are ways to prepare for interviews; these days many interviews are conducted through writing over the Internet. There are lectures, and writing and rehearsing creates a solid structure for them. Writing can be a tremendous aid to any creative endeavor at any stage in the process …
Read the rest here on scottkelby.com.
Find more tips on writing here.
Read my artist’s statements here.
Read interviews I’ve given here.
Read my conversations with photographers here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Writing Artist's Statements

artistsstatements
It’s important to learn how to make the visual verbal, by crafting artist’s statements. Many artists feel that images are better seen and not heard. I understand their point of view. But, face it, things will be said and written about your images. If you don’t do it, someone else will. You might as well become involved in the process. After all, as the author, this is one arena where your words are definitive.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to write. Just write. Write like you speak. Write with your voice.
Like making images, writing is a process, a process of making thoughts and feelings clearer. Often, you don’t know what shape the final product will take, until you finish.
At first, I resisted writing about my images. Now, I find the process so valuable that I’ve made it a part of my artistic process. Every time a new body of work arises, I write. When I’m ready to release a book of the work, I write again. As a result of writing, I gain a better understanding of the work I did, the work I’m doing, and the work I’m going to do. So do the people who see my images, surprisingly, even if they don’t read what I write.
This is an excerpt from a longer essay Artists’ Statements. Download it here.
Read my artist’s statements here.
Read the text from three recent books here.
Learn more in my Fine Art Digital Printing Workshops.

Use Writing to Help Clarify Your Story

whitesands2
I’m getting ready for my White Sands workshop this coming weekend. Reviewing my sketches and writings from previous trips, I got more ideas. After many trips to White Sands, I thought I knew exactly what I needed to do but now I’m sure there’s more. So I’ll write and sketch more on the way there, while I’m there, and afterward.
If every pictures tells a Story
Writing can help clarify your story.
You can read 8 different types of statements on White Sands in my free PDF.
Find out more about my White Sands workshop here.
Stay tuned for live blog posts during the workshop!

3 Voyages – 3 Kinds of Writing


You can read my writings from three separate voyages to Antarctica.
The first statement was written midway through the trip to help me focus.
The second statement was written at the end of the trip to clarify my practice.
The third statement was written as a daily journal for live blog posts.
Three different trips. Three different kinds of writing. One evolving process.
Writing has helped my creative process. How can writing help yours?
Find out about my exhibit here.
Stay tuned daily for more resources.
Get priority status in my Antarctica 2011 workshop.
Email info@johnpaulcaponigro.com.

Nocturne XII – Color At Night


“They say we can’t see color at night. By comparison to day, I suppose that’s true. However, if there’s a significant amount of light, there are wonderful colors to be found at night.”
I wrote this many years ago. Since then I’ve come across recent scientific research that overturns the notion that we don’t see color at night. While our sensitivity to hue in low levels of light does diminish, we very definitely see it. We see color at night, even in the darkest hours.
Time and time again, throughout the history of art, I’ve seen examples of people calling it like they see it and expressing an underlying truth that science has yet to catch up with. My advice? Look closely. Trust your direct perception over the way you’ve been taught to see or think about seeing. Hold the questions of how it all works answered but open. With an open mind we learn more every day, There’s always more to learn.
See the rest of the statement here.
Read more statements here.

Statement – Small Green Island


Writing about your work can often be a rewarding experience. It can reveal themes that might not be obvious at first glance. When it’s really working there’s as much discovery for the writer and the reader. Here’s an excerpt from a statement I wrote for my book Adobe Photoshop Master Class.
“Photographs are a kind of memory. Photographs are representations of memories. Often we don’t realize how important the memories of their makers are in establishing our relationships to them. Part of their authenticity is derived from the testimony of the witnesses who made them. It’s that testimony that would stand up in a court of law more strongly than the data in the document. Clearly the two are inextricably linked. When a photograph’s maker is gone, what happens to that testimony? How often do we presume too much?
This photograph is a representation of a memory and a feeling. While it is part fact, it is also part fiction. It is only partially objective; it is clearly subjective. Though it may not be as clearly stated in many photographs as it is here, I think most photographs are. The larger metaphor this image portrays — “as above, so below,” once latent now overt — suggests a relationship that cannot be grasped from one vantage point at one moment in time. It can only be found in the comparison of many memories — some above, some below, some by day, some by night.”
Read the rest of the statement here.
Read more of my statements here.

Lecture – Academy of Arts in San Francisco


Tonight from 7-9 in San Francisco at the Academy of Arts, I lecture on my work and creative process with an eye towards advances in technology. The lecture is free and open to the public – sponsored by Canon.
Here’s an excerpt.
I often encounter resistance to new practices in photography. Some say, “You can’t do that.” I reply, “I just did.” They respond, “But that’s cheating.” I counter “Whose game are you playing?”
There’s no such thing as cheating in the creative arts. There is such a thing as misrepresentation. As creators we all share a responsibility to disclose our process so that viewers can react in informed ways. This has never been more true than today, where technology challenges many of the assumptions that were almost too easy to make in the past. This cultural dialog is an important part of understanding where we are today, how we got here, and where we may be going.
Listen to my artist’s statements here.
See my work here.

JPC on thirdeyephotozine.com


Recently Rayhaan Traboulay interviewed me for his online magazine thirdeyephotozine. Here’s an excerpt.
RH I recently had a discussion with a friend about creativity within people. I
find that people either generally “have it” or don’t. I believe that you
can’t really teach it too much. Theres room for improvement and critiques
and so on, but I find it is either innate in someone or it’s not. Would you
agree or no?
JPC I disagree – strongly. To be a successful creative person in any field, it
takes perseverance, intelligence, hard work, skill, talent, and luck – in
that order. Everyone is creative. Different people have different creative
strengths. It helps to find the areas each of us are strongest in and to
develop skills within other areas to become more versatile. Creativity is
not contained to the arts. Some of the most creative people in history and
with us on the planet today work in the fields of science and business. We
all have something to offer. And something to learn from each other.
Do you think you can learn to be more creative? Comment here!
Read the rest of the interview here.
Read more interviews here.
Read and hear my comments on my images here.
Find free PDFs on making artist’s statements here.
Hear my free tips on becoming more creative here.
See my images and get free portable galleries here.