Gull-FlightIt was the flickering almost-shadows that drew me outside. I say almost because I wondered how there could be shadow with so much cloud. But there they were, tracing faint shapes; a collective streaming ellipse in the sky. Soundless.

And then another cloud, a low thrum, and I knew what brought the gulls. A swarm of insects, tiny and winged. Sticking to my damp skin, working their way into my hair, slipping under the thin gaps between clothing and flesh.


One of These Birds is Not Like the Others

© Karen McRae, 2014

Purple Martin Stories

PurpleMartinsLandscapeThere are moments when it’s hard not to mourn the quick passing of the summer even though we are still in it. Cold rainy days that feel like they were borrowed from another month. A month like October.

And seeing that the Purple Martins have ‘left the building‘. Their summer nesting boxes empty – devoid of those beautiful summer sounds the swallows bring – the babies fully grown, independent. Eventually, hopefully, they will make it all the way to their winter home in Brazil, some of them banded and/or outfitted with tiny GPS trackers. Little winter ‘backpacks’ to tell stories of where they go. When they return in the spring the birds will be carefully caught and the tiny GPS devices removed. The number of Purple Martins is significantly dropping and it’s not really known why so, this data is hopefully a step in finding out what might be causing the decline in their population, and a step too, in finding ways to protect them. You can read more about the fascinating Purple Martin Project here and here on the Nature Canada website.


[The first image is a layered photograph ~ purple martins, a rainy window and a summer landscape made with movement.]

© Karen McRae, 2014

In Progress

RiverStories1River Stories 1, oil, Conté & etching on Mylar

I don’t know where this might end up (messier, maybe – it seems too colourful, it bores me …) but it is what I’m wrestling with at the moment. Well, we’ve been wrestling for a while. Slippery fish.

© Karen McRae, 2014

PurpleMartin_SpeedofFlightThe Speed of (F)light

Another Purple Martin (male) caught in flight ~ It is difficult to get a precise synthesis of both focus and movement when photographing these birds – I think this is what interests me the most – but this particular image might be the closest I’ve come. I like the somewhat abstracted nature of the form and the simplicity of the monochromatic tones. They might be getting sick of me hanging around, though…

[Click on the image for a larger version]


© Karen McRae, 2014

Wild Blossoms

ColourField_Blossoms1As I sift through my photographs I realize that they are often much more painterly than many of the paintings I have made. I guess I have done enough ‘making of photographs’ that it becomes easier to let go – to be experimental – to play.

Somehow in all that play we stumble across visuals that lure us in and keep us going.  That keep us making. Images that express something we want to say or something that we feel even if those things are not easily put into words. It is a beautiful thing to be completely drawn in by what you are working on; to be lost in images and ideas and explorations.

I suppose I am trying to get through a painting ‘slump’ as I look at the many abandoned works littering my studio. Those canvasses seem to be getting impatient, though. I hope at some point the freedom I feel when wielding a camera will shift into a paint brush, or a pencil. These photographs I have been working on are nudging me towards something more tactile; not attempts to recreate what I have done photographically – though surely these things speak to each other – but to push past the stumbling block of expecting perfection and specific outcomes when I put a brush to canvas.  This is what I am learning – let go. There is nothing to lose, really, except the risk of getting lost in the work.

From the photographic series ‘Colour Field’
© Karen McRae, 2014

Wild Grasses

WildGrasses1 A photograph made by blending three different ‘drive-by’ images (and a smattering of selective erasing on 2 of the layers). It seems I am obsessively endlessly fascinated by the exploration of ‘movement’ when making photographs.  : )

From the photographic series ‘Colour Field’
© Karen McRae, 2014