Category Archives: Inspiration

Exploring Fashion Illustration

Fashion drawing, by Mary Gow

Fashion drawing, by Mary Gow

Today, in remembrance of a special person very close to me, I am posting one of the drawings I created from taking a course that I’d been peeking at in the course catalog for many years and finally took. Though it made no sense to me because I don’t plan on becoming a fashion designer, it did speak to the little girl who loved to draw clothes and meticulously observe design and architecture.

And though I love to paint abstracts, I also enjoy drawing the human figure. Drop in classes for figure drawing weren’t doing it for me so I signed up for a fashion illustration course in the Fashion Dept. at City College of San Francisco. I loved it! This class provided the jump start I needed and since finishing the course I’ve kept up a regular drawing discipline.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of following a hunch, a gut feeling, even if it makes no sense.

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Inspired Abstraction

I created this layered image of an elevator after seeing the retrospective of one my heroes, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. A comprehensive collection of his work is on display Feb. 12-June 18, 2017 at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art.

"Elevated," photo composite by Mary Gow

“Elevated,” photo composite by Mary Gow

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Autumn Sky

Autumn Sky, photo by Mary Gow

Autumn Sky, photo by Mary Gow

Greetings as we approach the cusp of Winter. Though I like the dramatic feel of this photograph, it might violate one of those rules of composition that I learned: do not place the subject in the center! I still like the strong texture of the sky.

I hope you are enjoying the Spirit of the Season.

Found a reflective poem that seems to go with this season. It’s by Zhuangzi:

We cling to our own point of view,
as though everything depended on it.
Yet our opinions have no permanence;
like autumn and winter,
they gradually pass away.

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Briefly Seeing Harvey Stein, the Photographer Behind “Briefly Seen”

Mary Gow with Harvey Stein, holding 3 of his books.

Mary Gow with Harvey Stein, holding 3 of his books.

Briefly Seen - a book by Harvey Stein

Briefly Seen – a book by Harvey Stein

The World is Harvey Stein’s studio. He concentrates on the World-at-Large. Outside of the studio IS his studio. And books, he declared at the book signing, are his perfect form of sharing his observations.

Stein’s called New York City home for over 40 years. He’s a professional photographer, teacher, lecturer, curator and author. He’s received numerous awards and his photos are in more than 55 permanent collections including the George Eastman House, the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Boorklyn Musuem of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Denver Museum of Art.

He teaches at the International Center of Photography (ICP) and has been on the faculty of the New School University, Drew University, Rochester Institute of Technology, School of Visual Arts and the University of Bridgeport.

Creating Flow from Chaos, by Mary Gow

Creating Flow from Chaos, award-winning photogram by Mary Gow

I took my first photography course at ICP with Harvey Stein as my instructor. It was a ten-week course and we did a lot of street photography. I was enthralled with seeing the chemistry process – especially when the image begins appearing on the photo sensitive paper. I loved darkroom work (though it’s becoming a lost art now).

One of my favorite photos by Harvey Stein

One of my favorite photos by Harvey Stein

My Favorite Book by Harvey Stein: Artists Observed

My Favorite Book by Harvey Stein: Artists Observed

One of the first things we learned in Stein’s class was how the enlarger works. At its most basic level, an enlarger casts light onto photo sensitive paper. It was then I made my first photograms by placing objects on top of this paper. The x-ray look of them got my attention. And it touched on my obsession with line, shape and form which could be highlighted through layers.

It was in Stein’s class I found an artform that really worked for me.

I went on to make more photograms, some won awards. I felt especially honored by recognition in a show juried by California photographer and photogram-maker, Robert Buelteman. I also went on to work as a freelance photographer and my work’s appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and in books.

It was a delight to see Stein again after many years. He visited the Leica Store in San Francisco in June of 2016 to introduce three of his books: Coney Island 40 Years, Briefly Seen and Harlem Street Portraits, plus offer a three day workshop on street photography.

Thank you Harvey Stein for your inspiration!

Visit his website to see his work and world at

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