Thursday, January 22, 2009


Here is an interesting article from Brooke Castillo, Brooke is a mind-changer, a thought-provoker, a coach and an encourager. Drop by this link for some great reads! "Michelangelo" is only one of them!
"For those of you who don't know, I am homeschooling my son, Connor, this year. It is actually very good for me to retake third grade. I missed most of it the first time.Today I learned something that blew my mind: Michelangelo hated painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Hated it.If I had been his coach, I would have asked him why.He would have told me that his boss was a tyrant and that he didn't see himself as a painter-he believed he was a sculptor. He would have told me he missed his family in Florence and that the pay was inconsistent.Then, as his coach, I might have asked him why he didn't quit.I know.I am so glad I wasn't his coach.The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one of the most inspired and beautiful things I have ever seen. How could he have hated doing it? How could he have spent four years making something so amazing and not enjoyed it?It makes me wonder. . . What if he had followed his "North Star" and not done the thing he hated?I cringe at the thought. And then I wonder...What might he have created (and loved creating) in those four years instead?Or was the Sistine Chapel his North Star and he just didn't realize it at the time?I don't have the answers.But it does make me think about my own life, and if I have a small verison of my own Sistine Chapel that I might hate doing but I am meant to do it because of all the joy and inspiration it might give to others. Did he love it when it was done? Was it worth it to him?I know it was to me."

Friday, January 16, 2009


The next meeting of the Rio Rancho Art Association is February 2, 2009 at 6:30pm. We will meet at the Destiny Center, 4401 Northern Blvd. NE, in Rio Rancho.

The presentation will be given by Jeff Potter, an artist who lives in the beautiful village of Alameda, NM. Jeff works in oils, watercolor and pastels. His work consists of representational images of landscapes, primarily of New Mexico and the Southwest. He has mastered the colors, depth, light and atmosphere we in New Mexico have come to love as our own.

Jeff has a wonderful website at that is chock full of interesting links that are so much fun to explore! Jeff has received numerous awards in a variety of media. He has done many commissions, and his work hangs in many private and public collections throughout the country.

Jeff is represented by Art Gallery 66 ( in Bernalillo, NM., and also at the Chumani Gallery ( located in Madrid, NM.

Don't miss this great program coming up in February! The public is welcome!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What kind of Camera did you use?

Well I am sure many of you get the same questions I do, "What kind of camera did you take that picture with?" I know this has been debated on the net since the beginning of the net but I just had to revisit it. There are many views that the camera does not matter, it is the photographer and their vision. The other side of this debate is that the camera does matter as it influences the outcome and many would say in very fundamental ways. More so today this is true than in the days of film when only the lens and the film really mattered.

I am firmly in the camp that the camera is a distant second in making the image. Sure the right camera can make getting the image easier and less work on the photographer but it still takes the person controlling it to make it come together. Even in the days of film and darkrooms the print was always manipulated in ways to achieve the photographers vision and so the work only just starts in the camera. Just because it is digital nothing has changed, images always need
work out of the camera to achieve the desired look. If you are really in doubt I would suggest reading Ansel Adam's book's "The Print" and "The Negative" where he goes through the zone method he used to create his famous images and all the manipulations it took to create the final image.

I thought it illustrative to show the image that inspired this post. The first pictur
e is a scene from the pacific north west, lush green and showing new life coming from the old. The web is not capable of showing the full depth of color and range from this image that the print can. It still works to show the end point though.

The second image was the starting point. S
traight out of the camera converted in Adobe camera raw: dark and flat. The third with changes for color and tone but it still does not have the final openness and luminosity desired. Finally the last image was processed through a single image HDR work flow after the color and tone was set, opening the mid tones and creating the desired image which gives the same impression as being there that the camera did not capture.

1) Out of the Camera 2)Tone, color and shadows

A second example from a promotional photo shoot I just completed in my studio for an up coming theatrical play shows the sequence from in camera to variations on a theme. The second image shows the original concept with the cardboard box now made of wood (with a little digital help) the background is not so boring and some focus is on the actor. Finally some high pass layering more vignettes and grunging it up a whole lot. Lastly this is a variation without the other back ground changes to just grunge up the actor.

So which camera did you use? Does it really matter?

Alan Mitchell

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Value of Pondering...

"All art should have a certain mystery and should make demands on the spectator. Giving a sculpture or a drawing too explicit a title takes away part of that mystery so that the spectator moves on to the next object, making no effort to ponder the meaning of what he has just seen. Everyone thinks that he or she looks but they don't really, you know."
Henry Moore, sculptor

Sunday, January 4, 2009

F-Stop Interviews Antony Crossfield

Happy new year. I came across another interview that you might be interested in over at F-stop. F-stop for those that have not visited before has a great series of interviews with leading photographers. Once a month or so they release a new one covering typically the top commercial photographers but the selection theme is always heavy on individual vision and lots of composited and retouched imagery. Much of advertising illustration today is composited from photos with lots of photoshop. Anyway this interview is with Antony Crossfield who is a fine art photographer and has some amazingly creative imagery. Antony is different in that he only sells his fine art photography and is not a commercial photographer. Like the others though there are lots of composited images and heavy on the retouching and 3D image generation, bringing a painterly classics based approach to a decidedly new medium.

Alan Mitchell

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goals versus Resolutions

“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it!” ~Jonathan Winters

New year, new beginnings, new resolutions.
I, for one, make it a point NOT to make resolutions! I’d just as soon not disappoint myself somewhere during the year when the realization comes that I couldn’t be farther from that list of resolutions. Instead, I create goals and I avoid setting those goals at the start of a new year. Goals, for me are on going. They occur throughout the year.
There is such a difference in the definition of the two: resolution: great determination, a mental pledge, something one intends to do. Goal: an objective. A goal is an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed time frame (from
One of my on going goals is to take a minimum of one workshop a year to learn something new. I usually get two in. Perhaps try out a new technique. Or two. Or three. No limit, really! I seem to seek out things that require leaving my comfort zone such as putting on a major art show last year. These goals often caused me a good deal of anxiety and stress, but the end result is worthwhile in the achievement itself.
So, what kinds of goals have you set out for this go-around (see, I didn't say, "year")? If you are comfortable with the ‘status quo’ how can you expect to grow? Well, assuming that one would want to grow. But, growth comes with leaving that comfort zone. How often do you do that?
In art school, every single one of my instructors asked that we keep a journal. Journaling that involved written and visual entries. At first, I questioned the value of doing this. I could never think of enough things to write down and resisted complying with the assignment. I now understand the value of writing and its role in the creative process. Since then, as an artist, I’ve tried to do journaling on my own be it a visual one or written one. I can’t tell you how many journals I have started only to abandon it, buy another blank journal, start it and then abandon that one too. The pattern repeated itself for YEARS. I felt like an utter failure. This journaling thing didn't seem to be happening for me.
And then, one day in March 2006, a friend of mine was excited about a blog she started and sent me the link to her blog. Prior to that, I never even heard of a blog. What’s blog? In a nutshell, it’s an on line web journal. But, heck, it really is a LOT more than that! This got me to look at a couple of other blogs by artists and before I knew it, I decided to give it a try. I had no idea what I was doing. I launched my first blog and even though it was baby steps, I felt quite thrilled at being able to do so. For me, blogging gave me the medium I needed to achieve the written and visual journaling process that I had struggled with for so long. Writing is a great way to jump start the creative energy within our right brain, so it compliments the visual creative process. An added bonus is all the other wonderful artists I’ve met through blogging and their willingness to share tips, techniques, experiences within the community. Not to mention the vast source of inspiration! And, all the collaborative projects that are available should you decide to participate. By the way, this blogging community that you have access to is global!
But, I haven’t even scratched the tip of the iceberg as to the benefits of blogging and “why blog”? Since this post is way longer than I would like it to be, check out Jessica’s answer to this question here. Or, Leau’s insight here. Or, Robin Laws answer here (and her call to other artist’s for collaboration).
And last, but not least, let me leave with the link that qualifies as a big finale to this from my friend, Debi Jone’s post in regards to giving yourself “Wings for the New Year”.
I hope that even if you don’t get around anytime too soon in establishing goals for yourself, that you would at least give yourself wings for the New Year to fly on.