Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “Then And Now”

Then, And Now (4)

My father spent most of my childhood building a 40 foot sailboat out of wood with his bare hands, in hopes of sailing around the globe. Around the turn of the millennium, during a time when we did not speak, he and my mother abandoned their suburban life and set sail across the Atlantic, eventually reaching northern Africa before returning across the Atlantic once more, barely averting several fatal disasters. This beautifully quixotic quest–an act of sheer determination, bravery, and defiant adventurism–will go unheralded by the populace and the records of history due mostly to my father’s self-imposed social isolation and constantly troubled mind. The beaten and weathered vessel On Eagles’ Wings, my father’s former pride and joy, has remained at his dock ever since, a relic of an unfinished journey. With a bleached white, filthy imprint all that remains of its once brilliant blue name, it haunts with the specter of unrequited longing.

This accomplishment of devotion, undertaken not for profit nor fame, is what I’ve grown to respect most about my father. Even though, like everything between he and I, it resonates with a confusing blend of mixed feelings, this modern tale of triumph and tragedy should be properly commended, here, on my little island in the digital ocean, in honor of his August 8th birthday.

oneagleswings

I can imagine the freedom of the gaping ocean pulling my father back to it with the tides. Commanding his ship through the open waters is perhaps the only time I’ve known my father to be fully alive or truly happy, and from the outskirts of the wreckage of his life on land, I long for him to return to his floating home there, to be at peace, to complete his circumnavigation of the blue unknown.

Then, And Now 3

My recent post about medium format photography adventures reminded me of the last time I had some fun with it, in 2009 when my parents were in town for a visit.  My photographer friend got ahold of a loaner Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format camera and a tilt-shift lens for the occasion, and I dug out some expired old film to see what would happen.  Here are my favorite images from that day.

 

(Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format with tilt-shift lens on Fujicolor Reala 100. Negative scan to digital, Photoshop)

(Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format with tilt-shift lens on Ilford Delta 3200 Pro. Negative scan to digital, Photoshop)

 

 

Then, And Now 2

While looking through a file cabinet today I unearthed a relic from one of my more memorable childhood artistic phases, centered around a lively obsession with the comic book, cartoon, toy, and eventual movie franchise Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m not sure how old I was when I produced this mess masterpiece, but thankfully my skills have developed since that time.

I often wonder, with no shortage of amusement, if the seed of my current deep appreciation for the Italian Renaissance masters was planted as a child by these cultural icons of my 80’s generation.

 

Leonardo

I find it fascinating, in hindsight, the attention I paid to more intricate anatomical details like veins, even at this young age...

The Apostasy

...considering how this focus has remained and evolved up to the present day.

Then, And Now

The dawning of 2012 brought me to my parents’ house, an eclectic vortex of saved childhood possessions and weird emotional frequencies densely packed into a many-acred patch of wilderness falling off the eastern edge of the North American continent.

Visiting this environment never fails to bring back a flock of the old ghosts that made me into the artist I am now, as I walk past the dusty shelves of my childhood picture books haphazardly assembled into stacks and rows.  Many fond moments have been spent revisiting the sense of awe and wonder these books created in me—indelible impressions that formed the foundations of my artistic sensibilities, despite the difference in my current chosen subject matter.

childhood inspirations

Childhood inspirations.

childhood inspirations

These books went missing from the shelves, but were just as important.