|Rosa 'Betsy Sinclair' 12 September 2022|
|Rosa 'Betsy Sinclair & Rosa 'Bathsheba' 12 September 2022|
|Rosa 'Betsy Sinclair' & Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen' 12 September 2022|
|Rosa 'Bathsheba' 7 left Hosta 'Midas Touch' 7 right Hosta 'Party Favor' 12 September 2022|
In that past century I used to tell some of my friends that
there were three professions that did not need degrees. They were prostitution,
photography and writing.
I cannot speak of my experience (none) on that first one but the last two are the reasons why with a little help from my Rosemary (a financial wizard) I can now live comfortably without the worry of having to pay the rent.
Many years ago I received a phone call from writer Sean Rossiter who said that urbanist Jane Jacobs was in town and that he had arranged for her to pose in my Granville and Robson studio. Nobody in Vancouver was ever interested in my portrait of her. I wrote a couple of blogs about her.
It was then that I received a phone call from the Rockefeller Foundation who wanted to use my portrait for the image on the Jane Jacobs yearly prize they were planning on launching. I was paid $4500 American dollars.
A photograph of Robbie Robertson smoking a cigar and a portrait of Martin Scorsese, both subjects of my blogs, brought in $1600 for the first and $3000 for the second.
All the above is because I am a decent photographer. In my kindergarten days I won a finger painting competition. As I grew up I was not an easy child and my mother resorted to spanking me with a chinela (a Chinese slipper). I was saved many times by my grandmother who would tell my mother that because I was an artist just like she was that she should be more understanding.
I was given painting lessons in both Buenos Aires and Mexico City. It seems I had some talent. But when I was 16 I told my mother I could no longer draw or paint. It seems had some sort of block.
Buying a single lens reflex camera (a Pentacon-F) in 1959 somehow changed my approach to the so-called artist in me.
Because I was in Mexico in the early 60s I took many street photographs. Perhaps it was the inspiration of Mexico that enabled me to produce some good photographs.
It was not until Rosemary, our two daughters and I moved to
Vancouver that I became a photographer. I was a very good magazine and portrait
photographer. I took pride in my technical proficiency.
I never thought of myself as being an artist. In Vancouver, then, and even now, if you think you are an artist you will be subject to an almost certain failure and a resulting bitterness.
So I comfortably avoided the issue of saying I was an artist. I loathed then and now those who start their talking or writing with, “My art,” or ‘I am going to make art.”
And I will not bring up the polarizing subject here of, “I don’t care if what I do is not art. I think it is art and so it is.”
But at the end of the last century I met up with Argentine artists Nora Patrich and Juan Manuel Sánchez. Sánchez gently persuaded and almost convinced me that indeed I was (am?”) an artist. We had shows in city galleries and my stuff was up on the wall.
Even now avoiding the epithet that I am an artist and calling my photographs and scanographs art is something I avoid at all costs.
The initial purpose of my first scan of Rosa ‘Reine Victoria’ in the summer of 2001 was one of scientific accuracy. I wanted to record the colour and correct size of that rose on that particular day. Perhaps rosarians in other parts of the world might want to compare notes. None did.
|Rosa 'Reine Victoria ' Summer 2001|
By now I am somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3000 plant scans. This 2022, living alone with my two cats, scanning plants has been a pleasant pastime that has become an obsession. I do not care if my scans will ever be noticed nor do I worry about them when I am dead.
Scanning is fun and it and writing this blog keeps me from the straightjacket.
But I now have to confess that my initial idea of scanning for accuracy had devolved to not only doing that one accurate scan but then I fuss and fuss with many variations that look (to my eyes) artistic.
Could it be that I am an artist?
I prefer to say I am a writer. After over 5664 blogs and many articles and essays (even a gardening column for Western Living years ago) I am comfortable with that sobriquet.