A comment from a friend has encouraged me to write about my deep belief in the connection that painting has to my photography. Though I am not a painter I am a lover and longtime collector of paintings. Decades before I had any thought of creating a life in photography, I spent long hours with my nose buried in books about the Masters. First, Monet, then led by a painter friend I discovered Bonnard and Cezanne and I took off from there. I collected the finest books I could about painters and museum collections. Then I began to travel to see shows and collections. During that time I lived on the East Coast and had easy access to the museums in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. Eventually I was able to visit the museums and shows in London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Florence. Keep in mind….there was still no photography in my life.
What I was doing, without knowing it, was creating a rich visual library; reference points or a catalog in my mind and in my heart of color, line, form, composition, light, shadow, and feeling. I was developing a very critical eye for discerning the qualities that allowed one painting to rise up over another. My favorite paintings are now like old friends. I visit them and am filled with the comfort and renewed spirit that comes from sitting with a dear friend. It’s my reassurance that there is beauty in the world to be created. And so I am not surprised, but truly delighted when I “see” a photograph that brings forth the feeling of a favorite painter. To be able to say to myself “aha…this is what Kahn might have seen” or “Oh! This is Wyeth’s palette” is gratifying and illuminating. This visual heritage, this wealth of knowledge is available to each of us. As humans and as photographers, our lives are richer when we avail ourselves of this treasure.