Would you please tell a little us about yourself?
My approach to life and art is minimalist.The major influences on me and hence my work, were having had the great privilege of being mentored by Agnes Martin; spending 10 years in meditation practice culminating in a year in India, living closely with my teacher; and being introduced to Photoshop, initially in classes with John Paul Caponigro. I’ve always loved to photograph, but it was only through Photoshop that I began to feel a resonance with my experimental painter’s approach to making images.
The places I’ve lived have influenced me as well: from New Mexico, where inspiration seems to shower down on you, to my current long-term residence along the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida, with its constant presence of sun and water. Having been a painter all my life until just a few years ago, I am concerned with the actual finished print.
To me, an image is not complete until I can hold it in my hands. Often I will go back into my images after printing with pastels and colored pencils before I will call a piece finished.
How did you get started in photography?
I have a picture of myself in the park at 7 years old, and around my wrist was a Brownie camera. In my young adult years, my father gave me his Leica M3. I tried to teach myself darkroom technique while I was in the MFA program at Cornell, taking advantage of their facilities. I’d work all night long, then with reams of ruined paper, I’d stumble home in the dark. Being a painter, though, I was drawn back to the light-filled studio and the physical activity of painting. Years later, in an attempt to make my own portfolio on the computer, I taught myself a little Photoshop. I think it was PS3. I became fascinated and hooked on painting with the computer. At first it was photos of my paintings, but it gradually spread to the world of light.
Would you share with us one image(not your own)that has stayed with you over time?
The photographs by Kamil Vojnar that collages layers using different tonal range.
Which photographers’ and other artists’ work do you admire?
Agnes Martin was my mentor from 1972 until she passed away. She was an inspiration in my developing aesthetic and a revered taskmaster. Robert Rauschenberg, who was a friend here in SW Florida encouraged the constant experimentation with materials and photography. An exhibition at Verve Gallery in Santa Fe introduced me to Kamil Vojnar. The way he uses the printed image as collage material has been inspiring.
What has been your most memorable experience as far as your photographic work is concerned?
The other day, when I was feeling really down about the political situation and the state of the world, I went for a stroll with my camera around the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As I walked I began to notice the beauty in things like the pattern on the aged window air-conditioning-unit screens, and the way a shadow played up the stairs of a brownstone. The details of the gritty streets became beautiful to me and I felt uplifted, as if I’d found my eyes again. My eyes are, I realized, the direct channel to my soul.
Please tell us about the portfolio of work you submitted to our call.
I really don’t feel the need to go exploring in exotic places at this point in my life. I find my subject matter in the immediate surroundings, be it condensation on the window, reflections of the light on the pond behind my house, or the way street lights play across the ceiling of my home at night. My subject matter is simply light. The work in the recent series, “Ebb and Flow,” was inspired by light reflected off a stainless steel surface in my apartment at different times of day. This softly textured industrial surface reveals a calm, yet invigorating, light. Recently, I was gifted a flat file filled with Swiss-made antique lithography paper, that when printed on, as in the “Ebb and Flow” series, lends a soft painterly quality to the image.
What Image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
I can’t really say which particular image taught me an important lesson. With the first images I did of this series, “Ebb and Flow,” I recognized that I could shoot what is basically just a reflection of light and make art with it. It seems to bring full circle the process of painting with the computer.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
My most creative days occur when I can wake up in the morning with nothing on the calendar, no deadlines or appointments. I need that feeling of calm to get fully absorbed. I love to work when it is raining. I feel a need to create something if I am to be content with myself at the end of the day. It’s wonderful to work all day and in the evening look at what I’ve produced, even if it’s still on the monitor, and feel pleased. Then I can sleep.
Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment that you find essential in the making of your work?
There is no doubt that my Epson 7800 is my puppy. But I also couldn’t do without my wonderful large-screen iMac. I just got a new mirrorless camera that I’m sure is wonderful, but we’ve yet to make friends.
What is on the horizon?
I’m really looking forward to participating in the Depth of Field 2018 exhibition.
I’m going to make friends with this new camera. I have a few series that are in different stages of development that I look forward to printing. I hope to begin printing large pieces that are more three-dimensional.
There will be an exhibit of both my paintings and photography at a client’s showrooms to celebrate my 75th birthday in the spring.
To learn more about the work of Lynda Faye Braun please visit her site at Lynda Fay Braun.