DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


New Calendar and Prints Available

Filed under: My Work for Sale,Photography: Elemental Forces — fred @ 23:31

Thumbnail images for “Dynamic Elements: Photography of Fire and Water by Fred Hatt”, a calendar for sale on RedBubble.com

In time for last-minute holiday shopping, I’ve added a lot of new material to my page at RedBubble, the print-on-demand source for beautiful quality prints, cards and calendars.

The images above are from the new calendar “Dynamic Elements”, featuring my photos of fire and water.    You can order it or my earlier “Energy Within: The Art of Fred Hatt” calendar starting with any month you wish.

I’ve also uploaded a lot of my new figure drawing, body painting, and light painting images, available as greeting cards, postcards, posters, or prints – matted, mounted, or framed – in various sizes.  I’ve chosen images that have proven popular, based on page views here, or reposts on Tumblr or Pinterest.  If there are images from Drawing Life or one of my other sites you’d like to have made available there, let me know in the comments.

Prices are reasonable and the quality of the items I’ve ordered from RedBubble has been top-notch.  Please check out my portfolio on RedBubble.



Filed under: Photography: Elemental Forces — Tags: , , , , , — fred @ 23:48

Liquid Topology, 2007, photo by Fred Hatt

Here in the States we’re celebrating Thanksgiving, a time to honor family, food and fellowship, and to contemplate gratitude.  Superstorm Sandy recently reminded those of us who live on America’s Mid-Atlantic coast of the destructive potential of water, but as I think of what I have to be grateful for, I am thinking of the water of life, the cyclical element that falls and flows, permeates and dissolves, irrigates and cleanses, rises and expands.  Water is the blood of the living Earth.  We New Yorkers are lucky to have plenty of rain that keeps our vegetation lush.  We have a great water system with remarkably clean tap water from upstate reservoirs.  In recent decades sewage treatment has made our coastal waters much cleaner than they used to be.  We need to love and protect our precious water!

My most basic artistic motivation is just to revel in the beauty that is all around us, and to share my perceptions with others, “Look, isn’t this amazing?”  I’m sure the sophisticates of the Art World find it as silly as the raptures of the “double rainbow” guy, but this way of looking at the world is not sentimental or delusional.   The world is a complex phenomenon of interacting forces, and the harmonies and tensions that emerge therefrom are myriad.  Aesthetic experience is fundamental to insight in science, philosophy, and the arts.

I’ve made a couple of posts of my photographs of fire (here and here), and one of my commenters, Heart_in_Water, suggested I do a post on water, the dynamic flow that complements fire in the ancient conception of elemental forces.  Herewith, a collection of my water shots.

People are instinctively attracted to water, seek it out and gather in its cooling presence.  Here’s a scene I came upon in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, looking down from the top of a stream and waterfall.  A painter had set up an easel to make a study of the landscape, and a family took turns posing on the rocks and taking pictures of each other with their phones.  In the background you can see my friend Peter bending over to take off his shoes, compelled to dance in the stream.

Painter and Photographers, Prospect Park, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

Even water in a city gutter can provide a glimpse of visual magic.  This standing water becomes a gap opening into a looking-glass city beneath the streets.

View of the Undercity, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

The mirrorlike quality of still water is often used architecturally for this quality of opening up space.  Henry Moore’s monumental abstract bronze at Lincoln Center expands to twice its size in a reflecting pool.

Reclining Figure, 1965 sculpture by Henry Moore at Lincoln Center, 2012 photo by Fred Hatt

Emerald Mirror, Prospect Park, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

Even still water moves on its surface.  The bronze angel does not move, but the reflected angel quivers in the wind like the leaves of a tree.

Angel of the Turbulent Surface (Angel of the Waters, 1868 sculpture by Emma Stebbins, at Bethesda Fountain, Central Park), 2008 photo by Fred Hatt

Macy’s in a Puddle, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Taxi’s Wake, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

At night, reflected light does its shimmery shimmy on the surface of water.

Gold Under the Bridge, 2009, photo by Fred Hatt

Water on a Tar Roof, 2006, photo by Fred Hatt

The multiple image below shows the computer-controlled dancing water jets at the Brooklyn Museum, created by WET Design.  You can read this set from the bottom up:  the lowest image shows the initial burst of the water jets, the second picture shows them shooting high, and the higher images show the columns of water aloft as gravity begins to pull the droplets apart and back to earth.

Brooklyn Museum Fountain, 2006, photos by Fred Hatt

These fountains, with their unpredictable changing patterns, induce states of calm bliss in some who watch them, and screaming excitement in the children.

Fountain Joy, 2006, photo by Fred Hatt

The city is full of more traditional fountains, all of which celebrate the thrilling movements and sounds of water flying through the air and splashing down on itself.

City Hall Park Fountain, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

Ring of Rain, Ring of Flowers, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Fragmenting Sprays, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

As with fire, the shutter speed makes all the difference in photographing moving water.  A fast shutter speed freezes the water as clusters of individual droplets, while a slower shutter speed allows the movement to blur into streaks.  Sometimes a still photo of water looks like a sinuous sculpture in glass.

Belt of Water, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

Fountain Dome, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Stairway Cascade, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Liquid Chandelier, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Dancing Waters, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Moving water has a prismatic quality – literally in the case of rainbows created by light shining through mists of droplets.  (Click this link for a good explanation of rainbows, moonbows, sundogs, and other variations on the phenomenon.)

Rainbow in Falling water, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Water refracts and reflects the light and object colors in its surroundings.  Water reflections weave together the colors of the environment without muddying the hues.

Wet Windshield, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Low Sun on the River, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

The texture of the water’s surface varies according to the movement of the water itself and of the air moving over it.  The surface of rapidly moving water is dense with perturbation, while stiller water warps light in a more rubbery, tremulous fashion.

Rushing Stream, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Rain on Pond, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Fluidity, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

White Splash on Green, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

I’ve never been able to get good photos of the ocean or surf on the beach.  For me, those pictures never quite capture the immensity and power of the breathing sea.  Smaller bodies of water, ponds and streams and fountains and puddles, share with me and my camera a vision of Nature as master painter.

Water’s Edge, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Ducks’ Domain, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

This Summer one of my favorite and often-visited bodies of water, the Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn, was almost completely overtaken by invasive ferns and algae.  Apparently our extremely mild last winter played a part in this opaque bloom.  Water is vulnerable!

Carpet of Algae, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

We are creatures of the Watery Planet.  Let us celebrate, respect, and protect the water of life.

Reflecting Pool, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt



Forms of Fire

Filed under: Photography: Elemental Forces,Poetry — Tags: , , , , — fred @ 22:05

Dancing Fire Man, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

I recently returned from a week teaching art workshops at the Sirius Rising festival at Brushwood Folklore Center in Chautauqua County, New York.  I’ve been going to festivals at Brushwood since 1999, and it’s one of the special places in my world.  The climactic celebration at every festival is a huge community bonfire.   Here are some pictures from this year’s fire, with a few comments and two poems (written by others).

Circling the Bonfire, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Flames engulf the wood-stack, wriggling and leaping skyward.  This year’s pyre bore a carved blue dragon.  You can see the dragon’s trumpet-like shout and curled horns in the next two shots.  Salts of copper in the dragon color the flames blue and green.

Bonfire Nebula, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Horned Dragon, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt


A hymn from the Rig Veda (1500-1200 BC) in an English version by Robert Kelly

Your eyes do not make mistakes.

Your eyes have the sun’s seeing.

Your thought marches terribly in the night

blazing with light & the fire

breaks from your throat as you whinny in battle.

Blue Ghost, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

This fire was born in a pleasant forest

This fire lives in ecstasy somewhere in the night.

Arising Goddess, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

His march is a dagger of fire

His body is enormous

His mouth opens & closes as he champs on the world

He swings the axe-edge of his tongue

            smelting & refining the raw wood he chops down.

Lady Liberty, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

He gets ready to shoot & fits arrow to bowstring

He hones his light to a fine edge on the steel

He travels through night with rapid & various movements

His thighs are rich with movement.

            He is a bird that settles on a tree.

(from Technicians of the Sacred:  A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe & Oceania edited with commentaries by Jerome Rothenberg)

Launch, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Gazing into the fire is simultaneously exciting and calming.  The movement is too rapid to fully comprehend, but we know that this energy is within us, in the pulse of our arteries and the impulse of our nerves, the heat of our passions and the controlled combustion that is a life.

Firewatchers, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Firelight and Glowsticks, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Revelers in the Ember Field, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

I try to understand the essence of fiery energy by studying the forms of flame.  Combustion is all movement, so it’s really an abstraction to look at it as a still picture, but my slow draftsman’s brain likes to freeze the motion so I can trace its contours.  Photography is my tool for stopping time.  For the raging flames at the top of this post, a fast shutter speed (a thousandth of a second) shows the turbulence of shredded incandescent gas.  The images below use slow shutter speeds (half a second or more) to trace the movement of glowing embers as they rise through the column of heated air above the flames.

Bonfire Centerpost, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

These scribbles on the sky remind me of the tracings of fermions and bosons recorded in the cloud chamber of a nuclear partical accelerator.  They drift and loop and zag unpredictably.  This is the kind of energy I try to bring to my own drawings.

Incandescent Flux, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Dance of Hephaestos, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt


a poem by Elaine Maria Upton

There is a time of Water and a time of Wind.
This is the time of Fire, and Fire eats time.
The sands of the desert are uncountable!
Let go of the reckoning! Let go of time!
Let go of rain! Let go of forgiving!

Fountain of Sparks, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Cloud Chamber, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Fire eats rain and Fire eats trees. Fire eats
The leaves of corn. Fire is the grain and the husk
Of corn. Fire is the raging of Water. Fire is the roar,
the hum, the sting of Wind. Fire is the pepper pulsing
from the flower. Fire is the frenzied volcano dancing.
It is the lightning’s blitz, the drumming, the singing,
The beat of tribes, telling their story all night,
Piercing the bottom of dark, birthing the light.

Pyre, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Fire is the Earth exhausted, folding, sleeping
from days and nights of love, til there is no counting.
When flowers bleed, when lions sleep, when angels sigh, oh bleed, oh
sleep, oh sigh then! Oh, burn with mountains!
When leaves flame and fall to the ground,
When grass grows brown then gray, grieve not.
Grieve not, but follow the eagle and follow the grass.

Bottle Brush, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

River of Embers, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Weep not for the Earth. Weep not for the corn.
The Earth is the lover who gives all to love.
The Earth makes a bed of Love and the Sun knows.
The Earth makes a table of Love and the Fire knows.
The Earth feeds Fire. The Earth gives all to Love.
Follow the Earth. Look beyond your eyes as you go!
Follow the Earth to the beat of the Fire!
Open your thighs. Give all to Love!

From the website Poet Seers

Fiery Tresses, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

For more photos of fire, check this earlier post.


Mother Nature, Abstract Expressionist: Photography by Dan Fen

Fohoco, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

One of the gifts I received this holiday season was a collection of hundreds (thousands, actually!) of digital photographs by my youngest brother, Dan.  Dan lives in the Mojave Desert area, and regularly goes hiking in the canyons, hills, and valleys of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California, with his partner Jill, their dogs, and his camera.  All of the photos seen here were taken within 90 minutes drive from his house.  Dan has a great eye for the abstract patterns of nature.  I’m devoting this last post of 2011 to sharing Dan’s vision with the readers of Drawing Life.  The vortex of color below is a close-up detail of a living tree.

Votr, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Dan rarely prints his photos, and prefers that they be viewed as digital slide shows, full screen on a large monitor in a dark room, as sequences.  The more abstract series are quite hypnotic seen in that way, and I hope Dan will soon put some of his photos on line for full-screen slide show viewing.  For the format of this blog, I’ve selected a few of my favorites, reduced them in size, and mixed them up.  (Apologies, Dan!)  The originals have extremely fine textural details that are lost in the smaller images here, but the smaller size seems to emphasize the compositional qualities of the images.

Sheep Mountains, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Some of these close-up studies of rocks, trees and metal remind me of some of the images of the planet Mars that we have seen recently from the HiRISE camera launched by NASA and the University of Arizona.

Fohoco, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

You can also look at these pictures as though they were abstract expressionist paintings.  To my eye, the subtlety of the colors and the variety and complexity of the patterns surpass the masters of the New York School.

Sheep Mountains, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

The desert mountains and canyons are famous for their grand vistas, but Dan looks closely at details one might easily overlook, seeing the beauty of all phases of the cycles of nature, including erosion and decay.

Tree, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

These markings remind me of petroglyphs.  This is another close textural examination of a tree.

Noba, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

The landscape in Dan’s area is arid and much of it is dominated by bare stone.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t wildly colorful.  Look at these rocks streaked in white and red.

Buffington Pockets, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

In the picture below, the sun shines through the grass from behind, making the clumps shine like Fourth of July sparklers all around the jagged branches of a dead tree.

Sheep Mountains, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

This is another detail of the tree seen in the second picture in this post.  I wonder how it gets all these colors!

Votr, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

The landscape in wet places tends to have a lot of soft shapes and vivid greens.  The landscape in the desert leans more towards the spiky and the reddish.

Buffington Pockets, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Time is an artist!

Fohoco, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Sometimes the long view is just as much an abstract pattern as the close view.

Spring Mountains, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Organic growth, the cycles of the seasons, and the ravages of time all go into creating these expressions of vitality and struggle.  Dan’s art is to find and isolate them, and to share them with those who can’t be there, or wouldn’t notice these details if they were.

Cluptr, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Who says death is not a creative force?

Buffington Pockets, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Growth and destruction, all of it is part of the eternal process of change, and it all coexists as layers settle upon layers and surfaces scratch and peel.

Sheep Mountains, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Noba, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Fohoco, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

No architect’s dream of clean lines and noble geometry can compare to the fractal magic of living chaos!

Spring Mountains, 2011, photo by Dan Fen

Thanks, Dan, for sharing your photos with me and for allowing me to share them with my readers.


Fires of Brushwood

Filed under: Photography: Elemental Forces — Tags: , , , , — fred @ 14:49

Cone of Fire, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

I’ve just returned from a week of teaching and body painting at SummerFest, the new festival of the creative spirit at the Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, New York.  For many years, Brushwood has hosted Sirius Rising, Starwood (now moved to Wisteria in Ohio), and other festivals, and it’s become fertile ground for a community of artists and musicians, pagans and faeries, free spirits and freedom seekers.  I’ve been going out there since 1999, and it is one of my essential places.  I’ve previously posted some of my body art from Brushwood here, here, here and here.

The night life at Brushwood revolves around fires.  Every night there are several small fires with drum circles, didgeridoos, trance music, rituals or dancing.  The final night of every festival features a huge bonfire like the one pictured at the top of this post.  The fire shown below was the scene of quiet drumming with complex middle eastern rhythms.

Drummers' Fire, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

I can go into a quiet reverie watching the slinky, dashing movement of flames.  Fire is a difficult subject for photography, as its essence is in its movement.  A long exposure blurs the flame into smooth streaks of light.  A short exposure captures some of the remarkable fleeting shapes that appear in the flames, but often makes the fire seem smaller than it appears to the eye.

Curtain of Fire, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Even the small campfires at Brushwood are meticulously constructed and tended with quiet vigilance by Brushwood’s legendary guild of fire tenders.  Young men and women learn the craft and safety techniques from elders with years of experience, and graduated apprentices proudly sport the emblem of their status, red suspenders worn hanging down.

Architecture of Fire, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

The way the wood is stacked and structured channels and focuses the energy being released from the wood.  The fluid forms of flame cling to, lick over, and leap from the wood that feeds them.

Energy Released, 2009, photo by Fred Hatt

Licking Flames, 2009, photo by Fred Hatt

Sometimes the shapes of the flames spark my imagination with pictures of dancing figures, faces, leaping horses, diving raptors and crashing waves.

Dancing Flame, 2009, photo by Fred Hatt

Feminine Flame, 2009, photo by Fred Hatt

Here a man decorated in a leopard pattern by body painter Vann Godfrey draws dancing energy from the flames in the drum circle enclosure called the Roundhouse.

Leopard Man, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

During a festival week, while nightly fires burn in the roundhouse for all-night drumming and dancing, a large bonfire stack is constructed in an open field.  Here you can see the roundhouse in the background, and the bonfire stack in the foreground.

Roundhouse and Bonfire Stack, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Ignition, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

This is the bonfire from the Starwood Festival of 2004, one of the biggest fires I ever saw at Brushwood, as it is first ignited.

Growing Fire, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Sometimes the bonfires also contain fireworks.

Gold and Diamonds, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Pyrotechnic Tower, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

The final night bonfires bring together the whole Brushwood community in a mass celebration.

Summerfest Bonfire, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Bonfire Revelers, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Fire Watchers, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Below, a friend’s fiery red hair is illuminated by the flames as she watches the bonfire.

Firetress, 2002, photo by Fred Hatt

People dance or run in a circle around the towering conflagration.

Bonfire Dance, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Runners, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Golden Frolic, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

The really big fires show different patterns compared to the small fires.  The densely packed red-hot embers have blue flames dancing over their surface.

Blue Embers, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

The sheer concentration of uprushing energy produces a whirlwind of flame.  If it’s raining, you won’t get rained on if you stay near the fire, as it blows the raindrops back up into the sky.

God of Fire, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Above the fire, glowing particles swirl and sometimes surge upward in fountains of light.

Flying Embers, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

The final set of pictures in this post were taken at this year’s SummerFest bonfire.  All are fast camera exposures to capture the momentary shapes seen in the inferno, and exposed darkly enough to show the variations of brightness in the fire.

Engulfed, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Torrent, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Silhouette, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Curly Horn, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Dancers with Lights, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Fire Dance, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

This incredible uprushing of fiery energy on Saturday evening was followed, on Sunday morning, by an incredible downrushing of lake-effect rain that caused flash flooding in all the low-lying areas of the camp – a perfect elemental balancing act!

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