About artandfossils

I am a fine art photographer living in upstate New York. After a career of image making in NYC I happily transitioned from the city to a quiet country road tucked away in the woods between the Hudson River and the eastern edge of the Catskills. My interest in photographing industrial archaeology ( a look into the recent past) gave way to new project that has captured my energies. I live atop a vast trove of 350 year million year old fossils - primarily Devonian Period marine invertebrates. As I continued to trip over them I became entranced with their beauty and excited by the photographic possibilities inherent. Five years into the project and I continue to see open ended opportunities to explore visually, learn more about early life on this planet, and spend lots of time hiking the woods with hammer, chisel, and camera.

101019: The Local Quarry

On Tuesday I visited my local quarry. I usually stay away during the Summer months since hornets often make their homes on the undersides of loose rock. So, with Autumn now in residence, it was time. And, thanks to recent digging by the owner, new areas of exploration have opened up.

What I found was that a transitional layer of rock became available, leaving loose rocks that exhibit an interesting mix of the different layers.

The image above is a fine example. The shaley, brittle rocks of the lower level, often laced with colorful staining, seldom have much in the way of fossils.The surrounding rocks are from the upper layer, where the fossil “motherlode” usually resides.

The opening image, with a well delineated brachiopod sitting next to a yellow streak of chemical oxidization, exemplifies that mixing.

So, I was struck by colors and fossils, sometimes separately and sometimes together. I even found a couple of images (at the end of today’s grouping) that display the unintended handiwork of nature!

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Thanks for the visit.

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100319: All Local (Almost)

Late afternoon light landed on a shelf full of rocks and fossils here in my studio the other day. Today’s opening image is the result – a brachiopod, a mollusk, and a trilobite. That trilobite is the only fossil in my possession that I did not find myself, or rather, one that I did not dig up myself. It is from Morocco via the Sant’ Ambrogio Market in Florence (where I purchased it for a few euro.)

So, with camera now in hand, I grabbed a few more local fossils and, with an appreciation for their unique shapes, tried to breathe some new life into these ancient relics.

Sometimes even broken pieces can be intriguing on their own.

And it continued from there. Following up on last week’s post, all the remaining images are brachiopods (whole or parts) showing again a few of the many different types (15,000) that existed over a period of a few hundred million years!

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Brachiopods seem to be the most abundant local fossil here in this patch of the upper Hudson River Valley. No wonder then that they continue to find their way into my recent drawings and paintings!

Thanks for the visit.

 

092619: Evolution

Plenty can be said about evolution while viewing these images of 387 million year old Devonian brachiopods. I’ve been digging them up and photographing them for a long time and have been fascinated by them for a variety of reasons.

They first appeared approximately 550 million years ago.

Over that long expanse of time perhaps as many as 15,000 different types have existed, thus the variety of shapes and sizes that these images suggest.

Today, believe it or not, there are some 300 to 500 species that are living descendants.

They are some of the earliest examples of multicellular organisms.

Invertebrate marine animals.

Today, the aforementioned reference to evolution, despite all these brachiopod facts, has more to do with my own personal evolution rather than that of the brachiopod.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am spending much more of my time painting – mostly large (5’x6′) canvasses – hopefully somewhat expressive endeavors. The impression of brachiopods remains so deep in my psyche these days that I keep gravitating toward them often when I pick up a brush.

A friend (yes, that’s you, Ken!) recently suggested that I share a work in progress and show some the various stages of a current piece. So here we go. The image above (a pair of brachiopods) was the start – a dark, scratch filled attempt at capturing a certain foreboding, primeval sensibility. It sat for months before I realized that it was time to make it something more.

So what you see from here are various stages displayed chronologically.

Tentative movements breaking out of that earlier monochrome feeling…

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…turning into some bold, somewhat garish color – with the intention of eventually muting those colors down…

…step by step until its current state (below). I’m not sure where this adventure will wind up. But then that’s the point for me – exploring and evolving!

Thanks for the visit. I hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the curtain!

091919: Looking Down

Seems I’m always looking down when I’m out walking through the woods or climbing through the local quarry. Much to view down there – lichen, moss, fossils, rocks, etc. Kind of mundane sort of stuff!

But a closer look can often dispel that notion.

The images above triggered the next few – moss creeping over and around some Devonian fossils (a brachiopod followed by a couple of cephalopods).

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A visit to the quarry gave me further good reason to keep looking down.

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Along with finding all kinds of shapes and colors, I was able to find a very nice gastropod.

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I’ll end today with these recent attempts at exploring more of this whole “fossil” thing..

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Thanks for the visit.

091219: Respite

Last week I showed a few images where I mixed my local fossils in with rocks along the Maine shore. This week I decided to flip the script, so to speak, and mix a few Maine rocks in with fossils here in my studio.

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A few more images of seaweed (I have so many !)

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The remainder of today’s images – also continued from last week – are the results of a game/experiment/amusement(?) I engaged in while exploring the rocky shore.

With a bag full of dried scraps of acrylic paint, a shoreline full of wonder, my camera, and a sense of curiosity, I found respite from a maddening world.

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Thanks for the visit.

090519: Low Tide, Maine

This is what it must have looked like 400 or 500 million years ago, I think – maybe around the time when some little creatures began to check out the other side of the shoreline and moved onto land. The geology of the area hits at about that same time. Even seaweed goes back that far and perhaps longer.

No surprise then that the experience of being there should resonate with me. After all, most of the fossils I have dug up and photographed over the years are from roughly that same deep time period (give or take a hundred million yers or so!).

My camera has pretty much been sitting on the shelf since my last post 9 or 10 months ago. No surprise again that Maine would shake something loose for me. The coastal rocks are a joy to behold, far more colorful than one might suspect. Even though I walk this same stretch of shoreline every year I am always happily rewarded with new discoveries.

It’s for these reasons (and many others) that Cindy and I always look forward to our annual visit. And arriving home last week has us already talking about the next one!

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It might just be seaweed, but even seaweed has its own beauty.

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I brought a few of my favorite “home grown” fossils with me. I figured the fossils and rocks might be “chronological” cousins and might provide me a fresh approach to two long favorite subjects.

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My time away from the blog has not been idle. All of my studio time has been spent painting. The two had become too difficult for me to work simultaneously and required more singular devotion. During that time, as  my excess acrylic paints would dry in their respective bowls, I would find ways to peel that dried paint out and toss the leftovers into a pile. Random colors and fragments seemed to meld together to create something new.

So I brought some of them with me to Maine also, wondering how my own colors might blend with the rocks. Two examples here are part of a larger project , more of which might show up here again in the future.

And here are two of my latest paintings in progress. Both are roughly 5′- 5.5′

I hope this new post will beget more. If that happens I imagine that the visual focus might widen as my initial fascination with fossils has led me to so many other aspects of nature –  from deepest time to the present. If any of this is not “your cup of tea” please let me know and I will remove you from my mailing list. For the rest of you, thank you for your time. I hope to post again soon.

I’ll leave you with an image of an arriving storm a few weeks ago in Maine.                  (Even storms are gorgeous up there!)

Thanks for the visit.

111518: Late Autumn Color

First hint of snow appeared this morning. Out came the flannel jeans. Long sleeve t-shirts replaced the short sleeve tees. Life can be pretty simple!

This year I have been much more interested in the faded colors of late autumn.

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I’ll leave you with some rather playful, altered images that I have been working on. I hope you enjoy them.

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Thanks for the visit.