During Autumn 2018, I produced a body of work in abstract photography that, in many ways, fulfills my highest vision as an artist. (This is what I’ve been working toward for many years!) Today, I’m pleased to present one of my first releases of finished art derived from the series.
My aim with this series was to create a set of images that share some common attributes and visual style, but that also have a lot of variation from one image to the next.
While I was making the photographs I was observing the dynamic, captivating graphic elements and working to create intriguing, surreal images with an organic feel.
I’ve titled the series Shapeshifter; each individual photograph simply uses a unique number designator. This naming ties in with the nature of the subject matter—through only slight changes in my viewpoint, the reflective surface revealed an infinite variety of shapes, colours and patterns… Truly morphing in front of my eyes!
Shapeshifter No. 11 displays a minimalist composition, with a single black line running diagonally across the picture space. This is surrounded by subtle, organic textures in a muted, pastel colour palette.
As with much of my abstract work, this is offered as a mixed media piece, which I create by printing the photograph onto canvas and then hand-embellishing the canvas surface with transparent acrylic, bringing out the contours and textures of the underlying image. It is 16×24 inches, unframed ‘gallery-wrap’ style and delivered ready-to-hang.
Thus, each is produced to-order and is a one-of-a-kind, unique original. This art makes fantastic décor and a real conversation piece in any contemporary interior!
A world-renowned eye surgeon based in Switzerland has commissioned me to produce a bespoke mixed media work on canvas, based on my photograph ‘Waiting for Dawn’, as a Christmas gift for his wife. The artwork will hang in their home.
If you’d like to order your own art from me, there’s still time to take delivery before Christmas! Get in touch to discuss your requirements.
On my first trip to Bologna, Italy, I discovered a large trash bin with some curious paint markings on its lid. I stopped and took many photographs of the scene.
I’ve looked at these images for a long while and still am not sure what’s made these markings. But I don’t think they are intentional. At some point in the past, this metal surface came into contact with some black paint and the result is what you see here.
I have a strong philosophy that my photography—especially my abstract work—does not depict the visual works created by other artists. I don’t [generally] photograph graffiti, sculptures, even architecture that was meant as an aesthetic, visual statement made by another creator.
I believe the best fine art photography presents situations, subjects, concepts and ideas that were not thought of by someone else beforehand. As such, all my abstract works that I present publicly are of subjects and situations that I believe were not created for visual effect by another artist before I encountered it.
Which brings me back to the enigma of this image. I found it as you see it. But it perplexes me. What made these marks?
After much study I believe the shapes in the paint were not created intentionally, but from some activity which we will never know. If this is truly the case, this is one of the finest examples of “accidental design” that I’ve encountered.
A couple of years ago I led a client on a private photo tour around Spain. One of our favourite locations was Barcelona, where we enjoyed an afternoon tour and concert of the famous and beautiful Palau de la Musica Catalana.
In 2014, Ruth and I led another private photo tour around Tuscany, Italy. One of our group’s favorite towns was San Gimignano, an architectural wonder from medieval times.
We first photographed the iconic village from the surrounding area, then gradually worked our way into the city. Everyone made compelling images depicting all facets of this magical town.
While I was wandering around the back alleys, I discovered an outdoor restaurant patio attached to a hotel. Lovely glass panels were all around, each reflecting and refracting the afternoon sun as it came down in slivers between the tall stone towers surrounding the courtyard.
This photograph shows a closeup of the refraction of glass panels on a textured fabric surface. Although it’s far from the typical photograph of San Gimignano, for me it epitomizes the special vignettes that can be found in every little corner of the world.
As with all my photographs, fine art prints and original abstract mixed media works are available, so get in touch if you can envision this adorning your walls.
For many years, I’ve been working to refine my vision in creating pure abstraction using the camera. It’s been difficult in ways I didn’t expect.
Making an abstract photograph can be hard, to begin with, because we can very easily make sense of pictures and figure out ‘what the thing is’. If you can tell what it is, it isn’t truly abstract.
Second, even if a photograph may be called truly abstract, it might not be beautiful or interesting. I’ve long known that I am mainly concerned with making pictures that are beautiful and interesting, in various ways, rather than pursuing the all-too-common goal in fine art of presenting ugliness.
With these two objectives forming a prime directive—it must be truly abstract and it must be lovely—most of the pictures I make inevitably fail the test. (What you see here on my web site are the ones that I feel succeeded…)
Every once in a while, I make a picture that, in every way, feels right. It simply clicks. And I know I’m on the right path for myself as an artist.
This is one of those images. I have many thousands of pictures in my body of work, but relatively few that I really love. This one just does it for me.
I made this picture in Korčula, Croatia. It’s a very beautiful city known for innumerable views and scenery that capture the heart and mind. But. as always, I look for something beyond the obvious.
This is a close-up, although not extreme macro, photograph of a metal door with dark brown paint. Over many years people had taped posters and flyers to the door. While the posters have long gone, the cracked and peeling residue of the tape remains, creating unbelievably intricate patterns and textures forming enigmatic shapes.
Click for a larger view
The detail captured here is almost unbelievable. I used my favourite camera of all time, the Sony A7R II, which has a resolution of 42.4 effective megapixels. With the camera on a tripod, I very carefully chose the settings for the shot and focused critically to get the absolute sharpest image possible. To the right is a small section of the image, enlarged to show the amazing detail. As you can see, I could easily cut this image apart to make an unlimited number of variations and sets of images designed to hang together on a wall.
Although the original capture was very monochromatic (pretty much all brown hues) I decided to make it a straight black-and-white to emphasize the very graphic nature of the image. It strongly reminds me of a pen and ink drawing, which I loved to do as a child and teenager. Maybe this is why it resonates with me so much?
What do you think? Do you like it? Why or why not? What does it remind you of?
Would you hang a huge print of this in your living room, or on your office wall?
This is the kind of photograph I am always looking for. Simple, graphic, enigmatic.
I’ve titled this image ‘Gaelbreton Beam’ because, to me, it portrays a bridge and a beacon in the gap between the ancient peoples of Europe. (Weird, I know.)
The Gaels descended from the Celts and became what are considered the native inhabitants of the British Isles. The Bretons come from essentially the same genetic lineage, but became the people of Brittany, and eventually, modern France.
Throughout millennia, the people of England and France have been tied together by blood, marriage and historic events. Only the English Channel—a shallow stretch of water only about 20 miles wide—separates these kindred people. But so much has divided them.
This abstract photograph was made in Paris, France and presents a minimalist composition featuring a multi-hued teal blue strip dropping down into a deep black background.
Fine art prints available on any material, in any size. Also available as mixed media original on canvas with hand embellished acrylic.
I made this abstract photograph in Gothenburg, Sweden. The composition depicts a nebulous red blob, creating a strong focal point interacting with many transparent layers, lines and geometric shapes in textures of warm and cool hued grays.
There is something strangely familiar about this image. The graphics recall memories of strife and turmoil, but the structured composition conveys peace and stability. The many layers speak of the passage of time, yet the feeling is very much here-and-now. It appears as if chaos and order are coexisting within the frame and all is right with the universe.
This photograph is available for ownership as a limited edition fine art print or mixed media original, hand embellished with acrylic. Made to any size to fit your specifications.
Earlier on the day I made this photograph, I visited the Tate Modern. Seeing lots of groundbreaking abstract art at the museum certainly primed my eye to spot this amazing scene in the Tube.
There were many big challenges to make this picture. First, we were waiting for a train, so I only had a couple of minutes. Second, the platform was crowded with travelers jostling for position. Third, it was very dark. And I had no tripod. (Not that I really could have set one up anyway.) So I had to shoot this handheld, using a wide aperture and high ISO. My beloved Sony a7R was up to the task. The optical image stabilization gave me a couple extra stops of shutter speed, and the a7R’s fantastic performance in low light really impressed me. And the 36 MP resolution means this image can be printed very large, with amazing detail.
Mixed media originals and fine art reproductions available for purchase in any size; contact us for your custom quote.
Abstract photograph made in Paris, France depicts a large black square containing nebulous, organic white shapes positioned above a turquoise bar punctuated by black interleaved triangles.
I find this image mysterious and captivating. The pattern along the bottom reminds me of designs found on the temples of ancient pre-Columbian civilizations like the Maya and Inca. Above, the enigmatic white shapes float in an inky field of black, speckled with tiny multicolored specks and lines that resemble the night sky. This image is serious, introspective and heavy—perfect decor for masculine interiors.
Available for purchase as mixed media original and fine art reproductions; contact me for custom pricing.
Abstract photograph made in Zadar, Croatia features rich, saturated hues of red, magenta and purple, contrasting against deep blue and black. The slim, vertical orientation displays dynamic energy created by strong diagonal lines and rhythmic translucent bars.
Fine art prints are available in any size and on any material. Also available as mixed media Original on canvas, hand embellished with acrylic.
Nat's book "Astratto Uno" features over 150 abstract photographs made over a period of nine years. You can get it in printed format or as a downloadable PDF. Get the details >
People are talking…
“Nat Coalson did a beautiful job on a canvas print of Sneffles Range, Colorado, for a Christmas gift. I loved it so much I bought another one for myself! Highly recommend Nat’s work.” - Amy M. Lindsey, Indianapolis, Indiana
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