A while back, a potential buyer asked if I ever did monochromatic work. Up until that point, I had often taken a few pictures of any particular setup using only one of the lights as a way of recording the color and getting a sense of the shadows each lightsource was casting. With this request in mind, however, I entered the studio with the direct intention of building a body of monochrome works and…..well…..failed.
Perhaps “failed” is too strong a statement. While the process did not result in a body of artwork that I was excited about, it did teach me something about my color sensibility. I was quickly reminded that working in a single color is a vocabulary of tones. Any exploration in monochromatic photography is the same tonal vocabulary of black and white photography but rather than a range of greys from white to black, the result is a range of tones from, say, deep blue/black to light blue/white. What I recognized was that experimenting with only tones was very creatively unsatisfying for me.
So was it really a failure? As any artist can attest, anything that helps to clarify your vision is an important step forward. The famous TV painter Bob Ross referred to “Happy Accidents” when referring to moments where his hand made a mark that didn’t match what his brain intended. In these moments, the creative brain readjusts to accept and either incorporate or reject the new mark. These are the moments when our visual and critical training kick into high gear and when artists often experience a minute shift of vision that can set them down a new path. My attempt at monochromatic photographs resulted in one of these moments for me.
I like how colors interact. I always have. Monochromatic art reduces that interaction of colors to a narrow range of tones that just didn’t spark my creative fire. So I asked myself, “What would I need to add to a monochrome set up to make it more interesting for me?” And the answer was clear; “Another color.” This is what led me to what I like to call “Bichromes”. In this scenario, I would create an image that recorded the interaction of and transition between two colors. This was the equation that sparked enough of my creative curiosity to motivate me to dive deep. I can say that I have been thoroughly enjoying exploring the Bichrome equation. One of the images from this series, Bichrome 6940, has been selected as part of the Art Essex Invitational Exhibition opening on February 5th at the Art Essex Gallery in Westport, CT. And as any artist will tell you, acceptance into a show is a positive affirmation of one’s creative endeavour. See more at artessexgallery.com.