THE 33rd ANNUAL CORRALES OLD CHURCH FINE ARTS SHOW
For 32 straight years, a juried Fine Arts Show was a Fall feature in Historic Old San Ysidro Church. Some of New Mexico’s finest artists showcased their creations, nestled within the warmth of the adobe walls, for nine days in early October as overhead colorful balloons filled the skies. This year’s show will be held October 2nd-10th. On line submission of art work to be judged will be open from June 1st – July 15th. Stay tuned for more information on how to take part!
A win all around
Artists need venues to strut their stuff. When they sell a piece at this show, 25 percent of their sales are donated toward the preservation and maintenance of the Old Church so that this 150-year-old historic structure will be around for centuries to come. As an art enthusiast you get zoom-in viewing and enjoyment of exceptional art, plus knowing your purchase helps both the artist and Old Church as it brings years of visual pleasure in your special space. To make a separate tax-deductible donation towards the preservation and maintenance of the Old Church go to https://www.corraleshistory.org
Featured Artist: Ken Duckert
Describe your primary medium and describe why you’ve chosen it for your artwork.
Since having a Brownie Box camera as a boy, I’ve been interested in photography. I had an opportunity to extend that interest and start working in my own darkroom in 1968. I haven’t looked back since. I can still feel the sense of magic of working in a dark room and watching images appear on the paper. The magic is still there in the digital darkroom now, especially with the many tools we have to create stylized and fine art photographs. I grew up in farmland in Michigan and spent many hours as a boy exploring fields, streams and woods. Having the means to capture and share the beauty and wonder similar to those early discoveries is a special treat. Nature and outdoor scenery was a great place to get started in photography. They are still dominant themes in my work.
When did you start working with this medium? How did you get introduced to this medium?
While working at an auto plant in Michigan in 1968, I met and became friends with a fellow who photographed weddings and aspiring models on weekends. He became my mentor and helped me to develop basic skills and work in the darkroom. After a short while, I got jobs as a staff photographer for three Detroit area newspapers and doing weddings and other contract work. As a college student living on loans, the income was timely and helpful. And photography was fun.
Did you teach yourself or do you have a formal education?
There were no classes, clubs, workshops, or tutorials readily available to me in those early years, so I learned what I could from local photographers and read as much as I could. Mostly, I just took a lot of photos and learned with each new job and field experience. I stayed in touch with my mentor. He was a great critic and my primary source for instruction. I haven’t participated in any formal training programs, but have taken many workshops, spent a lot of time with tutorials and working with other photographers. The Enchanted Lens Camera has been an amazing source of support. After moving here 8 years ago, my learning curve has gone vertical because of the generous and talented photographers and workshops associated with the camera club.
Have you always worked with this medium? What other media have you used?
Photography has been a primary focus for me. I did some painting, working with acrylics and oils for a while, but never got very far and wasn’t very good at it.
How much time do you devote to your artwork?
I spend 2-3 hours a day working in the digital darkroom. I carry a camera everywhere I go and try to take a photo of something every day. My career choice was in public education, so travel was something we did over every holiday and during the summer months. Having photography as an active avocation, I developed a travel blog and got a lot of satisfaction and affirmation from it. I got a lot of encouragement over the long haul to stay at it. I didn’t sell any work in those early years but gave a lot of it away to friends and folks who asked about it. Photography has always a source of fulfillment. The advent of digital photography has made it so much more exciting and enjoyable. And affordable.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
I didn’t get into the commercial side of photography until I had an image of mine selected as the logo for the 25th anniversary for the Friends of the Bosque Festival of Cranes at the Bosque del Apache NWR. Sales have never been a priority for me, but I have enjoyed being in galleries and attending shows. Talking about my work and photography in general, and the work of others is something I enjoy. The conversations have always offered the greatest pleasure. Sales are nice, but the conversations and the relationships that come out of the interactions provide the primary and most reliable payoff for me. When I do sell a print, I delight in knowing my work was chosen to display in a home, office or business setting. One of the more exciting experiences I’ve had was when a public relations firm in Seattle found an image of mine on my website and called to ask if they could use it to support a fund drive for a local arts foundation. The image ended up on billboards around Seattle for six months. That was very satisfying.
What are your sources for ideas and inspiration?
Getting out, anywhere, always provides countless subjects. Nothing stays the same. Being bored or not being able to find things of interest have never been problems. Some photographers describe themselves by narrow subjects – nature, landscape, urban, portrait, still life, sports, photojournalism, architecture, etc. I am thrilled by life and embrace many interests. Luckily, there are many very talented photographers in the greater Albuquerque and Santa Fe area. Seeing their work and interacting with them is always inspiring. Although I have taught a wide variety of photographic classes and field workshops, I consider myself a student and love learning new techniques and seeing good work. I still look for tutorials offering ideas and ways to improve my work.
What obstacles do you encounter as an artist? How do overcome challenges?
Getting out in the field is the biggest challenge. To get those highly desirable images, you have to find and get to those places where they exist. It’s the age old issue of time and money. Time is always more available than money, and making time for those extended trips has become more of a challenge since grandkids came on the scene. As in most cases, setting priorities helps.
Do you know what the finished artwork is going to be when you start? Do you ever just work from spontaneous impulse?
Each photograph is different. Photography is all about light and the physics of each image is different. When in the field, serendipity is always a good companion. We may go out to see a pileated woodpecker, but end up seeing mating bald eagles. Studio work is always highly organized and predictable. Walking in the field frequently offers a few surprises. Once at home in the digital darkroom to process images, I generally know where I’m going with most images. In this post-processing stage, the digital darkroom offers many opportunities to experiment and extend the original images to visually transmit and highlight emotional and sensory aspects of the scene. I love being surprised by the effects of applying filters to an image. The physics involved frequently produce different effects from prior applications. While outcomes are often predictable, it’s not uncommon to produce something entirely unexpected. Some of my more popular images are the results of some unexpected serendipity while experimenting with digital options.
Do you have a philosophy about producing art?
My exit from early commercial efforts with photography was motivated by the joy of photography being diminished when money got involved. So, when I chose a career in public education, I made a promise early on that I would stay with photography as long as it was fun. I had no desire, or need, to let commercial pressures drive my photography. Had I emerged as another Ansel Adams, perhaps I would have felt different. But that didn’t happen and I have been able to keep photography as a source of pleasure and joy.
Do you collaborate with other artists and if so, how does that happen?
I share my work weekly with other photographers. Many of us seek the reaction and opinion of others, especially when we think we got that “great shot.” The real fun takes place when field trips are shared with others. 95% of photography is “being there” to get the shot. There is a valuable discussion on setting up the shot and working with technical and advanced aspects of the equipment now available. This recent year of staying at home has been a real bummer for getting out with others, but close to home, safely planned field trips have still been possible. I’ve given a lot more attention to backyard photography with extended bird feeding stations.
Do you show your work commercially? If so where? Do you produce your art for a living or is it more of an avocation?
Photography has always been an avocation. I maintain a website that I describe as “my playground.” I include fine art photography as well as snapshots. It’s really still an outgrowth from my early travel blog. If an image resonates with me, it earns a place on my website. One gallery on my website displays artwork that is created on the patio with my two, still perfect, twin grandchildren. My wide-ranging interests are readily apparent by the diversity of galleries offered on my website. I offer no apologies for the number of images on display on my website. I’m not sure how it happens, but I love getting notes from people who have visited my website and have questions about what they found. I’ve got an email from a fellow in Australia who found himself in a photo from the San Francisco Bay to Breakers Race. There was another note from a woman who found herself in a photo taken of a beach volleyball game on the Santa Cruz beach. Both asked for copies of the images which I gladly provided. I still get notes on images from the Friday night bluegrass jam in Rosine, KY. My website has had many thousands of visitors and I hear from them weekly. That kind of affirmation matters to me and it’s well outside the rewards of the commercial world. I have modified the website somewhat lately to sell inventory that has been in storage too long. My work is shown on several group websites. I have been a member of the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery and the Yucca Gallery in Old Town, and I show on a regular basis in local shows in Corrales. My work has also been displayed in restaurants and various business office settings.
What advice would you give aspiring artists entering the field?
Reach out and collaborate with others. Work alone when you need to, but stay in touch with others. Learn from others and share what you know. Look for opportunities to show your work. While setting goals is necessary and important, selling art can be disappointing. So include a goal that involves getting exposure for your work and staying engaged with the public. Celebrate the conversation about your work and the work of others. Don’t give up if sales are slow. Avoid getting hung up on the idea that you are in competition with other artists. All artists produce work that personal and different from what you will produce. Your work will sing to people who resonate with your art. Sales will occur. Support other artists. CSA offers great opportunities to get involved with the Corrales art community. Getting involved in a leadership role is a good deal. I was fortunate to be able to serve as CSA President and Director of CAST for three years. It was a lot of work, but I got so much more from the experience than I put into it. Most importantly, it was a great bridge to meeting other artists and members of the Corrales business and residential community. Think about and volunteer to help.
What else do you want to say to help introduce you and your work to our readers?
The extensive and generous nature of the community of artists in Corrales and the greater Albuquerque area is a luxury that needs to be treasured. For more than 40 years, the community of artists that I knew in the Bay Area, met with, and shared art with, was small. It was supportive, but not always really helpful because we were often more encouraging than critical. We live in a place rich with stimulating environments and wonderful colleagues we can share common interests with and learn from.
Featured Artist: Jude Rudder
“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper
Background & Technique
Eighteen years ago while hiking in the Sandias, my husband asked me, “What are you going to do now?” I had just retired and had been thinking I needed a new hobby. I worked for a very large real estate company. I headed up the Relocation Department which facilitated corporate moves into and out of Albuquerque. My expertise was getting new employees excited about moving to New Mexico and learning to love their new city.
Now, I am retired. I needed a new interest. I decided on watercolor. I have always loved the quietness of it. I was late starting this new career. But early on I learned there is no “magic” brush or special paper. There is only me and my joyous hard work. For fifteen years, my husband and I had a small condo in Dillon, Colorado. Soon after we moved in, I joined a wonderful group of watercolorists called “Women of Watercolor”. We would load our back packs with minimal painting gear, camera, a sandwich, and take off on a hike. Plein air painting is a great way to begin. It feels good to be outside and with your friends. We could always find a comfortable rock to sit on with an incredible view. If I mess up, I just start again with another piece of paper. Summit County is full of galleries. I knew the only way to get my work shown was to walk the streets of Breckenridge and Vail. I kept a small portfolio in my car of photos of my work in hopes that a gallery would let me hang even a single piece. My best successes were one-person art shows exhibiting in the senior center and the library. Everyone goes there!
I am now back in New Mexico full-time. I am fortunate to live in the village of Corrales. I am surrounded by nature and get to see wildlife almost every day. When I go for a walk along the acequias, I am accompanied by owls, coyotes, horses, and dogs. Everywhere I look, it is a beautiful scene. Therefore it’s not a surprise to learn I love painting landscapes. My favorite is our very own Sandia Mountains. I remember years ago I had the opportunity to be invited to visit Roz Hurley at her home. She had been a widow for some time and was in the process of writing The Life and Art of Wilson Hurley. Wilson did not make the jump to a career in painting until he was 45 years old. Roz told me that he used to say, “any person who has 15 years of reasonable life expectancy can succeed in what he chooses to do. The secret is that you love to paint. Then you will progress.” Roz gradually lead me from room to room showing me her vast collection of art. Some of it was Wilson Hurley’s earlier work. It was when we walked into his studio that I was thunderstruck. Sunlight was pouring on his still-standing easel. His paints and brushes were on the table to the left. The wall that once held huge canvases on the opposite side of the room was now bare. But I could feel his presence. I knew immediately my goal. The best way to become an accomplished artist is by studying and practicing – a lot!
Writing this article reminds me, that I should dedicate more time to my craft. This is what I know: if I want to learn more and get better, I paint for myself; if I want to earn extra money and have some fun, I paint for someone else. Why do I love painting commissions? People are very passionate about what they love. When they are paying you to paint something, they want a memory that’s important to them. When we lived in Colorado, I enjoyed painting elevations of client’s mountain homes. I loved the beautiful surroundings of pine trees, streams, and walking paths. Lake Dillon was right across from our condo. Docked were all these colorful boats. What fun to finish up painting “Spending the Children’s Inheritance”.
Artistic Development, Philosophy, and Challenges
My friends, teachers, and mentors in watercolor are Jane Werkema, Bud Edmondson, and David Vega Chavez. A couple of years ago, I expanded my interest in oil painting with Howard Wexler. They have all taught me dedication and the excitement of learning. All four I consider geniuses’ in their field. I feel it’s important to take lessons from people who you love their work and who love to teach. Jane taught me the basics. Bud taught me perspective and started me on landscapes. David was amazing at skies. Howard concentrated on detail and movement. We loved bringing our easels out in Howard’s rose garden and painting with opera music in the background. Here’s an idea, if you don’t have the time to take lessons then learn through the societies you belong to. Both the New Mexico Watercolor Society and Rio Grande Art Association give monthly demos as part of their meetings as well as bringing in national art instructors for workshops. There’s also an amazing amount of “how-tos” on U-tube.
Constantly Learning Your Art
Watercolor painting is simple when you know what you’re doing and awful when you don’t. Try learning five basic techniques to achieve beautiful results for any subject: flat washes, graded washes, glazing, scrambling, and dry-brushing.
- Flat wash: even application of color over a large area requiring several brushstrokes that aren’t visible.
- Graded wash: Same as a flat wash, except you add more water with each brushstroke diluting the color.
- Glazing: Adding a thin transparent layer of paint over another color.
- Scumbling: A thin layer of opaque paint rubbed over a previously painted surface.
- Drybrushing: Quickly sweep a fairly dry loaded brush with paint across a textured paper.
Advice to Aspiring Artists
My best advice for an aspiring artist is to find a mentor. This can be done quite often by an art teacher or an artist friend. A personal mentoring relationship adds another layer to any artist’s growth. He does not want you to paint l like him. A good mentor encourages you to find your own voice. He will help you think beyond pages in a book and see the bigger picture. It takes time to develop your own style. Get involved. Join art societies. Participate in juried shows. Join an art critique group or start one.
Watercolor’s charm only shows up when you learn how to handle the water. This is the challenge of watercolor and it’s unlike any other medium. With each painting I do, I try to absorb more knowledge and look forward to having less regret in my next painting.
This pandemic has made for a quiet year. Art shows are mostly virtual; galleries are just starting to re-open. I have shown my work in galleries in Colorado as well as New Mexico. I have won numerous awards through the New Mexico Watercolor Society, Masterworks, Old Church Fine Art Show, and New Mexico State Fair. I belong to the Corrales Society of Artists. I am a Signature Member of the New Mexico Watercolor Society. I belong to the Rio Grande Art Association, Enchanted Lens Camera Club, and the Corrales Historical Society which puts on the Old Church Fine Art Show.
I am currently showing small works at Etcetera, Consignment next door to Hannah & Nates on Corrales Road. I know I need to get back into a gallery. For now, I’m happy painting in my studio at home. I paint in watercolor, oil, and acrylic. I am most passionate about landscapes and botanicals. I feel blessed to be living in a beautiful village.
You can contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Corrales Studio Art Tour (CAST) for 2021 will be in the fall rather that spring due to the pandemic. It will be on Sept 11th and 12th with the preview night on Sept. 9th. It is one of the premier art events in NM. All of the artists in the show are members of the Corrales Society of Artists. It is held in studios and other venues throughout the Village of Corrales.
Sign ups for CAST will be open from May 1st. – June 15th. All current members of CSA will receive an application via email by May 1st which will detail how to apply and fees. The application form on this website is out of date so please don’t use it. It will be updated by May 1st. The deadline to cancel and get a refund will be June 30th.
Featured Artist: Amy M. Ditto
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain
Background & Technique
In a profile I provided Shadow & Light Magazine a couple of years back, I began by stating that I haven't always been an artist. But, that isn't really true. Though as a child I was more interested in climbing trees than drawing them, my inner creative was always there in the stories I told myself, the scenarios and worlds I created for myself, and the innovations I made in bringing them to life.
Growing up, my mother was actively involved in the arts and regularly involved me. This exposure had a lasting impact. For my 18th birthday, my father gave me an SLR film camera, and in my second year of college in New Mexico, full of optimism and a sense of adventure, my passion for photography was instantly ignited. I began, of course, with black and white darkroom work. I adored it, but I could not imagine how I would make a career of it. I was interested in pretty much everything back then (still am). My curiosity lead me in other directions, and I moved on to more “practical” endeavors.
Twenty-five years later, after a lot of twists and turns in the road, a bachelor's degree in Psychology & Philosophy and a PhD in Ecology & Evolution, I now work as an artist and gallerist full time and am the owner of Ghostwolf Gallery in Albuquerque Old Town.
Departing radically in technique from the black & white of my youth, my work has moved in a significant way from a more spontaneous/opportunistic process of finding (or even stumbling upon) the perfect shot to become a more actively planned creative process that focuses on post-production and working as some painters do, to build images from the imagination. Completely self-taught where digital techniques are concerned, the digital darkroom has replaced the darkroom of old, and a computer has replaced the toxic, environmentally unfriendly chemicals we used to not think twice about working with for hours on end. I do not fear taking artistic license with an image, and my photography has become a tool in my creative process rather than an end in-and-of itself. I shoot more for stock now, spending more time interested in getting a subject from all possible useful angles than getting it from its “best” one, as rarely will the shot represent the final image, and more often than not I do not even know how I will use it. Sometimes, I don't have the image I need for a piece and I have to get creative. The 1940s Harley-Davidson in “Stormchaser” is actually a tiny model I purchased to get the shot, and “Dorothy” was not photographed in situ for any of the images in the “After Oz” series. I posed for the bathtub shot for “The Only Way to Fly” by setting a timer on my camera, whipping off my shirt, sitting down on a wrought iron chair on our deck, holding up my hand as if I had a glass of wine in it, and hoping the UPS guy didn't show up! I popped the image into the bathtub and created all of the appropriate shadowing in post. (All of the “After Oz” scenes are entirely generated from my imagination. The bathroom she lounges in does not exist save for there.)
All of this stated, spontaneity remains a big part of what I do. Sometimes, I just play, and many of my best images have arisen from this. Often, my ideas arise wondering what two very disparate images might look like combined, or waking from a dream. I crave novelty and as such diversity of style and subject matter is definitive of my nature. Conforming to a strict formula would suck the joy out of the creative process for me. Thus, while there are unifying stylistic elements globally evident in everything I do, I feed off the challenge of pushing myself in new directions. I remain constantly curious and easily amused in life. I find funny graffiti endearing and love quirky cultural statements and ironic juxtapositions.
Artistic Development, Philosophy, Challenges, & Advice to Aspiring Artists
Both positive and antagonistic forces have driven my development as an artist, the latter of which I believe deserve significant credit for pushing me to be far better at what I do. I will never forget when I was starting out doing large art shows and an older gentleman (photographer) wandered into my booth and complained bitterly about digital techniques and post-processing and said of my heavily edited piece “El Super Servicio de Santo Niño: “even YOU have to admit those colors aren't real!” My response was: “That's not the point, if you prefer traditional photography, there are lots of wonderful artists here at the show!” His wife nearly died of embarrassment (she understood), and my husband still laughs about my handling of it.
Regardless of the genre that they work in, anyone that does a lot of art shows has met this guy. And, he represents some of the primary challenges those of us pushing boundaries in any medium, but especially those of us working in digital and blurring lines between art forms, face. Despite plenty of accolades for my work, I am well aware that there are still folks in the art world that look down their noses at digital, and this is an ongoing frustration given the amount of creativity and skill I hope my work exhibits. My most complicated pieces can have hundreds of hours and hundreds of layers in them. They combine collage with digital brushwork and the utilization of a myriad of techniques, but a running joke between my husband and I is that I just push the “I feel lucky” button and call it a day, as it seems that is what these folks think I do. (For non-photographers, there used to be a photographic plugin for Photoshop that actually did have a setting named this. It was fun to play with, but pretty much never rendered artistically palatable results.)
However, as irked and amused as I was with that fellow in my booth that day, at that moment, my direction was clear. I wanted no confusion regarding my artistic intent and can say unequivocally that experiences and attitudes like these have pushed me to define myself without apology as an artist with a distinct vision. I've always been a contrarian, and the harder I have been pushed to conform, the harder I have pushed out into exploratory territory. The constant pressure to do work that purists are more comfortable with has ultimately lead me to find my own voice. Instead of aspiring to mediocrity through the pursuit of excellence in common work, I find myself taking more chances in defiance of it. The cynicism and banality of the idea that everything must look exactly as it is or utilize whatever trendy techniques other well-known photographers are using has pushed me ever further towards surrealism and whimsy. It's led me to more actively start telling stories and show people how I see the world. But, perhaps the coolest offshoot of my development as an artist has been my realization in the face of negativity that I prefer to define myself by what I do like, rather than what I don't. I am a firm believer that taking ourselves too seriously is a dangerous gambit and this is an incredibly positive motivation that guides me every day. Thus, in addition to hopefully instilling wonder, I've largely dedicated myself to making people laugh. I'm relatively convinced that this may be the greatest contribution I can make in this life and is a sufficiently worthy goal to aspire to.
All of this leads in to answering the interview question posed to me regarding what my advice would be to aspiring artists. First and foremost: do not let conventionalists have you stuff your creativity into that box they so want you to. Let your freak flag fly. Have fun. Be you. Further, some folks in the art world will try and suggest that only art that makes us miserable is “true” art, but joy is a legitimate element of the human experience worth communicating. Do not be afraid to convey it. And finally, don't let anyone tell you that because you use unconventional or non-traditional techniques that what you do is “less-than”. For the digital photographers out there, the artist working with digital brushes is no less an artist than one working with boarhair. And, one working in Photoshop is no less a photographer. What you do requires substantial skill to do well. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
Amy's work can be found at Ghostwolf Gallery at 206-1/2 San Felipe ST NW STE 3 and online at www.amyditto.com Ghostwolf is closed through January while they move to the new location. Call for an appointment!
Corrales has received the endorsement of the New Mexico Arts Commission as a start up community in the New Mexico Arts and Cultural Districts program. The invitation to participate in this program recognizes the considerable collaboration and accomplishments of organizations and businesses in Corrales in promoting its artistic and cultural heritage.
The Corrales Arts Partners (CAP) brings together individuals, businesses and organizations conducting and promoting art, cultural and educational activities in Corrales. The mission of CAP is to promote art, education and cultural events in Corrales. To accomplish this, CAP provides a forum for Partners to meet, get acquainted, discuss planned activities and issues of common interest, and explore ways to collaborate and provide mutual support. CAP seeks to support and expand the robust art and cultural opportunities provided to artists, educators, and members of the business and general Village community.