Welcome to Merfeld Fine Art Collodion

I am Ken Merfeld and this is my Blog, expressing my opinions, philosophies, musings, random thoughts, and reviews about art, photography, and the creative process. Is this site only about Wet-Plate Collodion and other alternative processes ? No.  Art encompasses all mediums, techniques, and methods of expression. What is Collodion and who is Ken Merfeld… Continue reading Welcome to Merfeld Fine Art Collodion

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Thankful

I took a walk on the beach yesterday.  Venice Beach, Ca.  The pier, the infamous boardwalk including muscle beach, the locals, the endless ‘characters’, tourists, artists, vendors, hustlers, musicians, and vagrants.  Eclectic, crazy, complex environment with complicated backrounds, lots of people, movement everywhere, and even more people.  Difficult environment to shoot in for all of… Continue reading Thankful

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Words

If a picture is worth a thousand a thousand words, could you write those words?  Can you communicate about your own work?  Can you write intelligently about your process, your influences, your passions, your creative issues?  While your work should do most of the talking for you, the fact remains that we occasionally have to… Continue reading Words

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Shy

Being shy gets you nowhere in the art world.  Plain. Simple. Quiet.  It doesn’t get you very far in many other worlds either.  A shy photographer puts out very little, if any, energy and gets very little, if any, back.  And, then he wonders why he cannot be a good, “connected” portrait photographer?  To be… Continue reading Shy

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Focus

What is focus? The difference between sharp and soft?  Is that it?  No. Is focus expected?  Somewhat, but less and less these days. In the 1860’s, Julia Margaret Cameron didn’t care about exact focus for a number of reasons. She said, “What is focus, and who has the right to say what focus is the… Continue reading Focus

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No Blog

I did not write a blog last month.  I couldn’t.  My brain was, and still is, numb.  Words had no meaning.  My friend, an incredible artist, is dying from brain cancer.  Chemo.  Radiation. Pain. Confusion. Wheelchair. We talked about life.  We talked about art.  We couldn’t understand why he was handed a death sentence one… Continue reading No Blog

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Inspiration

We all need inspiration.  Or do we?  Where do we get inspiration?  What is the magic formula?  What button do I push?  What number do I call? I agree with artist/photographer Chuck Close who says you should not sit around waiting for inspiration.  Artists show up and get to work.  “If you wait around for… Continue reading Inspiration

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What do you want?

What do you want from art?  What do you give with your art?  Do you know what you do not want from art? Simple questions or complex?  What is the purpose of art to you? Is it to entertain, educate, provoke, stimulate, inspire, motivate, surprise?  Why do you look at art? What do you want… Continue reading What do you want?

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Mistakes

What is a mistake?  Webster’s says a mistake is a wrong step, something incorrect.  Are there mistakes in art? Is there really a right or a wrong in art? Think about it.  There are rules and principles and supposed guidelines when you learn to make art.  Then you find that breaking the rules makes for… Continue reading Mistakes

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Death

Death is absolute, permanent, it stops everything.  No more life, no more art – unless there really is that big darkroom in the sky.  I am losing two friends as I write these suddenly misty, somewhat out of focus words, and it hurts.  Life is unfair, the art world is out of balance, selfishness is… Continue reading Death

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quiet

Quiet. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s okay “not to do” once in awhile.  To back off, observe, ponder, research.  Don’t always put pressure on yourself to produce.  The brain needs to relax occasionally. Refuel.  Your creative soul will kick-start you back into gear when it is time.  Believe in yourself and your process.  Do… Continue reading quiet

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The Zone

The “zone”.  How do you get into it?  What is it?  Why is it so important to your art?  Because it is the place you go to create, inhabit, take over to produce your work.  It is a state of mind.  It is a state of being.  It is where you go to get ideas,… Continue reading The Zone

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Technology

Many people believe that technology has taken the poetry out of communication and that too much technology is the destroyer of emotions and truth.  Does technology really do anything for creativity? Yes, it makes some tasks easier and you can finish some things quicker, but does it make you a more creative person?  Picasso went… Continue reading Technology

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Mediocrity

I see more art [?] produced these days with less concern for quality than ever.  We are drowning in images to satisfy the thirst of the “media” for information, news, gossip, to see how we dress, what we eat, what we do, and where we go !  Where did the real art go?  The world… Continue reading Mediocrity

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Choices

As artists, photographers, painters, we are always making choices, every day, creative decisions pertaining to all facets of our art.  These choices define our direction, style, content, vision, point of view, who we are, what we say, and what emotional response is elicited from our art. What do you put into your work?  What makes… Continue reading Choices

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Thinking

Artists think too much.  Not all, but many spend far too much time in their heads.  This is not to say that you should not have some kind of a plan, some direction, an idea to pursue. Just don’t drown it by thinking it to death.  A concept needs room to breathe, to grow, to… Continue reading Thinking

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Seeing

Do you notice how people don’t notice?  How little the average person sees, what they actually spend time looking at … or don’t?  We live in an increasingly selfish world.  We are being bombarded by an array of individualistic, self-contained “tools” on a daily basis. People isolate themselves, they detach, they tune out with their… Continue reading Seeing

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The Best

The Summer Olympics are on.  Very inspiring. The best athletes giving their best efforts after years and years of practice, pain, and perseverance.  To be the very best of something – what a goal!  Are you the best photographer / artist that you can be?  What % of every day do you spend honing your… Continue reading The Best

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Visuals

We are visual people.  You know who you are.  Artists tend to be more aware, see more, appreciate more, and respond to more than the average person on the street.  Photographers, painters, cinematographers, and illustrators quite simply use their eyes more than others.  Visuals are inspiration, motivation, design, energy, and provide aesthetic companionship.  Yes, companionship,… Continue reading Visuals

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Books

Books are a good thing. Books are going away, as we know them. Really ?  Would we allow that to happen ?  Newspapers are dying, book stores and libraries are closing.  And nobody seems to care.  The world of paper is being given up to the world of electronics.  Saves some trees, I guess, but… Continue reading Books

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Failure

What is failure in art ? How can an artist fail ?  Isn’t the very nature of art to create something that did not exist before ?  If you create it, how does it fail ?  Who has the right to tell you, the creator, that it is not worthy, it is not art ? … Continue reading Failure

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Tension

Tension is important in art, sports, and life.  Tension in sports and life build strength, endurance, and character. In art and photography, tension is right up there with great light and fearless composition in importance as to how the viewer’s eye is grabbed, held or moved, within or out of a frame. Tension is often… Continue reading Tension

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Struggle

According to Webster’s, to struggle is to resist opposition, to progress with effort or difficulty.  Most artists struggle on a daily basis, resisting opinions, criticism, negativity  [jealousy], trends, advice, etc.  Artists constantly struggle between time, materials, learning their subject, finding their voice, new directions, the next level, an alternative path.  Art is a struggle; art… Continue reading Struggle

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Resolution or Revolution

It is the end of the year. Another one in the can. Personal artistic inventory time. Was it a good year, as in productive, creative, and challenging for your art?  Did you do anything different this year?  Did you challenge yourself to grow as an artist? Did you do what you said you were going… Continue reading Resolution or Revolution

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Palette

Do you have a creative palette?  What does it consist of?  What makes your work different from everyone else?  What makes you who you are as an artist?  What makes your artistic vision / voice extraordinary, unique?  What ingredients do you play with?  What actually goes into your work?  Where does your art come from? … Continue reading Palette

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Black and White or Color?

I talk more about black and white than I do about color.  I love black and white, the traditional darkroom, and the smell of hypo in the morning!  I guess that makes me a black and white guy.  I really do appreciate and enjoy color, don’t get me wrong, but I get more emotionally involved… Continue reading Black and White or Color?

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Fear

Artists must be fearless.  Period.  Fearless with light, composition, approach to subject matter, and process.  It has been said that no passion so effectively robs the mind of all of its powers as fear.  We must be strong and confident in our work and methodology.  The energy that you give out is the energy that… Continue reading Fear

Art?

What is art? Is this the ultimate rhetorical question?  Who decides whether or not something qualifies as “art”? Is one man’s art another man’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich ?  Irving Penn said that a piece of cake could be art and he sold photographs of cigarette butts found on the street as art.  Warhol… Continue reading Art?

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Chaos

As an artist you must always push yourself, take chances, look into the dark, challenge your unknown.  Put yourself at risk, not in comfort with your art.  Frances Bacon said that he worked much better in chaos and that “chaos breeds images”!  He even painted on the unprimed, backside of canvas because the image was… Continue reading Chaos

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Don’t hurt

Most artists are emotional, passionate, stubborn, and extremely volatile. Many are unhappy, disreputable, self-centered, egotistical, and very demanding.  There is an adage in the commercial world, “assholes and cream rise to the top”.  Often this is painfully true.  Doesn’t make it right. The truth is that the world tends to forgive and even overlook transgressions… Continue reading Don’t hurt

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The Journey

If you are truly an artist, it’s all about the journey.  It’s never about the destination, because you never really arrive, do you ?  There is always the next level, a new direction, another experiment, a variation in technique or process, a complete change of subject matter and / or approach, the “mistake” that leads… Continue reading The Journey

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Passion

Passion takes on many forms.  It can be fruit, sex, artistic intensity.  Good to eat, great in the bedroom, dangerously necessary in the art world.  Yes, it is a dog eat dog world and a passionate artist is self-consuming, almost by definition.  So, how do you not consume yourself ?  How do you not destroy… Continue reading Passion

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Letting Go

Most photographers are control freaks.  Obsessive, detail oriented, consumed. They need to be in total control and are uncomfortable, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled otherwise.  Most photographers are also perfectionists. Why?  Do we live in a perfect world?  Why do so many artists strive for consummate perfection in their work?  Who determined perfection as a goal?  Perfection… Continue reading Letting Go

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K-Mart

K-Mart went to Vogue, or did Vogue go to K-Mart?  Doesn’t matter.  The reality is that K-Mart has a four page spread in the September, 2010 issue of Vogue Magazine.  I know we are living in times when a lot of things don’t make sense but isn’t there something wrong with this picture?  It wasn’t… Continue reading K-Mart

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Growing Old

About growing old.  Don’t.  Refuse.  Basta ! Who said you had to grow up?  Artists should gain wisdom, experience, and technique over time while remaining forever young at heart.  Uninhibited.  Free. No rules.  Fearless. Crazy. Chaotic.  Always playing.  Like a kid again.  Creating with reckless abandon.  Kids don’t hold back, they know no boundaries, they… Continue reading Growing Old

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The Box

You’ve all heard about the box.  Thinking outside of the box.  Performing outside of the box.  What about the box, exactly what is it?  The box is what everyone else has done that pertains to your area of interest. The box encompasses your specific subject matter (ex. portraiture, still life, landscapes, narrative, tableau …) including… Continue reading The Box

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Journals

Journals.  Keep them.  Write in them.  Refer to them.  Collect information in them. Information is going away. Information and imagery stored in electronic devices disappears.  It implodes.  It goes to cyber-hell and is lost.  Finished.  Basta.  No more. We live in the age of electronic everything. and we can access more information than ever, yet… Continue reading Journals

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Mediocrity

How do you stop mediocrity ?  We all know that photography has changed as a creative medium, as far as how images are made, as well as what the world accepts.  It is easier than ever to produce, play with, alter, or appropriate images.  Is there more good art in the world as a result,… Continue reading Mediocrity

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Dark

Don’t be afraid of the dark. Dark is important in our art. Dark is both the absence of light and the result of light .  The absence of light and subsequent subtraction of information creates mood, mystery, and drama.  The result of light is found in shadow, texture, contour, and form allowing depth, richness, and… Continue reading Dark

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Light

Light is a gift. An artist must see, appreciate, totally understand, own, control, manipulate, manufacture, embrace, tease with, bend, direct, develop a personal feeling for, and become a master of LIGHT !  Nothing can exist without light; with light, everything becomes real.  If you are lazy about lighting or think it doesn’t matter, you are… Continue reading Light

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