What It Means to Offer a Service as an Artist
You know, one of the things I am discovering about art is it is a lot about shaping your perspective. I know when I was in college, some of my fellow students might have said that making art for anyone other than yourself would have been going against what is true to an artist. However, I would argue otherwise.
I picked up photography some time ago, and I discovered that both my wife and myself have an inclination to use the camera as a medium. It also happens, in this day and age, that there is a need for people to be able to take good photos and record people's lives. Is that not what we do as artists? Don't we record life around us? That is what I am doing now, helping people record their lives by using my artistic vision and experience to help each person record and preserve a memory. Photography is a real medium in the art world, and I think the intent of the photographer richly determines what area of art he/she gets placed in.
I am still an artist, but I am also now an artist that offers a service to people to help them enrich their lives. Let's face the facts as well, if you don't make money as an artist, you are not going to continue doing it for nearly as long as if you were making money. Art is meant to be shared by the world, not locked in a closet. We have a duty to share our vision and skills with the world. It is the same in any art. If you have an artistic skill, share it with the world.
That is how I view my move to also take photographs of people who want their memories recorded. It may be uncomfortable to deal with people for some artists, but without the people, we have no audience.
We recently did a family photo shoot for a friend of mine and his family. I was so pleased at the joy and positive reaction that the photos we provided them garnered such a positive response. It is something that makes you feel you make a huge difference as an artist. For that, I am very grateful. It is what we all strive to do, is to make a difference with our work.
As you can see above, I have posted a list of options and prices of photo services that we do. I will also say that each idea above is carefully considered to be an artful process where we collaborate with each person and client to make the co-creators in an artistic representation of their lives. When it is done, we will all have made a work of art celebrating the life of each person that we work with. I am excited to do this and look forward to working with more and more people on this artistic journey!
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Monday, August 14, 2017
What is in a photo?
It is no secret that I have been contemplating and working on this martial arts series for awhile. Many people know that I have been grinding this idea through my creative thought processes for awhile. You usually ask yourself when you look at the photo, or any other work of art, "Where is the artist going with this?" Another questions that usually gets asked is, "What does this piece mean to me?" Every person has to determine what the image he or she is looking at means and how it relates to his or her own experience. A work of art is encompassed by everything in it, not just part of it.
I work hard at trying to figure out what something means to me, and then I analyze whether or not it is something I want to share with the world at large. In this current series I am working on in collaboration with my wife, Gina, we are trying to capture martial arts, and the story of its motion. Specifically, this story is told from the point of view of us as photographers, and from the point of view of the art of Kenpo Karate. Every art has a story. Every move has an origination point. If anyone is familiar with Kenpo, it is a set of concepts and principles that guide the practitioner in the use and practice of the art.
However, each martial artist has a story. Every training session has rhythm and pulse all its own. Everyone's mindset and point of view is unique. Just the same, lighting, setting, interpretation of the motion within a photo...those all help dictate the story of what is going on in the photo.
Gina and I love the ocean and spend a lot of time there. It influences what we do and how we see things. I believe that the ocean brings a large measure of peace to people when it is represented in art. This day in particular was an ideal day for photos and martial arts at the beach. It was the perfect temperature. The light was amazing. The waves and the wide open space was without compare. It made for perfect photos and a perfect setting for martial arts.
What I like about the photo above is Gina captured the moment near the point of origination for the kick. I like the horizontal composition because it speaks to horizontal motion, and it mirrors the beautiful horizon in the background.
One of my favorite aspects of art is the exploration of light and dark. Of course, the setting sun is perfect for setting up a dramatic environment for any scene, but something about training in martial arts as the sun sets over the horizon...it speaks volumes to one's mind and spirit. Further more, training at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, it further touches the soul. Gina did an amazing job of capturing the this kick in mid-motion and lining up the shadows of the landscape, as well as my silhouette, and getting the two to blend for a wonderful composition.
I truly love the photo sessions with my wife in martial arts because she is able to capture things in a way that I would not necessarily see if I was behind the camera, as opposed to being in front of the camera. It was an ethereal experience out on the beach that day. The sun was slowly falling toward the horizon, and there was this beautiful mist that shrouded the surrounding rocks as we shot photos and trained and explored the surrounding area.
This series is ongoing at the moment. We have not finished it to the point that we can present it in a complete and unified story or experience yet. We are working with other martial artists and many of the photos are still in development. However, the entire set will be presented in a unified manner in a gallery experience. We will be sure to post the announcement so anyone who wants to come view and share in it will be able to do so. Thanks for coming by and reading!
The location is Fort Bragg, CA. It was in the month of July for both of those photos. I will present the detailed information formally when they all go up for display!
Posted by Jesse Brown at 9:10 AM
Monday, June 12, 2017
Exploring the Past and Places of Solitude
This past weekend, June 10, 2017, I undertook a photographic odyssey to explore some places I was very familiar with, yet had not truly explored. Looking places and things through the lens of a camera, with the idea that you are looking for a story to tell, it changes how you think about, and view, a place you might be familiar with. A location can overflow with history, and it may not even be obvious to the casual viewer, because it is hiding in plain sight.
I took my long time friend, Brian, with me to explore these places as I was seeking to photograph places that seemed abandoned and sitting in solitude. Brian and I go way back, and he grew up in the same areas that I did, so he was more or less familiar with the places I was going to explore. He also gave me an extra set of eyes, and a different perspective to consider as I was working through these locations. It was an excellent day to go out and do photography. The sun was up high in the sky and it was not too hot, yet the light was amazing for shooting the type of photos I wanted. I wanted a light that flooded that landscape and kept it well lit. It was just after lunch when we started, which was perfect timing for the lighting I was looking for.
Our first stop was Vina. What makes Vina interesting in general is this monastery that has its own winery and does wine tasting. I have gone to mass there several times as well. There is a solitude about the monastery, however I was looking for something a little more than just solitude. I needed to feel a sense of history and abandonment within the setting. Not far from the monastery entrance is the town park that has rapidly fell into a state of decline over the last 10 years or so. It does not take much time for something to fall into disrepair. It was falling into disrepair 10 years ago, but it seems the last 10 years has definitely left its mark on the city park. What accented it so well to further expand the feeling of history being so present there was this cement block stamped with the year 1915 on it. The uses of these blocks, sitting at the far end of a dilapidated basketball court, completely escapes me. However, they stood there lined up in neat rows, like they were keeping a ground-level vigil on the progress over the overgrowth that was expanding every-which-way around the court, through the picnic benches, and through the fence that was defining the edge of the park and separating it from the railroad tracks.
There is a building beyond the cement blocks, and flanked by two beautiful trees, that seemed to be feeling the effects of time and neglect. It housed some kind of use inside of it, but it can only be left to the imagination. Its disrepair seemingly trying to call out to someone to pay attention and save the building from falling apart.
I think what kind of gives this place, as well as the other places that I photographed, meaning to me is that these are places that I have spent years around and seen them when they were in use and functioning in good order. The benched behind the above building is a place where I sat and drank a soda after visiting the monastery some years ago. While it had a solitary feeling back then, there was not this sense of desolation and abandonment that there is now. One just has to look at the basketball hoop and understand that nobody in the area really cares about fixing anything there because the park and court have fallen so much out of use it is nothing but a crumbling piece of community history now.
Overgrown picnic benches in the town of Vina, CA.
Crumbling basketball hoop.
I think one of the things that puts the final touch on this community for me, even through clearly there are people that live in Vina because it has a store and a post office, is that I do not see people walking around. I see some cars that are new parked around and once in awhile I see a person walk out of the local store, but so much of the town looks like it has been left up to the power of time and history to overtake it and redefine it as some part of the past that barely stands up for the little use it does have.
However, Vina was only the start to the odyssey that day. We still had many more miles and at least 2 more places to go to photograph before we finished what we had started.
Highway 32 between Chico and Hamilton City
Between Chico and Hamilton City, there is an abandoned almost processing facility that used to load Almonds onto trucks that would transport the agricultural commodity from one place to another. Agriculture is big in rural northern California. When I was a child we would drive by this facility on the way to Chico and I would see the trucks lined up to be filled with the products. Again, I had a personal history of seeing this place when it was a vital and functioning point of operation. Now, it was overgrown with dried weeds and was locked behind a chain link fence and off limits to the world.
The colors and overgrown dried plants gave it an extremely abandoned feeling. It seemed like it should have had some type of vehicle driving through and paying it attention. The fencing around the facility seemed to give it more of a feeling of desolation, as if it were being punished for failing in its task to operate and stay open all those years ago.
Clearly time had started to catch up with the facility and that is part of what gives places like this that abandoned feeling. However, the elements of overgrowth and dilapidation paled in comparison to our next stop, which was in Hamilton City itself.
Hamilton City and Holly Sugar
It is hard to quantify how much time had overtaken some of the sites in Hamilton City. Holly Sugar is probably the biggest and most obvious point of dilapidation, but by no means is it the only one in this small town. This is a town where I grew up for 17 years. It has more people than when I was there years ago, but it seems more abandoned than when I lived there, even though there are more people and newer housing developments on the outside part of town.
Holly Sugar was the point around which the town developed for years. My father had worked there for a long time, as well as many of my friends' fathers. I used to go visit my father when I was in high school and he would be at the weigh stations for the big trucks that would come through and get weighed before heading out with a load of sugar beets. There was a strong personal connection there for me. We would often drive into town during the processing season, and we could smell the sugar beets being processed. It was part of the character of the town, even if the smell was not great, it was a lot of community and economics associated with that plant.
So, when Brian and I drove up and got out of the car, we found this factory that looked like it could have been the setting for some type of scary movie. It seemed like everyone just ran out of there so fast that they did not even take the Christmas decorations down. It was as if there had been some cataclysmic event that drove everyone out and nobody even tried to look back.
Even though I grew up around the town, I do not remember the story about the factory closing, only that it did. The fact that there were disintegrating Christmas decorations hanging everywhere around a deteriorating fence that surrounded the abandoned place just added to the mystery of the site. To top it all off, as we were shooting photos, there was a loose door just swinging in the wind, creaking eerily and just giving the whole place a rather odd atmosphere that I would expect to find in a horror movie or something. Had it been night, I think we would have not stayed, but it was the middle of the day, so it took the edge off the creaking door.
I plan to have this up in our online gallery here, the entire series on display, and to have an in person opening at a new gallery at the Chico Mall in August. The dates are not yet established, but I will post them once I know. I will talk about the journey to these places and trying to capture the story of what they were and what they are now. There will be a sale of the prints soon, both online and at the gallery. Please check out the entire show. It will be a wonderful series to share locations of desertion and solitude. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more in this series.
Posted by Jesse Brown at 11:24 PM
Saturday, June 10, 2017
I think one of the things that makes art so wonderful is that each person is able to explore ideas, concepts, and issues that connect with each artist. Through these connections we can explore our interpretations of what life looks like when addressing issues that are near and dear to us. For me personally, I have been struggling to keep a lot of ideas at bay while I have been addressing other issues that have been keeping me busy. Recently, I came across a source of inspiration to explore the idea of lonely and deserted places. Part of this is due to the fact that I grew up in places that had many places that are deserted and lonely. In rural northern California, there is no shortage of places to explore if you know where to look. However, even in urban areas there are places that emanate loneliness through the abandoned and neglected state of affairs that many buildings and city blocks are left in from better times.
I think what fascinates me with abandoned and desolate places is a sense of history that can be found with each one. There is a history waiting to be discovered with each place. A story can be told and retold and reinterpreted in many ways and so many times. Perhaps a places is waiting to be revitalized, or maybe a beauty is just laying undiscovered and needing to be appreciated.
Black and White and Color
Loneliness and desolation have a visual language all their own. Black and white is very effective in translating the ideas of loneliness when applied correctly to other elements of composition and design. Color can be helpful, but the right colors must be used. If the wrong colors are used there is a risk of conveying another type of emotional content that does not fit the theme of a deserted and lonely location. There is a unique type of pathos that speaks to the human mind and soul when visually discussing loneliness.
Currently, I am trying to think of places that will fit this ideal so I can convey this story of desolation and isolation in a way that reflects my vision. This weekend, I have a trip planned up further north to where I am from in rural northern California. I will share my results on here when I get some progress, but suffice it to say that there are a lot of deserted places around where I grew up. Small town America is growing smaller, if you will. The big cities are growing bigger. For my purposes and vision of photographing rural California, I can't help but think of try to use black and white for this photo journey. I think some black and white with highly controlled accented tints in painting and drawing could work as well, but that is a separate issue for other media.
The Psychology of Solitude
Growing up in a small town, I came to appreciate the solitude that could be found in unpopulated spaces and in wide, open spaces. It really does us benefit to withdraw into ourselves and find that space of solitude. That is what I am looking for when I search out these photos. I want to find a place that convey peacefulness even in its abandonment. There is a monastery close to my home town, and there is this small park with a solitary basketball court and picnic benches skirting a railroad track that looks to be completely out of use. There is a post office across the street that looks like it is barely open anymore. There is also a small town where I grew up and while the number of people in the town looks like it has grown since I was there in my youth, there is this increased feeling of abandonment because of the sugar factory that went out of business years ago, and all that is left of this thriving factory that gave people their livelihood is a shadow of its former self, standing silent vigil over this town struggling to grow despite the loss there.
There is a wistfulness in visiting these places for me. One has a bit sadness, while the other has strength-boosting peacefulness. There is a story in every place, around every corner, and within every structure, whether it is inhabited or abandoned. I think the mistake that many people make is that abandoned is always sad, but there can be so much beauty and calm in these places. That is what I am looking for as I begin this odyssey in search of a story about solitude in deserted places.
Posted by Jesse Brown at 12:19 AM
Monday, March 13, 2017
This past weekend we held our first class at Katie's Quilts and Artisans Gallery at in the Chico Mall. It was a great success! We enjoyed being able to share our wealth of knowledge with people! It was great to share our love of art and the skills and techniques, as well as our philosophies, with everyone! It was also great fun to be able to teach the class with my mother, Esther, who was the one that first taught me. So, that experience is in itself priceless. Also, it allows the students to have the benefits of two teachers instead of just one, which is always helpful because it gives everyone a more personal experience.
For Brown Artworks, this is a new endeavor for us, but a completely enjoyable and worthwhile one, for sure. The class that we are teaching this month is beginning drawing. Next month will be beginning watercolor/watermedia and, also, beginning portraiture. This month, the class runs a total of 4 days. Next month, both classes will be 2 days each.
One of the challenges in creating classes is trying to figure out how to get as much information to everyone in a short amount of time. The responses have been gratifying since everyone seems to be enjoying the experience.
As a teacher, as well as an artist, I approach the classes from multiple standpoints. It is always a balancing act of trying to find that point where you give enough information, but not too much, and each student has enough practice time in the class to be able to gain some experience in carrying out the tasks and receiving feedback in the process.
If you want to know more about the classes, or sign up, visit:
Katie's Quilts & Artisans Gallery1950 E 20th St. Suite A100
Chico Ca 95928
The gallery entrance is next to the main mall entrance, near Dick's Sporting Goods. The gallery also carries our art work too, so you can see what is new and exciting with the work that we are doing. If you would like a link, go here: http://www.katiesquiltschico.com/services.html - it will take you to the website where you can read about what this gallery is doing.
Before finishing, I just want to say this last piece. While making art is wonderful and we love making it, teaching it is a chance for us to give back to our community and help create greater appreciation and understanding for what the arts mean to us, to the community, and as an overall experience. Giving back is a totally different experience and we strive to try to create an experience where each person comes to enjoy art and hopefully enjoy what art can do for everyone. If you get a chance, come by and check out what we are doing!
Have a wonderful day!
Posted by Jesse Brown at 6:33 AM
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Brown Artworks (our family art company) has recently partnered with Katie's Quilts and Artisans Gallery to show our art and start teaching art classes through the gallery. We are very excited and we have a large variety of classes coming up in the next few months. The first class up is a beginning drawing class and there will be a meet and greet this coming Saturday, March 4th, at the gallery to talk about this class, our other classes, our work, and any other questions that may come up! My mother and I will be teaching the first class and it looks to be very exciting! I hope everyone that is able will come out and see what we have to offer! This is a wonderful gallery located at the Chico Mall. It has an outside entrance close to Dick's Sporting Goods, on the right side of the mall entrance as you walk in. A link to the page about the classes is here: http://www.katiesquiltschico.com/services.html - This gallery also has a large number of our works of art. So if you are a fan of our art, come by and take a look as well! We look forward to talking with all of you who are able to come!
Posted by Jesse Brown at 10:48 PM
Thursday, February 16, 2017
"Oakland Estuary 22"
DSLR Nikon 5200, February, 2017
Edited with Adobe Lightroom
By Jesse Brown
A long time ago when I was in college studying art history and the Baroque period of art, I fell in love with the idea of teneberism and the way the artists of that era used light and shadow to add emotion to their work. High degrees of contrast often evoke strong feelings of emotion and drama, which brings people closer to a work of art and creates a stronger connection much of the time. This can be achieved in many ways and styles. Depending on the subject and composition, the effect can be very powerful. The above photo I chose to use for this particular entry fits well for me because I like how dark the water appears in contrast to the bright figures. The morning sun creates great lighting that is easy to work with and has a great feel to it for photography. I read an article once that you have to wake up early to catch the morning light and get the best shots of the day. I think that is true because of what I say in the title. Light and shadow are very special in the morning and bring a feeling that draws viewers in. Once you understand how light and dark work together with your subject matter and composition, finding successful photos will be so much easier. Also, if you are taking photos on a special occasion, find that early morning spot for your photos with a nice background, and you will not be disappointed. within an hour or so after the sun rises is still good enough in many cases to get that good lighting. I really enjoy this in summer.
The photo above has a few things that are working for it. The lighting, as I described before. The long format emphasizes the long lines of the composition. The various layers of the landscape that mirror the format of the long photo also work to create a repetition of flow within the photo. Of course, my favorite part of this photo is the deep blue of the water creating the contrast with the rowers. Teneberism was a term used more for painting, but the concept has served me well in making much of my art. Take a read through art history and look for it, particularly for some of the paintings by Carvaggio. I think you will see some good ideas for making your own art and shooting your own photos.
Posted by Jesse Brown at 7:03 AM
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Color Photograph, DSLR Nikon 5200, edited with Adobe Lightroom,
February 11, 2017
one of the things that I have tried to deal with and explore is this balance between working insane amounts of hours and still finding ways to express myself in art. Photography has been a big help. I have to say, the speed with which I can turn out 30+ edited photos is extremely appealing compared to the painstaking pace of creating drawings and paintings. However, these processes of painting, drawing, and photography are so far apart that it is not really a fair comparison. However, given that I can satisfy some of my creativity by exploring this relatively new process of photography, it is extremely gratifying that I can at least get something done that satisfies some of my artistic vision.
I set out this morning at 7:30 am to capture some of the sights with the morning sunrise. Morning light is the best and provides for some of the most dramatic compositions. It also gave me a chance to explore what my camera is able to do. I really enjoyed the opportunity to do this. By 8:45 am I was back at my home and starting to edit some of my best photos from the morning. After a break for a meeting and some more editing, I was done with my editing for the day by 11:30 am. I had 33 new pieces I was relatively happy with and I felt I accomplished a lot.
This simple process of going out and exploring my artistic vision and experimenting with my artistic materials was a simple pleasure that I have been wanting to incorporate into my routine for awhile. Also, with some new art classes that I will be teaching on the horizon, I really wanted to get more active in the artistic side of the business instead of the business side of the business! It was a successful day, in my opinion.
I am trying to stay close to home and explore more of what is around me to express much of my artistic vision. Afterall, artists represent their environment and what is around them. It is the best place to start for me. I am proud to say this day's output is all local ideas and imagery, edited to what I wanted to express in each image. I am trying to build upon several ongoing series that I have already begun. Be sure to look for the next show in our online gallery. It will be going up soon. I will have some of my new series represented there. Thanks for stopping by and reading about the latest adventure in my artistic journey!
Posted by Jesse Brown at 2:01 PM
Sunday, February 5, 2017
As many of my friends and those who follow me know, I am a practitioner, fan, and follower of martial arts. I am working on a new series in photography that will portray the martial arts in a very artistic manner. The first three of this series are posted on Brown Artworks' Facebook page. I am truly excited about this for a few reasons. The first reason is that it is a completely new series that I have yet to explore in photography. Anytime I am able to start a visual exploration of a topic it becomes an artistic adventure, which is so fun for me. Art is about discovery and expression and I enjoy that part of it more than anything else. The article I wrote that accompanies the first three images can be found here: http://thewayofthewarrioralamedakenpokarate.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-building-of-foundations-in-kenpo.html - so take a read when you can. Another reason I am really excited to work on this series is I get to collaborate with my wife, Gina, and my friend, Brandon Hubbard, of Brandon Hubbard Kenpo Karate. Brandon is a very talented martial artist and a friend of mine who also teaches and trains in the same art as me. I am excited to see the results of our work as it unfolds this year. Gina is very talented behind the camera and she will be shooting the photos when I am in front of the camera. That brings me to the third reason I am excited about the project. I will get to be the subject of some of the work. Even though I am in front of the camera instead of behind it, I find it is easy to work with Gina in combining our ideas and points of view to make some great results.
Art, like martial arts, is a journey. The journey excites me and makes me want to work more at what I do. I find that it is important to have enthusiasm for what you do, because without that, where do you find your motivation to push forward in the endeavor? Surrounding yourself with good ideas, good people, and lots of adventure in an experience makes for a great time and great memories to share with others. In this case, the memories can be shared with the art that is created.
The other hope is that the series will connect with people. I want that to happen and to have other people take something away from the experience that I had in creating the new work. Work like this is kind of specific in that the subject gravitates towards those who are interested in the martial arts or that type of experience and/or culture. However, I hope that the work will be unique enough and artistic enough that it will appeal to those who may not have prior experience in the martial arts, but they may gain an interest from the story that it tells.
Art tells a story. Now, that story may look a little different for each person taking in the work, but there is always a story. There is a story behind that golden belt in the picture above. What does it represent? Why is it hanging there? Why only a belt? What importance does the color have? Why is it tied instead of just being loose? There is a story. I like to leave part of the story for interpretation by each viewer. In addition to the story, I want something to be aesthetically pleasing that you can hang in a livingroom or a bedroom also. It will be my goal, our goal, to create a story that shares something with the viewer.
Please stay tuned and look for the series to continue. Once again, thanks for taking the time to read. I always appreciate the participation.
Posted by Jesse Brown at 7:15 AM