Total Pageviews

Monday, April 4, 2016

The tree and the sea

The tree and the sea.
I am often asked why, if my passion is for painting, did I choose to teach photography. It's a good question and the simple answer is that it was more fun. Photographers are gregarious, share stuff, move more quickly and have a wider spectrum of activity and are not so scared of messing up.
Another reason was that I wanted to instill in photography students the slower and often deeper instincts of a painter.
Sounds somewhat elite this doesn't it?
But that is not the case at all.
Let me explain by giving a simple example from this past week of how this is still relevant in my life, a life which has me floating in the space between these two expressive forms of creativity, respecting both for their differences and power to affect our lives in incredible ways.
The Tree

This I pass half a dozen times a day walking to my garden studio. I posted a photo of it to our Facebook page 'Mindful Photography'
I added an explanation, describing it as a City, probably three times my age, which is the home of a colony of 10,000 ants, spiders, beetles and a myriad of micro creatures as well as black squirrels occasionally, and of course birds; a living organism in itself and a host to other living creatures.
Not an unusual thing to do you might say, but for me this is so. Unusual because I have always taught that a photograph must, if it is meaningful photograph, say all of these things by the singular power of its image alone.
So I would impress on students that making a photo is easy, but to fully absorb oneself in the subject of interest, absolutely so, this is what one must do, even before even thinking about picking up a camera.
The Sea
And this below is a painting I made at the same time.

I live by the Adriatic sea in Italy and this is one of a series of the influences this area is having on me, feelings and thoughts and mindsnaps which are bouncing into me, of the wind, the colours of the sea and the adjacent land, the boats and the stark boatyards, the smells even of the fishing boats and the continuous movement of birds and people around its shores.
But can you see how different these processes are?
There were times in which I forbade students from taking more than one photo a month; all the time slowing them down, becoming what we now refer to as mindful (although I prefer mind empty, except it sounds a bit odd)
So, there you are. Memories which surface from time to time which serve as teachers.
Historically of course, I am referring to a time at Bournemouth Art College in the 80s and 90s (when it was nicknamed the Zen School of Photography); a time when there was time, and with only a small number of students too. But to me, these principles of course still apply; that any form of creative expression must involve complete absorption into the arena in which we choose to express ourselves.
And you get there by going there.

Michael Eldridge and Naga Dipa are running a workshop in Brighton in July entitled 'Mindful Photography' for details write to

And Michelle Rumney and Michael are running a workshop in Italy in May entitled 'Time and Space to be Creative' Click here for more info or write to


  1. This sees me thinkin about reality and fiction melding. I say this for my upcoming exhibit of photographs is titled "How Eye Am: A Fictive Reality". Here, in what Michael intimates (simply put), a photograph is reality (a believable substitute) while a painting is fictive. The 'trans' nature of working with both media provides the artist with a dual voice so to speak with each of them speaking, and hearing the other. In short it's like the form of art over 100 years ago called Expressionism, which, in its own way is progression of Romanticism. This melding, this trans aspect, this stereo media employment provides the artist with a visually passionate dynamism.

  2. I to am a painter who teaches photography, but it crept up on me through popular demand rather than personal choice. However I am also happy to teach photography. I completely understand that a painter brings a different vision to photography and saw that underlined when I took my students to see the Saul Leiter exhibition at the Photagraphers Gallery in London.
    I am also happy to offer photography as a subject to senior students at my school as it provides a route back to visual creativity for many who had been persuaded when younger to select more 'sensible' subjects to study.