My name is Carol Brown. Many people share this name, so in watermarks and signatures I include the middle name: Carol Anne Brown.
The Journey: A Tale of Three Wishes
Once upon a time on a small farm in Alabama, a young teen stopped by the gate on her way to do the milking. Seeing the first evening star, she made a wish: “I wish I could be happy.” The next 25 years were a journey into the heart of darkness and out again, into the ownership of happiness.
Once upon a time on Cumberland Island a young woman felt a deep need to identify her career, something she could make her own. She found a camellia blossom and slowly pulled it apart, inspecting how it was made. As she studied, she made a wish: “I wish I knew about plants, all their names, and structures, and what makes them unique, and where they grow best.” The next 25 years unfolded into a career in the horticulture industry.
Once upon a time in a small suburban home, the transition from horticulture career to no career left this now adult woman adrift and miserable. As she folded laundry, God spoke to her: “Have I not promised that you can do, be, have anything you desire? You have only to choose. Why do you allow this transition to make you miserable?” She unpacked her very old and completely unused pastels and enrolled in community lessons. She took her trusty camera into the back yard and began to explore, and to think about the difference between snapshots and art. After a period of exploring the idea, she met God again, this time in the mountains, and no words were required. Here's what she did with the subsequent year. There might be just enough time to spend 25 years building an art career, exploring the beauty of nature’s design, and being happy.
Wolf Kahn (pastels and oil), Joseph Raffael (water color and oil), and Mark Leach (pastels) are the modern day masters that most inspire me. I highly recommend their books.
I value Kahn for his writings (very validating) and for his focus on the energy of color in a composition. He is fearless with the line, quite happy to allow a scribble to represent bramble. I saw an exhibit of his pastels, and I have to say, it works for him. Up close one may be critical of technique, but back up a few feet and it sings. He gives me courage.
Raffael's large-scale, finely detailed water colors are symphonies. I am especially drawn to his early work when there is no ‘subject’ or arrangement of value masses. Values tend to flow across the painting in a close embrace. Darkness breaks into delicate tracings. Reflected light is encapsulated and stretched into tiny discreet surfaces. He exploits the power of scale by taking a few inches of reality and painting it large enough to fill a wall. His work has inspired me to seek the structural rhythms within nature's chaos through the camera. This vision avoids traditional composition advice but careful choices make all the difference.
Mark Leach wrote clearly and insightfully about his approach to abstraction, from shapes and composition to color and technique. His advice was specific to his own process and yet general enough to be applicable to students. This was not instruction, but time in the mind of a thoughtful artist, and in many ways this is the heart of mentor-ship.
Art Photography (has its own blog)
Digital photography is my tool of choice for exploration. Digital processing tools allow me to explore a subject or image in ways I could never do manually with efficiency. These tools are able to reveal to my eyes the music I only sensed while framing up the shot. The truth is, the visible values of light and dark in nature frequently obscure our ability to easily ‘see’ the music of nature’s architecture. Each revelation is a physical thrill. I keep hearing something Wolf Kahn said:
"What is necessary is to find a way, by using color in its extreme forms, to grab the viewer by the lapels and give a shake or two. And give ourselves a shake. We have a need to be surprised too."