"Fire in the sky" Copyright Dan Gregory used with permission

“Fire in the sky” Copyright Dan Gregory
used with permission

This week, we welcome retired pharmacist, Dan Gregory as our guest blogger. 99755-guest2bblog-2

He was born and raised in Louisiana. His interest in photography and painting blossomed in his teenage years, continued through his era of earning a pharmacy degree from Northeastern University in Monroe, Louisiana. He routinely practiced pharmacy until his affliction from MS became apparent in his fifties. He retired and now devotes his full attention to photography, writing, and oil painting.
What many would consider a handicap he has turned into the realization of a dream: full time attention to his visual arts and the expression of it. He currently resides in Lakewood Ranch/ Sarasota, Florida where he is happy with camera, pen, and brush in hand. He sees the world through new eyes. His renderings are sought by collectors through out the United States
and world, and he is the proud father of two sons, and a daughter.

Dans Head shots

Dan presents his thoughts on how and why he merges photography and oil painting.

The world is quite the wonderful and startling place; discoveries are everywhere with infinite possibilities. All you have to do is open your eyes.
But for some just to see is not enough. Time must be frozen. But how to do that? Again in a myriad of ways, some more complex but satisfying through the magic of accomplishment.
I’m a retired pharmacist, not by choice, but thanks to Multiple Sclerosis, so I have all the time in the world now to discover it.
I’ve always painted since a child, almost always been a photographer from back in the days when everything was manual. I bought a Leica because it’s such an incredible tool to take photos that beg to be translated into paintings, not because I’m a snob. After several months with it, it FORCES me to arrange and compose artistically, unlike my other cameras which have
whittled photography into point and shoots. I’m still learning it, and it never fails to surprise or disappoint me. Much the same as life.
I like to travel the backroads with it, the blue highways so to speak. Here I can find the dichotomies between the past and present. There’s an abandoned motel, truck graveyards hiding in the tall weeds, archaic old general stores. Strange sites as compared to the glass and steel so commonplace today, the hurried pace. They scream in anguish to be remembered, for
once they stood proud and strong, rolled the roads in hubris. And now they just want to be thought of one final time.
And I have that power. Through my viewfinder I carefully compose my trophy within the lines of a grid. I bring the LEDs to a correct exposure, let the auto-focus do its thing by lightly depressing the shutter release. Then I press it all the way. The capture is complete; I have rendered my prey timeless, and, like magic, it is given immortality.
I like to photograph the serene beauty of the female form with it. From the release of that button, a woman who strives not to age will never do so. In decades to come, when the flesh has dried and withered, an ever-young face will stare from that screen or piece of paper. She will always be there, back when she had the power to enchant a man just with a coy smile which has vanished like a ghost. She has gained the prize of forever. And she will never lose it.

Copyright Dan Gregory

Copyright Dan Gregory

The photographs are good, but there is something better. The photographs are recordings which require no interpretation. Physics is physics. They can be personalized a bit with Photoshop or some such program. But more than anything it just depends on how the light strikes the sensor. The quality of a photo depends on the compositional and functional talent of
the photographer.
And what is something better you may ask? I take those images, and I interpret them in paints. I take tubes of pigments made from earth and draw forth from a blank, white canvas the colors of the rainbow. I paint those relics, those graceful women. If the camera gave them a new life, the painting gives them a new interpretation. I am scarcely limited, if only by my imagination. All creatures of mythology, past and present, can be rendered and brought to glorious life. The dead can be brought back to life, the divided reunited .The camera, the Leica, cannot do that. The elegant woman can still be captured by the unfeeling sensor, but it takes the pigments to give her the touch of the artist’s soul. He can see every mark, every crease, on that woman’s body, and he can love them because they are part of her uniqueness. He can appreciate that she is a child of God and render her as such. The camera cannot do that. It is merely a tool. It is like saying the painting exists solely because of the brush, no matter how fine.
The artist can return life to the abandoned building beside the unremembered road. A forgotten store that has seen many decades between the dark and light is suddenly ablaze once more. The song of crickets is replaced by the cries of merriment. The dead have been redeemed. The moon and stars above have seen it all since time began, but like the alloy and glass of a camera they are uncaring. They are not human.
But the camera and the brush are both only tools wielded by a human. A cheap Instamatic wielded by Ansel Adams can hardly be bested by a child with a Zeiss Ikon. A Waterhouse rendered by a cheap dime-store set of pan watercolors can hardly be surpassed by a child with all of the finest Winsor and Newtons in the world. Experience is the best, and harshest, teacher. So it is up to you to embrace it. Go into a world wracked by strife and wars, and cherish all of what you see there. It all exists for a reason, and it is up to you to find the latent beauty that lurks everywhere.

And it is up to you to show it, display it, and better yet, teach it.