Category Archives: Art Exhibits

Express Yourself with a Photo Border

Photography provides a vehicle to communicate what we see and feel. And so the essential question is, “What are you trying to say?”

How do you find your photographic voice? 

Be curious. Visit museums, and go to the library and look through photography and art books. Browse online galleries and collections. Study. Formulate opinions on style, form, technique, and message. Notice the artists and photographers’ prevalent themes. Decide what moves you. Make a list and then ask yourself, “How can I incorporate these components into my work?”

I spent years searching for inspiration and expression. Personally passionate about music and color, in time, I discovered the Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who transformed hues into lyrical forces of spectral and musical equivalents. One of his most important paintings, Painting with White Borders, is the inspiration for the border tutorial I will share with you shortly. Kandinsky struggled with this painting, reworking it fifteen times until he arrived at the solution — a white border. His response to “Why white?” — “White expresses a harmony of silence, pregnant with possibilities.”  (

I also pay homage to Vincent Van Gogh (in the following video tutorial) who walked excessively through all types of weather, searching for his voice (and peace of mind). “Wheat Field in Rain” — one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings — creates a profound and tactile immediacy.

A Photo Border adds voice

“Sunflower Field in Rain”

About my photo

One rainy summer afternoon, while driving along Montauk Highway, I saw a field of sunflowers and a old truck with an American Flag. I had to stop and so I drove my car alongside the field, opened the car window and photographed. But I felt removed and couldn’t compose good enough from the car. Recalling Van Gogh’s painting “Wheat Field In Rain” and his habit of walking in inclement weather, I went out into the field, protecting my camera from the pouring rain with an umbrella hooked over my shoulder.

Later, I uploaded the images, selected my favorite, and adjusted the RAW file in ACR. After running through some basic adjustment layers in Adobe Photoshop, the photograph just didn’t feel complete. It was missing something, or, said another way, the photo wasn’t saying enough. Using Kandinsky’s Painting with White Borders as inspiration, I too created a border. Mine was yellow. Why yellow? “In addition to selecting a coordinating color, yellow embraces both Kandinsky and Van Gogh. In color geometry, (Kandinsky) the triangle is yellow and Van Gogh is synonymous with yellow sunflowers). Curious about the color yellow? Click here to read a blog post I wrote celebrating yellow.

The following is a video tutorial detailing how to create an artistic border. I am using Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, but this lesson works on all Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Elements versions.


Would love to hear from you.

All my best,


Check out my new eBook: Photographing Children Naturally

Photography Exhibits, NYC – August 2014

Photography Exhibits Must Sees

A Fine Art Mentoring Client (FAME) will be visiting Manhattan later this month and asked for a list of photography exhibit “must sees.” I decided to share my suggestions. Let me know if you visit any of these fabulous exhibits.

Gary Winogrand New York 1962

Gary Winogrand: New York 1962
Credit: Posthumous Print, (frame not marked by Winogrand on contact sheet), courtesy of The Gary Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, the University of Arizona

Gary Winogrand @ the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)

(though September 21, 2014)

Bronx, NY born photographer, Gary Winogrand’s most iconic images capture Manhattan in the 60’s. Known as one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century and classified as a street photographer, his prolific work is still being discovered. There are at least 250,000 images Winogrand never processed. Developed posthumously, some of these images are in this exhibit (like the image above on view in Gallery 691 @ the MET). To Winogrand, the act of photographing was far more interesting than making prints or editing for books and exhibits. 

“I photograph to find out what something looks like photographed.”

~Gary Winogrand

Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness @ The Museum of Modern ART (MOMA)

(through November 2, 2014)

American born artist (1956), Christopher Williams’ retrospect features nearly 100 photographs, spanning his 30-year photographic career including fashion, portraiture, landscape and an emphasis on still life.  

He is an ardently self-conscious artist who wants to let us in on his entire act. You feel his touch everywhere: in the installation, the catalogue, the simple map and the crazily ornate checklist, both handouts that are an essential part of the show….There’s nothing that he hasn’t tweaked or deleted. This includes the labels and wall texts; the framing of the photographs (those extra wide mats) and the height at which they hang (noticeably low)…It is as if, having tunneled into photography in every way imaginable, Mr. Williams has broken through to the exhibition form, which is becoming his true subject…

               ~Roberta Smith (New York Times, August 1, 2014)

Urbes Mutantes: Latin American Photography 1944-2013 @ The International Center of Photography (ICP)

(though September 7, 2014)

A major survey of the photographic movements in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. The exhibition draws mostly on street photography and

“explores pubic space as a platform for protest, popular street culture, the public face of poverty, and other characteristic of the city as described in photographs…Urbes Mutantes points to the depth and richness of the extensive photographic history of the region.”


Keld Helmer-Petersen @ The Yossi Milo Gallery

(Through August 29, 2014)

Color photographs by Danish born photographer Keld Helmer-Petersen (1920-2013).  As black-and-white photography was considered the only photographic art form in the 1940s, Helmer-Petersen’s pioneer work with color film 

“…  set a new standard, establishing the practice of color photography as a fine art and paving the way for subsequent generations of artists, including, William Eggleston.”

~(Yossi Milo Gallery)


I originally coined photopaintings for their marriage of my passions, photography and painting. Handpainting or hand tinting is a technique as old as photography itself, one I rediscovered back in the 1980s and helped bring back to the spotlight with my best selling book, The Art of Handpainting Photographs (Watson Guptill: Amphoto) The name photopaintings also nods to the late Henri Cartier Bresson, an iconic favorite, when reading his book, PhotoPortraits.

Why paint photos? When I decided to become a visual artist, I was concerned about the short life of color photography, it faded. To overcome the limits of the technology of the time, ironically, I stepped back in time and rediscovered the art of handpainting photographs. My Photopaintings begin as traditional darkroom hand printed gelatin silver b/w fiber print, a rarity these days, which are then enhanced with glazes of transparent oil paints and other artist’s mediums. As the New York Times says,

Cheryl Machat Dorskind applies subtle color to black-and-white prints to amplify the romantic feeling of mist shrouded coastal landscapes…her hand colored photographs celebrate natures’ misty moody character. Her deserted harbor, with its empty boat and unruffled water, seem to imply that human use would interrupt the spell. Pale pink and blue tones give the images a delicacy and an aura that suggests an uncommon moment.”

In the early 1990s, I quickly jumped on the digital train embracing the new technology. I adore all things digital and work with the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, using a digital brush (with the help of a Wacom Intuos 5), blending colors and painting with light.


Photopaintings: A photo art exhibit by Cheryl Machat Dorskind

The exhibition presents a selection of my favorite handpainted silver gelatin photographs and a grouping from a current on going body of work (archival pigment prints) that celebrate the light and colors of the Hamptons.

The show will remain on view through August 11 at the Remsenburg Academy (130 South Road, Remsenburg, NY 11960). Gallery hours are Thursday – Sunday, 12 – 5 and by appointment 888-395-1666. The artist reception is on Friday, July 26, from 5-7 PM.

Friday Quote: “When was the last time you laughed?” ~ Barbara Kruger

Friday Quote: “When was the last time you laughed?”

~ Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger’s new installation “Belief + Doubt” features massive-type aphorisms in Kruger’s signature colors of red, black, and white. The exhibit officially opens on August 20 and will remain on display through 2014.

According to the Washington City Paper (8/8/12), Barbara Kruger is one of the greatest feminist artists of the 20th century and an important contributor to the fields of text-based art, appropriation, mass communication and corporate critique.

I was fortunate to be at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum earlier this summer while the installation was in progress and I snapped a few photos.

A view of Barbara Kruger’s, “Belief + Doubt” 6700 square foot installation at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC

A view of Barbara Kruger’s, “Belief + Doubt” 6700 square foot installation at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC

A view of Barbara Kruger’s, “Belief + Doubt” 6700 square foot installation at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC

All Images:”Belief + Doubt” – © Barbara Kruger, photos by Cheryl Machat Dorskind

Have a great weekend and a hearty laugh,

“Performance is all about state of mind”~Marina Abramovic′

Cheryl Machat Dorskind Self PortraitFriday Quote

Yesterday I ate something that kept me in bed so I turned on the tv and watched the HBO documentary “Marina Abramovic′.” I was stunned by its intensity and sorry I missed her 2010 MOMA retrospective. If you were one of the 750,000 viewers I would like to hear your thoughts.

The documentary did not sit well with my queasy stomach, (I stopped it when the magician was eating his wine glass) but I wanted to share some of Marina’s wisdom. She is an artist (doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a “performance artist”)  who embodies Zen philosophy. To her, intention and being in your authentic space is sacred. I was profoundly touched by her presence on screen.

“Artists have to be warrior, have to have this determination and the stamina to conquer, not to just cover new territory, but also to conquer himself and his weaknesses. So it doesn’t matter what type of work you are doing as an artist, the most important is which state of mind you are doing what you are doing. And performance is all about state of mind.”

“Artist is present”

From her manifest:

  1. An artist should not lie to himself or to others
  2. An artist should not steal from other artists
  3. An artist should not compromise for themselves or in regard to the art market
  4. An artist should not kill another human being
  5. An artist must not make themselves into an idol
  6. An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist

A recent NY Times interview with Marina concludes this blog, although I recommend watching the documentary first before you read the interview and judge Marina and her art. (

Happy Friday,

PS Feeling better, I finished watching the video last night.

“New Ideas Fascinate Me” ~ Thomas Struth

Cheryl Machat Dorskind Self Portrait

New Ideas Fascinate Me

© 2012  Cheryl Machat Dorskind

Looking for a new motif for your photography? Well, Thomas Struth might have an answer. Struth bypassed photographer’s block finding his muse for over forty years in a broad range of subjects including urban environments, families, technology, and (today’s topic) museums. Struth doesn’t look at his breadth of subjects as personal reinvention, but rather fascination with new ideas,

“It has less to do with reinventing myself then with how I simply change as a person and how will new things come into my life, New things fascinate me and I’m interested in new problems.

~Thomas Struth~

Finding new new ideas requires an open heart and mind and curiosity.  Struth wrote about the museum experience:

“The question is? What are people doing there. Why are they there? The answer is museums provide a protected space where people can reflect on history and on the perspective of history provided by other people before them.”

Museums create a protected space to unleash your imagination. In museums I loose myself and time. Willa  Sibert Cather writes in “Song of the Lark” (free download on the Kindle),

“It was with a lightening of the heart, a feeling of throwing off the old miseries and old sorrows of the world, that she ran up the wide staircase to the pictures. There she liked best the ones that told stories… In that same room, there was a picture— Oh, that was the thing she ran upstairs so fast to see! That was her picture. She imagined that nobody cared for it but herself, and that it waited for her… She liked even the name of it, ‘The Song of the Lark’… She told herself that that picture was ‘right’… the almost boundless satisfaction she felt when she looked at the picture.”

Art will refuel a photographer and expand her repertoire. Use a camera for sketching. Capture history-making-images. Photograph (If the museum permits) a Mary Cassatt or Rembrandt for light, color, and composition.

So here’s to another happy Friday. I hope you find your muse,


"The Boating Party,"Mary Cassatt Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

"Self Portrait" 1659, Rembrandt van Rijn, Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

“Time smiled, touched my shoulder, and told me things I’d never heard before” ~Gordon Parks

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Gordon Parks

By Cheryl Machat Dorskind

I was so happy to read the announcement about the upcoming photography exhibit at the International Center of Photography in midtown New York City celebrating Gordon Parks’ 100th year anniversary of his birth.

The ICP is taking the show to the streets, by including mural size photos as window displays and downloadable talks to mobile devices by Gordon Parks himself. The aim is to introduce Gordon Parks’ works to a new generation.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Gordon Parks’ genius as a filmmaker (including “Leaning Tree” and “Shaft”), writer, composer, and photographer. Largely self-taught, he lived to 93 years old.  He was able to overcome many barriers as a child, including poverty and racism. During his tenure at Life magazine, Parks’ photographs focused on social inequality.

Perhaps his best known photograph is “American Gothic” which depicts a black cleaning woman named Ella Watson who stands stoically in front of an American flag, a mop in one hand, a broom in the other.  Copyright laws restrict me from posting this photo, but I am able to post another that features Mrs. Ella Watson. This photo was obtained from the Library of Congress’s vast digital photo resource. If you haven’t visited this website, take a look this weekend. It is rich with American history. (

(From the LOC collection of the Gordon Parks Archives]

© Gordon Parks: Mrs. Ella Watson, a government charwoman, with three grandchildren and her adopted daughter

 Below are a few quotes from Gordon Parks.

“Time smiled, touched my shoulder, and told me things I’d never heard before.  Now and then certain wonders of the universe descend carefully from the Maker’s hands and, one by one, fall into a chosen space to blot out emptiness.”

Gordon Parks
Eyes with Winged Thoughts

Humor on aging:

“Recently my memory is slippery, like an eel.  The spectacles that were missing this morning were kind enough to turn up on my head.”  He says,  “Funny, things I forget are often more significant than the things I remember.”

Gordon Parks
Eyes with Winged Thoughts

On love and hope:

“Despite the turmoil, anguish and despair disrupting the planet we inherited, there is something good I choose to sing about.  That something lies within us, patiently waiting – beneath us, above us and around us.”

Gordon Parks
Eyes with Winged Thoughts

The exhibit opens Thursday, May 24th. Maybe I’ll see you then.

Have a great weekend and keep your camera in heart synch.


Friday Quote: “Why hire a photographer?”

I was not surprised to see the cover of the New York Times Sunday Arts section (2/19/12) feature a rare non-costumed Cindy Sherman self-portrait for its lead article. And I thought, of course, “Why hire a photographer when she can photograph herself…best…as she wants to be seen?”

Once again Cindy Sherman makes front page art news in the New York Times Weekend Arts, today (2/24/12), but this time she is back in costume. Her exhibit at the MOMA is one not to be missed. Here are some Cindy Sherman Quotes:

On Characters

“None of the characters are me. They’re everything but me. If it seems too close to me, it’s rejected.”

“My work is not about fantasizing about characters or situations……When I’m doing the characters I really don’t feel it is something I’m building out of my fantasies, my dreams…”

On Makeup

“Sometimes I would play in my room out of curiosity to see what makeup can do. Sometimes become a character…”

The Photographer’s Quote

“I was good at copying things, but I didn’t really have ideas of what I wanted to do with painting. That was when I thought, ‘Why am I wasting my time elaborately copying things when I could use a camera?’”

Carol Vogel, NY Times (2/19/12)

On Hiring Models

“Whenever I tried to hire people or use friends or family, even if I paid them, I felt like I had to entertain them. When I’m working alone, I can push myself. And I don’t complain.”

Carol Vogel, NY Times (2/19/12)

From the Critics

“The contradictory and complex readings of her work reinforce its ongoing relevance to multiple audiences. More than ever, identity is malleable and fluid and her photographs confirm this.”

Ms. Respini (NY Times 2/19/2012)

Her exhibition at MOMA will be on view through June11, 2012

Friday Quote: “I begin by not photographing” ~Jeff Wall

“I begin by not photographing” ~Jeff Wall

“I developed that phrase because it just described something I really do. If I see something on the street, lets say, I don’t photograph it. So I could be looking and hunting for things…but I just don’t photograph them.  It’s only a small difference, really. The actual event disappears as a photograph. It vanishes as a potential photograph. It doesn’t happen. But, it doesn’t disappear because I am the photographer…

October 2007
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Photografs like Paintings – Jeff Wall in Dresden… by deutschewelle

The Art Institute of Chicago on Jeff Wall: “Epic and luminous, the work of Jeff Wall has overturned nearly every convention of photography. Meticulously staged and theatrical in scale, Wall’s images have more in common with the grandest history painting of the 18th century and the flickering mesmerism of cinema than with the fleeting documentary style of much of modern photography.”

Happy Friday,

Friday Quote: Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim

Catellan_01.jpgCatellan_02.jpgCatellan_03.jpgCatellan_04.jpgCatellan_05.jpgCatellan_06.jpgCatellan_07.jpgCatellan_08.jpgFriday Quote: Cattelan at tthe GuggenheimCatellan_10.jpg

Have you noticed that art critiques (photography, films, and book reviews as well) can be awfully opinionated? Art criticism is supposed to be about detailing, explaining, and educating the public. But sometimes art critics get carried away with their editorial perspective.

“Abigail Solomon-Godeau views her chosen critical agendas as one of asking questions: Primarily, all critical practices—literary or artistic—should be about asking questions. That’s what I do in my teaching and it’s what I attempt to do in my writing.”

Critic Kay Larsen, states that she starts writing criticism “by confronting the work at the most direct level possible—suspending language and removing barriers…you can try to figure out how to explain it, and there are many ways to take off—through sociology, history, theory, standard criticism, or description.”

And lastly, Grace Glueck sees her role as a critic as “being one of informing members of the public about works of art: She aspires to inform, elucidate, explain, and enlighten.”

With the above critical philosophy (from the terrific book Criticizing Photographs, by Terry Barrett Criticizing Photographs
as a backdrop, I now turn to the exhibit of Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim, “All.” Maurizio Cattelan is known for his prankster approach to art and critics have not been kind.

And yet…he is having a retrospective at the age of 51 at the Guggenheim Museum and he cleverly insisted on using the brilliance of Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s space to hang (never-to-be -done-before) his collection of 128 works in the center of the atrium.

Ingenious and fun, you see the art from different perspectives as you walk up and down the ramps: I recommend the exhibit to all. The Guggenheim even gives you free headsets so you can learn about Cattelan.

I have read several reviews—thankfully defacto (since I might have been put off going by the undeserved negativity): The New Yorker, NY Times, and Bloomberg condescend, NY Magazine and The Economist offer useful insights. Jerry Saltz of NY Magazine summarizes in his redemptive article, “All is Cattelan internally fissuring, convulsing into a spectacular grand seizure. It’s full disclosure, nondisclosure, self-martyrdom, panic attack, and jumping-the-shark rolled into one—and it’s also some kind of masterpiece.”

Visit the museum and let me know your thoughts. And notice, I say thoughts; this is when opinions are welcome.