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Entries in still life (16)


Still Life


Truth vs. Beauty: The Cage Fight In My Head

I was tagged by Cherish Bryck last week in a bloggie interview game, and I had every intention of playing along.  But, as tends to happen lately, life got filled up with a whole lot of other work/art/out-of-town guests/distraction and that intention got away from me.

She did ask a question that has been rattling around in the back of my brain since then, even in the midst of all the mayhem: If you had to pick, would you rather photograph truth or beauty?

And here I am, with Spring popping all around me, back in my annual internal battle about whether taking pictures of flowers is worth anything at all.  I set these tulips in a puddle of window light yesterday afternoon.  The dialogue between me and my camera went something like:


Yeah, so what?


Oooooh, pretty.


Right, but what does it do?

I am a storyteller at heart.  I value beauty (I bought the tulips after all), but I find myself wondering if it has meaning.  At no time of year is this a more challenging conundrum to me than Spring.  I hear Keats and wonder if he was right:

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -- that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

It has a certain roundness that I like, these two ideals containing each other.  And, it could be argued in my tortured head, that it gives me permission to shoot the damn tulips already.  But the cynic in me thinks Keats was an overly-romantic 24-year-old and I was 24 once and, well, I didn't know much of anything then.  Though I was ardent.

So I poked around to see what other people made of this dilemma and, naturally, Gandhi weighed in on it. 

I see and find Beauty in Truth or through Truth. All Truths, not merely true ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures or songs are highly beautiful. People generally fail to see Beauty in Truth, the ordinary man runs away from it and becomes blind to the beauty in it. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in Truth, then true Art will arise.

It seems that Gandhi puts truth at the birthplace of beauty and art, and I think I do too.  I'm not sure what this means for me and still-life, but since this is probably the most torturously self-conscious post in the history of this blog I will leave you with a pretty picture I made of some flowers and hope you feel less conflicted about that than me.



I have an old friend for whom English is a second language.  She is an artist and highly sensate and she uses the word gentle in a way I love, not just to indicate tenderness or calm but also to describe things that are delicate or fine or refined.

This word, gentle, keeps arising in my mind in her voice.  I am trying, in the closing weeks of 2011, to spend some time with gentle.  Sounds like a nice change of pace.


Welcome Home

287.365 55mm f5.6 1/50 ISO 500Coming back to real life after vacation is always fraught.  The garden gods gave us a little welcome home present though, in the form of our first vine-ripened tomato of the summer.  If we could have a national holiday just for our house, the start of tomato season would probably be it.  Behold the sweet and tangy goodness of the Black Krim, an heirloom variety that originated in Ukraine and now resides in our back yard.

A warm welcome indeed.


Recurring Miracles

259.365 50mm (+12mm mac tube) f5 1/25 ISO 200Hey, I'm a grownup.  I know how baby (tomatoes) get made.  But this is the time of year when we start to believe in miracles in these parts.  Tiny little green tomatoes appear in the garden, harbingers of the tartly sweet joy we have ahead.