I just returned from a short trip that, as it turned out, provided the opportunity to revisit some previous locations and subjects. It was interesting to notice what I found interesting this time around, what I did differently, and whether there is any direction apparent. Today I’ll focus on the color abstracts in my ongoing Patina project, which is based on surfaces of junkyard vehicles and weathered rocks.

I hadn’t planned a junkyard visit, but I ended up sleeping out next to one, and I photographed there the next morning. In addition to images like the one above — photographs of more or less flat surfaces — I found myself looking for places where different surfaces came together in an appealing combination. The image below is from a crumpled body that weathered quite differently on different orientations.


Later in the trip I stopped at a rock face in Yellowstone at a pass known as the Golden Gate. I’d been planning to photograph the rock varnish there ever since conceiving the Patina project. Again, I made some photographs of flat faces, including the one above with a minimalist feel (reminiscent of Rothko?) But I also expanded it to include a more irregular patch next to it, resulting in a much more complex image (Jasper Johns flag?)



Although the possible trend I see here is towards complexity, in fact the new-style images mostly involve only two or three different areas. I’m thinking of this more in terms of the areas “talking to” each other, along the lines of Sean Scully’s idea of disharmony. I like the contrast in the “flag” between the horizontal stripes and the broken, pointy “stars.” Maybe I should reverse the image left to right to strengthen the suggestion?

Another image from the same rock face makes me think of a paper collage.


Where do your tastes fall on the simple – complex continuum? Do pictures you like tend to be towards one end or the other? Does your preference extend to other arts, like film, literature, or music?