Attention! Photo/Texture/Artists – Read please…Feedback…Let’s talk!

Attention! Photo/Texture/Artists – Read please…Feedback…Let’s talk!
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Image by bossbob50 –
Leaves, Summer 2010, Chicago. on black background; on white

As I can barely post an image without texture in it anymore, I’ve been trying to understand what this “texture-thing” is about. This is my first attempt. Please add some thoughts of your own……

It feels good to be in the vanguard: def. ~ “leading position in a trend or a movement.”

It is exciting, enervating, heady. You also feel a little anxious. Am I doing the right thing? Will this work? Does it have legs (staying power, value, meaning)?

I dunno’ but after looking around on flickr with a serious desire to understand what I am looking at – as well as participating in – I estimate that there are roughly 3,000 to maybe 4,000 of us working seriously with photographs and textures. By seriously, I mean those for whom, roughly 70% of the images they post, have some discernible use of textures, purposefully included in the processing.

That’s out of 7,775,995 world-wide flickr members. That’s .0005 %. And I don’t know how to say whatever that number is.

To those of us doing this texture-thing, it seems like everyone is doing it. But it’s really just a tiny bit of the overall flickr family. For me, I’ve come to compare it to the Impressionists: not necessarily in quality, but in circumstance. As an unstructured, loosely-themed artistic movement, that just sort of popped up in a place and time (France, 1870 or so for them, 2000’s for us). Though Impressionism was mainly centered in Paris, technology no longer allows geography to be a defining factor or impediment for any artistic movement. Now, we’re all over the globe, albeit centered on Flickr and in a remarkable form of daily contact with one another.

Jeezz, I LOVE this!

I counted about 30 texture groups with 500 or more members on Flickr. If it were one member per group, with no overlap, that would come to 15,000 texture photo/artists roaming about. But that’s not the case. Most of us belong to all, or most, of the major texture groups, and we see each other’s names all the time. The cross-pollination, if you will, seems vast.

That’s how I rounded it down to the 3,000-4,000 number.

And of that number, I’m venturing that no more than 10-15% (movements don’t START broadly) are really deep into texturing; consciously learning, growing, experimenting, exchanging ideas. So, perhaps there are 300 – 400 serious photo/artists (the only word I have for us) working hard at photo/texturing. I guess it’s the “hardcore.” Those not just dabbling at the fringes or throwing a texture on as an afterthought (which can be seen in a person’s work; yes, an artist’s commitment to any act – their assuredness – is visible) but, rather those imbuing the majority of their images with a sure-handed touch and feel for this process, even when the results are, on occasion, let’s say, uneven.

And, this is not to say we are cloning each other, because we are not.

I already see many unique, individual styles, visions and approaches that are immediately recognizable as the work of an “X, Y or Z,” as well as growth in that individual’s work in postings over the course of only two-to-four years.

I have witnessed the development of texture creators and teachers, of break-off sub-movements and styles.

300-400 out of 7.7 million photo/artists. Sounds like a vanguard to me.

On the ground anecdotal observations: Over the last year, I’ve visited a more than 40 galleries in Chicago that either feature, or consistently host, photography-based exhibits (4 artists per show comes to about 120 individuals). During that time I’ve seen only three photographers who incorporated textures in their images. (They weren’t really well done – more like an afterthought, than the purposeful application I see from you guys).

That “purposeful use” is the dividing line for me – and I admit, highly subjective.

I’m going to struggle a bit with language here, as I am an artist, not an art critic or theorist.

“Purposeful use of texture”: seeking to create images, essentially based on a photographic image, that becomes a new [or altered] state of imagery, laying between photography (as we generally assume it to be) and painting, (or other styles of hand-manipulated/created forms of visual art, e.g., collage, watercolor, drawings, etc.).

“Take a breath, Bob.”

I have shown my work, and some of your work, to gallery owners and gallery goers via my laptop, and they like what they see, being both intrigued and slightly confused. “What is this process? How did you do that? What was the original? What does the original look like? Why did you do that? What are you trying to convey?” (This last question is the one for which I’ve no real answers yet.)

“Is this a painting?”
“No. But does that matter.?”
…usually a pause, punctuated with a furrowed brow.
“No, Not really. No, I guess not.”

Unlike my beloved Impressionists, no gallery people, so far, have derided, or decried what they see. The only displeasure I’ve heard expressed comes from more traditionally-minded photographers.

I’ve no idea about how this “texture thing” will turn out; how it will evolve, how long it will last, or if it will have any meaningful impact upon photography or visual arts to any particular degree, if at all.

But in the meantime, I must admit, I feel a sense of pride, a flush of excitement, a hint of youthful discovery, and the simple joy of moving into new, fresh directions. And I sense a genuine camaraderie with those of you, my fellow photo/artist,with whom I am sharing this journey. Take pride; you’se guys are some creatively, badass s.o.b.’s. Love ya’.

Texture courtesy cathairstudios:
flypaper textures: