Ken Smith Photo Journal

two shows

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Winter Lake

Right in the middle of my recovery from a left total knee replacement, two shows opened exhibiting my work. At Confluence Gallery in Twisp, Washington, is the show titled, “In the Land of Snow and Indigo”. The winter-themed show is supposed to get us ready for winter, but good luck with that. Who really wants it to come again? Well, the climbers in the top image are enjoying it. The show runs from November 15 to January 20, 2015.

At Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery, on Bainbridge Island, Washington,, is the show “Doorways: Photographs”. This show runs November 7 to December 1. I am exhibiting four pieces in this show, and one is “Recollection of a Woman in White”, below. This is a great gallery, always well-curated.

Recollection of a Woman in White

The receptions to both these shows were well attended, and there is still plenty of time to stop in and see the work before they close.

Climbers. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 14-5/8″ x 15″ image size, framed 22″ x 22″.

Winter Lake. Carbon Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 21″ x 14-1/2″ image size, framed 28″ x 22″.

Recollection of a Woman in White. Carbon Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 15″ x 15″ image size, framed 26″ x 26″.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

November 21st, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Posted in Landscape,News


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Leave-behind 1 (left) and 2 (right), is a diptych made for a group show at Confluence Gallery in Twisp, Washington. The show title is: The Big Sleep. The curators asked artists to discuss with their various mediums their thoughts about things that come to an end, what we call Death. The show, that is scheduled during the Halloween season, ironically also comes after much of the area around the valley where the gallery is located, was devastated by the largest wildfire in Washington State history. The curators did not know of this when they began organizing the show in April. Much of the Summer the valley suffered with loss of homes and property, power outages, and the physical and psychological affects of Loss. The show is bound to reflect those feelings and runs from September 27 – November 8, with the opening reception on Saturday, September 27 from 4 to 8pm.

Each artist was asked to write a one page statement about each of the works. My particular piece comes about from finding a stack of wilted flowers that laid in a trash heap thru one winter, after being discarded by a friend. Using the abandoned flora as metaphor, my work looks at the idea that objects, people, places have spirits that go on long after the physicalness changes form. The work suggests, as does Japanese Shinto belief, that spirit lives in all things, and may continue as long as there is admiration, love, and remembrance. In that context, death or the end of things, is not as finite as one might think. Though these inanimate flowers were forgotten and left behind by one person, my discovery and retained admiration for them, in a sense, brought the spirit within them back to life.

The timely show and its poignant theme promises to bring a lot of good artwork to the gallery, and I hope if you are in the area, you will visit. Many of the artists will be attending the opening reception and the discussion will flow.

Leave-behind 1 & 2. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper, mixed media. 22″ x 16″ image size, framed 28″ x 22″ – each piece.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

September 26th, 2014 at 11:54 am

first lyric

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first lyric

First Lyric. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 27″ x 20″.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

July 22nd, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Flora,Still Life

the sketch

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Prairie Smoke

The Prairie Smoke is a wildflower that appears every year in my area. I love their wispy ways. I have worked with them many times before. This time, I have chosen them against a black background, tall and narrow. I have seven images so far, and am wondering now, if I have a new series taking shape?

At this point in the creative process, it is difficult to know if the supposed series is real or brief playfulness. A flirting with my love for this shape, and the fragile emotions that appear, may be as fickle as a brief time in a season. I mistrust my ability to edit my feelings for the work. A series is a commitment, each image needing to flow, cohesive and of equal quality. More of a book, than a single haiku. So, I think of each image as a sketch. Title-less. I work with them as individuals, and let them stand alone for a time and distant, till I can look at them with the cold eye of a stranger. Then, maybe they will seem to work, to fit together. And I will say they are then a series, and find a name for them, and begin the process of turning sketches into finished work.

Prairie Smoke (working title).

copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

June 13th, 2014 at 2:35 pm

mayo clinic

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Brazil Flower 2

Four of my Brazil Flower series have been purchased into the collection of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I am pleased to have my work included in their collection which is used in the healing arts.

Brazil Flower 2. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 24″ x 20″.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2011 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

April 22nd, 2014 at 10:11 am

Posted in Flora,News,Still Life

revealed flower

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revealed flower 4

A new series is taking shape – Revealed Flower series.

Revealed Flower 4. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 20″ x 20″.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

April 7th, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Flora,Still Life

35th anniversary

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reverie 14

Olson-Larsen Galleries, in West Des Moines, Iowa, is celebrating their 35th Anniversary! I am proud to be represented by this fine gallery. All gallery artists will be exhibiting one piece in the show, and I have chosen, reverie 14, from my new series. The show opening reception is April 11, and the show runs till June 7.

reverie 14. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 26-5/8″ x 20″.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

March 4th, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Flora,News,Still Life


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queen of flowers

nude with spheres

I am proud to be invited to participate in a group show at Confluence Gallery in Twisp, Washington. The show is titled, “Woman: Lady. Girl. Female. Chick. Dame. Broad. Lassie. Wench. Maiden. An Artist’s Interpretation.” I am exhibiting four pieces in the show, two shown here. The show opens on International Woman’s Day, March 8, and runs thru April 19.

Queen of Flowers. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper on panel, beeswaxed. 20″ x 20″.

Nude with Spheres. Carbon Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 8″ x 11-1/2″.

images copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

March 4th, 2014 at 9:20 pm


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reverie 1

As often happens in my creative process, the feeling and the work produced occurs prior to making a title. There are working titles…this series included Flower1, Flower2, etc., just to get the work to a place it may be referred to. I first want to get the work made, and then live with it for a time to know if I even want to keep it. I continued to work on the images in this series, that number 14 so far.

Titles, and especially those for a series, are difficult because they can seem like they are a ‘conclusion’. There was a time when I wanted to not use titles on my work at all…just Untitled 1, Untitled 2, followed by the year created. But galleries did not like the ambiguity, and truthfully I wasn’t sure about that path either. What I was afraid of in making a title that encouraged or suggested ‘feeling’ was that the title could convert the visual art experience, into a literary one. Meaning, with enough words, one could explain what the viewer ‘should feel’, instead of the work taking that role. The title, if wrong, can send the viewer to another place entirely. The title summarizes and puts into a word, what one is essentially saying is wordless – the visual art. So no wonder there is trepidation in deciding on a title, and I know other artists deal with the same quandary.

I would love to have each and every viewer ‘get’ what I am trying to express in my work, but it does not seem correct to suggest an aesthetic place the viewer should go to after reading the label below the artwork. Is it ‘impure’ to use words in a visual art piece at all? A good question, I say to myself.

But over time, I’ve come around to accepting that the title of the work, is descriptive of the state of mind I was in when I thought about the work in progress, or what I felt when I first saw the completed work. Sometimes I still title work clinically, such as, Standing Nude, or Winter Aspens. But when I have a series in mind, and images have a continuity of style coming from the beginning, I am hard pressed to simply call them Flower 1, Flower 2…

So, when I came to a pause in making this latest series, I struggled to find words that would surpass my uncertainties about titles, not be trite, or plain. One that could live up to what I hoped the finished work would aspire to. I wrote down lots of titles, but none survived my scrutiny. Finally, I asked a friend who knows me well, even to knowing my struggles during the last year with personal loss. For all that had come about in my life, was sure to be there in the work. He knew my state of being, and he had seen some of the images I had made so far. I also explained my difficulties with titles, though I know he has heard it before. I described as I might in an artist statement, what I was putting into the work, what I was feeling about this series. I told him some of my ideas and that the words were either cliches, or had the wrong poetics. Such is the dilemna, in what might seem to be a simple part of making the work.

The next day, he sent me an email with a word that was perfect. He had the distance, and yet the familiarity with my work and me, to give me the ideal title. The new series, reverie, lower-case with airy syllables that breeze off the lips, and a meaning that says it all. “Diffuse and dreamy character; a dreamlike state of mind.” The title suggests where I am in my work, in this time in my life, without divulging too much. I can leave it up to the viewers to each find their own feelings and personal connections when they encounter the visual work that waits in front of them.

reverie 1. Pigment ink print on cotton printmaking paper. 26″ x 20″.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2014 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

February 17th, 2014 at 10:45 pm

cyano- and other types

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aspen row

During the winter last, I began collecting materials and information to begin making cyanotypes. But one crucial element in the process was the necessity for full sunlight. The paper coated with chemicals is exposed to the UV light from the sun, thru a negative that is laid on top, a piece of glass over it all.

When the sun was finally reliable in May, I began my experiments. First, I had to learn to make enlarged negatives, printing them out on transparency film on my inkjet printer. Then, I needed to learn how to coat the paper; various papers for some would not coat properly, or reacted to the chemicals. Then, I needed to experiment with how much time to expose the sandwich of negative and coated paper, glass, to the sun.

It can be a frustrating process to master, and I am still a student. But the process is gratifying in that it is totally hands-on. A chance to ‘put into’ the work one’s self. I look at it that way, when I am making what I hope crosses into the level of art. Not only must the work be well crafted so there is no distraction, but it must express what some have called an ‘otherness’. It transcends the ordinary and exudes a heart. Sounds metaphysical, but isn’t that what is expected of art? Is not art supposed to transcend everyday life, so that we come away with questions, new experiences, insights? I believe it is so. Starting work in a new medium such as cyanotype, causes not only a journey into new materials, techniques, and processes; but it is also a waundering into the reasons one works in any medium at all – the purposes of making art.

So I practice making cyanotypes, and toning them in tea or coffee, or other types of tannic acid. These toners change the original blue color of the cyanotype into slightly maroon brown, or various shades of brown or grey that are difficult to reproduce from one print to the next. This alternative process is fickle and filled with ambiguity. There is science involved, but it is not exact science. Learning to go with that is part of the process I enjoy practicing.

I am just beginning to exhibit my cyanotypes. I am also renewing my familiarity with my darkroom. Seasons pass. The sun is used for some processes, and the darkness for others. Inkjet for printing on interesting papers. I am having fun with all of it.

Aspen Row. Cyanotype toned in tannic acid. 6″ x 9″ image on Weston’s Diploma Parchment paper.

image copyright © Ken Smith 2013 all rights reserved.

Written by Ken Smith

August 13th, 2013 at 9:34 pm

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