Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mike Bessler ARTWORKS

May 9, 2008
By Denise M. Baran-Unland Special to the Herald News
Full article:
To fully grasp the immensity of the art pieces fine art photographer Mike Bessler fabricates, click twice on the red and yellow tulips image on his home page online at  There, Bessler, 57, of Bolingbrook, stands proudly before the 16-by-6-foot tulips photograph that permanently resides at Naperville's Edward Hospital outpatient center in Plainfield.  "This is my favorite image right now," Bessler said. "I like to keep going back and looking at it and I bring other people to look at it, too."

To create this wide-angle image, Bessler took 14 different shots of the tulips, cut them into 10 36-inch square images and stitched them together.

He then printed them on canvas and created visible brush strokes on the flowers by painting them with clear acrylic. Because the photograph has so much detail, Bessler said he can print it again in any desired size.

"To me, this brings out the richness of the picture and makes it look more three-dimensional," Bessler said. "Some day -- maybe a long time from now -- I'll be able to print 3-D, but the best I can do right now is to add my texture on the outside."

For other photographs, Bessler "sculpts" them, by photographing many separate pictures of the same object and assembling them into one photograph by layering them. He used this technique with the images he took of his new pink rosebush.

"Sculpture has more depth, more shadows," he said. "Your eye just puts it all together and you don't see the spaces at all."

Bessler has shown his work at the Oak Brook Invitational and he has sold his pieces to both individuals and to corporations. Each year, he teaches photograph workshops at Starved Rock State Park in Utica.

Although both Bessler's father and uncle loved photography, Bessler said his call to the craft came at Lockport West High School (now Romeoville HS) when someone put a camera in his hands and told him to go take pictures.

"I didn't have a clue what I was doing, so I had to learn," Bessler said. "There weren't all those photography classes then." He apparently caught on fairly quickly. "I was the photographer for the 1968 yearbook. Almost all the photographs in there are mine and my friend's and we did all the layouts."

A full-time programmer and a part-time wedding photographer, the nature-loving Bessler evolved into a fine art photographer after he visited and took pictures of the Grand Canyon. He couldn't wait to get those images developed and relive that visual experience. But the resulting pictures disappointed him.

"The awe was just not there and that is when I resolved to learn how to bring home the awe," Bessler said.

He experimented first with enhancing the colors of his realistic pieces and later by creating impressionistic renderings of his images to give the feel of the original scene. Many of those images are quite large and have a sculpted feeling. Bessler now prints those images on either fine art paper or canvas.

Since he retired two years ago, Bessler has limited the number of weddings he will shoot each year to concentrate more on his fine art work. These are mostly nature pieces, especially flowers and waterfalls. The process of creating them gives Bessler immense satisfaction.

"My images are mine from the first look through the viewfinder of my camera, through the enhancing process and the printing," Bessler said. "Now I am feeling the awe."

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