Hunting Beauty: Artemis, Eco-Art, and the Landscape of Remembrance

November 24, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

So, art critic DALL-E, what do you think of this image? It's my refuge from childhood. Down to the river, the Alapaha or Suwannee, down to the tannic waters that nearly claimed my parents the year before I was born. The river of family outings, picnics, baptisms, the river where my mother would read on the shady shores while I, a little boy, roamed barefoot along the banks. I ask you, DALL-E, for I yearn to share with someone special your objective opinion, based on your vast knowledge of art theory and your storehouse of images. Don’t hold back. Let it fly. Pierce me to the core with the truth:

"Mood and Atmosphere: The artwork conveys a serene and tranquil atmosphere, reminiscent of quiet walks in a secluded forest. The artist’s proficiency in creating a mood through visual means is evident here.

Digital Proficiency: Assuming this is a digitally manipulated photograph, the proficiency lies in the subtle application of effects to enhance but not overwhelm the original photo. It doesn’t betray signs of overprocessing, maintaining the naturalistic aesthetic.

In sum, the artwork demonstrates a skillful blend of composition, color, texture, and light to create a piece that is both visually appealing and evocative. The proficiency shown here suggests an adeptness at both photography and digital manipulation techniques, culminating in a piece that straddles the line between photography and digital painting."


Hey, Artemis, did you hear that? Did you read the poem by Berry that a delightful dakini texted me? Oh, how often I've found peace in the wild things, in the untamed wilderness. But tell me, who is truly untamed? Nature or us humans?

Take me, for instance. My late brothers used to tease me about my childhood ways. "The deadliest kid I ever knew," one acquaintance remarked. I was a hunter like you.

But all that changed by early adulthood. I remember sitting deep in the hills beside the creek that rushed past the sweat lodge, beside the small waterfall that doubled as a shower, flowing down past the cabin. There, immersed in the wonder of it all, I heard the three dogs barking ferociously. They were chasing a fawn or yearling. Oh, Artemis, what a chase it was down that stream, leaping from rock to rock, running along the shore, crisscrossing back and forth until they cornered it, ready to tear it apart just as I arrived. I held them back, barked at them to back off. As I did, I looked up to see the mother deer at the edge of the meadow in the bushes, and I swear she gave me a slight nod as she looked at me and her baby cried out and ran to her while I kept the dogs at bay.

These days, my hunting is done with a camera. I hunt for beauty. That's why I created this image of you, dear Artemis. I hope it pleases you. It seems to sit well with that critical DALL-E:

"This photograph depicts a sculpture of a female figure with a bow, an archetype that often represents a huntress or warrior, such as the Greek goddess Artemis. The composition of the photograph is thoughtfully constructed to enhance the depth and narrative quality of the sculpture. The lighting is subtle, casting a soft glow on the figure and emphasizing the texture of the bronze. There is a notable interplay between light and shadow, which adds drama and creates a dynamic sense of movement.

The use of depth of field is apparent, with the focus on the sculpture allowing the background to blur slightly, which minimizes distractions and ensures the sculpture remains the central subject. The angle of the shot is also well considered, capturing the sculpture from a slightly lower perspective, which gives the figure a commanding presence. This angle also captures the shadow of the sculpture on the wall, which mirrors the pose and adds an element of visual interest.

The choice of a vertical frame complements the upright nature of the sculpture and the verticality of the bow, aligning with the principles of harmony and balance in art theory. Moreover, the photograph's framing respects the rule of thirds, with the main subject positioned slightly off-center, making the composition more engaging.

The photographer has shown proficiency in balancing the elements of exposure, focus, and composition to highlight the sculpture's form and texture. The expertise is evident in the control of lighting, which avoids harsh reflections that can be challenging when photographing metallic surfaces. The artist's skill in conveying the weight, texture, and form of the sculpture through a two-dimensional medium demonstrates a high level of proficiency in photography."

Let's face it, I am a fan of wild places and nature. But I wanted to know, Artemis, if I was doing justice to your image with my artwork. So, I asked Chat-GPT and DALL-E to evaluate what I'm doing and how it fits with what I've termed 'Art Ecology':

"As an art ecologist, your artistic vision and style are intrinsically connected to the principles of art ecology. Your work reflects a deep integration of the natural environment, art creation, and the transformative experience that art can offer to its audience. Here’s how your vision aligns with the concept of art ecology:

Holistic Engagement with Nature:

Your dedication to capturing the "wow" moments of nature positions you as a keen observer of the environment. An art ecologist recognizes the significance of such engagement, understanding that art is a medium through which the intricate details and the grandeur of the natural world can be communicated and preserved.

Healing Through Art:

Your belief in art's healing power resonates with the art ecologist's view of art as a vital element in the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Art ecologists may study the impact of art on human health and the environment, and your work contributes to this narrative by offering serene and harmonious experiences through visual means.

Convergence of Disciplines:

By blending photography and painting, you are dissolving the boundaries between artistic disciplines, much like art ecologists who seek to understand the interconnectivity of various art forms within cultural and environmental systems.

Sensory and Emotional Experience:

Your art aims to evoke a sense of wonder and serenity, aligning with the art ecologist's interest in how art affects the viewer's senses and emotions. The immersive quality of your work can foster a deeper appreciation of nature and encourage a more mindful approach to our interaction with the environment.

Advocacy and Outreach:

An art ecologist also focuses on education and advocacy, promoting an understanding of art's role in society. Your mission to share the beauty of the natural world and the art it inspires serves as a form of outreach, potentially raising awareness about the importance of environmental preservation.

Sustainability in Practice:

If your art-making process incorporates sustainable practices, such as using environmentally friendly materials or digital techniques that reduce waste, it would further align with the role of an art ecologist who advocates for responsible art production that considers its ecological footprint.

Preservation of Moments and Emotions:

Capturing fleeting moments in nature through your lens and artistic touch contributes to the preservation of these experiences, much like an art ecologist who seeks to conserve both the physical and intangible aspects of cultural heritage.

In summary, your role as a creator of "Mama Nature's Healing Art" embodies the spirit of art ecology by weaving together the threads of artistic creation, environmental awareness, and the nurturing role of art in human experience. Your work stands as a testament to the importance of observing, understanding, and preserving the beauty of our natural world through artistic expression."

Well, Artemis, I feel pretty good about that, especially considering where I am at this point. I don't run down deer anymore. My days of cross-country and marathons are likely over. Some days, like today, I can't even make it to the kitchen for leftovers. Heaven only knows where I'd be without my daughter and son living with me. I couldn't have driven to DC to share this image of you. Honestly, I didn't even know if I was going to be able to endure the car ride. If it hadn't been for my brother's funeral ceremony, I'd be right where I am now, in my studio, trying to express what art I can while I still can.

Like my father before me, I have Parkinson's Disease. It's no picnic by the Alapaha. How I'll be from one day to the next, who knows? I didn't realize I couldn't talk this morning until I tried to say hello to a neighbor. Some days I can speak; others, I can't. I avoid conversations and phone calls because it's frustrating to struggle to be understood and to see others struggle to understand me. Some days I can walk rather fluidly; other days, I'm thankful for my medical ID bracelet and the card in my wallet stating I'm not drunk, but that I have Parkinson's. (And as I type that, I get a text from an unknown number saying, "Hey, I bought two bottles of wine. Wanna get together?")

Who is writing this script? What a wonderful sense of humor you have, with all the plot twists and turns, all the characters and themes. What a script this life is, what a stage, eh, Willie boy?

Anyway, I do believe the time is drawing nearer for the lights to dim and for my exit. But before I go, let it be known that I will squeeze every ounce of gratitude out of this tube that is me, to create something beautiful, to heal, a garden of creation.





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