An Interview with Street Photographer Bill Jones Jr.

Bill Jones, Jr.

PCM: Why street photography? What motivates you to take street photographs over other forms of photography?

Jones: I was pulled into street photography by watching my great uncle, whom we called Toot. He always had his Polaroid at the ready and would snap candid shots constantly. My grandfather was also an amateur photographer, and while serving in Korea, he took a lot of slides of the people, the cities, and his life. So, by the time I was 12, I had already decided I wanted to take photos like they did. I grew up near a college campus, so I had ready access to books on photography, as well as years’ worth of National Geographic Magazines at home. I pretty much looked at everything I could find by any published photographer, but it was the work by street photographers (Weegee, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Frank Sutcliffe) that really struck me.

I think what motivates me the most is history. We remember the grand things – good or bad – in society. But the small moments are the ones that matter, and those are the ones we forget. I want to help create a record for future generations of what life was like at the start of the century, just as we began to overcome racism, sexism, nationalism. We’ve set ourselves up in little societal boxes, and all of us are afraid to look in the other boxes. But when you watch people on the street, what strikes you most is how much alike we all are. I hope that comes through in the totality of the work.

PCM: Your works often have that apex moment about them or a duality. How do you go about capturing that special moment? Do you specifically look for it or does the moment find you?

Jones: With street photography, it is mostly about speed and opportunity. The primary skill you develop is observation, to which you have to add the ability to shoot quickly. I literally wander around with my camera strapped to my hand, and try to notice what’s going on. Mostly, I’m focusing on relationships: people with others, people vs. nature, contrasts between the living and artificial. What’s odd is that I often find myself shooting things without even consciously being aware of what’s going on. Maybe the duality is the conflict of the conscious and subconscious. Overall, however, my motto is “Shoot what’s there.”

Share a Moment

Share a Moment

PCM: I get the impression that you prefer to keep your work natural, without much after photo work. What is your philosophy/view on tweaking/editing photographs?

Jones: Since I have to shoot fast, I do correct things like exposure, but I try not to alter shots too much. I used to do a lot more post-production, but once I bought a good camera, I started hating the more artificial looking photos and deleted most of them.

I’ve read some photographers who think tweaking photos is cheating. I couldn’t disagree more. Ansel Adams spent more time fixing his shots than he did taking them. For me, I think the composition and the subject should dictate what you do. I’ve done some extensive alterations, and would do so again. I think the stronger the composition the less tweaking you have to do.

PCM: What photographic techniques do you use (e.g. colour versus black and white, lighting, long exposures)?

Jones: I use to hate black and white photography (mainly because I was never good at darkroom work). With digital, I’m probably half black and white and half colour. In fact, the way I tell if a composition is right is to convert it to black and white. If it’s boring then, it’s just a boring shot. I find that I stick with colour mainly when the colour palette is vivid; then it becomes part of the composition.

Meridian Park Wedding

Meridian Park Wedding

I use available light 90% of the time. To me, the best shots are photographs of light and shadows. Rather than alter the light, I prefer to move around until I find the shot I want. Having ADHD is helpful in that regard. I don’t even own off-camera lighting equipment. Since I’m usually wandering with my cameras, I don’t drag around tripods, and I use high ISO rather than long exposures. Even my night shots are hand-held. I would love to experiment with more long exposures; I simply haven’t tried yet.

PCM: Which are your favourite photographic techniques? Why do you use these most and what do they offer your art form?

Jones: My favourite techniques are actually realizing that my most flexible piece of equipment is me. I shoot really fast, in most cases. Since I’m shooting moving subjects, I often take multiple photos in a burst – three to six per second – to get the composition I want. If you saw me on the street, you’d see me kneeling, standing, moving, trying different angles and perspectives. Sometimes, just lowering your body three feet changes the dynamic of a photograph completely. The photo of the reader, “Gentleman Reader,” evolved because I didn’t see an angle I liked. Then I sat on the bench opposite him, and the shot was there. Seeing the bench isolated him, which is what I wanted to show.

Gentleman Reader

Gentleman Reader

I also love shooting in ambient light, without flash, to capture the actual mood of the environment. Of the 30 photographs in the exhibit, I think I used a flash in one.

In terms of post-processing, the one technique I’ve used the most is the “clarify” tool in Corel Photo Pro, which adds local contrast. The photos “Seek Joy” and “La Luz” use that technique to emphasize the water in the fountains, and the children’s detail. I try to be careful, however, to keep their skin tones natural.

I’m also ridiculous when it comes to converting to black and white. I’ll spend 30 minutes figuring out exactly what filter I want to use in order to create the tomes I want. It’s just south of obsessive (especially since I usually end up using the equivalent of a red filter).

PCM: Photographic techniques can develop a sense of mood. Obviously some techniques can be tricky when attempting to remain unnoticed and capture a natural moment. Give us an example where you have used one or more techniques to enhance a photograph. Why did you choose to use that technique? Do you fee you succeeded? Why or why not?

Jones: Probably the best example is the photo “Women at the Wall.” The Vietnam War Memorial has this reverential aura about it, because of the sheer enormity of the number of names of fallen combatants on it. So, when I shoot there, I try to avoid being intrusive. In the photo of the two women, I was standing near them, but shot the photo with the camera at my chest, so they wouldn’t alter their behavior to accommodate the camera. They were meant to be representative of all visitors, so I picked a position where their faces were mostly hidden.

Women at the Wall

Women at the Wall

What I wanted to do, once I saw their poses, was to contrast the youth and beauty of the girls with the stark finality of death. (Most of the names on the Wall are young men that same age as these women.) In post processing, I use Corel’s Clarify tool to add detail (it makes the words and stones stand out.) Then, i smoothed the girls’ skin tomes slightly to ensure they stood out against the grit of the scene, much like beauty magazines do.

My ultimate goal was to create something that resembled a photo-realistic painting, or that stepped out of Vogue. I wanted the viewer to ask themselves why the women were there and who they were looking for. I think I mostly succeeded, even though creating the contrast washed their skin out a bit.

PCM: I’m not normally a fan of street photography. However, in recent years I have found photographers, like yourself, who have managed to captivate me with their creativity and their ability to speak to me, grab me, through their photographs. When you shoot a subject, what is going through your mind?

Jones: I think when I am doing street photography, I’m mainly thinking of connections. Sometimes, it is the lack of connections that stand out. Two good examples are “Hard Times” and “Long Lady in Wheelchair.” What struck me in both instances was that both were unusual situations for a human being to be in, and yet, in a crowded area, people acted as if they didn’t notice. The wheelchair-bound lady, for instance, had remarkably long legs, and likely would have dwarfed me standing up. She’s in this enormous chair and people are walking around her as if she’s one of the street signs. The same was true of the men camped out in front of the bank. Noe one sees; no one stops. My goal is to ensure that someone remembers they were there.

PCM: You have mentioned to me that you like to capture what you term “ordinary celebrities” where a “single photograph can capture parts of a person’s life, and show the brilliance in ordinary living.” Please elaborate, using one of your photographs as an example.

Jones: One of my favorite moments as a photographer was with the photo “Midshipmen and Friends.” We were near the United States Naval Academy, where these gentlemen attended, in preparation for careers as naval officers. Walking down a side street, we saw two petite, lovely young women walking. Opposite them was a group of 20 or so midshipmen. The girls were selling or canvassing for something, and rather than being intimidated, they stopped the entire group of Middies, and had them eating out of their hands.

Midshipmen and Friends

Midshipmen and Friends

I took a couple of shots of the women before, during and after their encounter with the men. Even during their brief meeting, some of the guys saw men shooting, and became amused at the humor (and my amusement) with the situation. The girls left, looking for more people to canvas, and the midshipmen continued, laughing.

I think the one photograph captures what is really a meaningless encounter, which the women likely thought little about. However, when you look at it, you see a large group of polite young men towering over them, most of whom seem completely smitten. It’s a small moment none would remember, unless they saw a photo. Those are the photos I want to take.

PCM: Each country has its own laws regarding rights to privacy. When photographing people out on the street, how do you balance your wish to capture a moment with the privacy of the individual(s)?

Jones: For the most part, at least in the U.S., you are allowed to photograph anything you can see from a public place, provided you aren’t photographing into private property. You can use the photos as long as you don’t commercialize their images. That said, there is still the matter of common courtesy.

Oh No He Didn't

Oh No He Didn’t

I try not to photograph anyone who doesn’t want their picture taken. People are pretty adept at using facial expressions, etc. to let you know. The photo “Oh No He Didn’t” is one of the rare instances that I ignored that wish (because she was so adorably mad at me). I think the fact that I live in a tourist area helps. I use large Nikons (D300 and D600) so it’s no secret I’m taking photos. Believe it or not, most of the time, people will look at my demeanor to guess if I’m some kind of pervert. Once they satisfy themselves I’m not, they don’t care.

The Street Photography of Bill Jones Jr.: A Complex Society

Given the privilege to immerse myself in Bill Jones Jr.’s photographs, I found myself mesmerized. His photographs are not only visually striking, they are multidimensional. To capture such depth of vision requires an acute sensitivity to the internal working of the subject. Street photography is a means of communicating the complex web that is human life within an urban setting. Bill Jones Jr. captures aspects of personality, community, emotion, the good as well as the darkness within society. at his best, he succeeds in capturing the absolute brilliant and often bittersweet moments in life, drawing the viewer into both the private world of the subject(s) as well as our own private thoughts, leaving us to ponder our place within society.

The close proximity of people from various backgrounds makes for an eclectic mix when it comes to street photography. Personality traits often bubble to the surface. Overall, people fall into two basic categories, the introvert and the extrovert. In several of Jones’ photographs these two opposing personality types reappear. The mild mannered, composed, quiet and private introverts, somewhat removed from those around them, are glimpsed in Western Man, Albuquerque Blue, Freedom Plaza Flyer, and Oh No He Didn’t.

In One Woman Parade, Style is Inborn, It’s a Gumby World Bitches, and Man with a White Hat, however, we find the daring, confident, and unconventional extroverts. Both types, although opposites, manage to coexist and each adds a distinct vibrant flavour to the cityscape.

City life carries within it a certain amount of energy and community. With so many people there is always a place to find like minded individuals. Jones encapsulates this group energy in several of his photographs. The best eatery in town is easy to spot as foodies gather and mill about Ben’s Chili Bowl at Night. Amused sailors enjoy engaging in a playful conversation with two young sales girls as they go about their pitch, undaunted by the large group in Midshipmen and Friends. Cultural heritage and the love of music brings together drummers in Batala in Red. Outside for all to see, group activity speaks of the wider network within the city.

In one instance, Bill takes this farther, not only capturing a group as a whole but various emotions expressed within the group as well as the wider community. A rally in front of the White House acts as a storyboard, giving the viewer several view points. Within the rally group itself, he captures the seriousness of the speaker and his supporters in Pro Laurent Gbagbo Rally in Front of the White House. The ardent supporters hold flags in Ivoirian-American Flag Bearer, and the mellow police officer is juxtaposed with the tension and uneasiness of a tourist caught up in the outer fringes in White House Tourist (Deep Contrast).

In contrast, his photographs of children and couples, focus on the intimate pleasures found within the city. We become privy to the uncomplicated momentary pleasures of life along with their innocence and wonder. Out on the street, in Waiting for the Good Stuff, a child lights up, oblivious to those around her, when a treat is in store. Children take the opportunity to break free of conventions, to play uninhibited, in water fountains in Seek Joy and La Luz. Simple playful teasing in There’s Not a Bird in My Hair, hints at the possibility of the unlikely. These are the simple joys within a complex world.

This sense of simple pleasure is, for some, carried forward into the more intimate adult world. A friendly afternoon game of baseball is enjoyed as the sun sets in Summer Warrior. Whispers by the Fountain and Meridian Park Wedding demonstrate the bond and intimacy between loved ones and the feeling of being understood and nurtured for the real person. A sense of shelter and companionship protects them from the harsher realities in the world around them.

Not everyone, however, is blessed with a sense of happiness and understanding. Mr. Jones does not let us forget that there is also a dark side for those unfortunates who find life a daily struggle. In Asleep on Pennsylvania Avenue, people pass by going to or from work while two homeless men use city benches as a place to rest. Does the sleeping man dream of stepping into the stream of moving society that passes him by? How did he end up in this situation? Don’t Forget Help a Vet, reminds the viewer that even those who have sacrificed for their country don’t always get a fair shake. Decades after the Vietnam war there are still veterans in need of understanding and aid. What has this man seen? How has he been treated by society after doing what he was conscripted to do? Long Lady in Wheelchair, seems just as alienated from society as she sits alone, facing the street, while everyone else moves off in small groups facing away from her.

Mr. Jones’ most poignant photographs create an interesting bittersweet duality. They truly encapsulate a brilliance of vision of the human condition. He digs into the depths of his subject, makes one feel the flip of the coin, and forces the viewer to look closer at society and our part within it. Hard Times paints a picture of wealth and poverty. A bank stands before two homeless men but there is no reprieve for them. Their expressions and hand gestures further express their woes. Could this happen to us? Is there a way we can help?

Fine Wine in Rockville is left wide open. Given the news, will a drink soften the blow?

At peace, the living in Women at the Wall, look for names and read messages left for those of equal age, fallen in the violence of war. Could this happen to them or to our children?

In Outreach, the at first simple innocence of two youths playing, takes on a deeper note as the viewer considers the title, the ethnic background of the children, their positions within the shot, and the choice of black and white photography. The barriers of society fall away and kindness becomes centre stage. Can we be one people, without barriers, and reach out to one another?

An elderly gentleman seems to be removed from the rest of the group by position, dress, and age as he sits reading in Gentleman Reader. Does growing old segregate us from society? Will this be me one day? Would it hurt to take a few moments and sit down and chat with our elderly neighbours? They hold a wealth of information and experience and we often do little more than cast them aside.

My all time favourite, Share a Moment, says it all as the tables are turned and the once cared for becomes the carer. Is this my future? Do I have what it takes to sacrifice for others as they have sacrificed for me? In the end, only you can make the changes needed to answer those questions.

Photographing the streets of America, Bill Jones Jr. has transported the viewer into the complexity of society. We, the people of the world, the human race, are a diverse group. However, it is our diversity, our ability to question our place within society and our actions, that make us who we are.

Photographer Bill Jones, Jr.

Bill Jones Jr.Bill Jones Jr., a 54 year old American, received his “first super cheap, almost disposable camera at 12, and immediately started saving for a Minolta SLR.” Hooked by “capturing parts of a person’s life,” he says, “I’ve been shooting ever since.”

He started doing street photography at the age of 16 and poetry at 21 but as he grew older and took on the responsibilities of marriage and family life, artistic endeavors came second.

Seek Joy

Seek Joy

He returned to photography in 2006, photographing “ordinary celebrities.” In essence he has captured the “brilliance in ordinary living.”

Stop by Pictures of Creative Minds in March 2013 for his thought provoking exhibition.

The Art of Commissioned Art

Mr. Burt’s most recent painting, Dare to Dream, was commissioned to depict a visualized dream.

Unlike most of Mr. Burt’s paintings, which are often inspired by his own photographs and imagination, commissioned art requires a more intensive process.

When working to an other person’s vision, art takes on a different purpose than just pleasing the eye. Perhaps it could be said, it is about pleasing the heart. It requires an understanding of the commissioner. A sensitivity to the commissioner’s vision and needs will often be more important than any artistic rules. It is up to the artist to create a final product which is pleasing and agreeable to the commissioner.

There are many things to take into consideration, such as the number of elements requested (horses, dog, house, people etc.), the position of these elements (foreground, background, left, right), the colour of each element and so on.

To arrive at the final product, Mr. Burt sketched two versions of Dare to Dream to incorporate and position several of the elements requested. He started with the cabin’s location and size and worked out from there. The commissioner chose which sketch she preferred and then painting began.

Even after this point, however, sometimes things need to be changed. Colours and other details may need to be altered. This takes patience and respect on the part of both the artist and the commissioner.

In the case of Dare to Dream, both artist and commissioner are happy with the results. The mental vision of the commissioner is portrayed by the artist as a beautiful and harmonious world. May we all envision such a lovely dream!

Art for Thought: Retirement and the Hobby Artist

What's in your retirement hobby box?

What’s in your retirement hobby box?

Retirement might seem like a dirty word for some. Active individuals might cringe at the idea of being thrown to the curb to rot out the remaining years of their life, forgotten and crippled in a corner of their equally decaying house. However, others look forward to the time, picturing the days of long lost childlike play with the freedom of choice offered an adult. Well, that is within the moderation of time, physical ability and the all too illusive dollar.

For those looking for something to pass their retirement years, there are countless hobbies, painting is just one example. Mr. Burt, our featured January 2013 exhibition artist, did not take up painting until he neared his 70th birthday. Some might come to art as a new hobby in retirement, while others are like Mr. Burt, returning to that “something” that once captured them earlier in life. Perhaps it was never more than a hobby. Perhaps it was an interest that never quite balanced with working life and was set aside. Or, perhaps it was discouraged when someone said, “You can’t make a living from that dear.” All too often our creative outlet, that soul of being, is stifled and replaced with the “real world” where the value of making a dollar often takes precedence over personal fulfilment.

Retirement doesn’t have to be the barren lands. For those planning a retirement hobby, such as painting, it has the potential to offer more than one might realise. This is a chance to experiment at ones leisure or go back to those unfulfilled dreams. A retirement hobby also has the potential to give at least three benefits: purpose, self-worth and opportunities for communication.

At a time when many people feel there is no reason to get out of bed in the mornings, a hobby focuses ones attention, and helps give some structure, a routine to the now often open day. It encourages the mind to look forward and plan. You may have grumbled at having to get out of bed for work, but it is likely you will look forward to getting up to dabble in your chosen hobby. What will I create today? How will I fix that bit I’m not satisfied with in the foreground? Your mind is active in a positive pursuit.

As one works at a hobby, the sense of personal development, no matter how small, is encouragement to continue and helps develop ones sense of self-worth. You don’t need to show the world your work to feel pleased with your accomplishments. However, you might find that finding value in your hobby makes you feel more confident in the new and changing world of retirement and you may find yourself wanting to share your experience.

For the extrovert who might feel suddenly alienated from the daily social contact found in the workplace, having a hobby can broaden the scope of communications. Introverts might not be concerned but it is well worth considering there are clubs to join, forums to discuss ideas and techniques, and if one is so inclined, there is always the option of creating a personal blog or going as far as exhibiting within the local community. Check with your local library, restaurant or other public places that might be willing to display your work.

Whatever your situation, taking on a hobby might be just the boost you need. Let the creative soul out to play!

Related articles:

Finding Your Inner Artist: Leaving the workplace behind can help spark new talents – and new careers http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704657504575411553550840136.html

The Art of Retiring Well – The Art of Retirement Series! http://retirementtransformation.com/blog/retirement-tips/art-of-retiring-well/

The Paintings of Mr. D. Burt: In A Daughter’s View, Storybook Magic

Mr. Burt’s acrylic paintings, although still in their infancy, are something to behold. His body of work, clearly an extension of his own personality, is still in the experiemental stage. He could easily be cast off as just another amateur/hobby artist, and in fact, that is exactly what Mr. Burt calls himself. Looking at one or two paintings alone, there is a magic, but one might not at first see much development in his works. As one looks at more of his paintings however, there is a sense that Mr. Burt is progressing as an artist; the landscape deepens, various animals enter the scene and even mankind makes an appearance. Subtle messages also begin to appear. At his best, Mr. Burt’s detailed landscapes and charming characters, give the viewer a magical, romantic, storybook world that has the potential to capture the hearts of both young and old alike.

As Mr. Burt’s daughter, I suppose it might be said I am in the know about his works. After all, I have known him all my life. Neverltheless, living on the other side of the world, I have had little opportunity, unitl now, to actually look at his paintings in their entirety. This exhibition is as much a revelation for me as for anyone else who may stumble upon this blog. I can definitely say his personality, his seriousness, is tempered with a playful sense of whimsy and humour, as can be seen from this sketch below.

He also has a distinct love for nature and the natural order of things, and this can be seen throughout his works.

Even at the age of 74, Mr. Burt is still very much a new artist. He has only taken up the brush in the last four and a half years. Like any new artist, he is still in his experimental stage. He works more at this point to expand his knowledge and experience than to convey a message. Although he has settled on acrylic paint, he has yet to stick with a set selection of equipment or one technique. As such he has used various sized canvases, canvas board and even watercolour paper, before making his own stretched canvases his staple choice.

Recently, however, he has considered returning to watercolour paper to experiment some more, preferring the smooth and more flowing capabilities of the paint on its surface. His previous experiments with acrylics on watercolour paper, seen in Male Cardinal and Female Cardinal are charming.

Watercolour paper will allow him the opportunity to stretch his capabilities from a thin watercolour wash to a thicker, more oil-like impasto, as long as he is careful to stick within the capabilities of the watercolour paper. Blossom Time is a good example of how the thinner washes in the background fall away from the thicker, impasto-like areas of the flowers, making them stand out. With further experimentation Mr. Burt may just find the balance he seeks.

Still, most of Mr. Burt’s paintings are done on canvas and it is these that make up the bulk of this current show. In his earliest canvas works, Natural Beauty and Mystic Forest, he sticks mainly to oil-like landscapes with minimal depth and detail.

There is a little more expansion in Moose Falls and Autumn Splendour, but not much.

Even at this early stage however, there is something special at work; there is a magical atmosphere, another worldliness at play, despite the tight perspective. I expect to see an animal, an insect or even a fairy flutter past to alight on a nearby rock or stump.

He soon increases perspective and drama in his landscapes. The positioning of trees, rocks and water, along with increased detailed dappling of foliage and grasses in the foreground, perform the task of drawing the viewers’ eye into the scene in Canyon SplendorWoodland Splendor, Forest Stream, White Water and Unnamed.

Animals often make nothing more than an obligatory appearance in the shape of a far off bird(s) such as in Tranquillity, Rocky Gorge, Winter’s Day, Fall Day, New Day, Distant Hills, Mountain Stream and Rhythm of the River.

Furthering his repertoire, Mr. Burt experiments with adding more detailed creatures such as a deer in Canadian Wilderness and a horse in Prairie Day.

Before long, the simple addition of birds within the increasingly colourful landscapes, are replaced with a more integrated and detailed menagerie of wild woodland creatures.

In many cases the attempt at realism goes somewhat astray. A lover of photographic realism would be tempted to walk away from these if seen individually. However, seen as a group, they speak of something much more captivating than realism. These are charming woodland characters.

More sinister, yet intriguing characters, also make an appearance in Domain, Lynx, Eyes in the Night, and Fox.

Some animals look longingly on while others stare out of the canvas, engaging the viewer from their magical woodland home. The scenes speak of joy, happiness, danger, as well as wonder, and one begins to feel the need to know more about these creatures and their tales.

Humans also make an appearance, often depicted in a sort of harmonious balance with nature. The existence of man can be seen in the simple addition of a trail or fence in Trail Through the Woods or The Hunt,

a man made item or structure in Oscar’s Pond, Homesteader, and Trapper’s Valley,

the addition of domestic livestock in Broken Fence, Grey Stallion and Dog Pointing,

or by the portrayal of humans within the scene in Trapper, Down on the Farm, Harvest TimeMorning Ride, Ski Day, Lone Rider and Range Rider.

At other times, however, a sense of discord is struck between nature and man. There is an end to all good things, an impending doom. Sometimes it is glimpsed in the ominous colours of the painting, such as in Sundown, Gilmour Sunset and Stormy Weather,

or in the anxious eyes of the animals in Northern Wilds, Gorilla, Moose on Trail and Forest Home.

In others it is suggested through a mix of title and subject matter such as the dilapidated fences in The Past and Autumn’s Country Road,

the far off barn in Abandoned,

or the animals coping with the landscape in Melting Sea Ice, and On the Run.

The paintings begin to suggest the sad inevitable realities of a changing world which will eventually destroy both man and nature.

All of a sudden one is transported back in time to the long set aside childhood tales of Beatrix Potter, Fables of the Green Forest by Thornton W. Burgess and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Although, Mr. Burt’s creatures are somehow different, not replete with clothing or over humanised, perhaps they are more like the characters in Richard Adams’ Watership Down or in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

Mr. Burt has said, “I paint what I see,” but what he sees is not the photographic realism of nature. His paintings speak of a deeper vision, he captures the magic of nature. Mr. Burt has not yet settled on a particular style, but it is in fact Mr. Burt’s experimentations in painting picturesque landscapes and endearing characters that, at their best, give the viewer a sense that they have been placed within a mysterious and magical storybook world. This can be seen in High Country, View from the Top, Pheasant, Hill Top View, Summer Time and Alpha.

He wishes to invoke in his viewers the desire to “step into the painting…when I paint water for example, I want the viewer to feel they want to dip their feet in it.” And so we do in River’s Edge, Cascades, The Pines, Walter’s Falls Mill Pond, Highland Trail and Twin Falls.

The viewer has been romanced by nature, taken on a storybook journey into the depths of the painted canvas. Taking in the wonders that abound in the dappled earth and leaves, the winding water and vibrant skies, the viewer can almost feel the grasses, leaves, rocks and water tickling their skin, hear the birds and other animals, even in the paintings void of creatures, scampering to hid, rustling through the underbrush or singing high in the tops of the trees. The spirit of nature whispers all around in Beaver Creek, Deer Leaping, The Hunted, Changing Colours, Winter’s Day, Sutton Road, Sutton Road Bridge over Beaver Creek and The Old Apple Tree.

His artistic endeavours have captured his view of nature as an ideal storybook magic. It is a beautiful and charming place to live, even with all its dangers. I can’t help but want to dip my feet into his wonderful storybook paintings, come what may!

Mr. D. Burt & His Paintings

Mr. Burt, a retired engineering supervisor, is a 74 year old resident of Ontario, Canada. When he sold his large retirement property and moved to town, he found himself with time on his hands. Having an interest in art, he took up the brush in 2008 and started landscape and wildlife painting in acrylics.

Mr. Burt is a self taught artist. “I’ve got a lot to learn,” he says. Each new painting is a challenge as he continues to develop his skills. His love of nature, seen readily while on his retirement property, is a firm favourite as his subject matter. He uses his own photographs, along with other reference material from magazines and the like, to help create scenes for his paintings. However, he always allows a painting to “take on a life of its own.”

For the most part Mr. Burt does not feel he has an overall theme or message in his works. What he wishes to invoke in his viewers is the desire to “step into the painting. When I paint water for example, I want the viewer to feel they want to dip their feet in it.” He loves water, and it often features in his works, but there is no specific meaning behind its depiction. He simply enjoys nature, and “paints for the love of painting.”

His web exhibition, to feature on Pictures of Creative Minds in January 2013, will be the first time Mr. Burt has ever shown his paintings in number to the public. He hopes visitors to the web exhibition find something to enjoy. Eager to improve, he also looks forward to any suggestions.

An Invitation

Pictures of Creative Minds’ first exhibition will feature the acrylic landscape and wildlife paintings of hobby artist, D. Burt, from Ontario, Canada.

The Homesteader
Acrylic on canvas panel
(Inspired by an Andrew Gregory photograph)

Mr. Burt took up the brush in 2008. Since then he has completed over 90 paintings.

The Past
Acrylic on Canvas

Like many artists, he looks in magazines, visits art shows, and often photographs nature while traveling around the countryside, to gather inspiration. However, he always allows the painting to “take on a life of its own” when creating his works.

Summertime
Acrylic on Canvas

Pictures of Creative Minds invites you to visit the complete exhibition, open January 2013, to learn more about the artist and his art.

Melting Sea Ice
Acrylic on Canvas