A da Vinci code of conduct

Peter J. Blackburn on why, whilst it’s important to gather inspiration, you should find your own voice – like Da Vinci.

Writer / Peter J. Blackburn

Peter J Blackburn, da vinci

“The painter [artist] will produce pictures of little merit if he takes the works of others as his standard.”

That particular quote of Leonardo da Vinci might seem a bit odd to appear on a website blog such as this. After all, AlternativePhotography.com is packed, almost bursting at the seams, with the works of others. Indeed, all manner of photographic images both large and small, from albumen prints to ziatypes, in every shade, spectrum and style can be found among the multitude of pages layered within this amazing site.

In fact, one by one, artists from all over the globe and many walks of life come and place for all to see their personal creations, visual expressions, and artistic gifts on the virtual gallery walls. Many visitors to the site have recently begun their photographic journey and are trying on for size some of the diverse opportunities alternative processes offer. They come here, in part, to see the vast assortment of images and behold the wonders of what others have done. Then, off they go with wild ambition to produce their own alternative prints, many seemingly throwing all caution to the wind.

Scores of other artists seen here have been working at this thing call alternative photography for quite some time and are happily settling into their own creative groove. They have wrestled with a process or two and have come to grips with both frustration and success. Yes, journeymen as those come here, too, in part, to see the galleries and behold the wonders of what others have done, albeit with a more understanding eye.

Then, there are the veterans, the superstars, the gurus. You know— the ones who have diligently persevered through the many obstacles of their chosen medium. They have broken new ground, raised the bar another notch, and created work that pushes the envelope just a little bit further. Do they come to also behold the wonders of this site? Probably. I certainly hope so.

Still, a simple question of significant importance remains. Do we each come to behold this treasury of images so as to set standards for ourselves? Leonardo, I think, would shudder at the thought! If that is your intended purpose, then I believe you do both yourself and the hundreds of artists on this site a great disservice. Instead, may your artistic standards come from within, your vision produced by convictions and purposes established from your own careful contemplation. Rather, let the works on this site bring to you simple enjoyment, food for thought, fresh air to breath, and just enough stimulation to set you off again, back in pursuit of your own unique contributions. With those adjustments in mind, a sort of da Vinci code of conduct, come and behold the wonders found here as often as you can. I do.

Peter J. Blackburn, MA, has been working in gum and casein bichromate printing for over thirty years. He is represented by Afterimage Gallery, Dallas, Texas. You can also see Peter J. Blackburn’s gallery or read more articles he has written.

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