During my ten years or so as a commercial artist I had spells with two top London artist’s agents. The main and obvious advantage of having an agent was that they went out and got you commissions. Most artists by definition, tend to be ill equipped, emotionally and attitudinally for the tasks of both finding and especially negotiating with clients. Artist’s agents on the other hand, often with backgrounds in advertising and / or art production have extensive lists of contacts and the wherewithal for exploiting those connections.
The big disadvantage in the artist / artist agent relationship however was the near-total lack of control the artist has over the process, from commissioning to payment. And, it was ultimately the payment issues which trumped the advantages and convinced me to toughen-up and go it alone. My final artist’s agent’s commission was a case in point and also the last straw. What began as an unusually free brief – to paint a series of of 24 poster-style gouache paintings to decorate 12 luxury, first-class cruise liner suites for a seriously good fee, manifested as an exercise in frustration and acrimony. The fact I had to resort to the threat of lawyers against my own agent to extricate partial payment gives a good idea of just how sour things got.
In the normal course of events, I worked directly with the clients, and delivered my work to them myself. For some reason never fully explained, on this occasion I did not get to meet the client and instead dealt exclusively with my agent. What exactly went wrong between the time of me handing over the finished pictures to the agent, and her passing them to the client – or indeed, if she ever handed them to the client, I never discovered. All I did know for sure, was that two months of hard work was never fully paid for. Fortunately, during my ongoing film-to-digital trawl, I recently came across colour slides of several examples of the artwork from that fateful commission and the original photographic templates.
If I was ever to receive a similar commission again, apart from making sure to deal with the client on a one-to-one basis, I might also decide to produce Photoshop images (presented on the similar art papers to the original gouaches) rather than paintings. For me the finished results, especially with these highly graphic, minimalist images are at least as good as paintings, and in the awful prospect that I again would not be fully recompensed, would have expended a fraction of the time.
Presented here (within the text) in triptych form are four of those very images. The photo templates comprise the central images, with the original gouaches on the right, and my new Photoshop treatments on the left. See what you think and don’t be afraid to let me know…
Stick a building – any building, on the edge of the land, where it meets the sea; on a sunny day, beneath a vast dome of blue sky, and something magical happens. Colours seem more intense; shadows seem darker; and tones seem more dynamic; making – often humble – utilitarian structures appear like architectural masterpieces.
During my many years of travel I’ve often been struck by the allure of these sun-kissed lumps of timber, steel and concrete. And without further ado, presented below are a small selection of those I was fortunate enough to be able to record in photograph.
Essentially, photography is a form of visual, space-time distillation and isolation, especially when the subject matter is a person and / or people.
Painters such as Vermeer and Hopper achieved a similar effect in paint; that magical isolation of an instant and framing it for posterity.
Here is a small selection of my enhanced photographic examples of the “effect” from all over the place – but mainly Australia. And talking of Oz, is that Elle Macpherson, or her doppelganger I caught having a sneaky ciggy in Melbourne?
Wherever water merges with solid objects, either through light or physical interaction, or both, visual magic usually results. Without too much further ado, here is a series of images which reflect this fact perfectly (pun intended).
The image of someone walking away into the distance has stirred my artistic sensibilities since early adulthood. I’ve returned to the subject photographically and in paint pretty regularly since about 1979, from when the first picture presented here dates (Astrud at Tel Hai).
Several of these pictures are of loved ones, past and current, walking into a variety of landscapes, urban and open, and I guess that with them in particular, powerful feelings of vulnerability, both as a partners and individuals are aroused.
Two of the photos here have special poignancy: The one of my mother Hannah with my grandfather Harry was taken on a stroll in my home town of Edgware in the early 80’s when they both still had many years to live. I took the photo on my old Cannonette camera by accident. I was meaning to line up a shot of the lake we were passing when I must have clicked the shutter too early. It was only when the film came back from the developers that I saw the photo, and even then I instantly realised that it was a happy accident in that it had somehow captured the essence of them and their relationship in a way that no face-on portrait ever could have matched. The fact they are both now dead has made this image increasingly precious to me as the years have passed. The picture of my wife Dido walking her old and frail father into his house in Little Rock is even more poignant in that it represents the last photo of them ever taken together. About an hour later we returned to the airport, never to see him again.
All the pictures here, even those of total strangers, like the chap on Hampstead Heath, have a quiet melancholia about them in that they share a sense of our human transience.
Padua is most famous in the anglophone world at least for being the setting for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, but it’s true importance lies in it’s role as one of the oldest and most important university cities in the world.
Arguably, the home of modern western medicine – indisputably the cradle of modern pathology – with strong associations to the likes of Galileo and Copernicus it’s legacy as a historic center of scientific learning is only surpassed by Cambridge. (This is particularly interesting when one realises that Padua University emerged from Bologna University in a way very similar to the way Cambridge emerged from Oxford – at about the same time.)
However, as a warning to the prospective visitor to Padua, it should be noted that for all it’s academic glories (and a couple of fabulous artworks by Giotto and Donatello) it falls far short of most of its city neighbours so far as things like charm and gastronomy are concerned. Nevertheless, like all Italian towns, it finds a way to smile back when one points a camera at it.
Presented here are a series of enhanced photographic images through which I make an attempt to transmit the feeling of a stroll through Padua’s cobbled streets and along her narrow waterways…
I thought that a lifetime of watching movies and TV series based in New York would have prepared me for my first visit to Central Park. But all the Kojak, all the Law and Order and all the Sex in the City in the universe could not have anticipated the blizzard of January 2016 and its magical transforming effect.
So, instead of a stroll through one of the world’s most famous urban “green” spaces, we found ourselves trecking through a pristine winter landscape.
Fortunately, unlike the evening before when I had left my camera in the hotel (see previous post “The Big White Apple”), this time I was prepared and here are some of the results…
I’ve been making greetings card designs and images for decades now – initially doing freelance work for greetings card companies and poster publishers and more recently producing images for my own Moody By Nature label. Over the years I’ve done everything from cartoon smut (professionally referred to as “erotic humour”) to soppy Christmas and birthday penguins and polar bears (yes, you can probably blame me for the proliferation of penguin cards from the 90’s onward). Lately though, I’ve been busy with more photographic based themes and images.
Here is a small selection from a series I somewhat blandly titled curiosities, for obvious reasons.
“Bolt Masala” is from a photo I took in a metal engineering factory reception office in Coimbatore in southern India – hence the “masala” connotation.
I spotted the old boots suspended by their laces for “Good Use” in the delightful artists village of Ein Hod on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. It’s proven popular both as a retirement and as an anniversary card…
…as has “Growing Old Together Gracefully” (as an anniversary card that is!) which displays two venerable phone boxes in Hampstead.
“Pond Life”was snapped in the exquisite Alcazar gardens in Seville.
I was struck by the image of “The Blue Cup”in the unlikely setting of Sherwood Forrest – more famous for hosting the “merry men” in Lincoln Green.
Finally, I saw the yellow balloon languishing in a puddle on the Regent’s Canal towpath (north London) on “New Years Day” 2011 – having lost my dear mother barely three months before it seemed like a poignant metaphor for the past year…
IT’S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH A DECENT CAMERA AND GOOD EDITING SOFTWARE. HERE FOR EXAMPLE, I’VE SIMPLY ISOLATED TWO OR THREE HEADS FROM A SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS. IN SOME EXAMPLES THE PROCESS MERELY INTENSIFIES THE SENSE OF AN ACTUAL HUMAN RELATIONSHIP/S OR INTERACTION/S , WHILE IN OTHERS, A POSSIBLE RELATIONSHIP IS EITHER SUGGESTED OR CREATED. THE COMMON QUALITY I’M ATTEMPTING IN ALL THE IMAGES IS A KIND OF NATURAL INTENSITY…
(cameras used: Canonet 28 / Nikon FE / Nikon D60 / Canon EOS 500d
Fr. Justin Belitz OFM is the founder of the Franciscan Hermitage and author of "Success: Full Living," "Success: Full Thinking," & "Success: Full Relating." His teachings incorporate spirituality, science, and art for personal growth and development.