Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Art of Loneliness and Deserted Places


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.

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