Category Archives: Inspiration

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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Coloring for Calm

Customize how you color a page in a coloring book.
A coloring book page that Mary Gow customized.
Yesterday was the special launch of the book Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. At the end of the event streaming live from Nashville, Hyatt said their book reached No. 4 on the Amazon best seller’s list. The three top sellers were coloring books!

Have you seen evidence of this new rage?

Not long ago I met up with friends to make art. (I usually make art almost every day anyway). I ripped out a page from Coloring Mandalas: For Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression, by Susanne F. Fincher. I added more lines and circles to the existing pattern. It felt good to not stay within the lines. I highly recommend it.

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Inspiring Resources from a Podcast

Door to Wonderland, photo by Mary Gow
Door to Wonderland, photo by Mary Gow
This is a year I’m all in. All for reinvention and embracing the inevitable C word – Change. This year I’m pro-transformation. On my list of must read books is Michael Port’s Steal the Show. Port has a podcast show as well and I listened to his interview of Mike Michalowicz, speaker and author of the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

I can’t recommend this podcast enough! It runs 1 hr. 7 min. You can hear it at:

Then go to Mike Michalowicz’s website for a look at an amazing website with lots of resources – even ways to motivate kids. (If you prefer you can close the pop up window that comes up when you go to the site).

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Art Note: Creating Texture

I'm using a small sponge to create texture around this painting of Buddha I'm working on.
I’m using a small sponge to create texture around this painting of Buddha I’m working on.
I work on several paintings at a time. This painting of a Green Buddha was inspired by one I saw on a paper napkin. To add interest to the image I’m adding some white texture around the image using a small sponge.

First I squeezed a pea-sized amount of white acrylic paint on my palette and then lightly dipped the sponge in the paint and dabbed it on the canvas. I carefully spaced the dabs so they don’t bunch up in one area.

While painting this I was curious what the Green Buddha represents and found this from “The Green Buddha is traditionally the Laughing Buddha, bringer of prosperity and mirth.”

May this be a blessed year for you!

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