Conflicting Inspiration

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Understanding the roots of inspiration is as necessary as knowing how to use the tools in your toolbox. However, I can’t adequately explain why the work of Frank Lloyd Wright inspires me. What I do know is visiting his work is time well spent & worth attempting to sync my mind to my camera.

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The discrepancies began on a Jr. High field trip to Falling Water, which is a signature work of his. Even then I had awe for the natural world & believed I had a responsibility to take care of it. Building a house over a waterfall just didn’t seem right. Yet, when I saw it, I was amazed at how naturally the style, materials & design of a man-made structure blended with nature. As I got older & my own sense of composition & balance developed FLW was there to offer more perplexing influence.

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The Laurel Highlands & the Escarpment of the Colorado Plateau are vastly different. Here FLW uses juxtaposition of materials & design to the environment. Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona AZ is in contrast with the surroundings. But, to my minds eye it is powerful. The sharply angular gray building pulls strength from the random shapes & the hues of red stone mountains. The lines of the cross support the walls & go deep into the earth.

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I must give credit for part of my inspiration of architecture to my roommate at Kent State Pete Locke. Thru osmosis & interesting conversations he showed me new ways to look at buildings. I find it satisfying to examine structures like home & buildings from different perspectives. I also find this type of photography extremely challenging.

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I try to soften corners both in photography & landscaping. I also like working with stone. At Kentuck Knob, near Falling Water, is my favorite home design of FLW. Stone in the structure does not soften angles. It harshly defines separation.  Seemingly random landscape stone somehow creates a balance to the walls. Even with conflict to my preferences I admire his work & those that preserve it. The term I use of “unbalanced symmetry”likely has its roots in FLW.

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For photographers, the lines of his designs offer wonderful choices. At his homestead school in Taliesin WI,  I was initially overwhelmed at how to best capture his work. I quickly realized that with clear skies & powerful Spring light I had to let the sun be the primary motivator.

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The rounded fields at Taliesin gave me insight to the inspiration FLW may have had as a child. A special thanks to the officer that was understanding of the fact that I had left my drivers license in Pittsburgh!

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One disappointing thing about FLW tours is that no photography is allowed inside.  Seeing the ridiculous situations people taking selfies put themselves in I understand. Selfie photographers, before you pull out your phone ask yourself 1 question. What could go wrong?

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For now I leave Frank with his design within design. Obtuse with Acute. The function of airflow incorporated into negative space accents. A small detail in a grand design. Next stop on the FLW journey TBD.  As the last posting in the 1st year of retirement I will share my resolution…I want to be better in 2017.  I wish the same for you! Merry Christmas.

Wood Shop vs Photoshop

If I had not had a career in Video/TV Production I would like to have been a carpenter. Retirement offers wood shop time, learning new skills & exploring a different type of creativity. I use re-purposed wood & enjoy the imperfections while incorporating flaws into the design. None of these pieces came from a pattern. I began with an idea & made it up as I went along.

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The top of this table is made from 100+ year-old beams from the original cottage on our property. This was my 1st project. The rustic style farm table fit well with my nascent abilities. I have interest & respect for history that dovetails nicely with photography & woodworking. I’m also motivated to learn new techniques in each skill.

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Function & form are an important part of pre-pro in woodworking & pre-visualization of photography. This simple form provides 3 separate functions; a holder for the garden hose, an attachment for the clothesline & a perch to hang a flower basket.

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Strictly function on this project. The original ramp was rotting. Old sections of dock worked perfectly as planks. I purchased wood for joists & used plenty of stone as foundation. Often while wandering with my camera I will shoot a sign purely as a landmark or reference. Pure function with no creativity serves a purpose.

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Strictly form here. I had these 7X7 beams for a long time trying to figure out what to do with them. An earlier bench was a failure but a learning process. When I realized 3 would make a perfect homage to a tripod I knew I was onto something. This is still a work in progress. In photography something may catch my eye but I’m not sure how best to capture it. I examine angles, light, foreground, background & as many perspectives as possible. Inspiration sometimes needs time to germinate.

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I can’t provide a 1 to 1 correlation, but the work/thought-flow of both photography & woodworking feed each other. I believe perspective & detailed observation as well as compromise have something to do with it. Along the way you can be surprised. After building this bench/shoe rack I found something good for my bad knees. Getting up from a bench 20 inches off the ground is much easier than the normal chair height of 17 inches.

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An advantage to DIY building is you can customize to fit your need. I usually start my day with coffee reading the news on my kindle. I needed a small low table that would fit between the 2 chairs.  A somewhat larger/higher cousin is in the works. My photography subjects satisfy my interests & woodworking to meet my needs.

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This was my most ambitious project to date & also the heaviest. We wanted an island in the kitchen. Drawers were not a project I felt I was ready for since they have little room for error.   My wife suggested getting a used cabinet w/drawers at Construction Junction then cover the other 3 sides. Brilliant! The 3 sides are tongue & grove from the original cottage. The oak top & trim is from my grandparents dinning room table.

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I liked the idea of a parquet end table but wasn’t sure how to begin. There was a lot of making it up as you go along on this project. It came together nicely as I had hoped. And, I still have 10 fingers! Wood isn’t perfect & neither am I.  Between Wood-shop & Photoshop I am exploring new paths for taking ideas from my head & making them real. A lot of creativity just comes from doing it. Connecting mind, eye & fingers.